Wine tasting

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A wine tasting is organized by and for oenologists , wine critics , sommeliers and other experts of the wine market as well as for wine lovers and consumers in order to assess the quality of mostly several wines . Depending on the occasion, terms such as wine tasting or degustation are also used.


Barrel wine tasting

Wine tastings are required at every stage of winemaking and wine marketing. Both during and after fermentation of the must. Here the cellar master assesses the development processes of the container by means of barrel wine samples . Every step in the development of a young wine - from filtering to fining, deacidification or the length of time it is stored in wooden barrels - is not only controlled by laboratory tests, but also by sensory tastings. When marketing barrel wine, buyers and multipliers are also interested in a barrel wine tasting.

When determining a filling blend, several recipe variants are usually created in-house from the large containers to be bottled as bottled wine. You have to assume that the taste of the same wine has developed slightly differently in each barrel or tank. In particular, adding the sweet reserve is a matter of taste, on which several internal opinions are often obtained.

If the bottled wine is to be marketed as quality wine , it must be employed for an official test in order to receive the official test number . This first test of a wine is precisely regulated by law. A blind tasting by experts is part of it.

When buying wine from the producer, all wines can usually be tasted beforehand. Many companies have set up a tasting room for this purpose . A cooling gondola is available here, which is filled with all of the wines on the price list. In this outer framework, the oenologist can get advice free of charge when looking for the right wine for his needs. It can happen that the customer cannot find the right wine or only buys very little after a time-consuming trial of the entire price list. There are dialect names for such customers. In the Rheingau they are called Schnutentunker .

There are also paid wine tastings, which take place without any expectation of purchase for the participants, but are ultimately sales-promoting measures. The costs of such a wine tasting are based on the type and number of wines to be tasted and the number of participants. Eleven to a maximum of eighteen participants can each share a bottle of wine. Each bottle opened for the wine tasting will be billed. If the wine tasting takes place at the producer, it can be combined with a tour of the company or cellar and a cellar tasting . In the summer half-year, wine hikes to the vineyard parcels of the organizing winery are increasingly popular. It has proven its worth with the audience if the interpreter of a wine tasting not only draws attention to the sensory characteristics of each individual wine, but also provides information about the winery, about the work in the vineyard and in the cellar and, last but not least, everything through witty anecdotes about the Wine loosens up.

When ordering a wine tasting, the baseline must be agreed with the customer. The standard is a wine tasting through the quality levels, starting with the simple quality wine leading to the selection ; Depending on the budget, a Beerenauslese , Trockenbeerenauslese or an ice wine can also be the conclusion. A wine tasting can also be used to introduce different grape varieties, vineyards or vintages or to show the differences between dry, semi-dry or mildly developed wines. More than ten to twelve different wines are not common.

Wine presentations also have a sales- promoting effect , in which one or more wineries either specifically present their products to a specialist audience, the buyers from the wine trade and gastronomy , or the event is aimed at the general public.

At wine seminars , wine lovers are introduced to the depths of wine culture in an entertaining way and step by step.

Finally, there are also some official occasions for wine tastings, namely when a producer takes part in awards at federal or state level or even in international competitions with its wines. Here again experts regulate the process.

Even the official monitoring according to the wine law does not do without tastings. From the producer or from the trade and not least at wine festivals, samples are taken and officially examined by wine inspectors .

Tasting by experts

Trial glass with correct handling - on a stick
Regional German standard pastries to accompany wine tastings - the water wake
Collection vessel for wine that has been spat out after tasting or for wine residues that have not been drunk

As a rule, the description of the wines is written down here. Often the wines are grouped in so-called flights : similar wines, either from a region, a grape variety , a year or the like, are compared directly one after the other or in parallel.

A classic classification divides the impressions of the wine into

  • View : The clarity, color and purity of the wine are checked
  • Nose : smell impression after swirling the glass
  • Tongue : the taste test in the mouth
  • Disposal , even reverberation called: the nachdauernde impression when the wine has left the mouth.

In many professional wine tastings, wines are rated according to a point system. The Parker points , for example, are of particular importance - also for the commercial success of a wine . This point system is named after the famous wine critic Robert Parker .

Wine glasses

Wine tasting should be done with adequate wine glasses . Clean, chalice-shaped closed wine glasses are required to be tasted in order to allow a good assessment. The stem of the glass serves as a handle and must therefore be long and easy to grip. The goblet should remain free of fingerprints during the wine tasting and the warmth of the hand should not be transferred to the wine.

So-called wine tasting glasses are glasses for wine tasting that are standardized according to ISO 3591. These colorless glasses are reminiscent of small white wine glasses or sherry glasses. Their special construction means that the smell can unfold above the wine with the least possible influence.

Glasses that hold around 20 cl of liquid and are made of thin, clear glass are also suitable for private use . A bulbous shape that tapers towards the top is advantageous because the large surface area of ​​the liquid means that the fragrances can develop well, but are retained by the smaller opening in the glass, and swiveling the glass to wet the largest possible fragrance surface is less of a risk tapered opening. The Roman goblets often found at consumer fairs are unsuitable due to their thick walls; an assessment of color and purity is hardly possible with them.

More utensils

Furthermore, bread, mostly simple white bread, is kept ready and simple, if possible not bubbly, mineral water and vessels for spitting out any wine that may not have been drunk.

Blank sample

Wine tasting , painting by Johann Peter Hasenclever , mid-19th century

Often the wines are tasted without knowing their labels in order to rule out any influence: only the product in the glass should be assessed; known or unknown names, large and less large vintages should not cloud the judgment. Such a tasting is called a blind tasting or blind sample.

If a meal is offered as part of a wine tasting or tasting, it is often disputed when the meal should be served. Some need it as a basis in order not to fail early (after 10 or 15 different wine impressions). Others, however, demand that the food must be imitated with the wines, since food - especially spicy foods - can adversely affect sensory receptivity.

It is clear that a good host of a tasting lets his guests know: not only whether you will get something to eat, but also when to eat. If you eat late, each participant will take care of his or her receptivity and basis for enjoying wine beforehand .

Some guests also like to eat some sausage or cheese with their wine, others reject this as “spoiling the taste”.

With a randomly compiled blind sample, it is rarely possible, even for experts, to identify individual wines and their vintages. The multitude of different wines and the different stages of development of a wine during maturation as well as the individual storage conditions of each individual bottle make this almost impossible.

In English-speaking countries, blind tastings of wines, such as that of the winery owner and statistician Robert Hodgson, have led to the judgments being viewed very critically. Normal tastings, including those by experts, are often beyond human judgment.


The process of tasting a wine takes place in a classic wine tasting in several phases. The individual phases are briefly described below. Assessment criteria and suggestions for characterization are named for each phase.

White wine is served cool, ideally not straight from the refrigerator, as it would be too cold to assess at six to eight degrees, but it will warm up quite quickly at room temperature. 10 to 12 degrees are ideal.

Red wine for wine tastings should be kept at a temperature of approx. 14 to 15 ° C; it will quickly heat up to 18 to 20 ° C when poured. At higher temperatures, the odor perception is impaired by rising alcohol.

The wine glasses should be free of impurities, ideally be vinified , as these can otherwise impair the smell and taste impression . The wine should be poured carefully so that it is not too strongly mixed with air.

Assessment of the color or "the eye"

The best way to see the color is to hold the glass against a white background. The clarity , color and purity of a wine are checked. To do this, you look at the wine glass from above on the one hand, but also hold the glass at an angle, as the wine color can vary slightly depending on the liquid level. After assessing the color, the glass should be held level with the light; some wines show so-called tears on the glass, these are formed by surface tension . Contrary to what is often claimed, the so-called tears or church windows that form on the edge of the glass after swiveling do not provide any direct information about the quality of a wine. They only indicate an increased viscosity due to alcohol or sugar .

The edge of the wine on the glass is interesting: it is judged according to its edge size (more than a millimeter edge width indicates an older wine), and according to the deviation of the color in relation to the "deep" wine: an orange edge color is also an indication of one matured wine.

Assessment criteria and suggestions for characterization

Tears recognizable in the silhouette

The smell or "the nose"

After the visual perception comes the olfactory impression. An attempt is made to differentiate between different distinctive smells and to name them. The olfactory impression consists of three phases.

First you smell the glass without swirling it, as there are extremely volatile compounds in the wine that are lost after the first swirl.

Now the glass is swiveled to bring deeper aromas to the surface and intensify them. If you smell it again, other smells are perceived.

The wine now needs some time to recover; then smelling again. Some wines now offer the same olfactory impressions as at the beginning, with others the olfactory impressions have changed due to the air supply.

The smell is even more detailed by taking in the scent of the wine once "below" (at the lower edge) and once "above" on the inclined glass. Due to the different gravity of the fragrance molecules, considerable differences can possibly be recognized.

Assessment criteria and suggestions for characterization

  • Bouquet : more or less pronounced, flat, powerful
  • Finesse: plump, elegant, poor, small, lively, prickly, clean, classy, ​​annoying, classy, ​​big breath, ...
  • Aroma ( fragrance ):
    • fruity: raspberries, cherries, sour cherries, plums, black currants, apple, apricot, pineapple, lemon, pear, quince, elderflower
    • floral: violets, geraniums, wild rose, reseda, privet, chrysanthemum
    • Spices: vanilla, anise, cinnamon, caramel, pepper, cloves
    • Wood: cedar, sandalwood, wood toasted aromas
    • animal smells: musk, beeswax
    • other smells: truffle, resin, balsam, tobacco, leather, tar, earthy, smoky, grassy
  • Degree of maturity: superficial and cautious (too young wine), tangy and biting, flat and used up (too old wine)

The sense of smell is the sommelier's most important tool, as the nose can distinguish far more nuances than the tongue . The nose is 100 times more sensitive than the tongue. What is perceived as an aroma by the tongue is often also a nasal aroma: the back aroma in the nose arises from the body-temperature oral cavity.

From the “nose” the sommelier can infer essential characteristics of the wine such as grape varieties , origin , age and processing .

The taste or "the tongue"

The tongue can convey a variety of taste impressions.

The wine is sipped slowly, the air supply intended. The wine is moved slowly in the mouth and left there a little longer. The sensation for "sweet" decreases over time, the bitter taste impression increases. The tannins (tannins) are just as rough and bitter in the mouth and the taste is noticeable on the palate .

Assessment criteria and suggestions for characterization

  • Body: light, balanced, heavy, full-bodied, flat, in fruit, fleshy, oily, bulky (alcohol quickly goes to your head), nutty, velvety, silky (fine structure), thin, raw, oxidized, used, prickly (bacteria-infected, Smell of ethyl acetate , inedible)
  • Astringent (somewhat rough sensation on the tongue, typical of tannic wines): not, light, astringent
  • Sweetness: tart, balanced, unobtrusive, sweet, oily, doughy
  • Acidity: meaningless (no acidity), flat, piquant (impression of freshness), spicy, fine, plentiful, unpleasantly hot
  • Balance: unbalanced, balanced, perfect
  • Bitterness: nonexistent, light, bitter substances, inky, metallic, herbaceous, smoky, hard, small
  • Salty taste: not present, in traces

It is possible to interrupt the sample here and spit the wine out into a vessel. This enables a large number of wines to be tasted without consuming all of the alcohol .

The finish

Great wines should also be drunk during tasting to assess the lingering impression after the wine has left the mouth. Depending on how long the wine taste can be felt in the mouth and throat area, one speaks of a long or short finish or reverberation .

Assessment criteria and suggestions for characterization

  • Taste persistence or taste length: short finish, strong finish with a long aftertaste, "peacock wheel" (the bouquet returns after a while)


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Controversial Wine Judging Study: The Real Story.
  2. Taken and somewhat rearranged from: Hervè This-Benckhard: Rätsel und Secrets der Kochkunst. Explained scientifically. 7th edition, Piper, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-492-23458-5 .

Web links

Commons : Wine tasting  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Wine tasting  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations