Tasting

Anything to do with Port.
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benread
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Tasting

Post by benread » 21:00 Wed 11 Apr 2018

I’ve recently decided to formalise my wine education a little. I started a WSET level 2 course this week. It has caused me to think a little about the focus when appraising a wine. I’m interested to know what others think.

Historically I have spent a lot of time wondering whether the aromas I smell / taste are (eg) plum, blackberry, loganberry or some other obscure fruit or likeness. I’ve always struggled to identify what I smell and taste by reference to other things. Have I given that aspect too much focus? Should I place more focus on the aspects I can more easily identify? Appearance. Sweetness. Acidity. Tannins. Body etc.

How do others approach this?

PS. I confess it was tasting a wine that caused me to think about this but the question applies equally to port and this section seemed a good home for the question!


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DRT
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Re: Tasting

Post by DRT » 00:09 Thu 12 Apr 2018

Having been fortunate enough to have experienced many years of tasting fine wines in the presence of other enthusiasts I must say the number one question in my head every time I see, smell or taste a wine is "how much do I like this?". Reference tastes and smells are interesting discussion points, but a blackberry tastes like a blackberry and just because a wine also tastes of blackberry doesn't make it great.

I think texture and the balance of fruit, tannin and acidity combined with the progress of a wine through the ageing process are more meaningful benchmarks than trying to detect whether or not the wine tastes of slow, medium or fast-roasted bunberries :wink:
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AHB
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Re: Tasting

Post by AHB » 12:59 Mon 16 Apr 2018

I agree with DRT. While I do try to identify what the wine tastes like, what is more important to me is how enjoyable it is to drink.

But I disagree with DRT that a blackberry tastes like a blackberry. Some blackberries are sweet and delicious and I enjoy eating them. Some are small hard and sour and I do not enjoy eating them. What I try to capture when I assess and describe a wine is:
(a) How good is it? Both in absolute terms and also relative to its peers.
(b) What is it like? Flavour and structure.
(c) When should it be drunk? Food match, additional ageing, anything else

Often I just try to provide information to allow a reader to make their own decision. If I describe a wine as "elegant and nicely mature" JDAW will avoid it. If I describe it as "in early maturity with some youthful vigour and generous fruit", JDAW might try it.

But above all, I try to be consistent.
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LGTrotter
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Re: Tasting

Post by LGTrotter » 21:46 Mon 16 Apr 2018

This is an interesting topic, thank-you for posting it.

When drinking a wine/port I often think about what it tastes like in reference to other things. But when I read a note with the wine in front of me I almost never find the tastes described. So it might more helpful to consider the other aspects you mention; Tannin, acidity, body and appearance. These seem more useful in discerning what Alex discusses, what you might eat with it, how long it might last, and how it compares with other wines in the same category or price range.

But I have tended to look to other wine writers for inspiration on how to write notes. Waugh's comment that wine writing should be 'camped up' and that improbable side flavours should be noted, 'French railway carriages', 'women's underwear'. Wines should be declared as 'an attempt to poison' or 'a mortal enemy'. I also like Roald Dahl's protagonist in 'Taste' who refers to wines as though they have the characteristics of people; 'a prudent wine, rather diffident and evasive, but quite prudent'. Or 'A good humoured wine, benevolent and cheerful- slightly obscene, perhaps, but none the less good-humoured'. However this is of zero help in terms of WSET exams.

Alex's advice to be consistent is good, in that it is true. But bad in that it limits improving, developing, reconsidering.

I am interested to hear how you find the WSET experience. I have often thought of doing it, I hoped it might help me be more organised in my thinking. But then I decided not to, as it might make me more organised in my thinking.

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uncle tom
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Re: Tasting

Post by uncle tom » 10:03 Tue 17 Apr 2018

I’ve always struggled to identify what I smell and taste by reference to other things.
Yes, it's a distraction beloved of wine writers needing to fill column inches. It also helps them convey an impression of expertise, when that is lacking.

Too many people judge wines by their label and price tag, and not by whether they roundly satisfy them. Moreover the distraction runs deep; commentators on Cellar Tracker, where one might hope people would be a little less conformist than the media writers, need to be positively disappointed to give a classed growth claret a score of less than 90, yet need to have their socks blown off to give a non-classed growth a score that high.

It must be very frustrating for the wine makers in estates that did not make the grade way back in 1855 - very few have broken through the 'glass ceiling' - yet many deserve to.

Even in port, past reputation hangs over people's perceptions - the Burmester 2011 is a seriously good VP, and got my third highest score at the official blind tasting - but no-one will buy into this - Burmester is a tawny house - they don't really 'do' VP

- or do they??
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Andy Velebil
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Re: Tasting

Post by Andy Velebil » 16:17 Wed 18 Apr 2018

uncle tom wrote:
10:03 Tue 17 Apr 2018
I’ve always struggled to identify what I smell and taste by reference to other things.
Yes, it's a distraction beloved of wine writers needing to fill column inches. It also helps them convey an impression of expertise, when that is lacking.

Too many people judge wines by their label and price tag, and not by whether they roundly satisfy them. Moreover the distraction runs deep; commentators on Cellar Tracker, where one might hope people would be a little less conformist than the media writers, need to be positively disappointed to give a classed growth claret a score of less than 90, yet need to have their socks blown off to give a non-classed growth a score that high.

It must be very frustrating for the wine makers in estates that did not make the grade way back in 1855 - very few have broken through the 'glass ceiling' - yet many deserve to.

Even in port, past reputation hangs over people's perceptions - the Burmester 2011 is a seriously good VP, and got my third highest score at the official blind tasting - but no-one will buy into this - Burmester is a tawny house - they don't really 'do' VP

- or do they??
Why I love blind tasting wines. You either like it or you don't when you can't see the label.

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Axel P
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Re: Tasting

Post by Axel P » 17:15 Wed 18 Apr 2018

I must admit that there are three things in a wine or Port that I am looking for the most: balance, balance and balance.

This does not mean, that my favorite wines and Ports are smoothies, but they must make sense in a certain way. This could be like a cask sample tasting of Vintage Port, when many wines are approachable where others arent, but acidity, tannings and body must somewhat tell me that they make sense togehter either to be enjoyable now or to mature nicely.

I do not spend too much time trying to get the last yellow fruit aroma out of a Sauternes or German white wine, but this lunch I had a Hermannsberg Bastei GG 2011 which was extremely enjoyable to drink, but failing a bit in having the balance with too much acidity on the palate.

Enjoy WSET as this really should give you a broader side on how to taste wine.
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