Sensory Evaluation – What good is it, anyway?

I’ll start this post with a disclaimer: I’m not an enologist. HOWEVER, I have learned a lot about enology and wines during my 14 years in the grape and wine industry. I also spent 10 years training as a laboratory scientist and an additional 5 working in a scientific field, so I understand the importance of calibrating laboratory and field equipment. It doesn’t matter if you’ve run an analysis or applied a spray last year; calibrating your equipment will ensure an accurate result each time.

Let me add another disclaimer: I am not fluent in Spanish. But I was once pretty good at conversing with folks when I was in Spain. In Spanish. But, back then, I was practicing the language frequently, so conversation was relatively easy. Now, I struggle simple to remember vocabulary words, let alone conjugate verbs.

What’s my point? The point is that in wine production, a lot of equipment is used: tractors, sprayers, crusher/destemmers, presses, tanks, barrels, pH meters, refractometers, etc. But what about your nose? Your palate? How often do you train these valuable pieces of equipment?

(Okay, I admit, that was a long walk around the block, so thanks for sticking with me.)

I recently read an excellent article from Penn State Enology Extension on improving wine quality through understanding defects. Denise Gardner, PSU Extension Enologist, describes common defects and the compounds responsible for them. If you want to make good wine, then you’ll need to be aware of these defects and how to identify and prevent or remedy them. Gardner provides a list of strategies to keep yourself educated and on top of your game:

  1. Attend a wine sensory training workshop
  2. Purchase a defects aroma-identification kit
  3. Embrace wine criticism from a wine professional
  4. Contract a wine lab to improve your wines
  5. Work with winery consultants
  6. Attend defect-based seminars at wine conferences
  7. Online guides

LUCKILY, a Sensory Evaluation of Wine Workshop is coming your way, Ohio! kent_sensory_eval_wkshop2-2015_flyer


The agenda includes an entire weekend of wine evaluation: one day focuses on red wines and one day focuses on white wines. The cost of registration also includes a Welcome Reception at Lucky Penny Creamery on Friday, February 27, 2015.

Aaaand there, I’ve brought it all home: We’re hosting a workshop, and we want you to join us. Not because we think your nose and palate are out of whack, but because we know you’ll have a great time fine-tuning them with us.

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