Toss Those Tasting Notes

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 10-15-2013

Ball_point_pen_writingAs regular readers know, I write a free, twice monthly wine column that’s distributed to newspapers across the country.

These columns are hosted by Palate Press: The Online Wine Magazine. If you don’t see my column in your local newspaper, please send an email to your paper’s editor and CC me (David – at –

In my latest column, I explain why the baffling rhetoric of tasting notes intimidates consumers and stands in the way of wine appreciation. And I urge wine enthusiasts to change the way we talk about wine.

Toss Those Tasting Notes

Ever tasted a boysenberry? What about cat pee?

Can you easily discern Irish breakfast tea from English breakfast tea?

And do you ever drink kirsch, the brandy made from sour cherries?

If you’re anything like me, your answer to all these questions is “no.” Yet descriptors like these fill the cornucopia of words that critics use to write about wine.

While the baffling rhetoric of a typical tasting note might benefit some oenophiles, it intimidates consumers and stands in the way of wine appreciation. It’s time to change the way we talk about wine.

Consider a recent review of Domaine du Pegau’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Reserve, an iconic wine of the Southern Rhone. In a recent issue of Wine Spectator, critic James Molesworth praised the 2010 release for its “well-endowed core of crushed plum, blackberry paste, and braised fig” and savored “brick dust, pepper, warm chestnut leaf, and smoldering charcoal” on the finish.

One can’t fault a novice wine drinker for feeling daunted — or scoffing at such descriptors.

Check out the rest of the piece on Palate Press: The Online Wine Magazine.

Comments (1)

  1. I agree totally. There are so many words used that are difficult for the average wine consumer to relate to. There are a few characteristics that I find make wine very interesting like minerality, or wet earth… but take practice and training to recognize and appreciate. For example, it is a challenge to describe a viscous, earthy mourvedre, or minerality in a riesling that smells/tastes like wet slate. I have never tasted wet slate from the Mosel, or dirt from Southern France, or Spain… but I can imagine it very clearly. I would be very curious how you would tackle describing these aspects in a simple, more accessible way.