There are many great articles and blogs available on the subject of tasting wines (check out www.winefolly.com/review/how-to-taste-wine-develop-palate/ as a good example). Most of them will give a logical, practical guide to tasting wines like professional wine judges or winemakers, and that’s fine. More important, though, is to understand why tasting wines in what can seem quite a formal way is a worthwhile investment of your time and energy.
Wine is still a very mysterious venture for many people. Yet in reality when you break it down to a few simple steps, its actually quite simple – its fermented grape juice! Part of its appeal is that wines are produced in many different countries and are integral to different cultures in different ways, but it’s easy to be blinded by what seems to be very different (and often baffling) wine labels and descriptive terms. At the end of the day, however, it’s what is in the glass in front of you that matters, and even more critically if you enjoy it or not. And that is why having a simple but logical method of tasting wines is so useful. It’s a personal experience, and it’s about understanding your preferences – what you like and what you don’t like – and a simple tasting system is the easiest way to do this time after time. As an example, below are two sets of tasting notes of a Margaret River Chardonnay using a simple approach – one by an interested wine drinker, one by a professional wine judge.
The interested wine drinker….
Colour: The wine is clear – no floaty bits, nice light yellow colour. Looks fresh.
Nose: Smells a bit like fruit salad, some smokiness like a bonfire, a bit lemony
Palate: A bit of the fruit salad taste – lots of fruity taste to start but nice and zingy after that. Lip smacking stuff, didn’t leave my mouth feeling claggy or too dry.
Other notes: really liked it as it was zingy and very easy drinking, refreshing on a hot day. Would definitely buy again – good for taking to a barbecue or party.
The wine judge…
Colour: Pale straw, hints of lime hue
Nose: Citrus, melon, waxy, clean and lifted, subtle oak
Palate: Tropical, medium weight and length, nice sugar/acid balance, well integrated oak
Other notes: Drink now to 3 years, good example of a Margaret River Chardonnay.
The key thing to look at is that although the language appears to be very different, using a simple format works well for both purposes. The layout is clear and simple, and both the wine drinker and the judge can look back at their notes, remember the wine and then make an informed choice about the wine in the future.
The impact of wine tastings can be surprisingly far-reaching. Much of the success of the modern Australian wine industry as a global force is down to tastings held in London during the 1980’s – which features in the documentary “Chateau Chunder – A Wine Revolution”. (To celebrate Australia Day a special screening of the film, along with a Q&A session with an award-winning Australian winemaker is being held at Merchants Wine Store, 443 Joo Chiat Road on Tuesday 26th January – click here for details)
If you are interested in learning more about wine, join us at one of our regular winemaker tastings at Merchants Duxton, Pasarbella and Joo Chiat – they are a great opportunity to taste new wines in a relaxed environment with the person who actually crafted the wine right in front of you! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our mailing list to keep updated.