Tag Archives: words

Downoladable FsT Wine Tasting Chart!

StefanoExactly two years ago, I had published a post on this blog providing a general overview of the Italian Sommelier Association wine tasting protocol and the steps it entails.

Over time I have kept giving some thought about wine tasting and how the use of a common procedure and a common vocabulary may help making different people’s tasting experiences more comparable and convey information about a wine that readers can more precisely appreciate.

As a result, I have developed a one-sheet wine tasting chart that is based on a simplified and adapted version of the Italian Sommelier Association wine tasting protocol that I have been using in the wine reviews that have been published on this blog over the last two years.

After much work, consideration and fine tuning, I am quite happy with it and I am pleased to make it available as a free download through the link below to those wine enthusiasts out there who are prepared to take a more structured and disciplined approach in their tasting experiences, want to categorize their tasting notes in a standardized format or maybe just want to have fun with a few buddy wine aficionados in a blind tasting and then compare notes.

One caveat: the attached wine tasting sheet is loosely inspired by the wine tasting protocol of one of the several organizations out there which promote their own takes of wine tasting and its principles and criteria. As such, it is not intended to be the Holy Grail, the “ultimate oenophile bible” or “the one and only way to conduct a wine tasting”. Far from it. What it aims to be is a reasoned, structured way for non-professional wine tasters to keep track of their tasting experiences and organize and share their tasting notes in a standardized format.

A few words about the FsT Wine Tasting Chart:

  1. The tasting process is divided into four macro-phases: Sight, ScentTaste and Overall
  2. Each of such macro-phases is divided into a number of steps to guide you in your tasting and assessment of the wine
  3. Those steps are organized in a progressive numerical order which should be followed during the tasting process
  4. Most of the steps only require that you check the box of the most appropriate assessment/option for the wine that you are tasting
  5. Most of the assessments are structured in this way: you will find an adjective that describes a quality of the wine to its fullest extent (meaning, when such quality is distinctly perceivable – for instance, “intense” in the scent analysis), and then two more choices that describe such quality in a less discernible manner by using the qualifiers “moderately” and “scarcely” (following the same example, a wine whose aromas are not very intense would be “moderately intense” and one with weak aromas would be “scarcely intense”)
  6. Color, Viscosity, Alcohol, Quality and Life Cycle are the only steps with four choices instead of the usual three
  7. The only open-ended, descriptive parts of the chart are those referring to the descriptors of the aromatic and taste profiles of the wine, where the taster should describe the aromas and the flavors that he or she identifies in that wine
  8. For an explanation of the meaning of the various steps, please refer to my post on the ISA wine tasting protocol

So, if you like the goal of this project and you have not had professional wine tasting training, feel free to

 Download the FsT Wine Tasting Chart

and then give it a shot the next time you taste a wine and see how you like it!

After you do, please make sure to come back here and share your comments (good or bad!), suggestions or questions about the FsT Wine Tasting Chart through the comment box below.

The FsT Wine Tasting Chart is a free download for all, but please (i) refrain from using it for commercial purposes without asking for our prior consent and (ii) if you want to share it via social media or your own website or blog, feel free to do so but give proper credit to the author (Stefano Crosio, Flora’s Table, LLC) and the source by linking to this post.

Have fun and enjoy some good wine in the process! 🙂

Flora's Table Wine Glossary!

We are pretty excited to announce that one of our major projects is now online: an extensive wine glossary accessible through a newly added menu option!

A lot of work and energy went into compiling that resource, with a view to offering our readers a wine glossary that is as comprehensive as possible, with over 110 wine-related terms defined. This glossary is not intended to encompass each conceivable “wine word” nor is it meant to provide an exhaustive explanation of each defined term, but hopefully you will find it useful to get a grasp of the most important or common wine terminology and a whole bunch of French and Italian wine words or, if you are a wine expert already, to test your knowledge!

This glossary is based in the first place on the one and half years of study and hands-on experience that I immensely enjoyed going through to complete the entire sommelier certification course offered by the Milan chapter of the Italian Sommelier Association: we studied a lot, we learned a lot and… we drank (er… actually tasted!) a lot, making good friends in the process and meeting some remarkable people, among whom I would like to acknowledge the man who I think was the best teacher in the entire course, knowledgeable and entertaining Guido Invernizzi. Beside what I learned during the ISA course, this glossary also relies on extensive personal research and experience.

Please check it out and let us know what you think about it: given the effort that we put into it, it would mean a lot to us. Clearly, any comments are welcome, as are any suggestions, requests that a specific term be added or corrections of any inaccuracy. Oh, and by the way, you are welcome to link to our wine glossary page, but please refrain from copying or utilizing our work without first asking for our consent. Thank you!

Sulfites and Wine: an Inseparable Couple?

Today I came across an interesting post that appeared yesterday on Dr. Vino (Tyler Colman’s excellent wine blog) regarding the legend “contains sulfites” that is required to be affixed to most bottles of wine that are sold in the U.S.

This gives me the opportunity to share some information regarding which sulfite disclosure requirements are in force in the European Union and more in general why wines contain sulfites.

Not unlike in the U.S., EU regulations (see, Article 51 of Commission Regulation (EC) 607/2009 and Article 6 of Directive 2000/13/EC) require that wine labels indicate a “contains sulfites” legend whenever a wine contains “sulphur dioxide and sulfites at concentrations of more than 10 mg/kg or 10 mg/liter expressed as SO2.

Which now leads us to briefly discuss the reasons why the addition of sulfites is an oenological practice that is generally used in the winemaking process.

Technically, sulfites are chemical compounds (anions) formed by the reaction of a sulfur dioxide molecule (SO2, which is acidic) with basic oxides or an aqueous base.

Sulfur dioxide (or SO2) is a gas that is the product of the burning of sulfur and is broadly used in winemaking as one of the main treatments of must. The purpose it serves is essentially threefold:

  • It is an antiseptic agent that fights germs and inhibits undesirable microorganisms (however, its use in the fermentation phase must be controlled because, if certain limits are exceeded, it also inhibits the yeast action);
  • It is an antioxidant which helps stabilize the original color of a wine and fights oxidation, thus helping to preserve the organoleptic characteristics of a wine;
  • In the maceration phase of the red wine making process, it facilitates the dissolution of anthocyanin pigments from the grape berry skins, which are responsible for the color of red wine.

EU legislation (see, Article 3 of Commission Regulation (EC) 606/2009) sets limits to the maximum SO2 content of wines, which shall not exceed, subject to certain exceptions:

  • 150 mg/lt for red wines; and
  • 200 mg/lt for white or rosé wines.

As such two different thresholds show, generally speaking white wines contain more SO2 than red wines. This is because in the winemaking process of the former, grape skins and seeds are removed right after pressing and before fermentation, while these are retained in the fermentation and maceration of red wines. This means that polyphenols (i.e., tannins and natural pigments such as anthocyanins) that are found in grape skins and seeds and that naturally act as antioxidants only get extracted in the red wine fermentation process: hence the need to use more sulfur dioxide in the white wine fermentation process to compensate for such absence.

One thing to be aware of is that, among the exceptions to the maximum SO2 limits indicated above, sweet raisin wines (including Sauternes, Barsac, Tokaji, Trockenbeerenauslese, Albana di Romagna Passito, and ice wines) are permitted to contain up to 400 mg/lt of sulfur dioxide, double the maximum amount permitted for white/rosé wines: this leniency is justified by the high sugar content of such wines, which could trigger natural re-fermentation processes were these not inhibited by SO2. So, be aware that, when you drink that kind of wines, you will likely be assuming more SO2 than with “regular” wines.

One last remark: recently certain producers and organic wine makers have started marketing “no added sulfite” wines. Regardless of how you feel about this emerging trend, one should note that this does not mean that “no added sulfite” wines do not contain sulfites: it only means that none were added to the wine. All wines, in fact, contain some extent of sulfites because these are a natural byproduct of the yeasts that cause the alcoholic fermentation.

Hope you found this informative: feel free to share your opinion by leaving a comment below!