Wine and the Five Senses

** UPDATE: The damage from the recent earthquake that hit Napa Valley over the weekend impacted with wine cellar and vineyard damage (check out this tweet from David Duncan, CEO of Silver Oak). Growers are in the midst of a major harvest, brought on several weeks earlier than usual because of drought. But fortunately for us, winemakers say that the quake will do little to disrupt their 2014 harvest. There are likely to be an additional 30 to 70 small aftershocks with magnitude 3 to 5 within the week. I hope that everyone stays safe throughout the aftermath of #NapaQuake. **

Thought I’d share some tips on Wine and the Five Senses that I learned through the Guild of Sommeliers.

Tasting wine is about sensation and perception. Sensation is our immediate response to stimuli and perception is how our brain interprets the sensation.


The sense of sight is the most familiar and used and gives some important information about the wines through color and hue.

  • Pale yellow-greens: can indicate a cool growing region or unripe grapes
  • Deep golden yellows: can indicate a warm growing region or barrel age
  • Amber golds: indicate an oxidized or maderized white wine
  • Inky purples: denote a young red
  • Brick reds: denote an older, mature red
  • Rusts: indicate an oxidized red wine

Intensity of color (or lack thereof) can show a wines weight and body.


Humans can detect 10,000 different odors. A person can be trained to identify 1,000 of these.

If a wine is excessively chilled, you will not be able to detect many aromatics.

Wine Type Temperature

  • Sparkling & Sweet Wines 45-50° F 7-10° C
  • Dry Whites and Rosés 50-60° F 10-15° C
  • Light-Bodied Reds 55-65° F 13-18° C
  • Full-Bodied Reds 62-68° F 17-20° C

Swirling the wine will increase the wine’s surface area and release more aromas.

In normal breathing, only an estimated five to ten percent of the air inhaled can be sensed. Therefore, it is necessary to sniff deeply when evaluating a wine.


Taste can only give us information on Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter and Savory (Umami). Of these, only sweet, sour and bitter can be perceived in wine.

We are most sensitive to bitterness and least sensitive to sweetness.

What we perceive in food and wine as “Taste” is actually a combination of tasting, smelling and feeling.redwine


We have sensors in the mouth and nose that help us “feel” wine.

Viscosity: aka, weight, body, mouth feel. The higher the sugar, alcohol and or extraction, the more body the wine will have.

  • Light Bodied Wine = Skim Milk
  • Medium Bodied Wine = Whole Milk
  • Full Bodied Wine = Heavy Cream

Astringency: Young reds with high tannin levels are said to be astringent. This is the “dry” sensation you sometimes feel when you drink wine.

Heat: Wines that are high in alcohol will give a “hot” feeling. This is why wines that are high in alcohol do not pair well with foods that are spicy.

All Wines are going to have different representations of these components. Some may be more acidic than others, some may have no tannin at all and some may be higher or lower in alcohol


When we raise our glasses and toast, we have engaged all five senses in our wine tasting experience. In times past it was said that the clinking of glasses warded off the next day’s hangover.




3 Sales Lessons from a Record-Breaking Girl Scout

Just like the cookies themselves, this story is just too hard to resist. One Girl Scout in Oklahoma has broken the world record – – selling over 18,000 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies and still counting!

Here’s a few lessons we can learn from this ambitious girl.

Set Goals: Even though in the four years as a cookie-selling Girl Scout, Katie Francis, had broken Troop No. 3469 year after year, she set her sights even higher by aiming for the world record. Katie worked for weeks every day after school and on weekends pitching her cookies door-to-door. After that, she would set up booths at hot spots and stores around her hometown. If an hourly sales goal wasn’t met, she and her mother would head somewhere else.

Get Creative: At times, the Girl Scout Cookies were an easy sell. Other times, Katie had to work for it. She found that offering incentives like drawings for prizes or a little song and dance brought additional customers to her booth.

Have Fun: Katie obviously loves what she’s doing. Maybe she believes these cookies are the best out there, maybe she enjoys being around other people, maybe she just likes breaking records. The reason doesn’t matter so much as the results: Having Fun!

Check out this video of Girl Scout Trooper, Katie Francis, and see for yourself.


I’d like to know! What stories inspire you?


Full story from here.


Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

One of my favorite recipes from my Grandma Betty is this homemade hot  fudge sauce. It’s delicious when poured over vanilla ice cream and topped with Spanish peanuts. It was one of the best part of Sunday suppers at Grandma’s house.

I also love looking at this recipe card that was handwritten by grandma. Her passion for education and science is evident even when she’s in the kitchen… she wrote out the molecular formula for table sugar!

Give this recipe a try next time you have a family gathering or when you need a sweet treat (the fudge sauce reheats nicely).

Hot Fudge Sauce

Hot Fudge Sauce (back)

It’s National Wine Day (as if we needed an excuse to drink)!

Today is National Wine Day!

Gather your glasses, corkscrews and friends and have your own wine tasting party! Grab a few bottles of the varietals from the list below starting with mild and work your way up to dessert wines to taste the differences in mouth feel OR try tasting the same varietals from different regions to taste the differences in vinification.

Mild (Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc)Aroma Wheel

  • Higher Acid, Lower Alcohol, Low/No Tannin, Perceived Sweet
  • Light, Crisp Mouth Feel

Medium (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir)

  • Medium Acid, Medium to High Alcohol, Low/Med Tannin, Drier
  • Medium Mouth Feel

Strong (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec)

  • Lower Acid, Higher Alcohol, High Tannin, Dry
  • Full Mouth Feel

Dessert (Tokaji, Port)

  • Styles Vary
  • Full Mouth Feel

Click on the image to enlarge and view the aroma wheel (might be helpful to print out for your party). Check out my previous posts for additional wine tips including how to blind taste wine,  tips on wines from Sonoma County and Champagne and Sparkling Wine

%d bloggers like this: