A wine tasting will always be a sensory experience for the participants, no matter how experienced or knowledgeable they happen to be. By its very nature, a wine tasting involves utilising almost all the senses to arrive at an opinion, regardless of whether that opinion is backed up by well-informed facts or simply an expression of like or dislike. While sight, smell and taste are the primary senses we use to experience wine, we also feel the glass and hear the wine being poured, stimulating all five senses. Thibaut de Roux is an experienced wine taster and is currently studying sensorial wine tasting at the Burgundy University and has long collected fine wines with a focus on this region. The goal of a sensory wine tasting is to compare what the senses absorb with what is found in nature. With the right elements to hand, a wine tasting can become much more than a simple discussion about likes and dislikes. Some ideas for the types of flavours or essences that can help can be viewed in the embedded PDF.
When exploring a wine tasting using all the senses, the glassware is important. Visually, we make certain judgements based on the type of glass the wine is served in. For a sensory wine tasting, we also need to help our brains make the connection between the elements we are comparing and the wine itself. One way to do this is to place the items in wine glasses. This helps the brain make the connection between these scents and flavours and those within the wines. Depending on the level of experience, some wine tasting hosts may wish to procure the recommended glassware for each of the wines being tasted. For those that do not have access to this or prefer a simpler experience, simply serving all wines in the same style of glasses provides the opportunity to differentiate using the other senses, rather than letting sight and touch take over. Some brief notes on the differences between glasses for red and white wines are laid out in the attached short video.
Novice wine tasting hosts will probably find more success if they stick to the main grapes from the most popular regions and avoid blended wines altogether. The infographic attachment offers some examples. Within these boundaries, the idea would be to select wines that are known for having certain specific qualities, as these will be easier for beginners to pick out. With more experience, wine tasters can begin to select unknown wines and use their senses to determine what elements have gone into the making of them.
Using Sensory Elements
To use the sensory elements that have been gathered, guests must first begin with the wine. The appearance and aroma of the wine will be the first things to experiment with. Hosts should allow guests to see and smell the wines one at a time. Once each wine has been seen and the bouquet experienced, the guests can then move around the sensory elements to try and identify those that are contained in each wine. After smelling the elements, the tasters can then go back and take a sip of the wine to confirm or deny their choices. The procedure may take several rounds before guests are able to make accurate suggestions. When sampling smells and tastes, time needs to be taken as the senses can become easily overwhelmed. Hosts should therefore give plenty of time in between wines and supply plain snacks such as crackers or bread so that guests can reset their taste buds and noses before moving on to the next wine.