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 http://www.budometer.com.


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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