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Featured Publication
posted 8 July 2001

Essential Wine Tasting Guide
by Glen Green
Reviewed by Murray Almond*
Essential Wine Tasting Guide - by Glen Green
published in 2000 by Vinum Vitae

Vinum Vitae, the Australian distributors of the classic tasting aroma pack "Le Nez du Vin" have a new product; the pocket sized "Essential Wine Tasting Guide". One of the principals, a New Zealander and fellow denizen of the online world, Glen Green has developed this quick reference guide for new and intermediate wine lovers.

The "Essential Wine Tasting Guide" is a double-sided colour sheet packed with information that folds down to a credit-card sized pack that fits into a small plastic pouch.

The guide is divided into 7 sections:

A Colour Guide with colour swatches and descriptors for comparing to the colour in the glass.

Tactile Descriptors broken down to 15 major descriptors, such as Acidity, Length, Structure & Tannins with subdescriptors under each; for example ‘Tannin’ has over 20 subdescriptors from Fine to Chalky to Heavy.

Subjective Descriptors is basically a series of adjectives that may be used to describe wine.

Wine Descriptor Groups is effectively the aroma wheel flattened out into various categories as memory joggers.

I found Wine Faults to be a valuable part of the guide. It describes the fault eg ‘Cork Taint’ and also the Detection notes for assessing which fault you’re dealing with eg ‘dull or mouldy odour’.

One side of the sheet is devoted to the Varietal Descriptors which include all major grape varieties. Each variety includes fruit descriptors, and then qualifies those with descriptors that may arise with bottle age, winemaking influence or distillation. This makes it valuable as a guide in blind wine tasting. The descriptors also include Australian Port, Muscat and Tokay as well as Sherry and Brandy, Cognac and Armagnac.

Also include is a reminder of the scoring for the 20-point Australian Show system, and a bottle serving guide.

That’s a heap of information packed into a very small space. Glen said that it’s the only guide permitted for use in Wine Options and considering he was in the winning team in the 2000 Winestate Australasian Wine Options I’d guess he may have a point.

My opinion?

It’s a comprehensive guide in a handy size. The Varietal Descriptors guide consolidated 5 separate newspaper and magazine articles I’ve accumulated over the years. The ‘flat aroma wheel’ is not as intuitively attractive as Ann Noble’s, but as comprehensive. It carries a wealth of practical information for those at tastings or hitting the wineries. It’s a useful adjunct to the winelovers arsenal, and a great deal smaller than the Jancis Robinson’s Wine Course.

"The Essential Wine Guide" has a recommended retail of $9.95 in both Australia and New Zealand. Glen Green can be contacted at

© Murray Almond 8 July 2001

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*Murray Almond is the Australian correspondent. Read more about Murray here.

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