Certified Tasting Grid Tips/Tricks

Ciao all!

Quick question for everyone.  I'm prepping for my certified exam in the fall, and just took a look at the certified tasting grid/worksheet that will be used.  It's quite a bit more simple than the "traditional" grid, and it wasn't covered in my intro class last year.  So!  A few questions!

  1. There seems to be no delineation between nose/palate, as it relates to characteristics.  Presumably, I should be picking up on similar notes between the nose and palate, but if I get something in particular on the nose, but not the palate, how do I indicate that?
  2. On the fruit section, there is a "if yes, please describe" section.  What am I describing here?  The specific fruit I'm picking up?  If it's present on the nose, the palate, or both?
  3. Also on the fruit section, there is type of fruit (tart, ripe, cooked, etc.).  A little side blurb asks us to identify no more than two characteristics for the nose and no more than two for the palate.  How do I indicate which is which?
  4. Quite a few of the "traditional" grid elements seem to be missing (intensity, body, finish, etc.).  Perhaps not important at this level, but seem helpful for coming to initial conclusions.  Do these need to come in somewhere?  (Maybe on the "sell the wine" section?)

Speaking of that "sell the wine" two-sentence section, could someone give a few examples of what would score maximum points?  Are they looking for a quality assessment ("this is a balanced wine, with refreshing acidity and ripe stone fruit"), or something more sales pitch-y ("this wine has something for everyone, and is a crowd-pleaser because it doesn't have sharp acidity, tannins, etc.")?  Any and all advice welcome here!  

Thank you!

  • Hello Jennifer, 

    I’ll do my best to help you unpack this. 

    1. You are correct, the current grid does combine the two. I believe this change from the “ traditional” grid streamlines everything. When you taste on the palate you also smell the wine through the retronasal passageway. So theoretically, you should be confirming on the palate what you have already smelled in the wine.

    2. Yes, they are asking you to describe the type of fruit you are smelling/tasting (both) i.e. Citrus: could be lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange ect.

    3. Here is your time to shine on the difference between your nose and palate. You can see they are separated in two different rows, the top row correlates to what you get on the nose and the bottom row correlates for your palate. In my opinion this is here to help prove your case on the type of climate the wine came from (amongst a few other things). For example Chardonnay from Burgundy may smell ripe/tart on the nose and be decidedly tart on the palate. Conversely Chardonnay from California might display a ripe/baked/bruised condition on nose and remain the same on the palate. Vintage can have a variation on character too.

    4. The exclusion of intensity, body, finish is a question you could reach out to The Court about but generally speaking I’m in agreeance with you with it may not being super important at the certified level. You could very well add them into your sales pitch if you believe it will help, however when I took my exam I kept it to more of a table side “pitch” that highlighted the wines flavor/aroma and what it would pair well with. I was thankful to receive positive feedback. I’m not sure if this scored me “maximum points” because I don’t know how of this is broken down and no one will tell you. The way I viewed it was what would I say to a table about this why to sell it to them? After all our job is to sell. I’d stay away from words like acid, tannin, rotundone etc. ect. ....words that might turn a guest off, make them go cross eyed, or have to ask WTH that means. words like lively or refreshing are much better placeholders for “acid”. My two cents

    Lastly good luck! Sounds like you're on the right track asking these kinds of questions. Are you taking it  in Tucson? A fairly large group from Phoenix will be heading down there as well. I can connect you if you’d like : ). Let me know if I can be of any more assistance and feel free to reach out ttranzow@gmail.com.