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Flashcards in Tasting + Assessing Wine Deck (29)
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The optimal tasting environment will have:

  • Good natural light
  • No strong smells (perfume, lotion, foods, etc.)
  • Space for wine glasses, a water glass, and note taking
  • Spittoon


What is the recommended amount of wine to be poured into glasses for tasting purposes?

1.7 fluid oz (5cL)


When evaluating a wine's appearance, what are the 3 things you'll need to describe?

  • Clarity
    • 'hazy' or 'clear'
  • Intensity (how pigmented the wine is)
    • 'pale' or 'deep'
  • Color
    • see white, rosé and red cards for color ranges


Explain the differences between "pale" and "deep" intensity of a wine's appearance.


  • a white wine that has a wide, watery, almost colorless rim
  • a red wine that is mostly see-through and has light saturation from rim to core


  • a white wine with color that reaches or almost reaches the rim
  • a red wine that has deep, concentrated color and is near-impossible to see through from rim to core


What are the 5 colors used to describe white wines?

  1. Lemon-Green
  2. Lemon (most common)
  3. Gold
  4. Amber
  5. Brown


What are the 5 colors used to describe red wines?

  1. Purple
  2. Ruby
  3. Garnet
  4. Tawny
  5. Brown


What are the 3 colors used to describe rosés?

  • Pink
  • Salmon
  • Orange


What are some other observations you can make when assessing a wine's appearance besides clarity, intensity, and color?

  • Legs/tears
  • Sediment/deposit
  • Bubbles (for sparkling wines)
  • Pétillance (spritzy quality for still wines)


After swirling a wine, what can the legs indicate as they travel down the sides of the glass?

  • Depending on the rate at which they form and fall, can indicate sugar and/or alcohol content (though not definitively!);
  • If intensely pigmented, they can indicate a warmer climate or carbonic maceration (again, not definitively!).

The legs do not give exact information about the wine; they can help lead to ideas about the wine before smelling or tasting it, though. You will arrive at your conclusions after you complete the SAT.

Note: legs do not indicate quality.


What exactly are legs?

Wine legs are the droplets or rivulets that form on the inside of a glass of wine that has just been swirled. They're caused by the evaporation of alcohol from the sides of the glass.

High alcohol wines collect a higher density of "tears" or legs on the sides of the glass than low alcohol wines.

Sweeter wines are more viscous and, therefore, the tears will flow slower down the sides of a glass.

Try this at home!  Swirl a glass of 8% abv Riesling Kabinett and compare it to a 22% abv Port to see the difference, and read more about it here and here.


What are the differences between primary aromas, secondary aromas, and tertiary aromas?


  • Aromas that come from the fermentation process and the grapes themselves.


  • Aromas that come from stylistic winemaking choices after fermentation (e.g. vanilla from oak, or butter from malo)


  • Aromas that come from the aging process (e.g. caramel from extended oak aging or mushroom from extended bottle aging).


What are the 4 descriptors for development?

  1. Youthful
  2. Developing
  3. Fully developed
  4. Past its prime/tired


What are some of the possible faults you can find on the nose of a wine?


  1. Cork taint/TCA
  2. Reduction
  3. SO2
  4. Oxidation
  5. Volatile acidity
  6. Brett
  7. Out of condition/poorly stored/stale

The condition of a wine's nose would be categorized as 'unlean' if any of these were identified.


Describe the levels of the dry-to-sweet scale.

  1. Dry (no {perceptible} sugar)
  2. Off-Dry (a kiss of residual sugar)
  3. Medium-Dry (perceptible sugar but not enough to pair with desserts)
  4. Medium-Sweet (ditto)
  5. Sweet (e.g. Sauternes, Port)
  6. Luscious (e.g. PX, Rutherglen Muscat)


What effect does acidity have on your palate?

Acidity makes your mouth water and can cause a tingly feeling on the sides of your tongue.


What are 2 things to consider when tasting for acidity in wine?

  1. What is the sugar level in the wine?
    • Remember that high levels of sugar and acidity can obscure each other;
    • When in doubt, focus on how much and for how long your mouth waters (look for balance!)
  2. Is that tingling sensation alcohol or acidity?
    • Alcohol can sometimes trick your brain into thinking that sharp or tingly sensation is acidity


What effects do tannins have on the palate?

  1. Cause your mouth to dry and make it feel parched and scratchy like a cat's tongue;
  2. Tannins can sometimes leave a bitter taste on the back of the palate


What are the alcohol percentage levels for a low, medium, and high alcohol table wine?

Low: below 11% abv

Medium: 11% - 13.9% abv

High: 14% abv and higher


What are the alcohol % levels for a low, medium, and high alcohol fortified wine?

Low: 15% - 16.4% abv

Medium: 16.5% - 18.4% abv

High: 18.5% abv and higher


What structural components contribute to a wine's body?

  • Alcohol
  • Sugar
  • Acidity
  • Tannin


What structural components will make a wine appear lighter in body?

  • Lower alcohol
  • Higher acidity
  • (Lower tannin if it's a red wine)


What structural components will make a wine appear fuller in body?

  • Higher alcohol
  • Ample, ripe tannins


What are the 3 palate descriptors used for mousse?

  1. Delicate
  2. Creamy
  3. Aggressive


What does the "finish" refer to in a wine?

How long you taste the wine after you've swallowed it or spat it out.

Finish is more about how long desirable flavors remain on your palate and less about the structural components.

If the fruit and other tasty flavors stay on your palate for a long time, the finish is "long."  If a wine's tannins are harsh and remain on your palate for a long time, you'd say the tannins are "persistent."


1. A wine that is high in residual sugar will taste more balanced if the wine also has a lot of ___.

2. A wine that is high in alcohol will taste more balanced if it has a lot of ___.

1. Acidity

2. Fruit

When considering these concepts, think about lemonade (an acid to sugar ratio) for the first example, and fruity cocktails for the second example (the alcohol in cocktails is hidden by the flavors of fruit juices).


Generally, the shorter the finish the ___er the quality, and the longer the finish the ___er the quality.

Short finish = lower quality

Longer finish = higher quality


What are the 6 quality levels of wine used for the SAT?

From highest quality to lowest:

  1. Outstanding
  2. Very good
  3. Good
  4. Acceptable
  5. Poor
  6. Faulty


When would you use 'outstanding' as a quality level when evaluating a wine?

A wine is outstanding if it shows exceptionally in the following 4 categories:

  • Balance
  • Length/finish
  • Intensity/concentration of identifiable flavors
  • Complexity

If a wine shows well in 3 of the above categories, it's Very Good;

If a wine shows well in only 2, it's Good;

If a wine shows well in only 1, it's Acceptable;

If a wine struggles for any positive attributes, it's Poor.


What are the levels of readiness for drinking/potential for aging?

  1. Too young
  2. Drink now but has aging potential
  3. Drink now; not suited for further aging
  4. Too old