It was customary at the time to serve the good wine first while people were still sober and discriminating. The poor wine would be served later when the guests were somewhat intoxicated and not so likely to notice the quality of the beverage being served.
In “The Tastes of Wine: Towards a Cultural History, by Steven Shapin, Aristotle listed «the species of flavour», and one can recognize these species as close to our modern neuro-physiologically-informed basic taste categories of sweet, sour, bitter, and salty: there were the opposing categories, sweet and bitter. The former included the succulent, and the latter, the salty. Somewhere in between came the pungent, the harsh, the astringent, and the acid.
Pliny referred to wine tastes as “tart”, “sharp”, “harsh”, “hard”, “rough”, “luscious”, and “unripe”, and tasting too much of wood – all bad things – and, for evidently good tastes, he deployed a more restricted and less referential repertoire, notably including “pretty”, “pleasant”, and, of course, “sweet”.
But, as Andrew Dalby notes, Roman connoisseurs rarely mentioned what must have been one of the main taste elements of foreign wines, many of which were brined and spiced to stabilize them for sea transport.
Although the practice of tasting is as old as the history of wine, the term "tasting" first appeared in 1519. The methodology of wine tasting was formalized by the 18th century when Linnaeus, Poncelet, and others brought an understanding of tasting up to date.
The results of the four recognized stages to wine tasting:
"in glass" the aroma of the wine,
"in mouth" sensations,
– are combined in order to establish the following properties of a wine:,
complexity and character,
potential (suitability for aging or drinking),
A wine's overall quality assessment, based on this examination, follows further careful description and comparison with recognized standards, both with respect to other wines in its price range and according to known factors pertaining to the region or vintage; if it is typical of the region or diverges in style; if it uses certain wine-making techniques, such as barrel fermentation or malolactic fermentation, or any other remarkable or unusual characteristics.