Deductive Tasting 101: A Sommelier Introduction

Deductive tasting is the holy grail for sommeliers and the foundation of learning wine appreciation. This article will cover wine tasting and the deductive techniques used by the Court of Master Sommeliers.
The best way to practice, use the steps outlined below and remember each time you test your senses, your skill set will improve. More importantly, wine is quite subjective in nature and what you experience may be different from others. The ultimate goal, have fun learning the intricacies associated with the art of wine and the geographical nuances.

Deductive Tasting Essentials

What is deductive reasoning? By definition, it means coming to a conclusion based on general observations. In wine, this involves dissecting the tasting experience and analyzing your findings to identify the wine in question.

For today’s exercise, we have pulled our 2017 Augusta Vin Malbec – winner of two prestigious awards and an excellent wine to profile at home. Here are the four stages involved in the Sommelier Deductive Process:

Look: The visual inspection of the wine under neutral lighting.

Smell: Identify aromas by breathing through your nose.

Taste: Assess both the taste structure (sour, bitter, sweet) and flavors derived by breathing.

Think & Conclude: Develop a complete profile of the wine.

The Walk-through: 2017 Augusta Vin Malbec

Let’s get started with 2017 Augusta Vin Malbec. Since it’s 100% Malbec and 100% Texas
grapes, it’s an excellent way to learn about how Texas is different from other areas of the world.

Look: Check out the color, a vibrant deep purple with blue hues. Many clues are hidden in appearance and unless tasting blind, many answers can be found on the label (i.e. vintage, alcohol and grape variety). In this case, the color tells you the wine is young and overtime will shift to a lighter, brown tone. The blueness gives the sense of low acidity and juicy fruit characteristics. Also a sign of low to moderate alcohol which makes fruit shine forward.

Smell: Think big to small on this front. Since this is a red wine, break down the wine by red, blue or black fruit. Then you should define the type of berry by type. In this case blackberry, dark cherry and a hint of dark plum.
Broadly, you can define the nose even further by three primary categories:

    1. Primary aromas: Grape-derivatives which include fruits, herbs and floral notes.
    2. Secondary aromas: Winemaking practices dictate this aroma and usually yeast driven. None found in the Malbec and this function is usually found in white wine.
    3. Tertiary aromas: Comes from aging in the bottle or possibly in oak. Common aromas include savory, roasted nuts, baking spices, vanilla, tobacco, leather, cedar and even coconut. Our Malbec shows hints of vanilla and baking spices at this stage.

Taste: The estate’s favorite thing to do. Think palate here and sensations.

    1. Taste: The tongue will detect salty, sweet, sour and bitter. Acid drives sour and varies with climate and grape variety. Sweetness, in part controlled by late harvest & fermentation stop points. Stop early, more residual sugar, less alcohol, hence sweetness. Bitter a direct effect of skin contact and tannin management.
    2. Texture: Two factors to consider, alcohol and tannins control texture. High alcohol, riper wines give more body and weight. Our Malbec reflects juicy texture with moderate alcohol, great balance.
    3. Length: Judge the beginning, mid-palate and finish. In our wine, juicy entry, soft middle and elegant finish from the oak.

Think & Conclude: Did the wine show balance (i.e. too acidic, too alcoholic, too tannic, oak)? Did you enjoy the sensation? Was this wine unique or unmemorable? Were there anycharacteristics that shined through and impressed me? Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed our 2017 Augusta Vin Malbec especially on the balance thought process. It’s a sensation just waiting for your corkscrew.

Try it out!

Now it’s your turn! Pull a cork of our award winning Malbec and share your notes with us. Here is
a breakdown of our 2017 Augusta Vin Malbec deductive tasting. Do you notice any similarities in

your own notes? Anything different?

Email to learn more and compare notes!
Don’t have a bottle on your wine rack?


Clarity: Clear, reflective

Concentration: Deep

Color: Purple, with blue hues


Intensity: Medium-plus

Age: Young

Fruit: Blackberry, dark cherry, dark plum

Non-Fruit: Cocoa, baking spices

Earth/Herb: Lush sage

Mineral: Graphite

Wood: Vanilla, dried tobacco


Sweetness: Dry

Fruit: Ripe red plum

Non-Fruit: Cocoa dust

Earth/Herb: Lush sage

Mineral: Graphite

Wood: Vanilla, dried tobacco

Bitterness: Low

Tannin: Medium

Acid: Low to medium

Alcohol: Moderate

Balance: Juicy, balanced

Malbec Iconic Notes

For comparison, these are the typical Malbec notes we look for during blind tastings.

Sight: Deep Purple, Magenta or Blue hues

Smell & Taste: Blackberry, Plum, Cherry, Vanilla, Tobacco

Palate: Dry & Full Body, medium tannins, medium-low acidity, moderate alcohol

Tasting Notes by:
Andre Boada, Advanced Sommelier – Augusta Vin
April Fischer, Sommelier – Augusta Vin, Tasting Room Manager
Katie Bishop, Sommelier – Augusta Vin, Wine Club Manager

Other articles in the Wine Educational Series

Receive new Wine Educational Series articles

$1 Shipping

Please enjoy $1 shipping on all orders of 3 bottles or more.

Most orders will be delivered within 3 business days!


  • REDS
  • Custom Selection by Member
  • 20% Off All Purchases
  • Platinum exclusive events
  • Opportunity to upgrade to Founding Member