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Organoleptic (sensory) evaluation of wine in the Republic of Croatia

From the very beginning wine production has been linked to sensory evaluation since the choice of wine is based on the impressions it leaves on the individual, the “wine lover”.  Although numerous physical and chemical analysis which determine the chemical composition very precisely are used today sensory evaluation is indispensable in evaluating the quality of wine.  In the first wine evaluations, until the first half of the 20th century, metaphors were used to describe impressions of wine while today wines are mostly evaluated according to strictly defined criteria. The sensory assessment of wine quality is based on the assessment of clarity, color, aroma, taste and touch.

Methods of sensory evaluation of wine can be descriptive and numerical.  In descriptive methods of wine evaluators describe their impressions in words while in numerical methods individual properties are expressed in numbers.  In the Republic of Croatia sensory evaluation of wine is in accordance with the international standards of the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) and is defined by national regulations: the Wine law and the Ordinance on organoleptic (sensory) evaluation of wines and fruit wines.

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Organoleptic evaluation of wines with the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) is performed using the “100 points” method, which numerically evaluates the appearance (clearness and color), aroma (purity, intensity and quality), purity, intensity, durability, taste quality and general impression.  In order for a wine to receive a passing grade none of the characteristics must be rated negatively.  The evaluation is conducted by a commission of five certified members and the final evaluation is the median.  Certain ranges of assessments in accordance with the physico-chemical analysis and restrictions related to the production of grapes and wine also determine certain traditional terms or categories of wine quality that are characteristic of the Republic of Croatia. “Table wine” with the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) must be evaluated with a minimum of 65 points, “Quality wine” with a minimum of 72 points, and “Premium wine” with a minimum of 82 points.  Traditional terms do not have to be highlighted on the wine label.  Sparkling, pearl wine and wine with added carbon dioxide are evaluated by the “yes / no” method where the evaluators confirm the positive quality in accordance with professional standards.

The Ordinance also prescribes the conditions in which sensory evaluation of wine is carried out.  In addition to the recommended order in which wines are evaluated it is interesting to point out the appropriate sample temperatures.  The temperature of sparkling, pearl wine and wine with added carbon dioxide should be in the range of 8 to 10 ˚C, white and rosé wines from 10 to 12 ˚C, predicate, special and fruit wines are evaluated prepared at a temperature of 10 to 14 ˚C and red wines from 15 to 18 ˚C.

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