Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Thoughts About Writing Tasting Notes

I still remember those days when I was preparing myself for the WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) Diploma. Our instructor made us memorize everything we needed to include in a tasting note, since writing tasting notes was a big part of the exam.

Normally we wrote tasting notes every class but then we had the help of a cheat sheet, to guide us through. So, most students tried to remember every single element, because we knew that if we omitted anything, points were going to be deducted from our final grade. The fun part was that first we did the tasting of the wines and then the written part of the exam, and even though we spit out the wines, some of course went through. Can you imagine trying to write an essay about the different terroirs in Hermitage with a glass or two of wine in your system…(in my case it was Ports). Don’t worry... I passed! Though I was so nervous afterwards I threw up the little port that was on my system.

For a while, I couldn’t help myself! every time I tasted a wine, I mentally went through the elements in the WSET® Systematic Approach to Tasting: appearance, legs, rim vs core, nose intensity, nose aromatics, young or developed wine, palate flavors, tannin, acidity, sweetness, body alcohol, finish, conclusion/ thoughts about the wine, quality, estimated suggested retail price, grape variety and region.  I know... it seems like a lot! most tasting notes wine critics write, focus only in one or two things, mostly on the aromatics and of course a hint or two about body and structure, I guess the idea is to make you (the consumer) want to buy and taste this particular wine. They make sure to add a number between 0-100. Drinkable wines need to be at least 87 pts, though I confess I rarely buy something less than 88, and prefer to aim at a least to 90 pts. I must confess I have seen only a few wines that received 100 points. British wine critics use a different system that go from 0-20 pts where best wines must have at least 17 pts.


So, what does La Wina do? These days, I use stars or a smile if I really like the wine and when I don’t like the wine, I add comments about something that popped out: like too tannic, needs time, bretty nose or corked, yep I was served wines that were not in good shape, many times and when I like the wines, I often write superb! out of this world, great quality! I also made sure that whenever I went to a tasting (remember those old days?), besides trying to taste as much as I could, I also asked myself which of all the wines tasted was the best of the night for me? And tried to identify at least one. Sometimes it was hard, especially when they were way too many good wines, any how, here are some that truly impressed me!


Concha y Toro Don Melchor 2016, $100, (Maipo (Puente Alto),Chile)

Quinta do Crasto Touriga Nacional 2015, $84.99 (Douro,Portugal)

Chateau Haut Brion Pessac-Léognan 2011, $620 (Pessac Leognan,France)

Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection 2008, $250

(Napa,US)

Château d’Yquem Sauternes 2016, $447, (Sauternes,France)

El Nido 2014,$125, (Jumilla, Spain)

Colomé Malbec Altura Maxima 2014,$165 (Salta, Argentina!!!)

Harlan Estate 2012,$799 (Napa,US)

Muga Rioja Prado Enea Gran Reserva 2010, $84 (Rioja,Spain)


What did you think? that because I'm a wine blogger, I was never exposed to the very best? Luckily, I am and I was... the fact that I still remember the WSET tasting approach means that at least some of what I learned at school, stuck in my mind. Cheers to the incredible producers whose mission is to make the best wines in the world! Silvina.

#thoughtsoflawina #WineWednesday #Tasting Notes


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