How to Become a Better Wine Taster

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Your Personal Experience With Wine Depends on Past Experience

Today I wanted to briefly cover an aspect of wine tasting that’s often overlooked. While many sommeliers and wine professionals adhere to various tasting guidelines (PDF) when they taste wine, it’s important to note that YOU as an individual may taste something completely different!

More often than not, I hear from novice wine drinkers that they don’t experience the same flavors or aromas described by industry professionals such as Robert Parker or James Suckling. Does that make them wrong? No! So what is the correct way to taste wine? Is there such a thing? First, there’s one important point we need to discuss.

Violets are often utilized as a common aroma descriptor by wine industry professionals. But not everyone experiences the arom
Violets are often utilized as a common aroma descriptor by wine industry professionals. But not everyone experiences the aroma or flavor of wine in the same way. It never hurts to “smell the roses,” if you will. Exposing yourself to floral scents,such as violets can ultimately help you taste wine at a higher level.

Wine Tasting is Subjective

Wine drinkers often describe the flavor and aroma of wine in different ways. In some cases there are dramatic differences in descriptions, in others they can be very subtle. While there are no doubt some common associations when describing wine, there are varying degrees dependent upon the individual’s palate.

One’s palate matures every time you experience a new flavor or smell, whether it’s wine or otherwise. You may associate a particular Merlot with the flavor of blueberry and the smell of violet, while your best friend could describe that same wine as resembling pomegranate and geraniums.

This is largely because our palate is associated with what we know. The person who went right to blueberries may have eaten many more blueberries than pomegranates throughout their lifetime. The same could be said of floral notes – the gardener who planted more violets is going to recognize that scent over geraniums.

How Can We Become Better Wine Tasters?

In short, the best solution is to get out there and taste and smell everything. Use your senses more than you ever have. Walking through Home Depot? Take a whiff of that bright green rubber hose. Do the same thing when you walk down the sheet rock aisle. The next time you pour your favorite glass of Barolo wine or a Spanish red wine such as Rioja, you may be able to detect mineral qualities that had previously been overlooked. If you drink wine with relative frequency and open your senses to more flavors and scents, you’ll find yourself starting to appreciate wine on a higher level.

Please note that improving your tasting skills and senses does not make you a wine snob, it just makes you even more passionate about something you already enjoy. I urge you to tell your friends to get out there and smell and taste the world. Not only will it make you a better wine taster, it will also make you more mindful about your body and the world around you. Life’s too short to pass up the little things Instead, let’s make the most of them.

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