A man, a sensor
Sensors in chemistry are probes with the ability to determine, for any material, type and quantity of its compounding substances. Sensor in nature is the human being, who is able to determine nature and intensity for he senses. Our sensorial capability is gigantic and highly responsive. Whether or not we are conscious about it, they are always operative (our receptors are always in action, sometimes we realize, others we don’t, for example while sleeping). We continuously and very clearly sense, yet the following actions of pondering and evaluating rarely, with no method nor continuity, produce a translated output as intense as the incoming was.
In the following paragraph I will dwell upon the importance of perceptive attention, but now my main concern is to let you intimately acknowledge this – true- concept: I am a ferocious taster. Why such a thing? The reason is sensibility is a shield given us for our protection. Sensibility = survival = ability to protect and enhance our intact and continual selves. We finely sense in order to be able to finely live. This is the reason for our eye is a lens whose versatility and perfection are glorious, this is the reason for our nose is a radar and a sonar and our mouth is a weighting scale capable of perceiving any micro-variation of consistency and taste in what funnels and lingers in it.
In support for the evidence of how terrific is our eye’s capability to see, I recall its ability to distinguish colours’ infinite nuances; such ability is so naturally existential that often we are not even conscious of how small the difference can be between two shades, as small as 0,02 micron in wavelength.
In support for the evidence of marvellous is our nose’s capability to smell, I recall the power held by those weightless particles that a man perceive as perfume: memory of a feeling’s emotion.
In support of the formidable capability that allows our mouth to perceive any micro-variation in the consistencies and tastes inside, I recall the hair’s effect. A hair inside your mouth is like a trunk in a creek. Any person, in any circumstance, if by chance perceives a hair inside his mouth; he will surely stop whatever activity is going on in order to remove what’s so much bothering for the tongue. Felt like a pole, we are talking about a diameter of just few microns. No one should ever doubt the absolute magnificence of his sensorial abilities. Magnificence that is magnificently natural. No one should ever tell him self ‘’ I am not able to sense enough for tasting’’ because it would be just like saying ‘’I am not able to breathe enough for living’’.
Attention, or the intellective perception of sensations
Like a radio without antenna, transmitting without receiving, a man without intellective attention will sense, but will not perceive. Sensation without perception is empty, senseless. Man is an itinerant sensorial receptor, always on, always intrinsically and perfectly able to record sensations. Than perception, this will need attention.
The attention you are now putting in reading my words is the reason why not perceiving the ground noise, surely surrounding you. Stop reading; redirect attention from the understanding of these words to the noise around you. There it is, perceived. To wit, sensed + thought. You could sense it before, but you could not perceive it. Sensations must be intellectualized: noticed impulses, once they reach our thinking core, only if elaborated, they will return the qualitative essence of the entity from which they hailed. Hence, this is how, given our human intellective capability and our deductive rationality, any man’s sensation also is a descriptor. Sensation without perceiving attention is instinct. Sensations without thinking do not illustrate nor explain what’s being transmitted. Sensibility cannot be acquired, but our perceiving capability can be developed. Sensibility is congenital and not developable. Infinitely expandable is perception instead. Meaning the ability to rationally comprehend emotions’ load.
We shall close our eyes and reflect of what we have just felt. We strive to read, using our thought, such sensations. We analyse in detail quality and quantity of every felt sensation until its total comprehension. Earning the capability of perception requires effort and up to thousands sensorial repetitions. I can’t tell you how many times shall be enough for a clear and sharp perception. Receptive organs, like our nose, for example, must be so strongly and directly connected with our brain, so totally and continuously, that the organ itself will become brain. We shall sense in our mind a wine’s perfume. Again, our mind is where we shall feel wine’s caressing viscosity. What connects sensation to perception, what connects eye, nose and mouth to our mind, it always is attention. No attention means no perception, no man without it will be able to evaluate sensations.
No one is unable to taste, no one is not capable of evaluating quality in wine, although some may not analyse attentively what they feel, not perceiving sensorial quality, thus analytical quality, in such sensed things. Let’s now think of the difference between men and other animals: them, their senses are way more powerful but less capable of comprehension; us, we are “superior” for our greater understanding of our probably not as powerful and clear sensations.
If you have not paid attention as far to the sensations emanated by the several wines and foods you have got in touch with, if starting today you set about attentively evaluate and ponder the effects that your sensibility records when turned on by a certain wine, you’ll marvel at how quick and clear is the process of perceiving any tasted essential quality. The object of our analysis, wine, it moves senses for our mind’s interpretation. Attention must be the subject. We shall mentally gain consciousness of our sensorial capability, we shall use such perceptive awareness and so even a MICROGRANULO DI POLVERE will be for our senses as a gigantic iceberg.
The honesty and the immediacy of sensations
Each and every sensation, no matter how immediate, is in itself, true. Sensory organs never fail in receiving nor they fail in transmitting, what could indeed, more or less frequently, be wrong is our intellective perception of such sensation. The less directly and attentively we think about what we have sensed, the more we could mis-interpret it. The first inhalation, the first gustatory impression are the true ones. The first sensation is what we shall become aware of, as well as what we shall provide evaluation of. Let’s ponder wine’s quality based on the sensations that come from touching it. We shall not base our evaluation on abstract qualitative ideas. The more honestly we will account for what our senses recorded, the more valuably we will taste and we will be considered as wine-tasters, as sensorial analysts.
Wine/ Wine Taster relationship: how sensorial analysis works
Wine reaches its taster’s senses for how it is chemically and physically compounded. As any meal’s taste depends on its ingredients’ quality and quantity, so a wine’s taste depends on quality and quantity of its compounds.
Tasting is, therefore, the organoleptic exam (through our sensorial organs: eyes, nose and mouth) of an effective analytical reality (the sum of wine’s compounds). Each chemical, for example sugar, specifically provokes a fillip to a certain sensory organ whose repercussion will be perceived and interpreted by our brain, as for example sweetness. Wine’s compounds are agents for our sensations. A simple cause-effect link. I understood and I tested such concept at the beginning of my career, when I asked my self: how does tasting works? What is that varying thing in wine that varies its effect on our senses? What is the relationship between wine and wine taster like? The answer is immediate and logic.
Wine is a set of chemical-physical compounds, each and all causing a sensorial stimulus. Any felt sensation is an effect of such stimulation. Hence, any wine’s organoleptic performance substantially depends on its chemical composition. Then, if this is true as it is, it is possible to scientifically study the existing correlation among wine’s chemical composition and its sensorial performance, finding out how the composing profile is for a wine capable of giving organoleptic quality and pleasantness, and how it is for dis-quality and unpleasantness. I laid then the foundations for a new branch of tasting: the sensorial-chemical analysis. I used to buy 2 bottles of a certain wine, the first was for my tasting, and for that I would produce a descriptive and evaluative sheet in hundredths; the second bottle was submitted to a laboratory that would provide for the analytical profile of that wine, with the titration of 21 chemical parameters. I used to dedicate a page of my technical magazine to a specific column named ‘’Investigation: wine’s sensorial-chemical analysis”. I used to publish in that page the evaluating sheet first, than the chemical profile, than my comment regarding the sensorial performance on the basis of the knowledge acquired about its chemical profile.
Co-operating with Professor Aldo Fioravanti, after five years studying and investigating, after processing through sensorial and chemical analysis over 200 wines, I managed to determine in a formula what the chemical structure for pleasantness in wine is. It is now well-known such profile, the profile that pleasantness requires to be tasted in a wine. We also know the chemical-physical agents of all perceived sensations, good or bad, as it is well known how any sensorial variation is linked to the quali-quantitative variation of such agents.
This knowledge, when applied to wine production through a viticultural and oenological focused development, allows a certain pleasantness value technical reproducibility. This is how casual pleasantness turns into systematic, as always shall be.
The will to taste
Tasting is different from drinking. A taster is not a drunkard. Tasting means determining quality and pleasantness in the wine under examination. This happens through the measure of the three determining qualitative parameters (consistency, balance and integrity). Tasting does not mean drinking wine for its enjoyable and inebriating effects. A wine taster is sober because he knows that in order to taste it is fundamental to manage total mind control. Great attention is necessary in order to think and understand what our senses are recording when touched by a wine. Hence, will is a must for tasting. The will to relate with wine in an attentive and technical way, not purely convivial. When dealing with wine, always natural provider of a certain load of stimulations, and with who relates with it, it is fundamental to choose among a hedonistic or a technical attitude. It is the very same choice as the one you have to make while reading, between quickly scrolling down the page or carefully reading it.
The taster’s attitude
Fixed the will to taste, basic factor of a technically proper asset towards the glass, any taster in order to well taste has to keep in mind the following inspirational criteria. While tasting we are animals more than humans. We shall not worry about the impression we make while tasting, we shall instead find the way to sense as much as possible. Sometimes, when I lead public tastings, I ask the crowd about how they perceive a certain smell, a certain specific sensorial feature of the wine under consideration. The attendees would bashfully get close to the glass with their nose, inhaling air with their face 10 or more centimetres far from the crystal. Wrong! It must be inside the glass, possibly tilted to the side, so that it will be offering a greater sensible surface to the odorous air. The tip of a tasting nose shall almost touch wine, the inhalation shall be deep, repeated as necessary, eyes shall be closed when pondering what our nose and our palate are sensing, thereby perceiving nature and intensity of the gustative and odorous flow. You shall be profitable in order to sense. Every part of our body shall be striving for sensations. Total participation is required by perception to our organism and to our intellective faculties. The proper spirit is that of challenge. The very wine that I taste represents my enemy until when I identify its consistency, its balance and its integrity, thus its pleasantness index. And nobody plays with enemies. You shall examine it deeply, burn it, consume it with your nose and your palate until you get its nature’s total comprehension, until you get to penetrate it. If when I choose to wrap in plastic liner some cheese I do it making the liner as adherent to the cheese as possible, with the highest precision that I am capable of, doing so I will make the liner invisible: to my eyes, all one with the cheese. Well, this is how a taster must adhere to wine; he must adhere to the very wine he is examining until the point that they will join in one only thing. We shall melt with the wine we taste and then we shall retire leaving no mark. A taster is like a scale and a reporter: he weights the three parameters’ intensity with the highest precision, than he communicates with the highest fidelity what his senses recorded during the sensorial contact with the tasted wine.
Sensations: analysis and its right time
Before I became I writer myself, I could find no book with indications about the very substance of perception and sensations. Sensation is immaterial, reason why it is hard to think and to talk about it, as it is to describe it. It is no-matter rising from matter, and as it can be perceived it can also be studied and illustrated. Ephemeral, volatile as it is, seizing it requires much attention, great stubbornness is required if the purpose is to acknowledge it, than to recognize it, lastly to measure it. You shall not be afraid to start investigating those sensations that you feel every time a wine touches your senses. Just like any of us will not find it hard to describe a colour, so with the words and the thoughts you own, you shall describe the scent and the flavour sensed in your wine. You shall be humble, you shall not be afraid of asking others, of confronting with them. You shall be true as much as possible, focused, and methodical. Start from wondering about the easiest questions that concern sensations. Where easy means essential. What is this scent I smell? Is it acidic or bitter, or is it smooth? Is it clean? Is it dense and fresh? What does it remind me of? When did I smell it before? What is its intensity? Inhale it as many times as you need in order to sense and understand more. There is no time restriction. Timing in tasting is no qualitative factor. People shall take the time personally needed to make the most accurate evaluation possible of the qualitative parameters, of the shades and the wholeness of the wine that is being tasted.
Remember, the longer and the more attentive is the exam, the more precise the evaluation will be and the sharper will its memorization be, becoming unforgettable this way. The more skilled and capable the sensorial analyst, the taster will turn to be.
Setting and setting arrangement
Where and how our tasting takes place are aspects that can influence more than any other feature our investigation’s result. At the beginning of my career, when obviously I had no experience, I did technically taste in any place I would find myself to be, with no real or proper method. This is how it could happen then, that tasting a certain X wine, in Z place, with Y conditions, would result to my senses different from what it would result in place W and conditions K. The very same Barolo would taste smooth and harmonic when tasted in its original wine cellar, than bitter and tannic at the restaurant, finally alcoholic and short at some friends’ place. I had to understand that in order to be a reliable taster, in order to measure quality with precision in several different wines, I needed to use the same method, possibly always in the same place. By tasting in the very same place with the very same method many different wines, the only changing thing form one tasting to the other will be wine itself. Substantial variations will be then better recognizable.
Investigating quality and pleasantness in a wine through its three parameters, it is important to compare more wines at a time. The same sample that we absolutely define as rich, it could result flowing if compared to a thicker one; a certain wine’s absolute balance, when related to an even more harmonious one might turn out to be acidic; what appears clean might result perturbed in relation to a very integer wine.
Comparing wines during the same tasting is primarily required in order to perceive with substantial veracity the intensity of the three qualitative parameters (certainly comparing wines can facilitate measuring consistency, balance and integrity). Secondarily, comparing is useful if aiming to precisely identify the prototype of a maximally consistent, balanced and integer wine, with whom all other wines might be compared. Therefore, our very sample's consistency shall be measured for how it relates to the consistency of the richest among the wines that we are tasting or among those wines that we keep in our memory. An archetype must be the less approximated possible and it can be designed only after many numerous tastings.
From what has just been observed in the previous paragraph, a taster’s reliability depends on how large and clear his or her organoleptic memory is. The larger is the number of memorized different levels of consistency, balance and integrity the more clearly such parameters’ intensity will be defined in any tasted wine. Comparing is very useful for the development of a good organoleptic memory, while what is absolutely required is having a method. Evaluating a certain different feature in a certain different way every time I taste a wine, no wine will be recorded in my memory. Uneven comparisons won’t be memorized, method indeed promotes the process of memorizing of many wines’ characteristics, it does make it happen almost naturally.
Useful expedients for a fine tasting
1) All wine tastings shall happen with the taster sitting on the very same chair, in the very same position within the same environment: such constancy will enhance what, indeed, constantly changes as the different perceptions given by different wines, and it will make homogeneously memorisable what our senses will record.
2) The tasting table shall be white in order to avoid alteration and to facilitate the process of analysing a wine’s colour.
3) Lightening conditions while tasting shall be always constant: wine must be brightly lightened; a 100-watt lamp on our white table shall work perfectly. Almost complete darkness shall surround the tasting area. The attention required for the clear perception of any wine-generated sensation can be more easily reached and held in a dark place; if all what lays out of our cone of attention is in the dark, we will be able to focus such attention on the only thing that is enlightened: wine.
4) Attention and concentration work better if you taste alone. Tasting among other people we shall ensure to find our way and time to concentrate as much as it is required for the evaluation of the three parameters that determine wine’s quality. Going deep with your own attention is possible anywhere, in any case: it is a matter of will, of concentration and of practice.
5) It is better to taste on an empty stomach and a clean mouth. One hour without eating will allow saliva to restore its neutrality. Mouth and saliva can better record tastes and textures if they are devoid of any residual aromatic persistency coming from recently consumed food or beverages. Thus, it is damaging for such purpose to accompany our wine tasting with solid food of any taste and texture; food residuals not only have their own taste capable of modifying the perceived balance, but they also interfere on the perception of wine’s consistency
6) It is positive to follow circadian rhythm with our tasting sessions. Senses do feel time as well. If we get used to taste in a certain time of the day, that time will turn to be the best for our sensory organ’s functioning. So it is that our sense of hunger works, so it is that we feel hunger at lunch or dinnertime.
7) Wine glasses shall be always of the same type, not similar but definitely identical, strictly made of not optically worked glass or crystal (I.N.A.O. or I.S.O. are the best).
8) Filling height shall be equal in all glasses we are using; wine’s colour and aroma grow in intensity together with the amount of considered liquid; a fuller glass of a less coloured and perfumed wine could result more intense than a glass with a lower amount of a certain more coloured and perfumed wine.
9) It is very significant to use glasses with no residual traces of cleaning products (they would contaminate wine’s gustatory and olfactory profile.)
10) All of the wines we taste shall be the same temperature. In fact: a) the very same wine will gain consistency if tasted at a colder temperature (just like refrigerated yogurt tends to compact and heated oil tends to flow more); b) coolness makes aromas and perfumes less perceivable (freezing a wine could make cork defect almost unperceivable). The best is to taste room-temperature wines, temperature whose average shall be among 18 and 27 °C in order to not affect and distort the organoleptic characteristics of the wines under investigation.
11) The number of anonymous samples that we taste each time should be constant, or mildly oscillating among two and a variable maximum that shall depend on the taster’s experience and on the precision required for such on-going analysis. It is good to taste at least two wines each time, in order to make possible the qualitative comparison of the perceived sensations. Amateurs should taste up to twenty wines, as, in my opinion, that is the limit of investigable samples before risking the incursion of intellective fatigue or sensorial weariness. In any case, such number shall be proportioned to how much trained the taster is, because from the first to the very last wine they all require the same level of concentration
12) The taster shall always be equipped with paper and pen, or a computer, in order to take notes of all recorded sensations, as to describe any sample’s organoleptic profile and to express his/her own judgment (quantitative, if desired) about its sensorial qualities. Writing requires reflection and attention, as tasting in any case does. Writing down on some apposite memo book or data sheet the results of several different tastings will make it easier to build up and enlarge our organoleptic memory. Writing down the result of our observations, we will gradually enhance our ability to describe and evaluate.
13) The sense of smell gets rapidly tired and accustomed: it is possible to claw back nose sensibility taking a deep technical inhalation of an I.S.O. glass full of water: smelling nothing (water emanates no perfume) our olfactory sensors gain back their sensibility. Once we will go back to our wine, after smelling water, that aroma we could not perceive will then stand out clearly.
To identify wines
The purpose of any tasting is to establish, examining and accurately describing any recorded perception, a certain wine’s pleasantness index. It is totally wrong to believe that a good taster is the taster that can recognize a certain vintage or label in an anonymous tasted sample. The ability to recognize is not a value, indeed those whose attention is mainly focused on the identification of a certain wine, they are awful tasters, they are unable (because of their lack of personal interest) to evaluate that wine’s intimate qualitative essence (as the sum of its taste’s consistency, balance and integrity).
How habituation affects sensations
When interpreting a certain gustatory hint (positive or negative as it is), we shall consider palatal tiredness and the phenomenon of habituation: a weakened sensorial response to a certain repeated stimulation. The sense of taste, as that of smell, they get used soon to any given sensation: they are not able to perceive for long the same taste or smell, no matter how strong. For example: people get so much used to their own perfume that they are no more able to get its shades and intensity; entering a garage, a sharp smell of gasoline will hit our sensors but after few minutes it will be no longer perceivable. This is the reason why regularly drinking defective wines will make defects unrecognizable. Vices turn to normality, sometime even to quality, for the frequency that characterize their presence (artisanal wine-makers consider their faulty wines very good because they do not ever taste qualitative wines). Some people think that some negative smells that come from wine at the beginning of the tasting will dim or disappear with time: no thought could be more erroneous. As we have observed as far, when the wine we taste has a certain defect, right from the first sip or breathe such defect’s nature and intensity will be clearly sensed. Successively, because of the dimming effect of habituation, which reaches the point of erasing perception, that sensed defect will seem to disappear and the wine in which we found it at first will turn almost acceptable: in reality the defect is still there, it only occurs to either go back to that faulty wine after few minutes, or to compare it with some more integer sample. The defect’s interference will not mutate, its negative influence will remain absolutely equal to itself.
Wine’s description and its analogies
In order to describe a wine it is only necessary to illustrate what kind of sensations it offers and how intense they are. This shall happen in the way and with the words that the taster will feel as the best and most natural. Any heartfelt tasting sheet is a well-done tasting sheet. Then, a thought about the analogies that wine’s aromas and flavours are able to recall: it is ridiculous and it has no utility to strive and seek any particular analogy in a certain wine. Who defines wines by only enumerating some of the stranger perfumes that it supposedly recalls is not a reliable taster. What we shall do is to describe wine’s consistency first, then its balance, lastly its integrity, so we will be practically describing its essential analytical quality, its capability to offer pleasantness to the taste. Therefore, secondarily, given the sensorial presence of the compounding grape, we could focus on the eventual occurrence of some additional different analogic recall. A certain analogy has substantial relevance, thus it can be easily quoted, only if a certain wine evidentially and blatantly proposes it as a sudden recall, which shall be effortlessly perceivable and identifiable for all those who will drink such wine, not only for the taster. Once you get close to the glass with your nose, if the perfume clearly imposes us to say ‘’well, but this is apricot!’’ then we could and we should write such sensation down on our tasting sheet. I am talking about a hint so strong that everybody will be able to perceive it and then recognize it. Any good taster’s motto shall be: “As I taste, I write”. The picture that better describe how deductive must be a good taster’s description is the following: wine holds the pen for those who, sensing it, will describe it.
A certain vintage can determine the quality of the grape. It is worth as much as 50% of the totality; the remaining 50% depends on the winemaking. A good vintage is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the purpose of producing a highly qualitative wine. Sure it is that given the same oenological capabilities, the better is the seasonal course, the better the picked fruit will be, thus the better also the produced wine will turn out to be. In addition it must be said that the quality of the winemaking process can influence the quality given by the vintage. A capable vigneron will pick berries when perfectly ripe, thus consistent. A less capable one could compromise the same good vintage with inadequate and/or ill-timed operations, thus he will pick grape when not optimally ripe, lacking consistency or unhealthy. A capable oenologist will succeed in transforming grape into wine keeping its organoleptic characteristics just as pure and intact as they were, with no added distortions or filter. A less skilled technician could compromise with inadequate and/or ill-timed operations grape’s original sensorial patrimony turning it into a mediocre wine, a wine that will not at all represent the organoleptic features once offered by its compounding grape. Therefore, vintage’s power to influence quality is directly proportional to the producer’s technical qualities, as these represent the real determiner of any wine’s essential virtue. The man is the Cru, talking about the production of great wines.
Hence, it is possible for great vintages to give small wines, and it is just as possible for great wines to come out of average or lousy vintages. Then, any wine shall ever be purchased with no previous tasting. The equivalence ‘’ great vintage + great producer = great wine” is rarely satisfied, this is why you shall always taste a wine before buying a stock of it for your own cellar.
Wine and oak
Wine’s permanence in oak during its making can have two effects: 1) it can provide wine’s gustatory and aromatic profile of an added dimension, hints of spices or mint, balsamic, exotically mellow notes could softly and sweetly join those proper of the fruit. 2) It can distort fruit’s taste and aroma overwhelming it with foreign notes that have nothing to do with ripe grape’s original sweetness: caramel, charred-oak, steamed vegetables, tar, etc.
The first hypothesis relates to those wines that are able to reveal their compounding fruit, clear and rich of its own aromas but enriched of a certain bonus of minty, balsamic and sweet oak-derived perfumes; a load of positive aromas added to grape’s equally positive ones: fruit is raised to spices’ sweetness.
The second hypothesis indeed characterizes wines that nothing have left of their fruit’s aroma, wines whose sensorial profile is something whose square root is fruit, but whose product corresponds to such fruit’s transfiguration: dark, bitter, smokey, acetous and over-oaked.
In any case, in order to realize the first hypothesis it is necessary to use recent – even better if completely new – uncontaminated barrels, as it is also required a permanence whose length shall not be too extended, for the consequence would be the matured wine’s and its oak-derived aroma’s oxidation. The second hypothesis (as said, the transfigured fruit) becomes reality when the barrels are made of old and not hygienically sane wood. Why should wine be aged in oak if good oak is not available? Why should the fruit be left behind? It is better then to preserve fruit with its freshness putting wine in steel tanks or, even better, inside the glass of its final bottles.
Wine’s extended permanence inside oak barrels is procedure whose use is mainly attributable to two factors: first, in the past there were no alternative material suitable for containing wine (steel, glass, fiberglass, etc.); second, given the lack of technology, there was no other way to stabilize wine than maturing it in oak casks for a long time (wine’s compounding substances would precipitate as a consequence of the seasonal temperature variations). Nowadays other ways do exist to stabilize wine, nowadays tanks and barrels can be made of several different materials; therefore oak-ageing wine is a process only motivated by the will to obtain a certain enhancing portion of spicy aromas. Oak represents today the only aromatizing measure allowed.
Concerning the foresaid oak-related bonus of sweetness we shall consider that extending for too long wine’s permanence in barriques could still affect negatively wine’s overall qualitative pleasantness. Oak indeed could have the following consequences: 1) it could penalize wine’s integrity affecting its cleanliness with the increment of its volatile acidity (whose fruit-covering effect is a vinegarish, bitter sensation; 2) it could penalize wine’s integrity oxidizing its freshness; 3) it could affect wine’s gustatory balance because bitterness and rancid hints could be ceded by oak’s aromatic compounds (vanillin acid = oak tannin) and/or oxidation could be galvanized; 4) it could reduce wine’s potential longevity promoting early oxidation (extensively aged wines won’t age much longer). Any oak passage, ultimately, shall last long enough to allow wine to absorb from wood its spices, very quickly released indeed, but it shall avoid any volatile acidity’s raising, or processes such as wine’s oxidation, its darkening and caramelization, its flavour’s acidification and bitterization; defects as these could come from oak and irreversibly damage wine. Let’s remind ourselves that any wine’s quality depends on its fruit, not on wood.
Significant suggestions for enthusiasts, consumers and tasters
1) Whereas your own organoleptic judgment comes from attentive and methodical analysis, you shall always relay on it more than on anybody else’s opinion. Sensations are real more than anything else. You shall never doubt your own sensorial capabilities. Never. You must never give up your own sensorial evaluation for any other one whose foundation is some abstract extra-sensorial idea. Look at kids. Try to tell them that a certain bad tasting food, food that they disdainfully refuse to eat, has a certain superior quality given by its rarity or its price, by its year of production or by some applied secular tradition or forefront technique; try to do it. No kid, perfect taster as he is for being purely sensorial, will ever abandon or modify his own judgment, a judgment that is naturally based on every food’s qualitative essence.
2) In order to enhance your own ability to read, to describe and to objectively evaluate wine it is necessary to always ponder over the whole amount of sensations registered during the tasting: what is that very sensation? Where does it come from? What effect does it produce?
3) If a lack of time, money or stimulus makes it hard to personally taste many different wines, it is possible to rely on an external source (as a wine guide or some specialized journal) in order to individuate quality and eventually purchase the best among the wide offer of wines on the market.
4) To uncritically RELAY on a certain given source could turn out in a cellar filled up with bad wines. Any source’s reliability must be proven first. This is how it has to be done: 1) find a certain wine that has been described by the source that you intend to test; b) open that wine and pour it; c) compare the source’s description and evaluation with your own perception of the chosen wine through direct organoleptic analysis. You shall then find the truthfulness of your source’s observation inside the glass, there where the defined profile’s verisimilitude lays together with the given judgment’s FONDATEZZA. This kind of test should be periodically repeated (any human source is naturally subject to unforesightable mutations). Uniquely if you obtain from the glass such tangible confirmation of the selected source’s statements, you could choose to follow its advices for your wine purchases.
5) You shall never consider reliable any evaluation that is given or quoted by non-technical tastings. Hence, your purchases shall never be motivated by other people’s random commentaries nor by any of your own personal tastings if they are carried out with no technical method (it might happen at the winery or at some restaurant, during a wine-fair or certain producer’s PRESENTAZIONE, etc.). My suggestion, therefore, is to never buy a great quantity of a certain wine, whatever its producer’s or its vintage’s FAME is, without reading before some detailed and positive RECENSIONE that must be provided by a source whose reliability has already been proven.
6) He who speaks for what he felt, he is true and he can easily argument his own opinions. He who speaks for what he READ or for what he thought, he could either have no organoleptic opinions or have no ability to talk about them and argument them for they would have no sensorial basis.
7) Those who will start to practice the discipline of wine tasting using some sort of method, they will initially produce synthetic and poor tasting sheets: only few words about the intensity of a wine’s fundamental organoleptic features. Then, as experience grows, such sheets will become progressively more articulated and complex (but certainly not less true): CENNI about wine’s complementary organoleptic features and their different recorded shades. Finally, with the full and fully conscious PADRONANZA of the method, tasting sheets will have the length they deserve.
8) When starting to taste wines it may be better to taste your samples blindly in order to avoid any conditioning. As time passes, as any interest for what is not really perceivable during the tasting progressively fades, it won’t make any more difference whether you can or cannot see your wines’ labels: your reading will surely be deep and detailed, your evaluation will be objective and reliable because you will know by then how the unique interesting focus for our investigation, the unique source for our organoleptic knowledge, is your own glass full of wine. The only thing that matter when tasting with your own method is to methodically evaluate your wine’s objective substantial quality. Beyond any conditioning you will find the pleasure of knowing for real.
Requirements for being a good taster
Ultimately, In order to taste with your own method any wine’s pleasantness-quality-fruitiness index, you shall need:
1) Will: it is required to have the clear intention to express a technic-analytical evaluation about a certain wine’s pleasantness index.
2) Method: tasting with no method will not allow any analytical detection, evaluations will not be precise nor rapid, memorizing perceptions will not be possible;
3) Practical knowledge of the method (experience): theory is not enough, applied
4) Practice is a requirement;
5) Attention: only a well focused taster can perceive and evaluate with precision what his or her sensory organs register;
6) Immediacy, honesty, deductive reasoning and significance are required in evaluating and reporting everything you sense.