Using the WSET Systematic Approach to Tasting

Keep calm and remember your SAT

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s Systematic Approach to Tasting (SAT) can be a bit daunting at first but honestly, it’s there to help! There are many sensations that we experience when tasting wine and it can be difficult to put them all in the right order. Our sense of smell, taste and touch are all stimulated when wine tasting and the skill to recognise and characterise them, quickly and accurately need to be learned and developed.

This is what the SAT does.

It provides a framework for analysing a wine, allowing the taster to focus on the key characteristics of the wine in their glass, this helps the taster:

a) determine the style of the wine, is it dry, aromatic, fruity, oaked, unoaked, light-bodied, full-bodied

b) build a portfolio of tasting notes that will build the taster’s knowledge of the world’s wines

c) identify whether the wine is “fit for purpose” for example to serve by the glass in a bar without food or to serve with roast beef for Sunday lunch

d) write an accurate tasting note, for use on a restaurant wine list, for personal records or to help describing the wine to customers or friends

e) make an objective and unbiased judgement on the quality of the wine, is it an entry level wine, a premium level wine, or a fine wine

f) decide whether they like the wine on not

g) to pass the WSET Examination and achieve the qualification!

WSET Level 3 SAT Tasting Note
WSET Level 3 SAT Tasting Note

At Case Studies Wine School we use the SAT when tasting all our samples on both our classroom and online courses. By the end of the course students will have built a large portfolio of tasting notes (approx 40 for L2 and 80 for L3) of a range of wines and have an excellent understanding of the different styles of wines made around the world.

The examination is a 2 wine blind tasting where students are asked to write a tasting note for the wines that are presented to them. We offer a practical tutorial session where students are able to take mock exams to help them prepare.

Tardieu Laurent Cornas
Tardieu Laurent Cornas

Tasting is usually the bit that students most enjoy about a WSET course, The Tardieu Laurent Cornas was particularly well received when we tasted it during our Rhone class last week. It was a great opportunity to show students primary (blackberry), secondary (vanilla and toast and tertiary (prune, leather) characteristics found in older wines that were matured in oak and have had some bottle age.

Click here for a link to the WSET’s collection of Systematic Approach to Tastings:

WSET L2 Wines & Spirits

WSET L2 Spirits

WSET L3

Author: Claire Blackler

It's ALL about the wine. Sometimes Crystal Palace FC! Wine training, WSET courses, communication and consultancy. MW student working very hard on the tasting!