This past week, OregonWines.com launched a new service aimed at educating wine
enthusiasts about the art of tasting.
Wine tasting is one of those topics that can be deceptively challenging. Depending
on your knowledge of the topic, it can seem impossibly simple, or exceedingly complex.
At first glance, it seems easy enough: drink some wine, and write down whether
you liked it or not. However, as with any art form, the more you get to know
about it, the more you realize how much you don't know about it.
Consider the single biggest problem, in our minds, with the term wine tasting
-- it makes no mention of the other two senses used in the process -- sight and
smell. Yes, a wine's color, clarity, viscosity, and aromas are just as important
as its flavors, body, complexity, finish, and balance.
Excuse me, but what does that mean?
Good question. What does it mean, "a wine's clarity"? What is viscosity?
Aromas? Doesn't wine just smell like... wine?
Not exactly. The more you taste, the more you learn about the nuances of tasting.
The more you sample wine, the more acute your senses become, so in time you come
to have a greater awareness of what is going on in a particular wine.
That leads into the biggest challenge of all: after amassing this know-how,
you have to find the words to write down your experience! Without a doubt, the
most important reasons for tasting notes are to record information about wine,
to help inform others about a good or bad bottle, or to add it to your collection,
like a personal journal. With tasting notes, you are remembering the smell, sight,
and taste of a wine, the entire experience, so that it may be enjoyed well after
the bottle is empty.
With this in mind, we developed our new Online
Tasting Notes service. With it, our wine club members can quickly and
easily learn about the art of tasting, be led through the entire process of recording
a wine's information, sight, aromas, flavors, and other details, all in one place,
and in less time than it takes to open a bottle!
What's more, club members post their notes for other members' review, so while
our service helps educate them, it also helps them educate each other. After
entering tasting notes on that great bottle of '99 Pinot Noir, you can contact
a friend to take a look, and see how your notes compare to theirs.
But this brings up a problem. Tasting is subjective. One person may taste one
flavor in a wine, and other person may taste something entirely different. And
you can't smell your computer's monitor in hopes of getting a scent for the wine.
So, how does our tasting notes service convey a wine's flavors and aromas, and
in a way our members can come to understand?
Enter our exclusive Tasting Star. Ignore the imagined fanfare music. Think
about visualizing a wine's flavors: sweetness, acid, oak, tannins, finish, body,
complexity, and balance. These eight factors create a wine's flavor experience.
Sure, there are other considerations, such as "mouthfeel" and flavor
intensity, but the eight factors recorded in the tasting star serve as the basis
for all other aspects of a wine's flavor and feel.
Here is a brief description of the eight flavor factors:
- Sweetness - the amount of residual sugar in a wine, ranging from low (bone
dry) to high (sweet).
- Acidity - the amount of citric, malic, and tartaric acids in a wine, ranging
from low (flat) to high (biting).
- Tannins - the amount of phenolic compounds, drawn from skins and pips of
grapes, which impart a sharp, bitter flavor to the wine.
- Oak - the influence of compounds from the oak barrels used to age the wine.
- Finish - the length and quality of a wine's aftertaste, ranging from brief
- Complexity - how the wine's sweetness, acidity, tannins, and oak affect
the wine's overall flavor, ranging from simple to complex.
- Body - how the wine's components affect the intensity and richness of the
wine's overall flavor, ranging from weak to potent.
- Balance - how all of the seven preceding factors balance out, ranging from
unbalanced to well-balanced.
The tasting star organizes each of these eight factors into points along different
"spokes" of a wheel. The relative value of each factor determines its
placement on each spoke. The region between these points is then filled in, producing
a "star" - an image that demonstrates the wine's flavors.
Here are four sample tasting stars, demonstrating how different wines are represented
with this system.
Dry white wine
Sweet dessert wine
Of course, tasting will always be a subjective thing. But with our new tasting
service, we hope to provide you with a forum in which to flex your tasting notes
muscles, hone your skills, learn a lot about the topic, and most importantly,
have fun doing it.
We invite you to learn more about how the tasting star works: Click Here.
We invite you to sign up for our new service, by visiting:
Or, if you are already a Wine Club Member, log in by visiting:
As you become familiar with the way this system works, our hopes are to help
you learn more about the basics - as well as the complexities - of creating your
own tasting notes. The best tasting notes will be published in our monthly newsletter,
as well as submitted to area wineries for review. Consider the fame, fun, and
learning you could get as a result of using this system!
We welcome your feedback, and look forward to hearing about your experiences tasting great Oregon wines. Now, please excuse us, while we work up some notes of our own!
All the best,
The Staff at OregonWines.com