Description: Sniffing out wine faults is definitely important, but the ability to determine great characteristics of wine is extremely vital. What is a quality wine? How does it smell, taste, and feel?
How is the quality of wine measured?
The quality of the wine is a factor of the nature and quantity of its faults. You can expect top-notch quality from fewer faults because they have infinitesimal effects on the positive features. However, this is not to say that faults are meaningless. Their presence is significant when it comes to gauging the wine quality. We cannot classify wine as a high-quality beverage if it has neither good attributes nor faults. It may be good but nothing close to excellence. Good simply means ordinary even when no faults are detected. We can, therefore, conclude that lack of faults is a preeminent factor when it comes to defining wine quality. This aspect must be backed by concrete nature and presence of positive characteristics.
The definition of good quality wine can complicated concept if taken subjectively. What you might find favorable could be absurd to another individual. On the other side, we could look at good quality objectively, i.e., as per the preferences of particular groups of people. Lastly, we could define good quality as per the technical criteria and generally accepted standards.
Good quality according to senses
From a sensorial point of view, good quality means anything that triggers positive stimulus through the human senses. Or you simply taste wine when drinking. You should be able to smell it too as soon as you put it in the mouth. Sounds easy? When you sip some wine, you either swallow or spit. A lot of senses, not just the taste, are involved in the process. This is exactly what this post wants to explore.
Have you ever seen a wine taster gurgling or slurping a drink? They do this so they can enjoy the best parts of drinking wine. You too can do it: once you sip the beverage, slightly open your mouth and take in some air (slurp). What will happen is that the aromatic elements in your brain are triggered. Then, the tactile sensations on your tongue and mouth are boosted.
- The taste
As explained above, the aromas of the wine determine its good qualities. The aroma is the most attractive quality of wine that the wine tasters use it to determine the acceptability of wine. Therefore, the olfactory analysis determines to a great extent the value of the wine. Experienced tasters can differentiate between good and bad aromas. In particular, there are aspects that count: balance, taste olfactory correspondence, and persistence.
- The olfactory correspondence is the degree of coherence between gustatory and olfactory analysis. We are talking about the same aromas related to fruits and foods.
- The balance is determined by the relationship between the tactile and the gustatory sensations. A balanced wine has all the gustatory components in harmony with none being dominant over the others.
- Taste-olfactory persistence refers to the time in which the aroma is perceived once the wine is swallowed. Good persistence falls above ten seconds. Shorter times translate to low quality which is one of the worst disappointments of sensory tasting. High quality is when the flavors stay in the mouth longer.
There are 4 main tastes you can experience by tasting wine namely;
- Sweetness: fruit sweetness or sugar content
- Acidity: fresh tart-like flavor caused by grapes that have not completely ripen
- Bitterness: young wine that is not mature and with tannin
- Salty: caused by sea spray
The perceived weight of wine is its body. The weight is determined by the actual compounds that make up the wine, alcohol content, and amount of sugar used. As far as the weight goes, wines can be classified as:
- Light body: watery and thin wines such as dry white wine
- Medium body: they hold weight due to the climatic condition, e.g., Eastern Europe and German wines
- Full body: they feel heavy in the mouth, e.g., oaked Chardonnays
There are other aspects related to touching your wine such as the texture, persistence, heat, and astringency.
- The heat is the burning sensation caused by the alcoholic content. Some wines are hotter than others.
- Astringency is the drying feeling that the wine leaves in your mouth. They dry sensation is caused by tannins like those found in red wine
- Texture relates to the weight of wine as well as the astringency. The texture can be sandy, coarse, or soft. Quality wines have a smooth texture with nothing aggressive.
- Persistence includes time and quantity sensory experiences such as lingering sensation after taste, how long the sensations last and the finishing sensations.
The sense of smell is a bit complicated but generally, the aromas that you smell on your wine result from fermentation, maturation, grape variety, and the pressing method. Upon the first sniff, it is possible to recognize faults. Your sense of smell should recognize the dominating aroma as well as its intensity. Particular wines are more non-descript while others have a dull smell. With a few short sniffs, you should be able to determine the aromas.
According to experts, there are a number of qualities you can see with your own eyes including the complexity, fruit characteristics and the structure. All the sensory experiences should complement one another in order to create a strong backbone. The high-quality wine has a great balance of acidity, sweetness, and alcohol content. This is what every winemaker aims at.
Hopefully, you can now determine good quality wine by using the 4 most important senses. Technically, good quality entails several factors that meet specific criteria which are set with regards to chemical and scientific factors. The magic happens in the way the grapes come out. As you get used to wine tasting, you will start loving the beverage even more. It is the sensations that bring excitement and opens up a beautiful world even in the smallest things.