Four Ways to Taste Wine

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tim Hanni's Budometer divides wine drinkers into four categories: tolerant, sensitive, hypersensitive and sweet. The rating is based on the number of taste buds you have -- a higher number makes you more sensitive to strong, bitter flavors -- and your personal experience. Here is a basic guide to Hanni's categories. To take his survey, go to


Favors intense, powerful wines with oak characteristics. This group also enjoys wines with high alcohol levels, above about 14 percent.

Hanni recommends:

White: Oaked chardonnays, Rhone whites -- though it's best to stick to reds.

Red: Cabernet sauvignons, Rhone reds, old-vine zinfandels, barolos, amarones.


Favors smooth wines with richness and, more important, balance. Many styles appeal. There is a moderate tolerance for oak and alcohol levels.

Hanni recommends:

White: U.S. and Chilean sauvignon blancs, Viogniers, rich wines from Alsace, New World chardonnays.

Red: Shiraz/syrah and Rhone blends; merlot and merlot blends; rich-style pinot noirs; red zinfandels; more modern French, Italian and Spanish reds.


Favors lighter, more delicate wines with just a touch of oak, if any. Wines with high alcohol tend to create an unpleasant burning sensation.

Hanni recommends:

White: Dry and slightly sweet Rieslings and Austrian, German and Alsatian wines; French or Chilean chardonnays; unoaked New World chardonnays.

Red: Lighter New Zealand, French and U.S. pinot noirs; lower-alcohol red zinfandels; lighter French, Italian and Spanish reds.


Very sensitive to bitterness and alcohol. Has the confidence to want only sweet wines. Period.

Hanni recommends:

White: White zinfandels, sweeter Rieslings, Lambruscos, Moscato wines.

Red: None (unless it's sweet red dessert wine).

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