Wine testing is the actual sensory evaluation of wine through sensory testing methods. While the process of wine tasting has been around since the inception of the winemaking profession, a formalized methodology now exists in the form of the International Wine Tasting Certification Program (IWTC). The IWTC is an international wine assessment program based on the premise that wine tasting should be a scientifically and logically balanced activity where all the major wine styles are represented in a controlled setting. In its own right the program is nothing more than a set of standards developed by a professional wine judge to who all wine testers must adhere to. However, for the beginner or occasional taster the IWTC can provide an excellent foundation for advanced testing and evaluations.
There are several levels to the IWTC, with the most basic level being the Master Class level and advanced testing at each subsequent level. It is not uncommon for the majority of test participants to advance to the Grand Master status, which requires a comprehensive level of involvement in the testing process including involvement in a winery apprenticeship and regular involvement in advanced classes. Participating in a formal training program and passing the IWTC certification test are the two primary requirements to becoming a qualified winemaker. It is worth noting that no official qualification can make you a good taster or even a good wine maker, but some training can help improve your understanding and appreciation of wine and enhance your sensory skills so that you may enjoy drinking better wine.
One of the most common wine tests performed on new wines is the Acid Test, where wine is placed in a cup of hot tap water at a particular pH. To measure the acidity of the wine, a strip of paper is laid across the inside of the cup with the wine included. The paper is then pulled and a pen is dipped into the dip. Whenever the wine makes contact with the paper, it will register an acidity level, either positive (acidic) or negative (alkaline).
The third type of wine testing commonly performed in the field is the Hutchison Test, where sugars are added to the wine in the form of syrup. The wine is then tasted as if it was actually part of a dessert. Hutchison acidity results are quite sensitive, and so adjustments must be made for high concentrations of glucose and fructose. It is important to note that the Hutchison method of testing the acidity of wines has changed over the years; the test no longer relies on the use of strips of paper to determine the acidity levels. As of 2021, the most widely accepted method is the electrical conductance measurement, also referred to as the WET-D.
The final popular wine tester is the racked wine sampler. Racks are simply a piece of wood with a small hole at the top. The wine is simpled with cork and then allowed to ferment in the rack for several weeks. Rack testing is considered one of the more sensitive methods, but many experts agree that the results are quite consistent and reliable. It is important to note that even when using racks there is no way to actually tell if the wine is aerated or not. The wine will continue to ferment throughout the process until the maturing process of cork has occurred, at which time the wine is tested for the actual acidity.
Acid ph is an important component of wine testing and has a lot to do with the character of the wine, both aroma and taste. When testing for acidity, all wines should be bottled with a corked neck. If a wine is bottled with an open cork, then some winemakers will make the assumption that the wine is properly balanced when stored in the bottle. A Wine and Champagne Basket will give you a good idea about how acid or are affected by the different types of wine and champagne. If you are interested in wine testing, then it would be wise to look up how wine is tested for pH and have your wine tested for pH before you start creating your own wines.