Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The Secret to Tasting...


One of the most common questions I face when teaching wine appreciation is: "How can I get better at wine tasting?". The answer is so simple that people often think I'm joking, but my honest response is to taste as many other things as you possibly can.


For example, it's a simple fact that most people reading this post will not have eaten a gooseberry at any time in the past 12 months. However, if you've read a review or description of any New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wines at any point in that same time period, you would almost definitely have seen the word used to describe flavours in wine.

The recent trend in wine descriptions is to describe flavours in terms of similar fruits (e.g plummy, raspberry flavours of merlot, the peachy, apricot flavours in viognier), as opposed to the more emotive but less specific approach of describing how a wine makes you feel (e.g light, summery, bracing sauvignon). As useful as this might seem, it is only useful if your audience is familiar with the fruits, flowers, and so forth you are using as descriptions.

Wine Flavour Wheel (click to enlarge)


Many people simply don't know what gooseberries taste like. Or guava, or passionfruit. If you're one of them then, chances are, you'll be baffled by the tasting notes you find on the back of a bottle. So in order to get better at tasting, it's a simple matter of extending your frame of reference.

Get out there and taste as many different things as you can! Avoid monotony by trying a wider range of wine styles (rather than always opting for the same old chardonnay), and voilĂ , you'll have a whole new chapter of wines to discuss combined with a new vocabulary to describe them.

Enjoy!

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