Making Wine

Coming on this Maymester, I was excited to discover that we would be going on wine tastings with the opportunity to learn how to accurately taste and describe wines. My favorite experience thus far was the visit to the Nittardi Vineyard. At Nittardi, we were given the opportunity to create our own wine by mixing several different kinds together. We worked in groups in order to create our special recipe. A major problem in wine tasting is distinguishing between taste and judgement. Being a novice taster myself, I found it hard to distinguish between our preferences, or tastes, and our judgments, or objective points of views.

At Nittardi and in the article “The Taste of Wine” by Steven Shapin, we learned how to overcome this problem of subjectivity and objectivity in tasting wines. Describing wines by our preferences allows us to convey our experience to others and to be able to compare and contrast this experience with others, a subjective point of view. However, by describing wines with an objective point of view, it allows others the ability to understand and taste the flavors of the wine as opposed to what flavors we like.

In order to balance this objectivity and subjectivity problem, some scales have been created. For example, Bob Parker created a 100 point scale in which he rated wine based on a specific set of universal standards. The scale created by Parker and Ann Noble’s wine wheel has helped novice tasters to be able to develop their palette and describe wines in a more objective way.

After learning how to objectively taste and describe wines, my group was able to accurately describe the wines given to us: Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Sangiovese. We differentiated between the different aromas by using Noble’s wine wheel and began mixing the wines together. It took several tries for us to complete the final mixture we liked, which included 30% Sangiovese, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Petit Verdot. We submitted this mixture to the judges and surprisingly my group won! Along with creating the best wine, Nittardi gave us a free bottle of one of their most popular wines called Ad Astra. Had we not learned the proper way of wine tasting and differentiating between subjective and objective points of view, I don’t believe my group and I would have been as successful in the creation of our wine or understood how to combine the flavors.

Although we learned how to distinguish between objectivity and subjectivity, I believe that both points of views are necessary when tasting and describing wines.

One of my partners, Katie, and I holding our free bottle of wine we won!

My group's final blend we submitted

My group’s final blend we submitted

The judges of our wine competition

The judges of our wine competition

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