Winetasting: the art of wine in a glass

Winetasting is a practice aimed at determining, in the most objective way possible, the organoleptic characteristics of a wine. It is used to determine the quality of a red wine, rather than rose, or white wine, as well as to detect any possible fault. Tasting is done for personal pleasure, but also to verify the correspondence with the characteristics set by the production disciplinary. There are many tasting methodologies, but all of them include three distinct phases of sensorial analysis: visual, olfactory and gustatory.

Winetasting: visual analysis

In winetasting the visual analysis is the first one to be done. It is used to verify the color of wine and to make the first evaluations. The parameters evaluated during this analysis are

  • clarity
  • color
  • consistency
  • effervescence

Clarity, or transparency, is the parameter which evaluates the presence of suspended particles. The so called fund is normal in natural wines, that is the ones which did not undergo any particular filtration and whose fermentation continues once bottled. Consistency is important because it measures wine’s viscosity. By observing the speed of the descent of wine’s tears on the edge of the glass it is possible to understand the alcohol content and the structure of the product. Finally, effervescence analyzes the quality, finesse and persistence of perlage (bubbles of carbon dioxide).



Winetasting: olfactory analysis

The second parameter which is analyzed during winetasting is smell. Olfactory analysis evaluates:

  1. intensity
  2. complexity
  3. quality
  4. description

Intensity evaluates how intensely aromas are perceived. Complexity, on the other hand, is the amplitude of the bouquet, in other words the variety of perceivable aromas. Quality is not exactly a parameter, rather a judgment which wants to describe the quality level of a wine according to an olfactory point of view. Finally the description is intended as the listing of the family to which the perceived odors of the analyzed wine belong to (fruity, spicy, floral, mineral aromas, etc.). Every aroma is also classified according to its origin and is subdivided in aromas

  • primary (coming directly from the grape used)
  • secondary (formed during the fermentation process)
  • tertiary (formed during aging)

Winetasting: tasting analysis

The last phase of winetasting is the tasting one. In this step is evaluated

  1. smoothness
  2. hardness
  3. balance
  4. intensity
  5. persistence
  6. quality
  7. structure (body)

Smoothness depends on sugars, alcohols and polyols. Alcohols are mainly present in wines which have been aged for a long time. Polyalcohols are instead responsible for smoothness and for the general sense of wrapping in the mouth.

Hardness, on the other hand, derives from acids, tannins and mineral substances. Acidity depends on the presence of tartaric, lactic and malic acid. Tannins, on the other hand, concern only wines obtained by red wine making. Tannins can derive from pomace and from casks or barriques used for aging. Mineral substances measure sapidity. This element is strictly correlated to the pedoclimatic conditions of the vine.

Balance establishes the measure of harmony between roundness and hardness. A parameter strictly connected to the type of wine tasted. Intensity, on the other hand, expresses the consistency of tactile and gustatory sensations. Persistence, on the other hand, indicates how long wine’s flavors remain in the mouth. Quality summarizes the qualitative level of the tasting examination. Lastly, structure or body evaluates the parts of wine excluding alcohol and water.


After the three sensorial phases comes the final one which is used to describe the general sensations obtained by the whole of the parameters evaluated. It is in this step that the evolutionary stage and harmony of a wine are defined. The evolutionary stage is nothing else than the vintage of the wine in relation to its quality. Harmony, on the other hand, represents the quality and general consistency of the wine.

Organoleptic examination of Amarone della Valpolicella

Here we summarize and make an example at the same time, we report the organoleptic examination of Amarone della Valpolicella and Recioto:

Amarone della Valpolicella:

“intense garnet ruby red color, with aromas of remarkable finesse, and perfectly blended, cherry, vanilla, chocolate, spices, dried flowers, tobacco; mouth of remarkable elegance immediately warm and enveloping, with ripe fruit and at the same time refreshing. Remarkable length, persistence and good acidity”.

Recioto della Valpolicella:

“Deep garnet red in color, with aromas of remarkable finesse. Jammy and spirited nose with excellent complexity. Very open and persistent background. In the mouth very balanced, hints of ripe fruit, black cherry; mouth of considerable elegance immediately warm and enveloping, with ripe fruit and at the same time refreshing. Remarkable length and persistence”.


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