Posts Tagged ‘descriptors’

This list of wine terms and definitions will give you a head start at your next wine tasting. It is often helpful to carry a small notepad with you to tastings so you can jot down your impressions of wines. Develop your own list of wine terms: using your own words to describe different tastes and aromas will help you to remember and apply them.

Wine Definitions: Nose

  • Acetic Wine smells and or tastes of vinegar.
  • Aggressive Harsh tastes or impressions due to excesses of tannin, acid or alcohol.
  • Aromatic Used to describe perfumed or very distinctive aromas such as from Gewürztraminer.
  • Blackcurrant Aroma associated with Cabernet Sauvignon often referred to as cassis.
  • Body Impression in the mouth of weight and consistency mainly due to alcoholic strength and extract.
  • Bouquet Smells / aromas that develop as a wine matures.
  • Buttery Smell and flavours of butter. Sometimes seen in heavily oaked Chardonnays.
  • Caramel Taste and or smell of caramelised sugar.
  • Cardboard Smell of damp papers or cardboard.
  • Cedar Smell associated with many red wines that have been matured in oak. Similar to the smell of pencil shavings.
  • Corked Wine fault recognised by a distinctive mouldy rotting smell.
  • Crisp A marked level of acidity.
  • Ethyl Acetate Smell of solvents such as some glues or lacquers or pear drop sweets.
  • Eucalyptus A pleasant aroma sometimes found in red wines from Australia.
  • Farmyard Vegetal or animal odours.
  • Flinty Mineral aromas and flavours usually associated with dry white wines.
  • Flowery / Floral Fragrant scents like fresh flowers.
  • Geraniums Smell of geranium leaves, usually associated with excess sorbic acid.
  • Gooseberry Often used to describe the aroma of young /sauvignon Blanc.
  • Grapey Smell of grapes – often found with Muscat.
  • Herbaceous Vegetal, grassy and smell of leaves.
  • Musk Heavy waxy / vegetal aroma of mature Semillon and Sauternes.
  • Nose Bouquet or aroma.
  • Pear Drops Smell similar to nail polish remover or acetate.
  • Perfumed Fragrant

 Read on …

The future of smelling your wine...

The future of smelling your wine…

 

Wine experts point out that while the device could pick out smells, it can’t determine if the wine is actually good or not.
For winemakers (and wine drinkers), a keen sense of smell is essential. Without smell, one can taste little. Now researchers have devised what they call an “electronic nose” that they say detects fruit odors more effectively than the human sense of smell and could someday be used in the winemaking industry.
 
Spanish and Swedish engineers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia in Spain and Sweden’s University of Gävle have created an electronic nose with 32 sensors that can distinguish pears from apples, which contain similar chemical compounds called esters. The researchers said the technology could eventually be used to distinguish the quality or type of grape or recognize a wine’s vintage.
 
Their setup bears no resemblance to an actual nose, rather it is a desktop apparatus connected to a computer.
 
“The fruit samples are placed in a pre-chamber into which an air flow is injected which reaches the tower with the sensors, which are metal oxide semiconductors that detect odorous compounds such as methane or butane,” José Pelegrí Sebastiá, co-author of the paper, said in a statement.
Read on …

Brettanomyces.

Brettanomyces.

 

 

UC Davis researchers create Brettanomyces aroma wheel

As much as it’s reviled, Brettanomyces still has its supporters in those who think a little bit of barnyard or wet dog imparts a distinct identity to their wines.

 

The clean, modern winemaking practices of the sort espoused by the University of California, Davis, have put Brett squarely in the menace category. Dr. Linda Bisson, who studies the metabolic pathways of yeast at UC Davis, however, likened Brett to a color in an artist’s palette.

 

Granted, it might be a color similar to a brash, fluorescent green that is best used sparingly, she told Wines & Vines.

 

Bisson and UC Davis Viticulture & Enology Department staff member Lucy Joseph released a Brett aroma wheel around the start of the year. The wheel is the result of a study the two performed on a collection of 83 Brett strains, of which 17 were identified as positive and five as negative by a sensory panel.

 

Aroma Wheel.

Aroma Wheel.

 

 

Strains that garnered a negative reaction were those that generated more aromas in the rotten and putrid category, as opposed to positive characteristics such as floral and spicy. Some strains had no sensory impact even though the Brett population grew in the wine. Certain strains also exhibited a correlation of descriptors such as earthy and putrid or Band-Aid and soy.

 

The positive strains did add something good to the wine rather than just not befouling it, Bisson said. The finding would appear to underscore the essence of the Brett debate between those disgusted by its flaws versus others intrigued by its complexities.

Read on…

(Edel Rodriguez for The Wall Street Journal)

(Edel Rodriguez for The Wall Street Journal)

 

GOOD wines have stories to tell, but sadly, they are at a loss for words. As articulate as a fine wine may be, it is left to humans to supply the translation.

Yet certain words in the lexicon of wine are prisoners of their own connotations, robbed of their meanings because they so readily touch off prejudicial thoughts or emotions. This gives added responsibility not just to writers, but to sommeliers, merchants and anyone else who seeks to make concrete what is essentially elusive, to ensure that they are heard without distortion.

Here are five words often used to describe wine, along with an effort to liberate them from their connotations.

 

BITTER

It is not wine writers but history and human nature that give bitterness its biblically negative meaning. What would many dry red wines be, particularly those from Italy and parts of France, without their element of mild bitterness? Certainly not refreshing. A touch of bitterness can help frame and shape a wine. Along with acidity, it adds snap and zest, tapering off one sip and inviting the next. White wines, too, use mildly bitter flavors to their advantage.

 

We’re conditioned to avoid bitterness and certainly bitterness in wine is a bad thing sometimes. Wood tannins from new oak barrels can be overwhelmingly bitter, and too much bitterness of any kind means a wine is out of balance. But a little bitterness can be desirable, so don’t shrink back at the sound of the word. After all, what’s more refreshing than a cold (bitter) beer? And speaking of cold …

Read on …

 

How to really taste wine.

How to really taste wine.

 

The six most important words in wine tasting

The past few weeks have put me in situations where I’ve been called upon to talk about wine. I’m not a shy sort, so such occasions are fine with me. For example, I was recently in Seoul hosting a wine dinner.

Now, there’s all sorts of nonsense making the rounds about Asians and wine. Some of this talk is even put about, I gather, by Asians themselves in the mistaken belief that because they’re not Western they can’t readily grasp the fine points of wine.

So when I stood in front of 65 people at the wine dinner in Seoul, all but a few of whom were Korean, I was politely blunt. I said that being a newcomer to wine was just that. It transcends culture. Being Asian was meaningless. Everybody is a newcomer to fine wine at some point in their lives, and that includes Europeans.

I went on to say that 40 years ago we Americans were collectively as ignorant about wine as any group of Asian wine newbies. And that we generated our own horror stories of rich guys who swaggered around insisting that they only wanted the “best” and that they didn’t care what it cost.

Then I asserted that talking about wine doesn’t involve flavor descriptors. This, it turned out, was the real jolt. I could sense the surprise when I said it. I, in turn, was myself surprised.

Since when did flavor descriptors become the basis of intelligent wine discussion? I later learned from guests at the dinner that the wine instruction that they had received was invariably just a string of flavor descriptors for each wine under “discussion.”

We all know, of course, how this I-Spy game of ever more precise-seeming associations of scents and tastes—coffee, chalk, bergamot, road dust and so forth—came about. It was we wine writers who did it. And we then did yet more of it as wines from everywhere increased exponentially.

You, the reader, want to know what a wine tastes like. And someone saying, “This here wine tastes really good,” is hardly going to satisfy. With thousands of wines a year to review, writers had no choice. How many times can you describe a Pinot Noir as being “cherry-scented”? So you get more specific, summoning up black cherry, wild cherry, pie cherry, maraschino cherry, cherry jam and cherry liqueur.

There’s nothing wrong with this and I, for one, will happily defend my colleagues in the tasting-note trenches.

That said, anatomizing the scents and flavors of a wine hardly tells the whole story. Nowhere is this more true than during a wine tasting such as the one I was doing at the dinner or, earlier, at two training sessions for the hotel’s eager-to-learn restaurant staff.

So how should you talk about wine? Every taster is different, and I’m not about to say that the following features represent the entirety of what could or should be examined and discussed.

But I will say this much: If you’re missing these points, you’re not going to fully grasp the qualities of the wine at hand. For me, these are the six most important words in wine tasting:
Read on …

(Image courtesy from winecountrythisweek.com)

(Image courtesy from winecountrythisweek.com)

 

 

Why Wine Descriptions?
How do you buy wine when you don’t know what it tastes like? A lot of folks (including me) rely on reading wine descriptions to get an idea of what a wine will taste like. Wine writing is a business and its job is to SELL wine, not to be honest or accurate. Below is a list of common wine descriptions and what they actually mean.
Wine Descriptions Glossary

ACIDITY
Wines with high acidity are tart and zesty. Red wines generally have a lighter color and more tart characteristics (versus “round”). White wines are often described with characteristics similar to lemon or lime juice.
ANGULAR
An angular wine is like putting a triangle in your mouth – it hits you in specific places with high impact and not elsewhere. It’s like getting punched in the arm in the same place over and over again. An angular wine also has high acidity.
AUSTERE
This is a very unfriendly wine. It hits your mouth and then turns it inside out. It usually means the wine has very high acidity and very little fruit flavors. An austere wine is not fruit-forward nor opulent.
BARNYARD
This means the wine smells like poo. It’s never used anymore describing a wine, unless the wine writer is attempting to dig that wine an early grave.
BIG
Big describes a wine with massive flavor in your mouth that takes up all sections of your mouth and tongue. A big wine is not necessarily a fruit-forward wine, it can also mean that it has big tannins.
BRIGHT
Bright wines are higher in acidity and make your mouth water. GO TO ACIDITY
BUTTERY
A wine with buttery characteristics has been aged in oak and generally is rich and flat (less Acidity). A buttery wine often has a cream-like texture that hits the middle of your tongue almost like oil (or butter) and has a smooth finish.

Learn more …