What If All I Smell/Taste is Wine?

Last weekend, while at a dinner with colleagues, we came up against a common dilemma for a lot of folks.  Namely, when they taste wine, all they taste is wine.  They don’t smell or taste all the berries, fruit, tannins, whatever, that wine writers love to wax eloquent over (including us, sometimes).

First up, Anne is one of those folks, and while she chooses to be impressed by Michael’s ability, she certainly understands why others feel intimidated or even that they’re not “wine” people.

Balderdash, we say.  You can still enjoy wine even if you can’t pull out essence of tobacco, strawberry or even cat box/gooseberry.  Because the real question to ask about any wine is not what “should” I be tasting, but do I like it?  Does it taste good?

This became an issue on Anne’s FoodWine email group recently.  Several of her wine-savvy friends were complaining about being at a tasting and having the wine maker telling them what they “should” be tasting.  They wanted to make up their own minds, and we totally agree with that, especially since Anne isn’t going to taste it, anyway.

So where do wine reviews come in?  Well, that’s going to depend on the individual reviewer.  But in this blog’s case, the goal is to tell you what we found in the wine so that you can make up your own mind.  We use the traditional language because that’s how anyone communicates.  And we don’t write about wines we don’t like.  We might, in the future, if there’s some trend coming down the road and it’s reflected in something we recently tried.  But almost exclusively, if a wine is featured on the site, it’s because we liked it.

Nor do we expect you to like everything we do.  That’s the other reason for the descriptive language we use – it’s a way for you to determine whether you’ll like, say, a given sauvignon blanc.  If you don’t like the taste of grapefruit – or wines that are often described as having the taste of grapefruit – then you know when we write that wine XYZ has a fair amount of grapefruit that you’re better off skipping that one.  Or maybe it’s the reverse – you love wines described as having grapefruit – so you’ll try to find that wine or buy it from the winery because we’ve given you a hint that you might like this one.

So do not let anyone imply you don’t know wine or smirk at you because you’re drinking what you like or because all you smell is wine.  Snobs are ultimately trapped by their own prejudices.  And they’re also the ones paying lots of money when they could get equally good, and sometimes even better, wines for a lot less.  It’s your glass, dammit.  You’re the one who gets to decide what goes in it.

Please tell us what you think.

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