In Vino·type Veritas

Welcome back for the second installment on our exploration of Master of Wine Tim Hanni’s innovative approach to discovering wines that are the perfect fit for your taste preferences. Hopefully, you have completed the simple questionnaire at to identify your Vinotype and have taken the time to peruse Hanni’s fascinating website. And for those who are keen to delve more deeply into Hanni’s groundbreaking research and conclusions, be sure to order his book, Why You Like The Wines You Like: Changing the way the world thinks about wine. (available from and

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Now that you’ve ascertained your Vinotype, this knowledge becomes an empowering and useful tool for all wine consumers from the novice to the expert.  You are individualistic in your taste preferences and now are equipped with scientific credence that you know what you like and that’s what counts. Some people prefer blondes others dark smoldering looks – what’s so different about wines. Vive la difference!


For far too long we’ve been evaluating wines through narrow prisms, a mix of tasting methodologies with tunnel vision focus and perceptions. The systems employed today in literary wine criticism, the judging in wine competitions, wine sales pitches along with outdated tenets still taught in wine education have a myriad of drawbacks. They can confuse the consumer, focus importance and stamp an imprimatur on one segment of the wine market at the expense of another. All of which in the end undercuts the market as a whole. They are contributing factors to market retraction rather than creating market expansion which benefits everyone from producer – to retailer – to consumer. This is not to say that wine critics, wine award competition results and industry professionals and educators are wrong in their assessments of wine quality and pronouncements of the wines they sincerely believe we all should appreciate. The problem lies in that their evaluations are based upon their own Vinotype makeup which is shaped and influenced by each individual’s physiology along with their psychological and cultural experiences with wine as well as foods.


Vinotype identification and its application does not diminish or negate the existing concepts. It places them in their proper contexts and creates a better understanding of how everyone can become a lover of wine.  Understanding and implementing the Vinotype model will maximize wine appreciation, increase wine sales, promote and protect a diverse portfolio of wine styles worldwide and most importantly foster consumer satisfaction.


If we, as consumers, knew the Vinotype of wine critics, judges and sommeliers we would be able to connect with those sharing a kindred Vinotype and go enthusiastically and confidently with their suggestions. Inversely, consumers could benefit from the wine recommendations of critics not aligned with their Vinotype and understand that these wine recommendations were not bad or incorrect, just not a good fit for that consumer’s Vinotype. Thus with greater confidence, reliability and ease, we could better utilize the mastery of these wine specialists to guide us to the wines that would consistently please and delight; a win-win situation all the way around!


Let’s have some fun and begin to employ your newly discovered Vinotype! Find your Vinotype below and put to the taste test some of the wine suggestions from Tim Hanni and myself.



For the Sweet Vinotypes: 


It’s time to stop calling sweet wines, dessert wines! For centuries up until post World War II, most people consumed sweet wines. Even nowadays the producers of the legendary sweet wines of Bordeaux France – the Sauternes and other nearby sweet wine appellations – are perplexed and dismayed that their wines have been relegated to the dessert course. The Sauternais from long ago to today enjoy their luscious wines throughout the meal. If you desire sweet wines, indulge yourself with a sweet wine with every course!!! You are sensitive to bitter flavors and alcohol and fresh fruity flavor is your thing.


Here in S. Africa, Sweet Vinotypes are living in one the world’s great sweet wine regions. Although sweet wine production has been in decline, there appears to be resurgence on the horizon as the old paradigms give way. There’s an abundance of wines in this category from which to choose and at great price points! Here in the Robertson region alone exist fantastic sweet and semi-sweet wines – Chenin Blancs, Colombards, Muscats, late harvest Viogniers.  Sweet to semi-sweet to off dry  sparkling wines are also readily available. Wines from other parts of the world that are sure to satisfy are White Zinfandels, sweeter versions of Muscatos from the United States and Italy and superb sweet styled Rieslings from Germany.


The bottom line is that if you love sweet wines; don’t allow someone to push you towards dry wines. These sweet wines will accompany any meal you choose to enjoy them with as long as you apply some basic concepts of flavor balancing which will be discussed in our next posting on food and wine pairing.


For the Hypersensitive Vinotype:  


You are able to move towards enjoying a drier style of wine. Be mindful that your penchant is for wines that show finesse and delicacy over boldness and power. Watch out for wines that exhibit too much oak and high alcohol.


Wines that will hit the spot for you are dry Rosés, the dry and slightly sweet Rieslings from Germany and Alsace, Chenins from the Loire and S. Africa, as well as the more delicate and lighter-bodied, unoaked to lightly oaked styled Chardonnays from Chile and France.


For the Sensitive Vinotype:


Bacchus, the god of wine has smiled upon you. According to Tim Hanni and his research, you fall into a lucky category of taste preferences that cross a wide spectrum of wine styles offered worldwide. You are adventuresome in not only trying new wines but new foods as well. But you want your wines to exhibit intensity along with balance. Big, rich, heavy oaked, high alcohol wines are generally not for you.


For whites enjoy Sauvignon Blancs and Chardonnays – both of which excel here in the Robertson Wine Valley. Go to reds would include Shiraz, Syrah, Rhone blends as well as Merlot and Merlot blends. Pinot Noirs are an excellent choice as well. And lucky for the S. African wine consumer, many well-made examples of these wine varietals are available here the winelands of the Western Cape.


For the Tolerant Vinotype:


You are the bulls of the wine world. You appreciate a wine that can be described as possessing the Big Five in wine profiling – an overt intensity – a fruit forward stance – strong but balanced oak – high alcohol and powerful but well-rounded tannins in red wines. The white wines for you are reserve-style Chardonnays from around the world and Rhone style whites. You will especially get your kicks from Cabernet Sauvignons and blends. An example of a perfect guide for your personal wine safari would be Robert Parker.


In the end, your Vinotype is your own personal truth to finding and enjoying the wines that you like and will enjoy. Start experimenting in tasting the wines that fall into the range of your Vinotype’s preference. Some wines you will like and some you may not, but you will at least have the tools and information to better zero in on your favorites, saving much time, frustration and money.  Above all, for the novice wine consumer, you will discover that wines are fun and not intimidating. And for the expert, you will open yourself once again to the simple pleasures you felt when you first began your love affair with wine. In Vinotype…Veritas! Let your Vinotype help guide you to your own truth in wine enjoyment and appreciation.


The final post in this series will discuss the new concepts surrounding food and wine pairing, understanding flavor balancing and how to apply its principles to enhance your dining enjoyment along with some fun wine and food party ideas.



Article written for the Horse’s Mouth by Susan M. Cashin

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Susan M. Cashin is a transplant from Texas to the Robertson Wine Valley. She and her husband reside on a smallholding in the Klaasvoogds area. Susan is a free-lance journalist specializing in the area of wine and food, a certified Sommelier (International Sommelier Guild) and a certified Master Gardener. She is an avid fan and supporter of the wines of South Africa, especially those in the Robertson wine region.

It is the wines produced here on family-owned farms and estates (many of which have been in the same family for generations) along with farmer-owned co-operatives, that she believes contribute to the region’s unique “sense of place”. Her mission is to help de-mystify wine enjoyment for the consumer, increase the knowledge and sales of the region’s wines in the local, national and international markets; and thus help to create a solid economic base upon which this region can preserve and protect its heritage of family-owned farms and its singular stamp of originality. One that is sadly disappearing worldwide, in today’s increasingly homogenized wine experiences – from taste to tourism.


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