Thanks mainly to the work of Elisa Maniezzo, a dear reader of mine whom I often hear by email and with whom I have discovered several things in common, today I post a few questions that featured in the 2015 AIS exams... including mine 😉

Passing the AIS exam and becoming a sommelier is not something to be taken lightly, so if you plan to try for the exam after the summer, I recommend you invest an hour a day of your time to prepare now! Before I post the questions I would like to remind you of these useful resources for passing the AIS exam and becoming a sommelier:

And now we begin! 😉

Define the quality of a wine. (what it is, what it is determined by, the scale of values)

Quality summarises the values of the taste test and refers to the quality level of the wine. For wines of a fair level it is almost always end, can descend on thefine enough and is placed on the municipality for more modest wines. Scale:

  1. municipality
  2. not very fine
  3. fine enough
  4. end
  5. excellent
Define the'balance of a wine. (what it is, what it is determined by, the scale of values)

Balance, in the tasting sheet, represents the balance between the hardness and softness of a wine and can only be obtained after analysing these. The ideal balance is perceived when softness and hardness are in adequate contrast. In the evaluation, the type of wine must be taken into account: in young, lively and sparkling wines, a slight predominance of hardness is acceptable, in contrast, in a mature wine, a slight predominance of softness is acceptable. The scale of values is:

  1. unbalanced
  2. fairly balanced
  3. balanced
Define the tactile sensations of a wine. (what it is, what it is determined by, the scale of values)
  1. THERMAL SENSATION: linked to the serving temperature of the wine. Raising or lowering the temperature changes the perceptions of the 4 fundamental flavours. Sweetness and softness are more noticeable as the temperature rises, while savouriness and bitterness are more noticeable as the temperature drops.. The acidity is not directly affected by changing the temperature but can be attenuated by raising it because by increasing sweetness and softness this is less noticeable.
  2. PSEUDOCALORIC FEELING: (it has nothing to do with thermal sensation!) is a sensation of heat, burning, dehydration, due to the presence of the alcohol component (it is not the alcohol content!).
  3. SENSATION ASTRINGENT: dryness and roughness due to the presence of tannin, which reacts with mucin, a protein in saliva, and reduces salivation, in some cases to the point of dehydration. Tannins are destined to decrease over time because they precipitate as the wine ages.
  4. PUNGENT FEELINGis a sensation due to the presence of CO2 and is noticeable as a tingling sensation. It is a peculiarity of sparkling wines and sparkling wines.
  5. CONSISTENT FEELINGis the perception of what type of substance it is (aqueous, fluid, viscous, etc.).
Define the concept of minerality and use a wine or grape variety as an example.

Minerality is the set of olfactory sensations attributable to certain stones, minerals and metals. Some tasters classify sensations of sulphur, tar, smoke and burnt rubber as mineral scents. Others associate it with salinity, which is typical of wines produced in vineyards close to the sea or in any case under the strong influence of sea breezes... but it is not to be confused with the wine's sapidity.

Define the concept of ethereal and use a wine or grape variety as an example.

It is said of an aged wine that has aromas resulting from the combination of polyhydric alcohols. The wine takes on heady, pungent scents reminiscent of the characteristic scent of paint solvents. These are part of the ethereal scents: wax, enamel, iodine, etc., and are due to the combination of ethers, esters and acetals.

Define the concept of fruity, fragrant and herbaceous and use three wines as examples.

FRUITED: present in young wines. In whites, white-fleshed fruit is usually found, in reds, red-fleshed fruit. Apricot, pineapple, banana, cherry, strawberry, redcurrant, raspberry, blackberry, quince, plum, citrus, exotic fruits... Wine: Emozioni Lato R di Leone Conti - centesimino di Romagna vendemmia tardiva in which the cherry scents are very strong.

FRAGRANTis an adjective that emphasises the elegance of a wine. It is used in two cases:

  1. in young white wines to emphasise a particular floral bouquet. Wine: GoldMuskateller from St. Micheal Eppan - Alto Adige Muscat Yellow in which there is a truly fragrant bouquet of sage and white flowers.
  2. evolved white wines, champagne to emphasise hints of butter and bread crust. Wine: La Montina's Riserva Villa Baiana - Franciacorta riserva with hints of yeast and bread crust.
Lists New Zealand's wine-growing areas and grape varieties.

Key grape varieties = black berry: pinot noir, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, sirah; white berry: sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot grigio, riesling.

Key Zones = North Island: Auckland, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay (cabernet sauvignon and merlot), Martinborough (pinot noir). South Island: Nelson, Marlborough (sauvignon and chardonnay), Canterbury, Central Otago (Pinot Noir).

Lists the wine-growing areas and grape varieties of South Africa.

Grape varieties = white berry: chenin blanc (20% of the vineyards, very productive, can give very different wines depending on the yields per vine, the objectives and the oenological techniques applied. Perfect for making dry and fresh wines, fruity and not very intense. If aged a few years, it offers unexpected aromas of ripe fruit and gardenia, aniseed and smoke with an almondy finish. It also lends itself to late harvesting with noble rot, not excellent), colombard, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay; black berry: cabernet sauvignon, syrah, pinotage, merlot

Key Zones = Stellenbosch, Paarl, Worcester, Constantia, Walker Bay

List 10 grape varieties of Apulia.

White berry: biancolello, bombino bianco, francavilla, garganego, verdeca, mantonico, pampanino, procanico, iuvarella, rossetto, ottenese.

Black berry: bombino nero, ciliegiolo, ellenica, glianico, uva di troia, zinfadel, piede di colombo, morettone, ottavianello, negroamaro.

Lists 10 indigenous grape varieties of Veneto.

White berry: bianchetta trevigiana, boschera, durella, friulano, garganega, glera, greco, ugni blanc, verduzzo trevigiano, vespaiolo.

Black berryancellotta, corvina, franconia, lancellotta, molinara, pavana, raboso piave, rondinella, schiava, turchetta.

List 10 grape varieties from Campania.

White berrybombino, cacchione, coda di volpe, falanghina, fiano, forestiera, ginestra, greco di tufo, janculella, pepella.

Black berry: aglianico, casavecchia, cesanese, ciliegiolo, ellenica, greco nero, morettone, olivella nera, piede di colombo, piede di palumbo, piedirosso, sangioveto, sciascinoso.

List the DOCGs of Friuli.
  1. Colli orientali del Friuli Picolit
  2. Lison
  3. Ramandolo
  4. Rossazzo
Lists the DOCGs of Veneto.
  1. Amarone della Valpolicella
  2. Bagnoli Friularo
  3. Bardolino Superiore
  4. Asolo - Prosecco
  5. Hills of Conegliano
  6. Colli Euganei Fior d'arancio
  7. Conegliano Valdobbiadene - Prosecco
  8. Lison
  9. Montello
  10. Piave Malanotte
  11. Recioto della Valpolicella
  12. Recioto di Gambellara
  13. Recioto di Soave
  14. Soave Superiore
Lists the DOCGs of Lombardy.
  1. Franciacorta
  2. Oltrepò Pavese Classical Method
  3. Moscato di Scanzo
  4. Valtellina Superiore
  5. Sfursat di Valtellina
Lists the DOCGs of Umbria.
  1. Montefalco Sagrantino Passito
  2. Sagrantino di Montefalco
  3. Torgiano Rosso Riserva
List 5 washed rind cheeses.

Washed-rind or red-rind cheeses are those cheeses whose surface is washed and brushed in order to eliminate any mould that may form, allowing the growth of a particular type of bacteria that give the rind its typical red-brown colour. going to directly affect the flavour and aroma of the cheese and is carried out mainly with water, but also with beer or brandy.

  1. Taleggio PDO
  2. Fontina PDO
  3. Appenzeller
  4. Beaufort
  5. Gruyère
List 5 blue cheeses.

Blue-veined cheeses are also called blue cheeses. Their manufacturing process involves the appearance of green-blue streaks and blotches within the paste due to the formation of coloured mycelia given by the cultures of fungi of the genus penicillium to which the cheeses are subjected. Types:

  1. Gorgonzola
  2. Roquefort
  3. Stilton
  4. Castelmagno
  5. Blue of Corsica
List 5 hard cheeses.

These are those cheeses where the % of water is relatively low, between 30 and 40 %. Types:

  1. Grana
  2. Asiago
  3. Bitto
  4. Pecorino cheese
  5. Parmesan cheese
Describe the organoleptic sensations of pumpkin risotto and suggest a wine to go with it.

Pumpkin risotto has 3 basic ingredients (besides, of course, rice) that give 3 basic sensations:

  • pumpkin - sweet trend
  • hard Parmesan cheese (for the mantecata) - succulence
  • butter (for the mantecatura) - fatness tending to greasiness (butter is melted)

For this reason, the wines to be paired must contrast the sweetness of the pumpkin, the succulence of the Parmesan and the fatness of the butter. At this point, the proposal is for a classic method such as Franciacorta, Brut or Extra Brut.

Describe the fermentation process.

Fermentation is an anaerobic oxidative process carried out by numerous organisms on particular chemical substances for the production of energy necessary for their survival. Wine is produced from sugar solutions obtained by crushing grapes left to ferment with unicellular yeasts of the saccharomyces genus present on the skin of the berry or from selected cultures. Under anaerobic conditions, the yeast transforms 100 g of sugar into 51 g of ethyl alcohol, with a volume yield of 65.5 %. This is an ideal yield, in reality a part of the available sugar is used by the yeast to multiply, furthermore, during fermentation, the yeast in the must produces not only alcohol and carbon dioxide, but also secondary products (glycerine, acetic acid, succinic acid) which contribute to the aroma of the finished product. The actual yield therefore approximates 60% by volume.

Describe the distillation process.

A physical procedure that enables the volatile components of a fermented product to be separated according to their different boiling points with a twofold objective: on the one hand, the ethyl alcohol in the fermented product is concentrated from 5 - 12° % to 65 - 94° %, and on the other hand, the substances that make a distillate valuable are selected and the poor ones are eliminated.

  1. Preparation of must - from cereals, tubers, grapes, wine, sugar cane, fruits and honey.

  2. Must fermentation - adding saccharomyces yeasts in 3-4 days yields about 12 % ethyl alcohol.

  3. Distillation - separation of the volatile components of a fermented product by their different boiling points.

  4. Stabilisation - Barrel rest, dosed addition of distilled water, refrigeration and filtration.

Here you will find all the in-depth information on distillates and notes on the different types of distillates!

Describe carbonic maceration.

Carbonic maceration is applied before the actual vinification. The whole bunches are placed in tanks saturated with CO2, where they are left for periods of between 5-10 days at around 30 °C to encourage the production of fragrant substances and glycerine, the migration of pigments and other components from the skin to the pulp, and the breakdown of part of the malic acid. To avoid dangerous oxidation, sulphur dioxide is added. These conditions favour a partial intracellular fermentation, without the intervention of yeasts, which will only be added later. Alcoholic fermentation will then be fast, 2 to 4 days, and the wines will have intense and very lively colours, floral, fruity and vinous aromas, they will be fresh but already balanced, with delicate tannins and unsuitable for ageing. This is why 'novelli' wines are the only ones to be put on the market so early, starting on 6 November of the same year as the harvest, which must be stated on the label.

Describe the aromatic maturation and give examples.

La aromatic ripening is linked to the accumulation of varietal aromas, especially of the terpene group; the accumulation of aromatic substances in the skins tends to increase during ripening, then decrease if this is prolonged.

Describe phenolic ripening and give examples.

La phenolic ripening involves the phenolic component of the grapes, which is more concentrated in the skin; by letting the grapes ripen a little longer, there is an increase in the phenolic component that contributes to making the wine more structured and rich in tannins, and a slight decrease in that which makes the colour full and compact.

Describe technological maturation and give examples.

La technological maturation is evaluated on the basis of the ratio between sugars and acids; with the passage of time, sugars increase and acids decrease, especially malic, which is the most bitter and aggressive; consequently, when one wants to obtain a must richer in fixed acids, the grape harvest is brought forward a little; if one wants to obtain a must rich in sugars, the harvest must be delayed.

Describe the difference between aromatic and aromatised wines.

A wine is aromatic if it is made from an aromatic grape variety. A wine is aromatised if alcohol, sugar or must are added to the still wine/ must of at least 10° vol. and then aromatising herbs/spices in the right proportion.


Find out what happened when I was asked this seemingly innocuous question!

How does perlage influence wine characteristics?

The perlage accentuates the aromas and hardness.

These questions & answers are constantly being updated 🙂 If you have any other questions to add to these, please write them down in a comment! I will personally find the most correct answers!

Help me help those who have yet to pass the sommelier exam! And again, a big thank you to Elisa for helping me compile this collection!

A hug,


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