How to Judge High Quality Wine A Sensory Experience

Published: 13th March 2009
Views: N/A

There is wine....and then there is good wine. Everyone has heard the jokes about drinking "cheap wine", but what they don't realize is that cheap wine can be cheap in a lot more ways than just price.

Wine has many different characteristics and there are a number of excellent medium quality wines which make ideal wines for daily use; quaffers! These wines have excellent flavours and aromas that heighten the wine drinking experience. You don't have to buy bad wine when so many wonderful, good quality wines are available here in Australia.

Of course there are also high quality wines and that is where you can truly enjoy a sensory experience. High quality does not necessarily mean high price though you can literally pay as much as you want for a bottle of wine. Private stock wine possessing unique qualities, properly stored, available only in limited quantities can command thousands of dollars.

Australian Quality Around the World
For most wine drinkers, the goal is to find a wine that can be paired with food in a way that enhances the entire meal experience. In Australia, wine consumption has reached 22.5 litres per person per year. The country has become a major producer and exporter of wine because of the high quality wines produced in varying conditions. In fact, the wine is so good that Australia has become the 6th largest producer of wine in the world. It is also the 4th largest wine exporter.

Obviously the quality of our wine is very high or people would not be demanding the product in over 100 countries around the world. But if someone asked you why the wine is of good quality, could you tell them?

The answer to that question is best addressed by learning how people judge high quality wine. If you know how to recognize high quality wine, you will know how to buy high quality wine.

Judging Quality
When wine is judged there are certain qualities that are considered. These qualities include appearance, aroma, taste and body.

If you enjoy drinking wine, you have probably seen someone pour a glass of wine, gently twirl it around in the glass, and then hold it up to the light. What that person is doing is judging the appearance of the wine.

The appearance of wine refers to colour and clarity. Wine clarity judging looks for cloudiness and the right shade of colour. Red wines should be richly coloured and have colour intensity. Though red wines will pale as they age, the colour of the wine should still be brilliant and glittering and not dull.

When judging the appearance of white wine, you are looking for colour shades ranging from yellow to amber. White wine colours should remind you of richness. As white wines age, they may darken. However, white wines that have browning may have been improperly oxidized which means they cannot be considered high quality.

By the way, the swirling of the wine in the glass is meant to uncover any sediment that adheres to the glass. This is related to judging clarity.

The aroma of the wine is the second characteristic judged in order to determine quality. The aroma is literally the smell of the wine as you get ready to drink it. It is the first sensory experience of wine drinking because you smell the wine as soon as you open the bottle.

The swirling of the wine in the glass will release the aroma of the wine. To judge a wine's aroma, you inhale the odour deeply after letting the wine breathe for a few minutes after pouring. There are a number of aromas you may detect, and the wine should smell according to the type of wine it is. For example, red wines may smell earthy while white wines might have a fruity aroma.

When judging the aroma of a wine, you can use your common sense in many cases to determine if the wine is high quality. If you open a bottle of wine and find yourself wrinkling your nose or wondering why it smells earthy when it should generally smell fruity or florally, then you probably have a low quality wine in your hand.

Once you have judged the appearance and the aroma, it is time to judge the taste. How the wine tastes depends on the type of wine you have purchased. You take a small sip of wine and roll it around your tongue and mouth and let the full flavour leave an impression on your tastebuds.

When you are wine tasting while looking for quality, the key characteristic to keep in mind is balance. The wine's acidity and sweetness are judged. The amount of acid in the wine determines how tart a wine tastes. If a wine is flat tasting or is too tart, the acidity level is not correct.

The sweetness of wine is determined primarily by the amount of alcohol and the acidity level. But when you are tasting wine, it should of course taste as you would expect. A dessert wine should taste sweet and there are certain wine names that let you know a wine should be sweet. If you discover the wine does not meet its definition by industry standards, it is not a high quality wine.

Finally, high quality wine will have the right body. Body is determined by the tannins in the wine and the body changes as wine ages. The body of the wine refers to the weight or feel of the wine in your mouth.

For example, when you taste a full-bodied red wine you would expect the wine to feel heavy in your mouth. When you are drinking a light white wine, the sensation would not be as strong. Wine is defined as full-bodied, medium-bodied and light-bodied.

The Joy of Drinking Wine
Learning how to judge a high quality wine takes practice. As you learn about different types of wine and are able to associate certain characteristics to expectations, your wine judging abilities will grow. The qualities of wine are determined by the grapes used and the wine making process followed.

The one thing you can count on though is that quality judging is just another way to experience the joy of drinking wine.

Discover new wines and learn about wine with our free wine lessons. Buy wine online at Wine.

Video Source: Youtube

Report this article Ask About This Article

More to Explore