SPR Virtual Wine Tasting, 14 December 2020

During what proved to be a highly interesting hour, sommelier Valentina Mazzetti – who hosted the event from her home in Florence – explained the principles of wine tasting to a select group of SPR members.  The shared experience of tasting two particular wines – even if on Zoom – made for an interactive and absorbing event, enhanced by a knowledgeable and engaging host who created an interactive atmosphere that encouraged comments and questions.

Taking the two very palatable – but reasonably priced – wines, a red and a white, Valentina ran through the aspects you should consider when tasting.  These came under the broad headings of look, smell and taste.  The group observed, smelt and tasted each wine in turn, taking time to explore each of these areas in depth.

The look of the wine can reveal its intensity and alcohol content, as seen in its viscosity in the glass, which gives an indication of how much sugar has fermented.

The wine’s aroma - clearly an important part of the drinking experience – reflects different fruit, flower and herb flavours, as well as oakiness, which depends on the storage process.  The white wine the group tasted – a Pinot Grigio from St Michael-Eppan in the Alto Adige region of northern Italy – had strong citrus elements including lemon and grapefruit with some notes of jasmine.

The next stage was to consider different aspects of the wine’s taste – its sweetness (or dryness), acidity, tannin, alcohol level and body.  It was interesting to understand how different parts of the tongue pick up the acidity of the wine and how you can judge alcohol content by the length of time it stays in the palate.

Both the white wine and the red, a Masi 2017 vintage from the Veneto region of Italy, came out as well balanced in terms of their acidity and alcohol content.  But Valentina implied that the important thing is to be able to pick out the character of a wine – not to make a judgement on how good it is, as people’s preferences vary a great deal.

Tim Horsey