Monday, January 18, 2010

Wines & Beverages: TCA and Sensory Evaluation!

We learned how to make some wine in our first day in Wines & Beverages, and now it is time to taste some wines that other people have made. That sounds like a lotta fun but............

......we would be starting off our tasting with defective wines.  I am sure everyone has had that awkward experience of opening a highly prized bottle of something deep in the cellar only to be greeted by an aroma of nail polish, or band-aids, or burlap sacks, or wet cardboard instead of cherries, figs, and vanilla. Maybe this has occurred when you bought something really nice off of the wine list at your favorite restaurant only to be embarrassed as your guests tell you the wine you picked smells like you just washed your pet Schnauzer in their glass. Here are some helpful tips to identify that problem wine and send it back for a new bottle:
  • Acetalaldehyde: Smells like severely oxidized apples or Sherry. Natural attribute in Sherry.
  • Acetic Acid: Nail polish remover, dry erase marker. Volatile acidity.
  • Mercaptans: Rotten egg, sulfur. Hydrogen sulfide.
  • Brettanomyces: Band-aid, medicinal. 4-ethylphenol or 4-EP.
  • Brettanomyces: Burlap, barnyard compost. 4-ethylguaiacol or 4-EG.
  • TCA: Moldy, mildew, wet cardboard. 2,4,6 tricholoroanisole.
  • Sulfites: Sulfur smell.
That is enough with defects. Now let's focus on how this professional tasting thing really works.

Blind tasting is the most proven way to develop a non-biased sensory response. Little information is shared about the type of wine, the producer, or the region the wine comes from. Their will be plenty of time for that, but for now, we are just learning how to taste.

From the bottle and into the glasses. We always work from left to right and it is an understood standard to start with dry whites and work you way down the row to the big reds or dessert wines.  We sketch rough notes on our wine tasting sheets that include appearance, color, odor, acid, sugar, tannins, body, flavor, finish, and of course FOOD PAIRING suggestions. You can have a bunch of chefs-in-training tasting wines without thinking about that!

At the end of the day the bags are removed and the wines are revealed. Were we able to tell that #2 was a Sauvignon Blanc, or that #5 was a Pinot? Maybe yes, maybe no, but we have 3 weeks to develop that ability. Here was the tasting lineup for today:
  1. Lazy Creek Riesling 2006, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County. ~$24
  2. Shannon Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Lake County. ~$18
  3. Dutton Estate Chardonnay, "Dutton Palms Vineyard" 2005, Russian River Valley. ~$42
  4. Bokisch Rosado, "Terra Alta Vineyard" 2007, Clements Hills, Lodi. ~$11
  5. Acacia Pinot Noir 2007, Napa Valley, Carneros. ~$21
  6. La Sirena Syrah 2004, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbera. ~$45
  7. Joseph Phelps, Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Napa Valley. ~$54
  8. Runquist "Z" Zinfandel, "Massoni Ranch" 2006, Amador County. ~$21.

1 comment:

daniell marco said...

very nice article and explanatioin, specially i liked the pictures. thanks

Sensory testing