Friday, August 31, 2012

FAULTS; Imbalances in Wine II

Walking into the wine faults exam, I was feeling  prepared and confident.  I had taken the Faults & Imbalances exam before and knew what to expect.  For this effort I had practiced recognizing the imbalances of excess sulfur dioxide or acetic acid at home using measured samples provided by the Society of Wine Educators.  Unlike any preparation in the past, on the day prior to the exam I tasted through a flight of faults with a noted certified Wine Educator, and thought that I did well. Along with the other eight(8) students I was called into the exam room that late-July early afternoon and upon reaching the threshold was immediately blinded by the exam room's brilliant white light that washed through the west facing windows. Ready to employ my new identification strategy, I quickly realized that this was going to be a challenge in a different environment!

Almost four(4) weeks had past.  I was confident and anxious to get the results that would proclaim that I had successfully cleared the second to the last wine hurdle to my goal of becoming a Wine Educator.  When my call to the Societies offices in Washington D.C. was returned I sank beneath the weight of their informed reply. Sugar, alcohol and SO2 were not identified correctly on my exam.  Although I had significant improvement in my scores from previous efforts, the heavy disappointment was draped upon me.

But, I am getting closer to my goal with each step, so I'll try again.  The next scheduled exam for aspiring Wine Educators is in late September, and I'll register, pay the fees and be there.  In the period prior to the exam, I'll again look at and taste faulted, imbalanced wine samples to get a sensory memory for their qualities. And, I will look with a greater emphasis on the faults that were incorrectly identified on my most recent previous attempt. It is frustrating, because excess sugar, alcohol and SO2 are faults that should have been among the easiest to identify because of the way they feel in the mouth.

Excess sugar may be difficult to detect by sight or sniff, but it should have a fuller body than wines offering less sugar.  These samples should of course be noticeably less tart and have a richer mouthfeel, and this I should have been able to identify.  Ethanol or alcohol is actually sweet, but not to the rich extent of sugar.  It may offer less viscosity or texture when the wine is swirled in the glass, and as previously described, be hot on the palate and in the nostrils upon exhale.  I should have not missed this one either. SO2 or Sulpur Dioxide should be recognized by the distinctive 'burnt match' aroma off the glass.

I need just one more correct answer in this test section, and there's a good chance I'll get it done in September.