Tasting. Does it has any meaning or it’s just a show?
Starting today, we will begin a new chapter to fnbpedia.gr, the one that provides articles that some well-known people of dining, food and beverage and hospitality industry will provide to us. Giorgos Loukas is the first one. He is one of the best Greek sommeliers both in Greece and abroad with a lot of knowledge, transmission of knowledge and experience in wine and not only, which differentiate him. His school for sommeliers that he founded, Genius in Gastronomy is a very successful project, where hundreds of people that they want to learn all the secrets regarding wine are attending his courses in order to gain knowledge and get this world acknowledged certification. Please be so kind to find below his article regarding tasting.
The term tasting or most scientifically known as organoleptic audit, is one of the most important procedures that someone should know and operate with accuracy, like a good dinning industry professional, a sommelier, a food and beverage manager, an employee at wine industry.
It is not a skills show off. Whoever is dealing with it should face the whole procedure with objectiveness and seriousness, because it is not a performance aiming to impress, but an action that will provide assistance to our work.
How can be assisted?
This is the way to check out if a wine is actually a quality wine, its quality level and its characteristics. With this way we will set up our pricing policy, define our sales target group and proceed with the wine pairing with food.
We can also “read” the production techniques, the climate, the soil and more wine characteristics.
The most fair way to be done, is the professionals to proceed with blind tastes, keeping their eyes covered. But what actually means keeping their eyes covered? That means not to be aware of the wine label, of the producer and they will judge in order to decide for the wine lists and for the “by the glass” list with objectivity, only by caring what’s the best for the business and be able to judge the value for money section.
Many times, it is useful, tastings to take part in horizontally and vertical procedures, under the same scope. Horizontal is the tasting that we compare same varieties of wines, but from different producers, from the same age, destination and variety for example.
Vertical tasting is the reveal of evolution of the same label of the same producer throughout the years.
Totally, tasting consists of four stages, by using three basic senses; sight, smell and hearing.
The beginning of the procedure is with sight. At sight control we examine the clarity of the wine that will provide to us info for the wine making procedure. We will monitor the color and its intense that could also reveal info for the climate or the year. We can observe the consistency, if there is bubbling or sediment.
When we start to de-code a wine through its smell, the first thing we have to do is to check if it smells something not good that shows a problem. If it’s healthy or not.
Next step is the aromas intensity that we can feel, since there are wines with low, medium and extended aromatic intensiveness. Regarding the aromas, we have to deal with a really personal point of view. It has to do with experiences, childhood and memories of each one. Aromas can be separated to many categories. Flourish, fruity like citrus, stone fruits, white skin fruits, tropical, red and black, botanical aromas and earthy ones, are some of the categories could be found.
The level of matureness of those aromas is another clue that could lead us to outcomes.
The durations of those aromas at our nose is one parameter that we need to take under consideration, among the aromatic multiversity and quality.
At this level we examine to check out if there is a barrel influence or some obvious wine technique regarding the aromas, which will lead us to the result for our final outcome.
Next step is taste. When we taste a wine in our mouth, there are many more things that the ones we actually realize. At the beginning we taste a wine regarding the sugars level, if its dry semi dry or demi sec. After, we examine the alcohol levels and the taste that remains to our moth among the acidity.
Then we are moving forward in order to describe the intensity and the tannins feeling at our mouth, if they exist. Mild or bubbly is the next element at our examination of the wine. If we have to do with a sparkling wine then we have to provide info for the level of bubbling in our mouth. The body and the texture of the wine are the next steps that we are going to feel and in combination with tannins and acidity will lead us to the structure description of the wine.
Since we are here, we have to deal with the mouth flavors and their intensity. At this point, the procedure and the feeling experience doesn’t differentiates from the one of the nose, since we have to describe again what we smell. The confirmation of barrel use, of the wine making techniques and quality are now coming up at this stage. The balance, the duration and the sub flavor that remains among the aroma who escort it, are the three level pillars that conclude the feeling experience of tasting.
After sight, smell and flavor, brain takes over. Since brain records all info gathered before, it evaluates and comes to conclusions. If the wine is ready for consumption and if we can keep it more in order to be aged or if we want to maximize the guest’s experience, if we need to proceed with decanting. Temperature monitoring is crucial among the serving glass that will explode the wine’s profile.
After, it comes one of the biggest challenges of a professional sommelier. Pairing wine with food and the reasons that proceeds with this pairing.
At the end, since there is a blind taste, then he has to finalize with conclusions regarding the wine. The area, the rate, the area climate, the country of origin, the variety or the ones participating at the blend, the harvest, the label and the producer.
George Loukas – Founder Genius in Gastronomy / Sommelier Trainer