[MUSIC] Welcome to our first lesson in the wine tasting course, where we will cover sensory techniques for wine analysis. In this lesson, we will start with the basics. At the very beginning, it's useful to ask the question, what is wine? What actually is wine? Well, I've heard many definitions over the years. The simplest one is probably the self-preserved juice of the grape. Others say, a pleasant alcoholic beverage. And I would say, though, it's a complex liquid sensory stimulus, and that's the way we're going to look at it in this class. Grapes that are used for making wine seldom taste like the wine they're going to make. What I'm saying is at the grape stage, at the agricultural stage, walking through the vineyard and tasting ripe grapes, they're delicious. But they don't specifically taste like Cabernet or Pinot or Chardonnay or Zinfandel. Conversely you could say that the wine that you're tasting does not exactly very often taste like the grape that it came from. That may be all very self-evident. But many people think that the grapes and the knowledge of when they're ready to pick, when they're ready to harvest, when they're ripe, automatically is implied by the flavors that we're tasting in the grape at that stage, not so. Wine is actually a complex translation, transformation, biosynthesis of elements found in the grape into that final product that we love as wine. We've known about this for quite a long time. In the early 1800s, there was a French scientist by the name of Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac who wrote a very famous fermentation equation. In 1810, chemists were a lot cleverer than we imagine they were at that early stage. They didn't know atomic theory or molecular design particularly, but these clever early scientists knew about sugars. They correctly intuited the structure of sugar. And Gay-Lussac wrote the first balanced equation of the transformation of sugar into wine. Namely, that sugar is converted into alcohol with some gas escaping, which we know to be CO2, and some heat that is evolved. So this whole process, this whole transformation was further elucidated by Louis Pasteur when he confirmed the existence of yeast as the transformative microbes that actually were the real wine makers in this situation. So it's very simplistic to say that wine starts out as sugar and then gets converted to alcohol with some gas escaping. At that raw material stage of the grape, the energy sources for yeast are glucose and fructose, but the grape contains much, much more than that. It contains tannins, it contains vitamins for the yeast's existence. It contains flavor precursors that the yeast will then use to make the flavors that we identify with whatever particular wine that grape is going to turn into. For example, if we're tasting Cabernet in the vineyard, the yeast know what's available to turn that Cabernet into making a wine that tastes like Cabernet. The yeast are really the biosynthesizers in this case. And they are creating a medium that, if you think about it, is progressively more and more alcoholic as the days go by. More and more things are biosynthesized. More and more flavors are extracted. And this final product is not just primarily ethanol and water. There are lots of other basic tastes, things that inspire us to react to sweetness and bitterness and acidity. Aromatics that cause our nose to react to all the lovely molecules, aromatic molecules, volatile organic compounds, what have you, that are in wine. So it's much, much more than that simple transformation. It's actually a whole, complicated biosynthetic process. When we talk about flavor in wine, and this is important to state early on, flavor is one of those catch-all words that actually, when examined, has many specific parts. Flavor comprises odors that we smell with our olfactory sense, in other words our nose, basic tastes, which are not smelled by our nose, but tasted only by our taste buds. And also flavor includes mouth-feel, or oral sensations, such as hot, cold, rough or smooth, weighty or watery. So, which senses do we use? The senses that we use, the senses that we have, are seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, our sense of hearing. Probably our sense of hearing is the one that we'll rule out for all of these lessons. Some tasters do include the sense of hearing. That assumes that they're going to be close enough to the bottle to hear if it hisses or if it goes [SOUND] or some such thing. But really, the auditory sense is background information. It's the context in which we're tasting the wine, hopefully as quietly as possible. So the senses that I've listed are senses that we use essentially in the order that I listed them, sight, smell, taste, touch. And even though we have these discrete senses that we employ, you and I know that tasting a glass of wine is a continuous process very often, and the senses are overlapping. For example, when I'm looking at a glass of wine, I can already smell it if it's within a foot or so from my nose. As I bring it up to my nose and swirl it, I'm still looking at it. As I lift it to my nose and smell it, unless I have my eyes closed, I can still see it. So sight and smell are overlapping. As I draw a little sip into my mouth and slosh it around or pull some air through it to make it turbulent and to try to pop off some aromatics, I'm also smelling it at that point. And I'm starting to employ my sense of touch. In other words, I'm starting to use my nervous system to evaluate viscosity or density or smoothness or roughness or temperature. So, all of our senses, with the exception of audition, are used when we taste a glass of wine critically. So let's step back and look at our situation for a moment. What is wine tasting, as opposed to sensory evaluation of wine? Wine tasting typically refers to what we do in a social setting when we're visiting wine country or maybe at a friend's house, but sensory evaluation of wine is a bit more of a focused activity. The point is, every time you taste a wine you can acquire a huge amount of sensory information once you're familiar with the steps that we go through to do this. But in a more rigorous setting, when you are specifically wanting to learn about a wine, you are employing what we prefer to call sensory evaluation of wine, or critical wine tasting. So what does it take to be a good wine taster? Well, it takes some knowledge of the basic sensory properties of the beverage. It takes some knowledge of the flavor and odor components that give rise to your sensory perceptions. So we've talked about, what is wine and what is wine tasting and what is critical wine tasting? And one additional very important point that I want to emphasize is that we spit. Critical wine tasters spit. Wine tasting party-goers swallow, but serious wine tasters and wine judges spit. There's a good reason for that, wine has quite a bit of alcohol in it. I know a lot of my brewing friends insist that they cannot adequately grasp all the sensory properties of beer unless they sip a little bit at the end. Of course, beer is effervescent, and maybe they like the feedback that they get from that. But bear in mind that most wines are three or four times the alcohol of most beers. Now I know you're going to say not modern extreme craft beers that are 15% [LAUGH] or 40%. But just in general, most commercial beers are a third or a fourth of the alcohol of most wines. So if wine tasters started sipping, they would very, very quickly lose their focus, probably after the second sip. Spitting is very, very important. Really, there are no taste buds down your throat. And what you need to taste and smell in the wine can be perfectly derived while that wine is on your palate. So please, always keep a spit cup handy, and keep a glass of pure water handy to rinse in between wines. That wraps up our look at wine sensory evaluation. In the next lesson, we will discuss wine glasses.