Over the last couple weeks the same conversation topic keeps popping up, “Now, I don’t know that much about wine but I know what I like.”
Wine geeks, myself included, have a tendency to read waaaaaaaay into the flavor, aroma, structure, production style etc etc. That is because we are geeks. Breaking down a wine is what we consider to be a fun activity.
However when it comes down to it the only thing that matters is, “Do I like what I have in my glass?” Sure you can pick out the hints of cherries, blackberries, cassis, anise, the touch of vanilla and baking spices? But do like it? Sometimes that question alone is harder than you might think.
Far too often I encounter folks, who are wine lovers, that are intimidated by the idea that you have to rattle of characteristics as if you have been studying for an exam. They lose sight on the prime directive of wine tasting. Lets be honest; unless you are going through the Sommelier or Master of Wine courses, another beverage associated program or professional endeavor you probably won’t be quizzed on this stuff.
Am I saying you should ignore those factors that make a wine great? That they don’t matter? Hell to the no. However… the first thing you should decide when trying a new wine, unless you are studying for something as I previously mentioned, is whether you like it or not. From there you can start to form the opinion of why. Forming that opinion is not necessarily easy. As we all know there are a plethora, nay a cornucopia, of things that go into producing a wine; all of which have an effect on the end product. The why is important but figuring out your why might not be easy. It can come with time and experience. Is it the structure? Do you like the feel of the tannins or the acidity? Is it fruit? The creaminess? The spiciness? The oak? Or is it just yummy? If you want to figure it out you need to take the time to do so. Stop and think about that wine you have in your glass, even if it is just for a moment. Making sure that you take more than just one or two gulps can also help.
Just don’t forget that it is ok to like a wine “just because.” Don’t forget that wine tasting is entirely subjective and that everyone has a different set of taste buds. If a wine in your cellar got 110 points and 50 gold stars that is awesome! But that doesn’t necessarily make it “good.” That is one opinion on one wine tasting in a completely different circumstance than how you are tasting it. We all lose sight of that sometimes and that is ok.
The truth is that there is only one way to find out how “good” a wine is. Taste it for yourself.
Anyone need to borrow a soap box?