Thoughts on Wine Tasting

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I was just reading a very interesting posting on wine ratings and reviews over at vinicultured and felt the need to say a little something on the topic.

Wine reviews and tasting notes are a strange thing. When made by “experts” they create the pretense of objectivity and support the idea that one person’s taste should dictate another’s. I think this fundamentally misses what makes wine so great. Wine is not about winning, about ranking (there is enough of that in law school already), or about evaluative comparisons. Wine, at least for me, is about the sensuous expression of our inner life mediated by the nature of the grapes and the crafting of the wine by the winemaker. Writing a tasting note is, thus, more about trying to express the inexpressible and it is this attempt that is most indicative of what makes wine so great.

I always thought it was interesting that the sense of smell is so closely linked to memory and is perhaps more evocative of distant reminiscences than any other sense. That is probably why we rely on metaphor and memory so much when writing wine tasting notes. I think this brings wine to a level beyond just alcohol – it is evocative of our past, our memories, thoughts about life, etc. It is a wonderful sensuous expression of our intellectual life that should never be reduced to some sort of ranking system of objectification. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Posted in: Musings

Comments

  1. J. Song
    February 3, 2008

    “I think this brings wine to a level beyond just alcohol – it is evocative of our past, our memories, thoughts about life, etc. It is a wonderful sensuous expression of our intellectual life that should never be reduced to some sort of ranking system of objectification.”

    I agree with everything you said in your post. Wine, as you mentioned twice in your post, is a sensuous thing. It is produce, yes, but it so much more than that as well.

    Life is much the same way. It is easy to categorize life, to break it down into organ systems or the interplay of complex molecules–indeed, there is often need to do so. However, to only do so captures only half the picture. Life transcends mere words; it transcends the physical. The essence of life eludes description, much as wine often defies description.

    I especially agree with your observations about smell. The bouquet of a fine wine, the notes of fragrance sprayed lightly on the neck of a beautiful woman–these are the stuff of memory!

  2. Shea
    February 3, 2008

    Thanks! I’m glad someone else feels the same way :).

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