Wine Tasting vs Wine Drinking - Part Four (Putting it all together)

Are you a wine "taster" or a wine "drinker"? If you have been following this series of blog posts, you are well on your way to becoming a wine "taster" and an enthusiast. In my first post in this series, we discussed appearance. In the second post, we looked at all the components to evaluate in the "nose" or smell of the wine. And, in my last post, we looked at taste or palate. Now we need to put it all together and come to some type of conclusion.

Let's start at the end...what conclusion are you looking for? For me, I try to determine if this is a wine I like; if it is a wine that I can store; if I can pair it with certain foods; and if it is a good value. The previous three steps have led you to this point. Now we will put it all together. We'll take a look at balance, length, intensity, complexity, and expressiveness.

In step three of our tasting, we recorded a number of different aspects of the wines' affect on our palate. Balance in a wine refers to alcohol, acidity, tannins, sweetness, flavor, and how they all play together. These five components make up the "structure" of the wine. The goal is to have a wine that isn't overpowered by one component. If a wine is high in acid or tannins, but is missing fruit characteristics, the wine probably will not improve, and just taste "off". This would be an unbalanced wine. Some wines will taste "hot" from excess alcohol, this is a component that will not change with time. So, look at all components, and determine if they are balanced, and compliment each other.

We've already evaluated the finish or length in step three. Review your notes, as length is a sign of quality.

Again, we looked at intensity in our previous three steps. We looked at intensity in color/appearance, aroma/bouquet, and flavor. Are all three low, medium, high, or a mix? What is your overall impression of all three evaluations combined?

The definition of complexity is "something with many parts in intricate arrangement". It is the combination of body, flavor, intensity, balance, and finesse. If you ever want to compliment a winemaker....tell him/her that their wine has great complexity. This is what keeps you coming back for more. Sticking your nose in, and smelling and sipping over and over again.

The last evaluation really does take a lot of tasting. You need to know what is "normally" expressed for a certain variety. If you are tasting Cabernet Sauvignon, is it what you would expect from a Cabernet Sauvignon? You could even get more specific....does that Cab taste like a typical Rutherford cab, or a typical Margeaux? The only way to know, is to taste a lot.

Add it all together now, and come to your own conclusions. Is this a quality wine? Would you buy it? How much would you pay for it? Is it ready to drink, or should you hold it?

Remember, this is your evaluation. The most important point in tasting is to find a wine that you enjoy drinking, and will keep coming back to.


  1. Great series. Now if I could only remember to do all this when I'm drinking!

  2. The de-stemming machine needs an attentive attendant. Those blades turning could take your fingers off!