Straight to the Point
My tasting notes are pointless!
I used to get to a few big wine tastings/wine fairs each year. The kind that are terribly civilised for the first few hours but then escalate into a flurry of excited ‘tasters’ dashing from one stand to the next with shouts of ‘you’ve GOT to try that’ and ‘this is AMAZING’! Oh how I miss them….
At these tastings I took notes in the only way I’d ever considered I was supposed to. Reading these notes now I can’t imagine why I bothered to write anything at all.
My notes attempted to follow the format that I had been taught. Look - write, smell - write, taste - write, score - write. Right? Wrong! My notes could have been anyone’s (that is assuming that ’anyone’ wasn’t particularly good at describing wine)! I’d write the typically obvious; Sangiovese - cherries, Merlot - plums, Riesling - petrol, Pinot Noir - ‘farmyard’. None of this is rocket science, if you want this kind of information you can look it up on
Question: what is the purpose of tasting notes. For me, I don’t need to know every last detail of how the wine tasted. I’m not someone who needs to describe the wine to anyone else. Even the educated and skilled descriptions are questioned from time to time.
Wine Anorak wrote ‘This is the primary difficulty with writing about wine. Verbal descriptors are imprecise and largely fail to evoke an imagined flavour on the part of the reader. This is why I’m increasingly moving away from descriptors that simply attempt to identify all the different smells and tastes in a particular wine’.
As for me, all I really want to know is whether I liked the wine or not and why. Is this sour grapes (sorry!) on my part because I’m not particularly good at describing wine? Maybe so, and please don’t get me wrong, I like descriptions. It’s largely how I chose wine I’ve never had before, that and how pretty the label is and how heavy the bottle is (just kidding)! But I don’t need this kind of description in my notes.
Hopefully you‘re not just thinking I‘m crazy, and if you are, can I just point out that it isn‘t just me.
Keepwinesimple.com posted ‘writing wine tasting notes need not be a complicated activity. These notes are for you….. The only rule is that they should convey the information that is important to you’. Entirely sensible to the point of obvious I would say. Although it does go on to discuss colour, aroma, taste and rating. I see how this might be useful to others, but all I’m really interested in is my overall ‘wine experience’.
I love wine. I trust my opinion on a wine over anyone else’s and I would urge you (if you don’t already) to do the same (your opinion, not mine). The best you can do to work out which wines you like is go tasting. I’m going to one this month and I am SO EXCITED!
I will ask myself just two questions. 1. What do I like about this wine? 2. What don’t I like about this wine? I expect just in asking these questions, I may answer with some kind of description about the wine. But, perhaps bizarrely, I believe the main focus of the notes is not the wine, it is the ‘drinker‘! Essentially, it’s all about you. I wish I could explain that better! Hopefully I don’t need to. People don’t have the same experience of the same wine, it’s the interaction between you and the wine.
I’m not suggesting everyone writes their tasting notes like this, but if you’ve never considered what you hope to get out of your notes, or like me, have never found them remotely useful or interesting, ask yourself the question - What do I want from my notes? Start from there.
Wine isn’t just a drink, it’s an experience.