We have all come across some wine review, that at great length, describes the nuances of an amazing wine. I often read those and say to myself , “Really?, I have never even had any of those berries or alpine herbs that you describe, in any of the normal foods that I eat, or that particular glacial minerality that can only come from the melting waters of the Himalaya’s on the finish”.
Am I a culinary idiot?
No. I just am not being paid to wax on about something, like a wine writer is paid to do.
Most of what they write about will remain a mystery to about 99.9% of the wine buying population. What we need is our very own set of descriptors.
A lot of wine customers will tell me that they don’t have a sophisticated palate. I will then ask them if they have a favorite restaurant, or a favorite food dish. They all say YES! Then I will proceed to them they probably have a good palate, but may not have the vocabulary to describe what they like, in terms of wine flavors. Helping them find their own way, language and descriptors is essential. Building up that confidence and customer / retailer relationship, being at the table, saying how much you enjoy a particular wine, and bringing up a little gem of a flavor note that everyone would agree to, is also a lot of fun!
Some of my favorites happen to be “Yummy, Yummy Yummy, or I’m not sharing”.
My nephew once described a wine as being a “gopher” as when he had the first sip, it poked it’s head up, then disappeared until the last part of the taste was in his mouth, when it “poked it’s head up” again. I called those “doughnut wines”, as they had a beginning, an end, but were hollow in the middle.
I guess my point is this… we don’t have to think, that if we don’t taste all the flavors in a wine that a wine writer wrote about, then there must be something wrong with us. Au Contraire! We don’t have to say anything at all. We can just enjoy. Wine is a very sophisticated beverage with over 1,200 discernible flavors (coffee has 2,000!). Do we need to know them? No, not unless we are a sensory expert for a living.
I have a friend, that is a great chef, and I will always ask her, “what’s for dinner?”, that way I can pick, what I feel, is an appropriate wine choice for the food (which I enjoy, the art of food and wine pairings, but that’s another blog). When we sit down for the meal, and we have the wine and they say ” this wine is delicious” , well to me, that is worth more than any other words you could come up with. Does it help to have a few words to throw in? Yes, but that will come with time, and hanging out with the right group of tasters and friends will help you to find your own way. Then one day you’ll be able to comment on the “wet stone minerality , rich fruit in the mid-palate, and the lovely floral nose” on the 2006 Argiolas Korem you had with dinner last night, while I will be saying ” so yummy that I’m not sharing, except for with you”