See under wine rating.
There are many terms for the testing and evaluation of wines by man-made "smelling and tasting", a few of which are for example tasting, tasting, wine tasting and wine tasting. This is a sensory (organoleptic) examination of a wine with a descriptive explanation of the knowledge gained in the process according to established rules and criteria using generally valid and understandable terms (see under Wine Approach). This is not carried out in a scientific-analytical manner with technical or other aids, but "only" through the sensory organs such as the eye, nose, palate and tongue. This results in an evaluation by awarding points according to different systems. In addition, there are also possibilities to carry out an objective measurement by means of exact chemical analyses. This is for example the determination of alcohol content, total extract, residual sugar, acids, sulphur and other substances in wine.
Nevertheless, one cannot do without a "subjective" test with sensory tasting by humans; rather, the two methods complement each other and only when combined do they produce a "fair" assessment. A person can determine the taste "sweet", but never exactly how many grams of sugar are contained in a litre of wine. Analytical testing, however, cannot determine whether a wine "tastes" good. There is the phenomenon of national likes and dislikes. In general, Austrians and Germans prefer acidic, Italians bitter, Americans sweet and French astringent tastes, although such generalisations should be considered with caution. The lighting in a room also influences the taste of a wine: for example, a wine tastes better in red and blue light than in green or white light, as scientists from the Psychological Institute of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz found out. The study showed that the test wine tasted about 1.5 times sweeter under red light than under white or green light. The fruitiness was also rated highest under red light.
However, professional tasters can avoid such influencing factors and judge a wine quite "fairly" and "objectively", of course by ignoring their personal likes and dislikes as far as possible. However, this can only be achieved through years of practice and experience. In order to eliminate the influence of external circumstances such as the above-mentioned lighting, professional tastings take place in a sparse, neutral environment. The famous English taster Michael Broadbent (1927-2020) has tasted over 70,000 wines. But it is precisely he does not use any of the point systems described below in his evaluations, but awards one to five stars. Likewise, the well-known wine author Hugh Johnson uses his own scheme with 12 levels. Besides theoretical knowledge, the following skills are required: Smell sharpness, discrimination and memory, concentration and objectivity. The perception threshold plays an important role. This is the limit in the mg/l range and lower, from which a substance can be identified and named.
Professor Emile Peynaud (1912-2004), who is one of the most famous tasters, writes the following in his standard work "Hohe Schule für Weinkenner", which has been published several times: The statement that something is sweet is an objective statement; it characterizes the product in question. To say, for example, that a cup of coffee is sufficiently or not sufficiently sweet; is a subjective statement; it is personal; it depends on a person's drinking habits and taste. However, to say that sugar tastes unpleasant; that one detests anything sweet is an affective opinion.The professional taster must be able to switch off his affectivity. He should not say whether he likes or dislikes a wine. One does not want to know that from him. He must study the wine, describe it, assess its good or bad organoleptic qualities and draw conclusions. These will be subjective, but they must not be based on personal preference, at least as little as possible. This is the great and decisive difference between the untrained wine drinker and the untrained wine drinker whose judgement is purely affective"
Nevertheless, even with absolute specialists, the evaluation of the same wine can differ, although this usually (if at all) only accounts for a few points. If there are several scales, even from different manufacturers, one can very well assume that when weighing an object, at least to a tenth of a gram, the result will be the same. This is because all scales are calibrated and almost identical in terms of their characteristics. But this cannot be the case with humans, because palate and tongue as well as experience and preferences of different people are certainly not the same. A different result is therefore not inevitable, but not surprising either.
An example of an extremely different evaluation is the grading of the red wine of Château Pavie vintage 2003, where Robert Parker awarded 96/100 points and Jancis Robinson 12/20 points. Below is the formula for the conversion between the 20 and 100 points system. Accordingly, the 12/20 points of Robinson correspond to 76/100 points - that means a "simple wine without faults". The 96/100 points from Parker mean a "great wine of world class". However, the two have not tasted from the same bottle. Two bottles may very well have differences in quality for different reasons, which is called bottle variance.
As a rule, wine evaluations have no scientific validity. If one would repeat the competition the next day with the same judges and the same wines, not completely different, but with the highest probability to a large extent different evaluation numbers would result. In the sense of a scientifically recognised result, however, they would have to be repeatable, i.e. at best completely identical. It can be assumed that the differences between two evaluation rounds are smaller the higher the knowledge, experience and professionalism of the tasters. See in this respect the legendary international competition between France and California under Paris Wine Tasting.
One tastes a wine to determine its quality for various reasons. In the course of an official inspection, professional control bodies, among others, determine whether the wine meets the legal requirements for wine. This is the case, for example, with the allocation of the official test number (Germany) and the state test number (Austria) for quality wines, where, in addition to the analytical test using chemical and technical aids, a sensory (organoleptic) test is also carried out by the sensory organs. Another reason may be a competition in which different wines are tasted, evaluated and awarded prizes according to the results. The third reason can be of a purely private nature. Either to educate oneself further, to enjoy wine with friends and talk about it or to find out the best value for money when buying wine. However, the criteria are very similar, in any case they must be precisely defined and known beforehand so that all tasters start from the same basis.
The best time for a tasting is later in the morning, because the sensory organs are most receptive and "fresh". A cold, medication, spicy or strongly spiced food, coffee, sour fruit, tobacco, chewing gum and perfume can disturb a tasting or have a negative influence on it. The room should be well lit and free of foreign odours. The ideal room temperature is around 20 °Celsius. A white table background for checking the colour is required. The rule of thumb for the order of different wines is: dry before sweet, young before old and lesser before great wines. As far as wine colour is concerned, the following rule of thumb applies: dry light white wines before heavy red wines, but young light red wines before extract-rich white...