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The last two columns have given tips on how to conduct a successful wine tasting. A group I get together with is so casual we don't (or haven't so far) ranked the wines. This can be a good way to go. Each wine is evaluated on its own merits, and not judged against the other wines.
But scoring wine-especially for beginners-can be exciting too. You should discuss how you want to score the wines prior to the tasting so that everyone is on the same page. You might even want to provide score sheets for your guests.
Here are four methods that you might want to consider:
A "great wine" to me is a wine that has a great nose (aroma and bouquet), great flavors and a great finish. Many wines fall short in one, two, or occasionally all of those dimensions.
- Use a 100 point scale. Some major wine publications use the 100 point scale. The most influential and important wine writer in the United States, Robert M. Parker, Jr., also recommends the use of a 100 point scale. As Parker argues, we are all products of public education in this country, so we know this point spread best.
- A variation of the 100 point scale is to give the letter grade. A through F-something we all understand as well.
- The University of California at Davis developed what's known as the Davis 20 point scale. I frequently use what I call the modified 20 point scale based on the Davis scale-two points for the color and clarity of the wine; four points for aroma and bouquet; four points for taste and flavor; and four points for the finish of the wine and its lasting impression.
These four scoring methods all require the wines be tasted blind.
- Another way to score a wine is to give it a price-what you would pay for a wine! This could be devastating. Imagine tasting a wine with a winemaker or a winery rep. The wine is priced at, say, $20. Recently I told a winery rep I'd pay $3.99 for the wine. And once I told a rep "$1.99 at Pick 'N Save." But there's the other side of the coin too. You might rate a $5 wine with a $25 price. This is certainly a possible outcome also.
Events and Classes
- Saturday, June 28 from 3-6 p.m. the Cal Poly Vines to Wines Alumni Chapter presents a Celebration of Wine at Santa Margarita Ranch/Mondavi Vineyards. Tickets are $55 and the proceeds benefit the new Cal Poly Wine & Viticulture major at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo! For reservations or more information call (805) 756-6389.
- Beginning this summer, UCSB Extended Learning Services is offering classes for home vintners, amateur enologists, and "garden-variety wine-appreciators." The classes are:
For more information or to enroll, call (805) 893-4200, 893-3351 or peruse UCSB Extension's catalog online at http://www.extension.ucsb.edu/
- Establishing the Home Vineyard, Saturday July 19 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Basic Home Winemaking, Saturday September 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Pruning Grapevines: A Hands-On Workshop, Saturday, January 31, 2004
- Maintaining a Healthy Vineyard, Saturday, April 17, 2004.
Times wine columnist, Bob Senn, lives in the Los Alamos Valley and owns the Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium.
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