Wine tasting notes and flavors stupid question

This is probably a pretty stupid question, but I guess it’s really about training my taste for wine. I’ve been drinking wine for a long time. From my wasted youth of sweet roses, like “Matous” rose, (Hey I’m old, anyone remember Boones farm?), to some really, in hindsight, awful New York wines, to some decent CA wines when I lived there from 1978 to 1990. I used to drink mostly beer and single malt. I can describe the taste of beer, and was about to became a certified beer judge before I had to move back east, and other things became more important. I can taste the marshmallow in a vintage Little Mill single malt, and I can probably tell you where a malt came from. When it comes to wine, my comments are likely to be, “it tastes like fermented grape juice.” This is not to say that I don’t like wine, I do. And I know what I like, it’s just that I become totally befuddled when I try to explain the taste or aroma. I’ve looked at some web sites, and they are mostly useless. I thought I had a breakthrough tonight when for the first time I thought I could detect a hint of leather in a wine. (Altocedro Cab). I decanted it and it vanished pretty quickly, so many be I’m improving. My wife always said I was bitter blind when it came to beer, and maybe my taste buds are burned out, but my doctor says to give up beer and wine is better for you, so here I am. I know what I like when I taste it, But I can’t really tell if I will like it if I order it from something like De Negoce, which I just signed up for and ordered a case a few weeks ago. I realize that a lot of this is subjective, but peaches, wet rock, dark fruit, this is all beyond me.

Wine Folly has some great resources for getting you started thinking about flavors and aromas. I especially like their aroma wheel graphic.

1 Like

There are quite a few good resources out there, from training videos on Udemy to Wine Folly to SommTV to a UC Davis course on sensory techniques (for the hardcore). One book I highly recommend is Karen MacNeil’s Wine Bible. She does a good job of explaining tasting as well as the winemaker’s process.

But the best training is nose-in-the-glass practice. Just remember that tasting wine is different from drinking wine. Tasting takes a different mind set. Focus and concentration are the key. Eventually your nose (the primary tasting organ) and taste buds will begin to detect nuances that you may not have ever noticed when just consuming. It also helps to understand the wine making process, at least on a basic level. The fruit tastes you pick up are predominately (but not completely) determined by the grape varietal but the secondary and tertiary scents and tastes, such as stone, earth, leather, tobacco, floral, etc are largely due to the decisions made and acted on by the wine maker. Understanding those processes helps you pick up on those nuances.

This may help.

Thanks. I’ll give these a try. I have been buying better quality wine at various sites over the internet. I still have a few that I bought locally, Trader Joes and Costco mostly. Doing a side by side tasting has been really helpful and eye-opening (taste bud opening?) What I used to think were great, now taste flat and insipid. These are wines in the $10-20 range, compared to what I found on casemates in about the same range. A world of difference.

Agree. I’d also add YouTube as a source. I’ve been recently watching a series on blind tasting and the aroma and palate descriptors are very good. The series is called “So you think you know something about wine.”