Training your taster
Davis Professor Ann Noble consulted with wine lovers and wine tasters to list all the descriptive terms they could dome up with for the smells of wine. Then they organized them into 12 major categories, subdivided into 29 subcategories and 94 specific terms. Then they arranged them on a circular table - a "wheel" - with related aromas placed close together around its circumference.
Having this reference at hand when you're tasting analytically can be very helpful in jogging your memory to come up with the specific nuance - from acetic acid to walnuts - that you're sniffing in your wine.
The copyrighted wheel isn't available for downloading, but you can order one - in laminated plastic, or printed on a T-shirt - from Prof. Noble's page on the UC Davis Website, http://wineserver.ucdavis.edu/Acnoble/waw.html. Proceeds benefit the school's grape research.
On that same page, you'll also find a dissertation on training your tasting skills by "doctoring" samples of wine with common ingredients available in grocery stores, from vanilla extract to soy sauce to the colorful breakfast cereal called Froot Loops. (I am not kidding about this.) Even if you don't actually go through all the tasting exercises, this intriguing page is well worth a visit.
Thursday, June 14, 2001