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There is no single method to describe, evalutale, rate and/ or classify wines. There are different types of punctuation scales, distinct terms to refer to wine’s characteristics, and a very varied vocabulary to talk about perceived attributes and deficiencies.
There are also those who do blind or open bottle wine tastings, those who taste as panels or teams, and others who prefer to evaluate wines individually.
There is no one method that is better than the other: they are all distinct styles, they are decisions. The important thing is that, whomever reads the reports on these tastings, understands what is being said.
At VinoApp, we do wine tastings as teams; meaning that they are done blindly by a panel of experts (at a minimum 3 people). We think that this is the method through which tasters can be as objective as any human can be (if that’s even possible!) and not be influenced by the label, the winery, the vine, the place, etc.
We start the wine’s appreciation describing its visual aspect which, being perhaps the least important and transcendental point of the evaluation, we do it together. We define the wine’s color and its reflections, as well its clarity.
From here on out, the analysis is individual. Once each taster completes their description, we share everyone’s personal impressions.
Each taster highlights the top three most dominant aromatic families in the wine (and their specific descriptors) using VinoApp’s aroma wheel, designed for this purpose.
This aroma wheel includes more than 15 aromatic families. Within these families we find punctual smells (ex: Family- black fruit, Descriptors- blueberries, blackberries, black cherries, etc.)
The importance of having a standardized aroma wheel lies in having common parameters amongst tasters and having them all use the same criteria.
The next step is analyzing the intensity of some components, which we understand define the wine. In this analysis of intensities—although you can’t ignore the impression of clarity and quality—we focus on the potency and the strength of these sensations. We describe each of these attributes on a scale from 0 to 5; understanding 0 as when the attribute is not present. This number will progressively increase up to 5, depending on its concentration and perception in the wine.
The attributes we evaluate are: acidity, fruitiness, general aromas, spicy sensations, and the imprint from wood. We determine the final score for each attribute by averaging the individual scores of each taster.
We also highlight other intensities, perhaps in a more “classic” way, such as: nose, wine’s entry into mouth, intensity and structure in the middle of the mouth, persistence of its aromatic memory, and finish in mouth.
This data helps us put together, after discussing (sometimes a lot!), the agreed upon description and tasting notes of a wine. In our way of interpreting wine, we trust that the evaluation of a panel helps objectify criteria, beyond the personal taste of each tester.
Finally, before scoring the wine, we evaluate its body according to its structure and weight in the mouth as light, medium, or full-bodied. We also consider the flow or length of the pleasant sensations in the mouth and, once the wine has been ingested, the finish on the mouth that results in a short, medium, or long-palate wine.
At the same time we sometimes recommend opening the wine ahead of time in those cases in which we perceive a notable improvement once the wine has had a significant contact with oxygen.
We understand scoring only as a reference for consumers, who have grown used to the 100-point scale evaluation system.
As we see it, the “breaking” point is at 90 points. Wines that obtain said score are excellent, complete, and flawless.
High scores indicate greater balance, intensity, and complexity.
We hope that with this information many of you will be encouraged to begin using our tasting sheet to compare experiences. Cheers!
Sommelier and lawyer, in that order. Professor in the career of Sommelier at EAV (Argentine School of Wine). Head Sommelier at Vida Wines, importer of Argentine wines in the USA. He used to work at Bodegas Atilio Avena and Goyenecha. He was a member of the tasting panel of Austral Spectator. 50 years.