01438 741177         thewinesociety.com

The Society's Community

Wine tasting

I ve done the courses, read the wines, savoured the wines, bought the wines, travelled the globe :earth_africa:
And even though I try to expand my vocab,
I’m still reduced to black fruit, nice nose, citrusy ,pencil shavings, Im not getting anything on the nose.
Tasting…dark fruit , cherry, full, light, Powerful, austere, needs more time ( I think). Long finish, alcoholic in other words I’m getting p…ed.
Oh how I wish I was a poet of sorts am I alone in struggling to describe the wine I’m enjoying or should I join the heathens that like Greek mountain village wine produced by octaganarian Agnes Vinopelos trod in tripe vats with her bunion riddled trotters.
Or should I preserve and read in awe at the musings of Atkins, Robinson and Clarke for whom wine is to them is as Susie Dent is to linguistics.

Help I think the emporer is naked


You are not alone! Putting into words what one is tasting is difficult. The most important note is whether or not one likes it. Being able to describe the flavours and scents one experiences with any degree of accuracy seems to be a skill to which many aspire and few succeed.


Agree that you are most certainly not alone!

My advice is: just use words that you can relate to, and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks or does.

I’d also add that the detail and enthusiasm of description I can muster does not always match how much I enjoy a wine, which is one reason I always give an overall score


Definitely not. Much more important and rewarding to enjoy it than to describe it!


I also prefer to just say whether I like it or not. Describing taste and smell is very subjective and also varies so much with different people. This is the one thing that may put me off doing a WSET 3 course. I am not sure if I think a NZ sauvingnon blanc smells like peaches, and I am being told it smells like citrus and pineapple, that I could accept the instructor’s views…


I prefer to read and write notes that give a sense of the tasting experience, rather than a precise description of the flavours. I agree that the same descriptions can be used for wine that I have really liked or disliked, and that sometimes the descriptions can either unintentionally damn with faint praise, or over-egg the qualities of something I’ve disliked. In contrast, I don’t mind notes that describe a wine as being “as fresh as an alpine stream” or “like licking a slate” - its not that I think the taster actually likes to go around drinking from mountain streams (bad idea) or licking stones, but I do think I know what they are trying to express.
In short - say what you like and don’t worry about being judged for it. Unless you use the word mineral which is another matter altogether :grinning:


I prefer reading opinions that convey a sense of how much the person enjoyed the wine and a vague sense of what it was like to notes that prescisely identify parallels in endangered berries or geological spectacles. It’s not that I don’t think there is skill in doing so, I just unfortunately lack the olfactory dictionary to translate those descriptions into a sense of the experience.

Another issue is that even when you know what “x” tastes like, you’re still a long way off knowing what wine that tastes like x tastes of. A year or so ago I was drinking a glass of Rioja and suddenly realised that I was tasting what some people describe as leather, but that I’d never made that connection before. I’d previously seen “leather” mentioned in tasting notes, but my expectation of how it would taste in wine lead me to expect something else.

This said, I have noticed that the more un-grapelike the notes the more I am attracted. Meat, olives, brine, saline, leather, antiques, petrol, struck match, menthol, caramel, nuts… all these things intrigue me, but I don’t know whether it is because I like them or because there is the suggestion of something fundamentally unimaginable (in wine) about them.


I find my inability to articulate what I’m tasting into words is regular source annoyance. I’m still enjoying (or not enjoying) the wine and it in no way detracts from that aspect but I find it’s like having song stuck in your head and you can’t remember who sung it. You know it and you know you know it but somewhere that faculty to link what you’re tasting and expressing that taste as an adjective is broken or missing.


“use words that you can relate to, and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks or does”
For my own notes to myself, I think this is absolutely right. I certainly have comparisons and words which tell me what I experienced, even if they are not conventional. And then, yes, add a summary score or word so you remember whether you ever want to try the wine again.

Some of the posts here are more about what reviewers are trying to do. They do need to find a vocabulary which tells the average reader of wine reviews (not the average adult) what to expect (as well as the good/bad rating and why): although it can be circular I tend to believe that comparisons to other wines may be most effective here to give the reader something to hang on to. I don’t think it is very helpful just to know if the reviewer enjoyed it. Preferences vary, but the wine’s good and bad points r.t. its type can be noted.
Discussion in a group tasting is probably more at the reviewer end of the spectrum, depending on how well you know the other tasters tastes.


I can honestly say I got hardly any of the aromas and flavours until I did the structured tasting in WSET 2 and 3. My wife has a far better nose memory than I but I do find Wine Folly: A Visual Guide to the World of Wine a good pointer to aromas/flavours by grape/blend with notes on more dominate styles based on cool and warm climates. Last week it had be sniffing a jar of cloves and an olive oil bottle to try and place an aroma.

After a dry spell we got rain and I was surprised how much more I noticed aromas walking the street be it the wood aromas of pine trees, garden bark on honeysuckle and elderflower.


I ll look out for that book, thanks

There are many different wine folly books on Amazon whats the title of the one you recommend please

Sorry being a bit thick, I can see the title in your thread

I think they are basically versions of the same book, with the magum edition having expanded sections. Anyway, if you already have one Wine Folly book, I wouldn’t buy another without checking.

1 Like

I was flicking through the Wine Folly book this week in Waterstones but had been scared off by the opinions on here re: significant mistakes. Do you not find it to be too bad?

1 Like

Me? Yes.

I was trying my hardest not to get involved in that discussion, but now look what you’ve been and gone and done :slight_smile:


Ha, sorry! It did look a fetching book if I’m honest.

There might be some confusion, so just to be clear, I am saying there is too much wrong with it - however good it looks. Others will disagree

Got you now, understood!

1 Like