Wine tasting is great. And what’s even better is that the concept can be applied to many different things. There are olive oil tastings, chili cookoffs, and many other different types of food and beverage comparison formats.

The basic concepts though are all the same. To correctly evaluate foods or other drinks, as it is with wine, you simply have to practice paying attention to your senses and use a system.

Wine tasting uses at least 4 senses (and arguably all 5 as hearing can be symbolized through the clinking of glasses, the utterance of the word “cheers” (or “salud” or “prost”…)) which are sight, smell, taste and feel.

These 4 senses apply to all food and beverage except maybe ice cream, which I have written about quite a bit due to the extremely high quality ice cream in Argentina. The only sense that ice cream would leave out is smell, because its frozen and gives off little or no aroma.

But all other foods and beverages basically have a visual component, aromatic, flavor and texture.

So besides using these 4 senses often, the only other thing to do is to create a system so that you have a basis for comparison.

For the longest time, I looked at (examined really), smelled, and tasted every raw ingredient I used in my cooking. Especially with things like different types of oils, different brands of the same foods and other subtle but easily quantifiable differences, one can train the palate in addition to explore preferences, combinations and recipes.

When scoring different foods or beverages during a competition, I always recommend the 100 point scale, used in the following manner: 10 points for visual, 20 for aroma, 30 for “mouth” (taste+texture), and 40 for “overall”. This is a relatively simple and straightforward way to judge any food and beverage competition or comparison.

So exercise your senses and then apply a system to them!