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What are the core essentials of taking notes when you try or taste a new wine? Keep it simple and be consistent. Here are some tips we’ve picked up over time. There are lots of apps and guides out there you can use, but are they always useful? Read on to find out our thoughts.
“The biggest impact on my wine tasting might simply be the act of note taking while drinking. I read once that if you write down a dream the moment you wake up, your dream recall will improve. I have found the same to be true of wine.” - Josh’s Wine List, Issue #12
Taking notes when tasting a wine is one of the most useful things you can do. There are formal tasting guides and grids like those by the WSET, but they aren’t essential.
Start jotting down notes on a regular basis, and you’ll soon find a structure to them. It can be as simple as ‘would buy again,’ or ‘didn’t like this.’ You can start to build up a good idea of your taste. As long as you stick to some sort of consistency with the notes you do make, this is a good place to start.
These days, there are so many tasting note apps out there. That’s not always an indication of how valuable they are. Or helpful, for that matter. Josh keeps a small Moleskine in his bag and makes notes in it whenever he drinks a new wine. Having a notebook to hand is a helpful way to keep track of your thoughts.
When it comes to great wines, Josh goes as far as taking the label off and sticking it in his notebook. “Must be the inner collector nerd in me,” he says - but there’s definitely something to be said for doing this. If you’re a visual person, keeping track of bottle labels could be helpful for remembering what you thought about certain wines. Or what to look out for in the wine shop or supermarket…
Most of all, notes have the power to bring you back to a moment somewhere in the past almost immediately. As Josh writes in Issue 12 of JWL:
“I was at the Genesis end of summer tasting this week, sampling 30 wines. It was the largest number of wines I’ve tasted in one sitting. Rereading a note like “why I fell in love with Beaujolais” or “do I even like Chablis?” takes me back to the moment I tasted the wine and the flavours in it. You don’t need to be formally trained, just a few words of what jumped out about it.”
So there you have it. Making notes about a wine doesn’t have to be nearly as complicated or complex as you might think…