What Am I Tasting?

This firmly structured red displays cherry, strawberry, floral and tobacco notes ... Play the game!

February 19, 2021

Our blind tasting game—without the tasting! Can you identify a wine just by reading its tasting note? We post real Wine Spectator reviews. You use clues such as color, aromas, flavors and structure to figure out the grape, age and origin. Good luck!

Tasting Note: This red finds terrific equilibrium between the ripe cherry, strawberry and floral notes, with firm structure and a supple texture. Tobacco and mineral elements chime in, though this still needs time to resolve the youthful tannins. Very vibrant and refined.

And the answer is...


Our vibrant wine is firmly structured with red fruit, mineral and tobacco notes. Let’s see if we can figure out what it is!

Pinot Noirs can show bright red fruit flavors and floral, mineral and tobacco accents, but they’re typically not as firmly structured as our wine. Let’s see if we can find a closer match.

Zinfandels are zesty medium- to full-bodied wines, but they usually display concentrated dark fruit flavors and peppery accents that don’t match our wine.

We can cross Cinsault off the list. Like our wine, Cinsaults offer floral and red fruit flavors. But these reds aren’t very tannic and they tend to have smoky and spicy accents missing from our wine.

Tempranillo can yield full-bodied wines with firm tannins, cherry flavors and mineral accents. This all sounds right for our mystery wine, except we’re missing Tempranillo’s citrusy acidity and leather accents. And our wine isn’t showing any of Tempranillo’s spice notes. Let’s move on!

Sangioveses are firmly structured wines with vibrant red fruit notes like cherry and strawberry, as well as mineral, herbal and savory accents. This sounds like a match!

This wine is a Sangiovese.

Country or Region of Origin

Sangiovese doesn’t have a strong international presence. It’s not a significant grape in Spain, and only a handful of producers are experimenting with it in California and Oregon. Sangiovese does have a long history on the French island of Corsica, where it is known as Nielluccio. But on Corsica it’s mostly used in blends with grapes like Sciacarello and Vermentino.

Sangiovese is the most widely planted grape in its home country of Italy, where it’s the primary grape in some of Italy’s most collectable wines.

This Sangiovese is from Italy.


Knowing that our Sangiovese is from Italy, we can eliminate France’s Languedoc-Roussillon, Spain’s Rioja, California’s Sonoma County and Oregon’s Willamette Valley. This leaves us with Chianti Classico and Cirò. Cirò is an appellation in the southern Italian region of Calabria and primarily known for its red wines. Although Sangiovese is native to southern Italy, it does not have a strong presence there today, and the premier grape in Cirò is Gaglioppo. Sangiovese is the main grape used in Tuscany’s Chianti Classico, a hilly appellation located between Florence and Sienna. Chianti Classicos must contain at least 80 percent Sangiovese.

This Sangiovese is from Chianti Classico.


Our wine is still vibrant, with youthful tannins and fresh fruit flavors, indicating a younger red. Chianti Classicos are aged for at least a year before they are released, though many are held longer. Let’s look at some recently released Chianti vintages and see if we can find a match. The 2017 growing season was hot and dry, yielding fresh and balanced reds with dense tannins. After a cool spring, grapes were picked under ideal conditions in 2016, resulting in vibrant, elegant Chiantis. 2015 produced dense and powerful wines with dark fruit flavors. The vibrant, elegant wines of 2016 sound most like our wine.

This Chianti Classico is from the 2016 vintage, making it five years old.


This is the Monteraponi Chianti Classico Il Campitello Riserva 2016, which scored 95 points in the Sept. 30, 2020, issue of Wine Spectator. It retails for $78, and 1,300 cases were made. For more on Chianti Classico’s wines, read senior editor Bruce Sanderson’s tasting report, "The Power of Tuscany," in the Oct. 31, 2020, issue.

Taylor McBride, assistant editor