October 23, 2018

Wine Tasting Tutorial

Oak, Acid, Alcohol or Sugar - Learn to Taste Like a Wine Maker

An interactive wine tasting brought you by Northern Brewer and Winexpert's Tim Vandergrift. Tim leads us through his "Wine Component Tasting" presentation. Thanks to Tim, you can taste and analyze along with the class. See his instructions below the video on how to blend your own component mixtures to sample alongside a white and red wine... particularly with the two control wines used in the video: Monkey Bay's Sauvignon Blanc (white) and Yellow Tail Shiraz (red).

And if you don't want to taste along, just enjoy the video!

The information below is copyrighted by Tim Vandergrift and Winexpert. Reprinted here with permission.

Component Tasting Program

Component tasting solutions are made in one-litre volumes, using any commercial bottled water that is free of flavour or minerals. Generic store brands work very well. Solutions are made for oak, tannin, alcohol, sugar, and acid. When making them up, be sure to taste them as you go. The flavours should be detectable, but not overpowering. Be sure and label your mixtures, some will look similar.

Oak: bring one litre of the bottled water to a boil and add sixty grams of American oak chips and remove from heat. Allow to cool and soak for two hours, pour through a coffee filter, and top up to one litre with more bottled water.

Tannin: approximately 2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) of winemaking tannin in one litre of water. Mix very well (tannin is difficult to dissolve) and taste: it should resemble the aftertaste of strong black tea. If it is unpleasantly puckering, or if it is difficult to detect, adjust to taste.

Alcohol: replace approximately 150 ml of the water in the bottle with regular 80-proof vodka. The flavour should be vaguely sweet and slightly metallic. If you find it overpoweringly ‘boozy’ or undetectable, adjust to taste.

Sugar: purchase fructose (fruit sugar) from a health-food store, or the health section of the supermarket. Add approximately one and one-half teaspoons (ten grams) of sugar to the litre of water. The taste should be very gently sweet.

Acid: add one-quarter teaspoon (about 1.5 grams) of tartaric acid to the litre of water. The flavour should be definitely, but faintly acidic.

These components are then tasted against a fruity, unoaked white wine, such as a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a fruity, oaky red—Australian Shiraz works well.[The video above uses Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc for the white wine and Yellow Tail Shiraz for the red wine.]

First, everyone should taste both the red and the white wine, and discuss their character—open forum style. Clear the palate with water afterwards. After this the process is:

  1. Taste the white, taste the component solution, taste the white again
  2. Discuss
  3. Clear the palate with water
  4. Taste the red, taste the component solution, taste the red again
  5. Discuss
  6. Clear the palate with water
  7. Repeat for next component solution