Standard Wine Tasting Terminology

Wine tasting practices date back to the 14th century and ancient wine production, and has evolved much since that time into the formal methodology used by professional wine-tasters today. This methodology includes ways to describe the range of flavors, aromas and overall characteristics of a wine. This same standard wine terminology can be used by less formal, personal wine tasting occasions, such as at your home wine tasting parties, as well.

The use of standard wine tasting descriptors gives the wine taster an opportunity to verbalize the flavors and aromas that they experience and can be used in evaluating a wine’s overall quality.

A wine taster’s own personal experience plays a considerable role in conceptualizing what they taste and in attaching a description to that perception. In that way, wine tasting can take on a subjective quality, meaning that descriptors may very well be perceived in different ways among various wine tasters. For example, in judging a wine’s taste, the descriptor “spicy” could mean different things to different people. To some it might mean anise or licorice. To others it might mean peppery or cinnamon. For this reason it does well for a wine taster to be more specific in their analysis of a wine, taking spicy, for example, to the next level of description.

Learning the great art of wine tasting offers wine lovers the chance to really appreciate a wine’s characteristics, complexities, tastes and aromas. Some perform the 5 steps of wine tasting every time they partake in a glass of wine, knowing that they will discover the best the wine has to offer; and if it’s a good well-balanced bottle of wine, how much greater the reward.

Sparkling Wine “The Bubbly” Is Not Necessarily Champagne

Sparkling wine, Champagne, the wines most called upon for wedding and New Year’s Eve toasts, and other festive occasions are loved by many, but often misunderstood.

Champagne is the name by which most Sparkling Wines are referred, and it is used to pretty much cover the gamut of Sparkling Wine. Well, Champagne is Sparkling Wine and it works well to have one name, except that most Sparkling Wine is not legally “Champagne”. Only Champagne from France’s Champagne region has dibs on the name; all other Sparkling Wines are just and only that: Sparkling Wine.

Sparkling Wine by Any Other Name Tastes Just as Sweet

Not even the other Sparkling Wine producing regions of France can use the name Champagne; other French regions refer to their bubbly as “Crémant” or”Vins Mousseux”. Sparkling wine is produced in several other countries and called by different names, like Espumante of Portugal, Cava of Spain, and Italy’s popular “Spumante” (aka Asti Spumante).“Sekt” is the term applied to Sparkling Wines from Austria and Germany.
The United States has a number of Sparkling Wine producers located in a number of states and is a large producer of Sparkling Wine. The United Kingdomproduced some of the earliestin the Sparkling Wine category of wine, and has recently begun producing it again.

Sparkling Wine and Champagne’s Common Ground

The commonality in both Champagne and Sparkling Wines by any other name is that they have a significant amount of carbon dioxide included in its structure that causes wine to “sparkle” and to fizz. The wine’s carbon dioxide can be the result ofeither natural fermentation, occurring either in the bottle, as done in the processed known as “Méthode Champenoise” or by using a tank that is designed to bear the pressures of injections of carbon dioxide as in the process known as“Charmat”.

Differences between processes are easily noticeable in the end products. Charmat processed Sparkling Wines typically have larger, shorter-lasting bubbles. Méthode Champenoise processed Sparkling Wines have bubbles that are integrated in the wine and are longer lasting. The Charmat method is a faster carbon dioxide inducing method, as additional time is required in the Méthode Champenoise method to clear sediment. The extra processing time creates a yeast autolysis (i.e., chemical breakdown) that subsequently adds complexity and creaminess to the Sparkling Wine that is missing from Sparkling Wines processed by faster methods.