Tag Archives: wine sensory evaluation

Warm Climate, Cool Climate


Last time I waxed eloquent about our lovely morning fog here in Napa Valley. Of course, we haven’t had any since then…

Anyway, I thought it might be a good time to take a closer look at how climate influences your enjoyment. That’s what it’s all about, right?

As we said before, world wide, the best winegrowing regions tend to have Mediterranean climates and the growers in each region want the same thing: enough sun and heat to bring the grapes to complete ripeness, but not so much that they lose too much acidity along the way. And, each region has its challenges.    

If you like to garden, you know how seasonal temperatures affect the ripening pattern of your fruit and vegetables. Imagine trying to ripen tomatoes on your patio if you live San Francisco, where it’s foggy daily in the summertime, and temperatures rarely rise above 65F.  Those are going to be some tart, green tomatoes, right?  The same thing applies to grapes. They start out with high levels of acid, low levels of sugar, and relatively vegetative flavors. As the weeks go by they gain fruitiness and sweetness, and the acid decreases, provided they get enough heat and sun. So, depending upon where they’re grown they’ll ripen slowly or quickly and end up tasting more or less ripe since the level of sugar and acidity is affected.

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How To Taste: Wine Aroma Wheel

Onward with the tasting tips: 

You know that frustrating moment when you smell something and you KNOW what it is, but you can’t quite come up with the name? There’s a really helpful tool for that called the Wine Aroma Wheel. It was developed at University of California at Davis, one of the best wine schools in the world, to help us use common language to describe wine. 

Instead of saying something esoteric, like “The wine reminds me of a warm day on the ChampsÉlysées…” you describe something that others can relate to. Everyone know what raspberry smells/tastes like. Everybody knows licorice…

The center of the wheel has the broadest descriptors and becomes more specific as you work your way out. For instance, if you have a generally fruity impression, as you work your way outward, it asks questions: “Does is remind you of citrus fruit? Or berries? Maybe a little of each?” And then becomes more specific, yet: “You say citrus fruit. Is it more like grapefruit or orange?” Continue reading

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