Careful with Tasting Notes

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Be careful with tasting notes in wine.

There’s no shortage of people out there ready to tell you what’s “in” the wine you’re about to buy. Many of those people are paid and that’s great, I’m just not sure that helps people who are new to wine or developing their palate. Honestly, if the winemaker is using descriptors in their tasting notes, then you’re probably on the right path. No one cares and knows more about the wine than the person who spends all year coaxing it to its potential.

Wine professionals don’t want to inundate you with descriptors of a wine’s nose or flavor. We believe that both sensory notes are relative to the smeller or taster. What I get out of a glass of Sauvignon Blanc may not be what you get. Why is my description correct and yours flawed? Do you think because I’ve spent a large portion of my life with my nose in a glass, I know what you experience better than you? I don’t, I do however know what a wine from a particular region should smell and taste like and I use that knowledge to help you get closer to the best wine for your needs. As a result, I tend to use broad descriptors like grassy, tropical notes for that New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc instead of lemongrass, grapefruit, guava or passion fruit. Those are all things you can find in a Sauvignon Blanc from that part of the world, but it’s more fun if you pull those profiles out of the wine. Remember, I care more about styles than descriptors.

Another problem with dumping those descriptors on you is the tendency for a “confirmation bias” to form. If I tell you what I get out of the wine, you may end up searching for it in the wine and missing other cool properties. Nobody wants to grab a glass of wine looking for the things they’ve been told are already there, we want to explore and uncover the nuances of the wine. That’s part of what makes tasting wine so much fun. It can also really help you develop your palate and appreciate a greater breadth of wines as you gain more experience.

If relying on someone else’s descriptors helps you then go for it. In the end, it’s about getting the most out of your experience. I’m here for you if you’d like to try something new or different and get a little more out of the wine you’re about to drink.


I'm a certified specialist of wine and spirits with almost 20 years in the industry. I've educated sales teams, wine buyers and customers on wine profiles, wine regions, varietals, pairings and much more. I'm now working with wholesalers and importers to bring the best wines possible to my customers.