The Approach to Tasting Wine (SAT) is a tool that enables you to create a detailed description of a wine and then evaluate its quality and suitability for consumption. It’s a highly systematic and rigorous approach to tasting, therefore it’s not appropriate for every situation. 

However, using the SAT as a guide will offer you with a disciplined and organized template that will remind you to analyze all of the crucial aspects of a wine.


The SAT is a teaching aid and assessment instrument that was developed by the WSET to be used in combination with its certifications in the field of education. It is intended to help students acquire two key skills: the capacity to properly describe a wine and the ability to draw logical inferences from those descriptions.




This component of the SAT is divided into three sections: “Appearance,” “Nose,” and “Palate.” The first section of the SAT is divided into three sections: “Appearance,” “Nose,” and “Palate.” The descriptive portion of the SAT is comprised of four sections. Category headers occur in the left-hand column for each segment, and they are unique to that section. 



The words for each category heading are shown in the right-hand column, and you may pick one or more of them to define it. Using the above example, you could choose a word like “clear” to describe the “Appearance” of a white wine under the category heading “Clarity,” another word like “pale” to describe “Intensity,” and a word like “lemon” to describe “Colour.”



 In certain circumstances, you are required to use the precise phrases exactly as they appear on the list, and in other cases, the specific terms are entirely optional to use. This is detailed in further detail further down the page.


The second component of the SAT is divided into one section, which is labeled ‘Conclusions.’ The SAT’s evaluative section is comprised of four sections.
It is divided into two categories: ‘Quality Level’ and ‘Level of readiness for drinking/potential for ageing’. Quality Level is the first of the two categories. 



The words that you may choose from for each category heading are shown in the right-hand column. If you pick “good” in the “Quality Level” category and “can drink now, but has potential for ageing” in the “Level of preparation for drinking/potential for ageing” category, you will have selected “good” in both categories. During the SAT’s ‘Conclusions’ section, you are only allowed to use the particular phrases that are mentioned on the page where they appear.



The SAT is complemented by a second document, the WineLexicon, which provides additional information. This is printed on the back side of the laminated SAT card (see image below). The Wine-Lexicon is a collection of descriptive words that includes some recommended fragrance and flavor keywords that may assist you in describing the wine you are now tasting. The Wine-Lexicon is updated often.




The phrases you use to describe and evaluate each wine in the Level 3 tasting examination will enable the examiners to assess your ability to properly identify the wine’s aroma and flavor qualities, as well as its structural traits.

and form inferences about its quality and fitness for consumption based on its constituents
There is an understanding among the examiners that various tasters have varied degrees of sensitivity to the structural components of a wine, including sugar, acidity, tannin, and alcohol.


The examiners, on the other hand, anticipate that, via a mix of practice and coaching, you will have calibrated your taste in relation to that of your teachers and classmates. The ability to categorize the levels of a wine’s components in relation to the wider universe of wines is what this entails in reality.

Hyphenated Lines 

The SAT requires you to choose just one phrase to describe the wine when the items in the right-hand column are separated by a hyphen (for example, ‘lemon-green, lemon, gold, amber, and brown in ‘Colour’).



 If you believe the wine is on the boundary between ‘ruby’ and ‘garnet,’ you must make a choice between the two and choose one of them, rather than choosing a range such as ‘ruby-garnet’ or ‘ruby to garnet’, which is more confusing. The examiner will give points for any of the descriptions if he or she believes that both ‘ruby’ and ‘garnet’ are appropriate descriptors. Use of a range, such as ‘ruby to’, is acceptable.


Careful; if you are not explicit enough, the examiner will not award you a grade.
Limit yourself to the words used for each scale as they appear on the SAT for hyphenated lines. When describing ‘intensity,’ for example, you may only use’pale,’medium,’or’deep.’ There are numerous additional adjectives that may be used to describe wine, but for assessment reasons, examiners and candidates must use the same terms, which is best accomplished by sticking to the SAT words.
Note that words in the right-hand column are prefixed by ‘e.g:’ when they occur in the ‘Nose’ section and ‘Flavour characteristics’ when they appear in the ‘Palate’ section. The words in the right-hand column of the SAT are not required for these category titles. The Wine-Lexicon words, on the other hand, are highly recommended to be used.
Scales in Action


Three-point scales are used to define the structural components of a wine in the version of the SAT used for the Level 2 Award in Wines and Spirits. The scale for ‘Acidity,’ for example, is ‘low, medium, high.’ Many of these three-point scales have been fine-tuned at Level 3 in order to provide a more realistic depiction.
To build a five-point scale, divide the range covered by the word “medium” into three equal parts: “medium(-) – medium – medium(+).”


 It’s critical to understand that this isn’t a five-part scale. ‘medium(+)’, for example, might be thought of as’medium, but at the higher end of the medium band.’ Because the majority of observations for the majority of wines fall within this range, and subdividing it allows you to describe a wine more precisely, ‘Medium’ is divided in this way.


It’s easy to use the word’medium’ (including’medium(+)’ and’medium(-)’) too often. The risk here is that tasting notes become almost exclusively made up of mediums, missing the genuine character of particular wines. 


To circumvent this, a simple three-point scale may be used to designate a component as “low,” “medium,” or “high.” Because of the limited number of phrases available, you may be more daring with the scale’s extremes. Then you may go back to the’medium’ components and determine whether to refine this evaluation further with a(+) or a(-) rating (-).


Wines used in tests may have components with high or low quantities of certain components. Remember, if you believe the acidity is noteworthy, but your knowledge of wines with even greater acidity makes you hesitant to classify it as ‘high’ rather than’medium (+),’ keep in mind that ‘high’ is a spectrum as well.
Use the scales’ extremes with confidence; they’re not just for extreme wines.
It’s worth noting that not all scales are separated in this manner.


You must create a good tasting environment as well as oneself in order to adequately taste wine.
The ideal tasting area includes adequate natural illumination for assessing the look of wines and is odor-free to prevent interfering with the scents of the wines. There’s also enough room to set up your wine glasses and take notes. Spittoons should be close by if you’re tasting.


To get ready, make sure your palate is clear of toothpaste and strong-tasting food flavors. You should also stay hydrated since dehydration may cause your nasal aroma receptors to dry up and lose sensitivity to scents. When tasting a big number of wines, keep in mind that you’ll lose saliva every time you spit out a wine, making it simple to get dehydrated.


You’ll need a place to keep track of everything. This might be as basic as a notepad and pen, or as sophisticated as a laptop or smartphone with appropriate software.
You’ll also need appropriate glassware, which should be odorless, colorless, and devoid of any residues like soap or dishwashing salts, as well as grime from dirty glass cleaning cloths. 



The ISO glass (shown on page 1 with a perfect tasting sample) may be used to assess wines. The circular bowl (which helps release aromas by swirling the wine) and the inward-sloping sides are essential elements (to capture those aromas).


 There are a variety of alternative tasting glasses available, but they all have these two characteristics in common: they are tiny enough to hold a small taste of wine rather than a larger amount. 



You should strive to pour the same amount of sample into each glass when pouring your samples. A 5cl sample is recommended. This should be enough to evaluate the wine’s look, scent, and taste, but tiny enough to swirl in the bowl’s base without spilling.





Only a two-point scale exists for this line: ‘clear – hazy.’
‘Clear’ describes the overwhelming majority of wines.
Particles suspended in the wine are the source of haziness.
A wine may be regarded as ‘hazy’ if it contains an exceptionally large number of suspended particles. This might suggest a flaw, but the nature of the flaw can usually only be discovered by tasting the wine. Although certain wines are made to be foggy, they will not be included in the Level 3 tasting test.



The wine’s intensity refers to its color. By tilting the glass 45 degrees, you may choose the amount of intensity.

angle and gazing down into the liquid from above to observe how far the color stretches from the center (where the wine is the deepest) to the rim (where the wine is the shallowest).

 Looking down via an upright glass may also be used to evaluate red wines. In this case, consider how visible the stem is at the place where the glass is joined to the bowl.



When a glass is held at a 45° angle, all white wines look colorless right up to the rim. Pale refers to a white wine with a wide watery rim, while ‘deep’ refers to a wine with colour that extends nearly to the rim. When tasting red wines, tilt the glass and gaze at the rim;


 if the wine is faintly tinted from the rim to the center, it is ‘pale.’ It should be simple to see the stem of the glass while gazing through an upright glass in this situation. The wine should be classified as ‘deep’ if it is deeply coloured all the way to the rim, and it should be hard to see the stem while gazing down through the wine in the bowl.




Color refers to the balance of red, blue, yellow, green, or brown in a wine, regardless of strength.
The color does not vary while gazing through various areas of the wine in a tilted glass since the wine’s composition at the rim is the same as the wine’s composition at the core. 


The intensity of the color, on the other hand, varies with the depth of the liquid. Because white and most rose wines seem extremely light, nearly colorless at the rim, the color is best appraised where there is enough liquid depth to assess the color easily: at the center.

 Many red wines, on the other hand, are so densely colored that they look impenetrable in the center, therefore color is best judged around the rim.


White wines may be graded on a range of ‘lemon-green’ to ‘brown’ when it comes to color. The color ‘lemon’ is the most frequent in white wines. The wine is referred to as ‘lemongreen’ if it has a pronounced green tint to it. 


The wine is referred to as ‘gold’ if it has a tinge of orange or brown. ‘Amber’ or’brown’ wines have a high amount of browning, however they are usually extremely ancient wines or wines that have been purposefully oxidized.


On a spectrum ranging from ‘purple’ to ‘brown,’ red wines may be categorized. The color ‘ruby’ is the most popular for red wine. ‘Purple’ refers to wines that have a distinct blue or purple hue. 


The wine is labeled as ‘garnet’ when it has a notable orange or brown color but is still more red than brown. 


Tawny is a term used to describe a wine that is more brown than red. Wines with no redness in the color should be labeled as “brown.” ‘Tawny’ and ‘brown’ are often only observed in extremely old wines or wines that have been intentionally oxidized.

Rose wines, which may be classified as light red wines but are classified differently by convention, have a similar scale.