27 July, 2010
How to become a better taster.
Are professional tasters just naturally better at tasting than the average person?
No, no, and no.
What makes them better tasters is that they taste more frequently and that they have systematic way of evaluating each wine. They use that system each time they taste, even if seems that they are pulling those flavors out of thin air (or sometimes thin wine).
Here's a quick guide for when you are evaluating a wine through either smell or taste: Just look for a FEW things.
Fruit, Earth, Wood.
Start by asking yourself, what fruits are here? Citrus? Apples? Tropical? Berries? Prunes? It's good to have a list of general fruit categories that you can use as a check-list. In a later post, we'll dive into those lists for both white wine and red wines.
Next, ask yourself, is there earthy notes in the wine? Earthy notes include mushrooms, dried leaves, forest floor, truffles, peat and more. However, if all you can detect is earthiness, you're good to move on to the next question. This is a good way to determine is a wine is from the old world as old world styles tend to emphasize earthy flavors over fruit flavors.
Finally, ask yourself, do I detect wood? What you're looking for here is evidence that the wine has been either fermented or aged using oak barrels or other form of oak. This will present itself as tasting like wood or perhaps cedar or in other forms such a vanilla, coconut, and smoke.
That's it. Use this system each time you taste a wine, and soon you'll be tasting like a pro.
Let me know how it goes!