Monday, 4 April 2016

Tasting Notes

Having been reading professional online tasting notes for Sherry recently, I am beginning to think many tasters really don’t understand it.  One looks for nuttiness in Moscatel and “fruit vibrancy” in an Amontillado, while 16.5 points are awarded to both La Cigarrera PX and Osborne Venerable VORS PX! Then González Byass’ utterly magnificent Cuatro Palmas gets only 16 points, probably because it has a “painful palate – just too tart for me. A curiosity rather than a drink.” Here’s another: Barbadillo’s basic PX gets 16 points – and so does the VORS – no difference there then! Notes like these are not helpful to consumers and make tasters look ridiculous.

If you are a professional taster your job is to describe the wine – accurately – and then read back what you have written to check it makes sense. I’m sure consumers couldn’t care less if you like a wine personally or not, but they would like to know what it’s like. Notes such as these also demonstrate the futility of the points system. How can a barely 5 years old PX possibly get the same score as one which has spent over 40 years in an XVIII century solera? No two tasters will describe the same wine in the same words, but all are surely duty bound to describe it as accurately as possible, and have some understanding of the wine they are tasting.

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