Russian System of Wine Evaluation

In Russia the most popular system of evaluation of wine, including a 10-points rate of a sample and a detailed tasting comment.



The process of tasting compounds of evaluation of – transparency, color, aroma, taste and type of wine, maximum of each is following: 0,5; 0,5; 3; 5; 1 point.

Transparency depends on content of colloid parts in wine, able to disperse light, such as proteins, high- molecular carbohydrates, bio-polymers and complexes, yields, ions of heavy metals and fine-dispersed suspensions. Transparency of wine decreases due to defaults and diseases defined like “dust-like”, “veil- like”, “sparkling”, “silk-like” and other types of turbidity.

Mechanic impurities (parts of cork, wine stone crystals) are not taken in consideration while transparency analysis. Another convention is that collection wines always get 0,5 rate of transparency.

For transparency characteristics they use special terms — crystal-transparent (with mirror shine), absolutely transparent, transparent without shine, opalescent, dull, turbidish, turbid, very cloudy.

According to the degree of transparency wine gets following evaluation:

According to the degree of transparency wine gets following evaluation:

Transparent with crystal shine — 0,5

Transparent without shine — 0,4

Clear with light opal — 0,3

Opalescent — 0,2

Turbid — 0,1

The evaluation of half-transparency is effected with the maximum rate of 0,4 at place of 0,5. Transparency is checked visually in reflected and passing light of candle or low-power electric lamp.



Color, one of the most important organoleptical component of tasting depends on content of natural dye – composites of flavones, flavonoids, anthocyans, products of reaction of amino acids with carbohydrates and phenols, as well as substances of poly-phenol complex as result of their polymerization.

White natural wines in youth have almost no color, light-green or yellow-prawn tint. Old wines, aged in oak for some time, the dye becomes more intensive and gets light golden and golden-amber tones.

The color of dark white wine like some natural (Sauterne, Kakhetia) , special (except Jerez) and all dessert white wines is light- and dark-gold, amber, yellow, yellow-brown, brown or tea-like color of different degree of intensity.

Color of red wine name like red, ruby, ruby-red, pomegranate, violet-red, purple-red. While aging red wine gets onion, brick, terracotta (as French say) tones and looses vital bright violet and blue tints, familiar to young wine.

Color of rosé varies in a wide diapason – from pale-rose to rose-red and has no strict definition.

The color of wine tells a lot about its age, content, technology, defaults or diseases.

Intensive deep color speaks about high extractive abilities of wine, bright and vital color is familiar to wine with high acidity, pale wine in opposite has a lower acidity.

Maceration, fermentation, warming, pouring and so on provoke change of color of wine. Black, whitish, rusty-red notes show wine defaults and pearl one – its disease.

Points for color:

Full accordance with type, sort and age of wine — 0,5

Some insignificant declination of the color and tint of wine from familiar to this type and age — 0,4

Significant difference from normal color — 0,3

Disparity of color — 0,2

Additional tones (as result of default or disease) — 0,1

Color of wine is seen under normal light at a white background, the best – from the color of the reflected light rays.

To characterize odorous components following terms are used:aroma, bouquet, odor.. Aroma is an ability of wine to provoke agreeable smell perception by exhalation of flying components from its surface - spirit, aldehyde, ether, acetal, ketone, terpene, acids. Notion of bouquetis larger, including both prior odorous components of grape, and mainly bouquet-forming secondary substances appearing while wine aging. Difference between aroma and bouquet is conventional as to characterize a young wine they use aroma, as for old one – bouquet.

Aroma of wine can be wine-like, familiar to sort, flower-like, fruity, honey-like, resinish or characteristic for some types – muscat, jerez, madeira.
By intensity they differ intensive, strong, mild and weak aroma, by composition – harmonic, complex, developed, smooth or simple, obtrusive, rough, harsh, dis-balanced.

When wine has additional, non-common tones provoked by diseases, defaults, technology faults, they speak about odor. The most frequent odors are – mould, internal covering of the reservoirs, hydrogen sulfide, acetamide, vinegar, sour cabbage, chemicals etc.

Bouquet points:

Very fine, well developed, corresponding with age and type of wine — 3,0

Well developed, corresponding to age and type, but a bit rough — 2,5

Weakly developed — 2,0

Not absolutely pure, has some additional tones not matching the type — 2

Additional tone due to diseases or defaults — 0,1

With odors — 0,6

Perception of odorous components of wine effects while inspiration when the nose is deeply inside a glass and while expiration after a small swallow of wine. To reinforce exhalation of aromatic content from wine they turn the wine in the glass.



Taste is the main component of tasting. It is composed of ingredients and conditions- spirit, acids, carbohydrates, extractive substances and amino acids, aldehyde, ketones, products of sugar- amino and phenol- amino reactions etc.

Depending on degree of alcohol content wines are divided into strong and weak and can show at this background different taste nuances – mildness, lightness of roughness and causticity.

Acidity is a more important comparing with alcohol content factor of taste-forming of wine. Defining role in creation of acid taste of wine play aliphatic oxyacids - wine, apple, lemon and milk ones. Acidity can be mild, tender, fresh or rough and picky.

Some acids are able to add to wine some nuances like sour (amber acid), “scratching” throat, harsh (vinegar acid), rough metallic (mineral acids), “green” acidity (apple acid), mild, full (gluconic and galacturonic acids), sour-acid (milk acid).

Sweet taste appears mostly due to mono and di-saccharides and partially grace to pentose, polyatomic spirits (first of all glycerin) and some amino acids. Sweetness of wine is described by following terms: light, harmonic, elegant, honey-like or luscious and sickly sweet.

Among other elements of taste of wine austerity, made by phenol compositions, and fullness of taste, complex of sweetness, acidity and austerity, play the most important role.

Depending on phenol substances content wine can be liquid, empty with lack of tannin or rough with its excess. To describe austerity they use following terms – velvet, smooth, tarty, acerbic, rough, binding.

According to the fullness of taste wines can be empty, liquid, no-body, light, fine, full, extractive, oily, thick, heavy, awkward, dis-balanced.

Elements of taste composition – spirit-content, acidity, sweetness, austerity, extractive ability all together in a complex reaction form perception of taste as a general characteristic of tasting of wine.

Taste is checked to its composition, intensity, additional tastes appearance, after-taste and matching to type.

By composition of the taste wine can be delicate, harmonic, well done or simple, dis-balanced, rough, disordered, by intensity – strong, mild or weak.

Perception of taste of wine during some period (7-10 sec) after swallowing is named after-taste, which can be short or long, good or unpleasant, and form the total rate.

Among the taste nuances influencing its quality negatively there are yield-like, stalk-like, metallic, ground- like, sulfur, mould, oak of the cask, asbestos, carton, varnish, resin etc.

All multiple tastes can be grouped and implemented to some types of wine:

Wine-like — taste of natural slightly oxygenated branded light dessert wines;

Grape-like — taste of natural slightly oxygenated branded light dessert wines;

Fruity — taste of most special wines like Porto;

Honey-like — taste of white dessert wines (Tokay, Muscat);

Madera-like and Jerez-like taste for this type of wine

Taste points:

Harmonic, fine, corresponding with the type and age of wine — 5,0

harmonic — 4,0

harmonic but hardly corresponding with the type of wine— 3,0

not harmonic, but without additional tastes — 2,5

simple, ordinary with light side tone — 2,0

with side taste — 1,0

While tasting some part of wine keep in the front part of the mouth (5-7 ml) to wet the end and the sides of the tongue. This is the way to get information about sweet, acid and tart components of wine. Then, the sample goes deeper into the mouth to rinse the mouth cavity for catching more taste nuances after that the wine should be either swallowed or spited out, feeling the after-taste. While tasting it is recommended to produce mashing movements to activate taste buds and smell cellars.

Evaluation of typical characteristics of wine is complex and final. It takes in consideration correspondence of visual effect, aroma and taste to demands for this type of wine.

Typical characteristics points:

Complete correspondence — 1,0

Slight declination from type — 0,75

Non-typical wine — 0,5

Absolutely non-character wine — 0,25



Evaluation of typical characteristics is in correspondence with points for taste and aroma. For example, an old aged Muscat lost its typical aroma can't be evaluated as max point of typical characteristics, for the type of white dessert wine it is fully corresponding.

Tasting of sparkling wine and cognac has its particularities. At place of type for champagne there is another characteristic to evaluate - “mousse” which composes of characteristic qualities of sparkling wine: spumescence, sparklingness, content of carbonate dioxide, pressure in the bottle.

Mousse points:

High spumescence in the glass and a long stay of sparkles in form of beads — 1,0

Champagne with small sparkles with slight spumescence — 0,8

Large sparkles and long spumescence — 0,6

Large sparkles and short spumescence — 0,3

Quickly leaving spumescence — 0,2

Tasting of cognac, as tasting of wine consists of transparency, color, bouquet, taste, additional tastes and other special elements – consistence, physiological effect. In the bouquet are looking for ether -vanilla- flower and vanilla – resin motes, in taste – oily, soap-like, taste of sour almond, resin-chocolate tones.

Total points received by summarizing all points of elements of evaluation of wine. The lowest point for a healthy without defaults wine whatever it is should be 6, the highest – 10, which is given to perfect samples.

Word characteristic of wine includes common terms and individual definitions, as well as original even poetical comparisons.

There are harmonic wine and non-balanced, male, energetic, nervous, tired, faded, elegant, fine, hard, rough, plate, velvet, rich, delicate, easy to drink, grass-like, neuter, water-like etc.

Here are some examples of characteristic of wine:

A bright sample with seductive play of berry-like and spicy tones in aroma, taste with intriguing note of dark chocolate and slight smoky nuance: rich aroma with honey and exotic fruits tones, with a noble acidity in taste.

Seducing tender wine with calm but a bit closed aroma in which one can guess tones of caramel and chocolate with raisins.

Tasting should be made in the morning when taste is not deadened by something spicy. Before tasting it's better avoid sweet, sour, acid and oily food. For tasting special glasses of tulip form are used according to standards (GOST).

For tasting there is a regulated order of wine: white dry natural wine – red dry natural – white semi-dry – red semi-dry, white semi-sweet – red semi-sweet, white strong – red strong, white semi-dessert – red semi-dessert, white dessert – red dessert, white liqueur – red liqueur.

Sparkling wines are tasted in order of sugar content: brut, dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, sweet. Red sparkling wine and Sparkling Muscats are given at the end of tasting.

Cognacs are presented in order of their age.

Glasses are filled to 1/3 of its volume.

Evaluation of wine depends on the temperature of serving:

sparkling: 8-12°C

white and rose: 12-16°C

red: 16-20°C

strong and dessert wine and cognac : 16-18°C

Tasting rooms should be large, lighted, without additional aroma, well ventilated.

For international wine competitions There is a system of evaluation when results of the tasting are expressed by the tasting committee in form of penalty points and the worst wine get the biggest score. Evaluation is made according criteria corresponding to numbers at a logarithmic scale:fine – 0, very good – 1, good – 4, satisfactory – 9, unsatisfactory (to exclude from the tasting) – 10. Every criteria of has its value coefficient: transparency – 1, intensity of aroma – 1, quality of aroma – 1, intensity of taste -2, quality of taste – 3, harmony – 3. Multiplying the coefficient to the point of the corresponding criteria given by taster makes the penalty points. The sum of penalty points give the total point. The final result is calculated by median method, it means exclluding the highest and the lowest results until a medium point stays. The diploma of the class I is given to wine getting less than12 points, II class – from 13 to 42 points, III class more than 42 points. Wine of the first class are obtaining Big golden medal in case if they get less than 6 points, Golden medal -7 or 8 points, Silver medal – from 9 to 12 points. There is general system of wine evaluation.