Hooray, you want to learn more about wine! I was just asked by someone, who’s writing an article on tips of how to train your palate. He asked if I would be interested in sharing a tip for developing tasting chops. Since taste is primarily developing one’s sniffer first, I had to revert back to my Robert Mondavi days as a wine educator.

Before those Mondavi days, I used to teach anatomy and physiology. In the repetition of three times a day for five years, I got really good at reducing everything down to the lowest common denominator. Now, it’s the only way I can teach.

I wrote:

When I was working at Robert Mondavi Winery, I used to enjoy their Essence of Wine tasting. This can be done by anyone, and if it’s a group, the more the merrier, because a group discussion is also connecting more dots and memories.

  1. Choose the variety that will be tasted.
    1. Example, Chardonnay, since it’s the most sold wine in the world.
    2. That makes this one so easy.
  2. Read tasting notes from others, already written who have firm credentials.
    1. They’ve been tasting so long, they “know” ahead of time what to expect.
    2. With a little experience, so will everyone else.
  3. For Chardonnay, there are few styles
    1. Cool climate (coastal appellations)
      1. Green Apples
      2. Lemons
      3. Pears
      4. Lean (no Malolactic fermentation)
    2. Inland climates
      1. Peach
      2. Pear
      3. Filbert nuts
    3. Barrel fermentation or aging
      1. Vanilla
      2. Butter (gives a softer, rounder mouth feel)
    4. Taking the flavor adjectives above
      1. Cut these foods into small pieces
      2. Put them into a glass (wine glasses are great)
      3. Cover with a piece of paper
      4. Open your bottle of Chardonnay and pour into a wine glass
      5. Walk around a table, taking a sniff of the food
      6. Swirl the glass (to release the aromas)
      7. Sniff the wine and concentrate on finding that aroma
      8. Sip the wine and find the flavor

Works like a charm most of the time.

Malolactic, so everyone understands it, simply explained.

Malolactic fermentation

A + B = C

Acid + Bacteria = Cream.

  • The Acid is Malic, the same one found in Apples and lots of other fruit.
  • The winemaker adds a Bacteria (Yeast)
  • The conversion is from Malic Acid to Lactic Acid as an end product, which is the same acid that’s found in C

This makes wine creamy. It’s done to all red wines. It became popular in California and has created the buttery Chardonnay.

How’s that for Tasting 101?

My job is done here