Develop your own wine taste
Wine is a personal choice. Not in the sense that it is your right to enjoy a glass of wine or not. Wine is a personal choice because everyones taste is different. And I dont mean style taste, but in the way each and everyone of us perceive the flavors.We all possess our very own taste receptors. These receptors are developed slightly different from the next persons, therefore creating the situation that one persons perception of the flavor is uniquely that persons and mine and your tasters are different. How intensely one tastes the flavors and experiences the different aromas of a wine all depends on one genetic makeup. Scientist have recently identified one gene, identified as OR7D4, that is responsible for a persons individual perception of a smell or taste.A slight variation in this gene will cause one persons interpretation of a flavor or aroma to be completely different from anothers. Because of this difference in our perception of aroma and flavors, describing a wines characteristics can become very confusing, unless certain key descriptors are used. Using these descriptors, or tasting terms, to describe a wines flavors and aromas make it much easier to get an idea what that wine tastes like. Even though that we now know that one persons orange blossom, or graphite is different from anothers, we all possess different levels at which we can distinguish particular smells, and differing intensities of taste. Using a somewhat standard vocabulary to describe a wine will give us an idea of what to expect from that wine.But where do these words come from, and how can kerosene, tar, or hay possibly be good descriptors for a wine?
Salty, sweet, sour, and are our four main tastes the tongue can experience. But our sense of smell can pick up thousands of aromas. We actually smell most of what we think we taste. In order to communicate our personal taste or smell in regard to wine, or to understand what flavors and aromas a specific wine had, a standard vocabulary was needed that everyone could use, or at least understand. So in the late 1980s UC Davis professor Ann C. Noble developed an aroma wheel as a standard to be used to describe wine in non-judgmental terms. The wheel gives you terms to use in describing the aromas of wine, and the sources of those aromas. The wheel lists 12 major categories of wine smells in the inner circle, sub-divided into 29 sub-categories represented in the middle circle, and into 94 specific descriptors listed in the outer circle. Although you can use any terms in describing a wine, these terms presented on the Davis wheel will allow you to relate more easily to how a wine is described. The terms on this aroma wheel not only describe the pleasant aromas of a wine, but also list smells that indicate a flaw in the wine.The Davis Aroma Wheel can be purchased from the UC Davis bookstore online, or at many wine shops.
There are other terms used to describe a wines character besides those on the aroma wheel. Some are easily identifiable, such as types of fruit flavors, or floral scents. Many good wines will be described as being focused, meaning a wine that all the flavors are well-defined. A complex wine is one that presents layers of rich flavors. A structured wine is a well-developed wine, with well-defined fruit, acid and tannin. Crisp is used to describe refreshing white wines with good acidity. Fresh refers to young wines with lively flavors and acidity.Less-than-stellar wines will be described as dull, describing a wine that does not have well-defined flavors. Flabby is another term used to describe a wine that lacks acidity and is weak in flavor you will also see thin, or lean, used for these wines.Understanding and using some of these standard terms should help you in relaying what you liked about a wine to others, it will also help you remember what you liked or didnt like about specific wines that you have tried. Janice Jones is a Truckee resident and wine consultant. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.