Class Notes: The Science, Art & Business of Wine (Class #5)

Date: Aug 8, 2011

Today, we are learning Italian Wine.


Today, there is a guest lecturer:  Mr. PeterGerber.  He is a swiss, but has been a wine consultant for many years with enshusiatic in Italian Wine.


When you see this, you know this wine is from Italian.  This is “Old” Italian Wine Bottle.  It is invented by Italian, and it is used so to reduce the impacts between bottles during transportations of the wine.



Learning Italian wine is very confusing!  There are 20 wine regions in Italy.  30,000 producers.  And there are 400 type of grapes.

NewImage.jpg (Very good site for study).  🙂

– Italy makes wine pretty well everywhere.

– Every back garden seems to have its vine growing, and village has its local red or white.

– Most of these wines are never seen outside the country.

Vino Rosso: Almost all of Italy’s best wines are red.  Italian white wines don’t quite live up to the reputation of the reds.

Vino Santo:  This is the famous example of a sweet wine made all over Italy.  The grapes are picked in the usual way are hung from rafters in the attic until they’ve become dried.  The process takes serveral months.  The dried grapes are then pressed.  The very sweet juice that emerges makes lusciously weet wine.

Super Tuscan:  This is the name give to high quality wines, both red and white.  These wines come into the category of Vini Da Tavola (Table Wine), but sell for very high prices.  Each wine has it’s own brand name.  For Example:

– Tignanello

– Ornellaia

– Solaia

– Le Pergole Torte

– The top wine makers in Italy:

– The Piemonte region of Italy is known for producing some of the best wines in the country, including Giovanni Rosso, who makes a wonderful Barolo.

Tuscany is also a great wine-growing region, and you can’t go wrong with anything by Brunello di Montalcino or Castello di Cacchiano.


The term “Super Tuscan” describes any Tuscan red wine that does not adhere to traditional blending laws for the region.  For example, Chianti Classico wines are made from a blend of grapes with Sangiovese as the dominant variety in the blend.  Super Tuscans often use other grapes, especially cabernet sauvignon, making them ineligible for DOC(G) classification under the traditional rules.

Reading the Labels from Italian wine

This can be confusing.


Carpineto, the producer, is a partnership between winemakers Giovanni C. Sacchet and Antonio M.  Zaccheo.  Their original mission was to produce a world-class red wine from the Chianti Classico applellation.  This was a radical departure from the marketplace of the times when most Chianti was still produced in the tranditional winemaking style.


In the center of the label, we have the name chosen for the wine and a pronunciation key.  We see that it is classfified as a table wine.  On the Italian label, it has Vino da Tavola. (Table Wine)


In the bottom right corner, we see the vintage, the winery, the growing region, and the volume.

Italian Applellation System

Italy’s classification system has four classes of wine, with two falling under the EU category Qualify Wine Produced in a Specific Region (QWPSR) and two falling under the category of “table wine”.  The four classes are:


Table Wine:

Vino da Tovola (VDT) – denotes simply that the wine is made in Italy.  the label usually indicates a basic wine, made for local consumption.  Usually, when you buy a Vino da Tavola, you need to drink it on the spot with local food.

Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) – denotes wine from a more specific region within Italy.  This applellation was created in 1992 for wines that were considered to be of higher quality than simple table wines, but which did not conform to the strict wine laws for their region.  Before the IGT was created, “Super Tuscan” wines such as Tignanello were labeled Vino da Tavola.


– Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)

– Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)

Both DOC and DOCG wines refer to zones which are more specific than an IGT, and the permitted grapes are also more specifically defined.  the DOC system began in 1963, seeking to establish a method of both recognizing quality product and maintaining the international and national reputation of that product.  The main difference between a DOC and a DOCG is that the latter must pass a blind taste test for quality in addition to conforming to the strict legal requirements to be designated as a wine from the area in question.  After the sweeping wine laws of 1992, transparent rules were made regarding requirements for DOCG entry, imposing new limits regarding the production of grapes per hectare and minimum natural alcohol levels, among others.


Other terms you may find from the Italian Wine Labels

Imbottigliato:  Italian for “Bottled”.  “Imbottigliato all’origine” is the term for estate bottled.

Liquoroso:  An Italian term for a desssert wine that is made sweet by adding spirits to stop the fermentation process while there is still sugar left unfermented.  The English term is “Fortified Wine“.

Riserva:  In Italian wine laws this term can only be used for wines that have been aged for a period before release.  The length of time varies by region.  It is three years for Chianti Riserva, but five for Barolo or Brunello Riserva.  Unlike the similar Spanish term, Italian wines do not necessarily have to be aged in barrel to qualify for Riserva.

Rosso:  Italian for red and used as part of the name for some red Italian wines.

Secco:  The Italian term for dry (meaning a wine without any residual sugar).

Tenuta:  A holding or estate.  Similar to the word Chateau in French.

Vino:  Italian for wine.


Another view for Italian Wine Region.

The Wine Regions of Northern Italy

The wines from Italy’s very important northern regions: Piedmont Wine region, Lombardy and Emilia Romagna, Trentino-Alto-Adige, the Veneto Wine, and Friuli Venezia Giulia and relatively minor regions of Aosta Vally and Liguria.

Half of Italian wines you see in shops come from these regions.

The Wine Regions of Central Italy

Other Italian wines you’re likely to see in wine shops, a huge percentage come from the Tuscany Wine region.

That’s where you meet the Chianti Classico Wine and Brunello di Montalcino for example.

The wines from Umbria, Latium, Marche, Abruzzo and Molise are some of the best Italian wines regions.

The Wine Regions of Southern Italy

Italy’s southern regions are hot Puglia, Campania Wines region, Basilicata and Calabria are making there best wines. What’s more is that some of these wines are amazing values, especially if your favorite wine words are “red” and “powerful”.

Italy’s two huge islands with the Sicily Wines, Dry Sicily Wines, and the Sardinia Wine. These regions are equally making good wines in these days.

Some notes:

– Italy, left is Mediterinean Sea, and right is Ardriatico Sea

– The country is cold in north, and warm in south.

– Cold means, not enough sun, means not enough Sugar.

– There are a lot of grapes variety.  Same grapes in two villages which is 20 KM aparts may not taste the same.

– Today, we tried Sweet and Sour food (supposingly, but they delivered muttons, very nice).  The wine should be also sweet and dry.

– Chianti should be 100% Sangiovesa.  But super Tuscan can add and blend with cabernet sauvignon.

– In Sicily, they have volcanic soil, very fertile.  100% Sangiovesa.  This is the origin.  Sicily wine usually have high alcohol content.

– Barolo is great with Red Meats.


Sometimes you saw this brand, or wine producer.


They produce grapes in these regions.

Some more example of Italy Wine Label


  1. Type of wine
  2. Wine appellation
  3. Additional denomination
  4. Vintage year
  5. Name of the wine
  6. Color of the wine
  7. Quantity in milliliters
  8. Alcohol content by volume
  9. Nation of origin (in our case, obviously Italy)
  10. Bottling company data
  11. Importer (this information is obviously missing from labels of Italian wines purchased in Italy).


  1. Type of wine
  2. Wine appellation
  3. Additional denomination
  4. Vintage year
  5. Name of the wine
  6. Color of the wine
  7. Quantity in milliliters
  8. Alcohol content by volume
  9. Nation of origin (in our case, obviously Italy)
  10. Bottling company data
  11. Importer (this information is obviously missing from labels of Italian wines purchased in Italy).NewImage.jpg


  1. Type of wine
  2. Wine appellation
  3. Additional denomination
  4. Vintage year
  5. Name of the wine
  6. Color of the wine
  7. Quantity in milliliters
  8. Alcohol content by volume
  9. Nation of origin (in our case, obviously Italy)
  10. Bottling company data
  11. Importer (this information is obviously missing from labels of Italian wines purchased in Italy).


1. Castel Giocondo- Estate name

2. Brunello Di Montalcino – Wine type or region

3. 2004 – Vintage year

4. Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), the most stringent Italian classification. Similar to the DOC but more stringent. Allowable yields are generally lower, and DOCG wines must pass an evaluation of a tasting committee before they can be bottled. Other classifications include Vino Da Tavola, Vino a Indicazione Geografica (IGT) and Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC).

5. Frescobaldi – The wine producer

6. Product of Italy – The country of origin

7. Bottler information





Today, we had tasted 9 bottles of wines… Comparing colors.


Different Reds…


I like this white wine from Italy.  Although it is not famous, but the white I like.


Don’t really like these two bottles.  Although it is smooth, but the tannins is a lot.


I like the Chianti Rufina.  Not too bad.


Suppose to taste this Australian dry and Geogia Sweet wine.  But I super don’t like the Georgia sparkling sweet red.


Somehow I rejected to all these sweet sparkling red.  This is another bottle I actually could not pour down to my throat.


We did a blind test.  And I have chosen this wine against the other.  And I love it!  According to Malcom, this is a very good wine, cost about $50 when he bought it for a small bottle.  It is a Sauterns.


The other Semillon is from Australia.  It is a Botrytis Semillon.  I don’t like.


Other Notes:

– Sweet Wine does not mean add sugar into the wine.

– Sweet wine is good when taking dessert.

– When we talk about sweet wine, we think about Ice Wine, Sauterns, Late Havest, Port, Tokai, etc.

– So, the key thing is to try to retain the sugar in the grapes.  All alcohol comes from the grapes.  Increase acidity in the grapes.

– Dry wine has up to 4 grams of sweetness per litre.  For German, it can go up as high as 9 grams.

– Semi Dry – up to 18 grams sweetness per litre.

– Medium Sweet – up to 45 grams sweetness per litre.

– Sweet – at least 45 grams per litre.

– Sweet wine is wines with high residual sugar.

– 4 ways of making sweet wine.

1.  Late Harvest – have more sunlights, and convert sunlight into sugar.

2.  Eiswein – let the water frozen.  Juice will not frozen.  So, increase the sugar level.

3.  Botrytised Style – Noble Rot.

4.  Drying the grapes.

– Some grapes are easy to have noble rot.  because they are not too thick skin.

– Thick skin grapes (hard to rotten) – Cabernet Sauvginon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot.

– Highly on noble rot includes Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Semillon, Zinfandel.

– Very on noble rot includes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay.

Wine Glass

Just remember the principles…

1.  Visual, the glass or crystal has to be as thin as possible, so that you can see it clearly…

2.  Olfactory, to nose the full aromas.  So, usually, it must have a stem.  So that your hand, or body heat wont heat up the glass.  lesser contact.  Also, how the aeration of the wine to release the aromatic elements.  how to keep or trapthe aromas.

3.  Gustatory, to direct wine to various part of the palate.

They are designed so that it can maximize the palate sensations.


The sparkling wine glass is designed to triggle more bubbles.



Glasses for White and Rose Wines

A:  Toung and Crisp White Wine – The main characteristic of this glass is the shape of the opening which tends to enlarge in respect of the body.  When a wine is introduced in the mouth, this particular shape directs the liquid mainly to the tip of the tongue, more sensitive to acidity.

B:  Bodied and Mature White Wine – Structured and mature white wines will be properly emphasized in the mouth because of the straight opening which will direct the wine to the sides and the back of the tongue and finaly reaching the top in order to properly evaluate its roundness.

C:  Young and Crisp Rose Wines – the enlarge opening directs the wine to the tip of the tongue, more sensitive to sweetness, in order to make the wine appear more balanced.

D:  Bodied and Matured Rose Wine


Glasses for Red Wines



A:  Young Red Wines – most common red wine glass.  You can also use this for bodied and mature white.  This kind of wine, have aggressive tannins.

B:  Bodied or Mature Red Wines – The opening is narrower in order to concentrate complex aromas, orginated by aging of wine both in bottle and in cask, towards the nose.

C:  Full Bodied and Very Mature Red Wines – large size, wide body to allow a proper oxygenation of red wines aged for a long time in bottle and with tannins that reached a milder and rounder state.  The wide shape of this glass also allows to avoid, when possible, the decanting of wine, thanks to its width it makes possible a proper oxygenation of wine while developing complex and tertiary aromas which will concentrated towards the narrow opening.  Opening is tall and straight in order to direct the wine to the back of the mouth.  i.e. Sangiovese or Cabernet Sauvignon.

D:  Full Bodied and Very Mature Red Wines – Opening is enlarge.  Directs the wine towards the tip of the tongue, more sensitive to sweetness, and is useful for those wines that are after a long time of aging tend to exalt their acid component, such as Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo.


Glasses for Sweet and Fortified Wines


A: Sweet Wines – white body and narrow opening in order to exalt both the development of aromas and their concentration to the nose.  The straight opening allows wine to be directed towards the back of the oral cavity in order not to excessively exalt the sweetness and therefore avoiding the wine to appear “Sickly”.

B:  Fortified Wines – Height of glass is grreater and the openning is accentuated.  Wine is direted to the tip of the tongue.  More sensitive to sweetness.


Glasses for Sparkling Wines


A:  Method “Charmat” Wines – it is also called demi-flute.  For dry sparkling wines produced using Charmat or Martinotti method.

B:  ClassicMethod Wines – is called Flute.

C:  Mature and Vintage Classic Method Wines

D:  Aromatic Sweet Wines – is called a cup.


Evaluation of Taste and Finish



How to taste wine:

1.  Take a “shocker” sip and don’t thnk aobut what you are tasting at all.

2.  Take another sip and slowly tilt your head back, letting the wine cover your tongue.

3.  Think about what you are tasting and try to identify some key components.

There are five components that you should try and identify when you are drinking wine:

– Sugar – sweet sensation

– Acidity – sour sensation

– Body – combined

– Tannin – bitter sensation “Siap Siap”

– Alcohol – tactile sensation

– Flavors and fruit – combine

Acidity in wine:

– Understanding the types of acids that aare in your wine can help you become a more knowledgeable wine drinker.  For instance, if you sense lactic acid, the only way that acid can be in the wine is if the wine went thru Malolactic Fermentation.  Knowing this fact can help you identify additional compoinents.  These are the key acids in wine:

– Tartaric – not often found in wine but when it is the taste is tart and bitter

– Citric – Lemon/lime

– Malic – aggressive tartness

– Lactic – sour buttermilk

– Succinic – slight bitter / salt

– Acetic – slight vinegar (a hint of acetic acis is okay)

– When drinking wine it is often helpful to identify acids in three “attachs”.  There is an order when acids will be noticeable.  Knowing the order will help you identify which acids are present:

– Attack 1:  Malic and tartaric

– Attack 2:  Citric then lactic

– Attack 3:  Succinic

– Acetic Acid can attack at any time

Is the wine I am drinking balanced?

– Balance often reveals quality

– Balance is the combination of Sugar, Acid, Tannins, and Alcohol

– Balance means that these factors are in appropriate combinations, not that they are all of equal intensity.


Great wines have a long, pleasant, and persistent finish.  However, do not use lingering sweetness, acidity, bitterness or astringency to define persistence.  Persistence means that the wine is still in balance and you are still able to identify multiple flavors.


Evaluating the Smell of Wine…

Now that you know what the color of wine indicates, the next step is to understand how to smell wine and what those smells indicate. Smelling wine (particularly the first impression) is used to determine if there are flaws in the wine and whether the wine should be evaluated further. Of importance is that every person perceives smells differently and that many people have “blind spots” when it comes to scent. A great way to enhance your sense of smell is to crush different types of herbs, spices, and fruits into wine glasses and memorize what each one smells like.

1. Take a quick sniff of the wine. Is the smell pleasant? Here are some common (there are many more) unpleasant smells in wine and what they indicate:

oBurning Match Aromas:
§An indication of excessive sulfur dioxide
§Sulfur dioxide is often used in vineyards to protect from mildew and mold
oDirty Socks Aromas:
§Commonly due to bacterial contamination of the wine or unclean barrels (yet there are many other causes)
oMoldy Aromas:
§Often caused by bacterial spoilage, moldy grapes, or unclean barrels
oNail Polish Remover Aromas:
§A sign of ethyl acetate, which occurs when acetic acid (common in wine) combines with ethanol (the most common type of alcohol in wine)
oWet Cardboard Aromas:
§A sign that the wine is corked, meaning that the cork, and thus the wine, have been chemically contaminated

*These bad smells will not cause you any harm. Actually, some wine drinkers find small amounts of these smells pleasing. However, if it smells bad to you and you can’t drink the wine, return it to the store you bought it from or, if in a restaurant, ask the sommelier for a new bottle.

2.Now, swirl the glass of wine vigorously (I always swirl 10 times for consistency).The best way to do this is to put the wine on a flat surface, hold the glass from the stem, and rapidly move it as if you were drawing small circles. Tilt the glass towards you on an angle. Put your nose as close to the surface of the wine as possible (don’t worry if you get wine on your nose…it happens). Start smelling at the bottom of the glass and work your way towards the top.

  • The smells that you get at the bottom of the glass are called the aromas of the wine. These smells include fruit and the type of land that the vines are planted in.
    • Examples of smells:
      • Fruit
      • Floral
      • Chemical
      • Spicy
      • Earthy
      • Woody
  • The smells that you get at the top of the glass are called the bouquet of the wine. These smells indicate the fermentation techniques used as well as the type of storage used.
    • If the smell does not change from bottom to top, the wine has been aged in stainless steel.
    • Yeasty/bread dough smell:
      • The wine has gone through a process known as Sur Lie (Lee’s Treatment) in which the wine is rested on the dead yeast (the yeast that converted the juice into alcohol) for 3 months to 2 years.
      • This process increases the body and viscosity of the wine.
    • Buttery cream smell:
      • The wine has gone through a process known as Malolactic Fermentation which is triggered by bacteria that converts the malic acid (which is tart and has an apple scent) in the wine into lactic acid (buttery cream scent).
        • Almost every red wine goes through this process
      • This process increases the body and viscosity of the wine but is much more expensive than a Sur Lie treatment.
    • Scents of oak:
      • The main types of oak that are used in wine-making are American and French oak. However, other types of oak are used (such as South African, Slavinian, and Hungarian) yet they are less common.
      • American Oak:
        • Dill, light vanilla, vegetables
        • Generally more pronounced
      • French Oak:
        • Vanilla, butterscotch
        • Generally less pronounced
      • Additionally, if the oak is charred, it is common to get smoky scents in the wine, which often makes the wine more complex.

Basic Info About the colour of Wine


What does the color of wine indicate?

The color of wine indicates many things, such as age, body, and indication of possible flaws. Here are the steps you should take with each glass of wine if you want to analyze the color:
  1. Pour approximately one ounce of wine into the glass and look straight down to view the wine. Look and see how clear the wine is. The ideal glass of wine is clear and reflects light.
  2. Hold the glass by the stem and tilt the glass away from you so that the wine forms a “tongue” in the glass:

Color in White Wine

  • Oaking adds canary yellow overtones to wine
  • Fruit intensity often adds straw yellow overtones
  • Oxidation also adds increased color concentration towards brown
  • When white wine gets older it gets darker in hue

Color in Red Wine
  • As red wine ages the color shifts to more orange hues
  • The following picture gives common characteristics. Thus, there are often variations with color. Use this chart only as a guideline.

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