Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sucking up to my teacher

About a month ago, I was privileged to be a judge at the Virginia Governor's Cup wine competition.  Now that the winners have been announced, I wanted to take a post to describe the tasting sheet we used.  It was designed by Jay Youmans, MW, my teacher for the WSET Diploma process.  At the risk of being a suckup, I liked it.

Tasting wine in a competition process is unique and very different from tasting in your living room, or even blind tasting under test conditions.  You have six wines in front of you that are probably the same grape, same region, and same vintage.  The basic taste is the same, for example, all merlot.  The tasting sheet doesn't ask to spend time going back and forth between a black raspberry and a blackberry descriptor.  It says, "yes, it's black fruit, let's move on."  The sheet is not about recognizing a wine, but evaluating it.  Are the flavors ripe?  What are the qualities of the tannins?  How much color got extracted?  We are expected to judge each wine individually, but when you are done, you get a really excellent look at what was possible with that bunch of fruit, and how close each individual winemaker got to that Platonic ideal.

So I encourage everyone to try this technique as a way to really jump forward in your trasting.  Get a bunch of wines, at least 6, from the same place and vintage.  Try to vary your purchases by price point, if you can. Have somebody else bag them and be critical!

No comments:

Post a Comment