Evaluating Wine

Monday, July 23rd, 2007 at 12:00 am

wine glassHow does one know which wines are considered special or plain ordinary? To the common individual down the street, this wouldn’t mean anything. If a wine tastes great, then it is a damn fine wine.

But to the discriminating wine connoisseur, being able to evaluate wines as to their quality, make and vintage would mean anything in the world. But how do wine experts judge and evaluate the different types of wines? Here are the basics that may give the inquiring mind some knowledge in evaluating wines.

In evaluating wines, there are three basic elements that wine experts look into:


How a certain wine appears at a certain light will help determine its quality. Wine experts hold color and clarity as important factors in evaluating the different types of wines. They base this evaluation through certain properties that fine wines are known for. On the basis of color, wine experts take note of the hue that each type of wine displays.

Young white wine varieties usually range in between pale straw yellow to a rich amber color. This will depend on the grape variety as well as the ripeness of the grapes during harvest. The way the grapes have been fermented will also affect the color. White wines aged in wooden barrels usually have a more golden hue than those fermented in steel tanks.

The color of the wine may also be affected by the amount of oxygen it comes into contact with during vinification or bottling.  As white wines age, they darken in color. But if browning is found in young whites, this could mean that the wine may have been prematurely oxidized, resulting in a poor quality wine.

As for reds, they usually grow paler as they age. The color can range from deep ruby red to a paler cherry color for lighter red wines. Older reds are known for having a more brick colored hue around the edges which should not be present in young red wines.

In evaluating the appearance of wines, experts hold a half-full glass of the wine against a white background and observe the clarity and the color. The finest wines should appear as brilliant and rich rather than cloudy, with the color appropriate for its age and type.


How the wine smells is also a big factor in the evaluation of finer qualities. It is the wine’s smell that usually captures the drinker first before the taste. The aroma of the wine provides experts with a way to evaluate fine wines a bit better than their taste. They usually do this by swirling the wine in a glass to let the volatile essences to escape.

The aroma tells a lot of the quality of the wine since they can evoke smells similar with that of other fruits, spices, herbs and other substances. That is why wine bouquets are sometimes associated with a similar smell of a fruit, herb, spices, etc. in order to provide identifiable comparisons.


Taste provides the last element of evaluating the wine that the appearance and the smell might not be able to give. It is through the taste that wine experts may be able to determine the wine’s acidity, its tartness, sweetness and a host of other important qualities that make up its overall personality.

The key that wine experts look for when it comes to taste is the balance that each wine imparts. Wine experts usually do this by taking a sip of the wine and moving the liquid back and forth inside the mouth before swallowing, providing the first impressions of the wine’s taste.


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