Tasting Notes

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

tasting notes, are the usual record of professional or serious wine tastings. They are conventionally divided into notes (sometimes together with scores or numbers) for what is sensed by the eye, the nose, and the mouth, together with overall conclusions (see tasting). The thoughtful organizer of a tasting prepares a tasting sheet which provides as a minimum a list of complete names of all the wines served, in the relevant order of serving, with sufficient space to write full tasting notes. Sometimes these are carefully divided into sections—Appearance, Aroma/Bouquet, Taste, and Conclusions, for example—but this is an optional extra as tasters vary according to how much they want to write on each aspect. Most experienced tasters develop their own shorthand, and good and bad habits. The number of words in a personal average tasting note can vary between one and 100 or, in the case of a particularly complex wine which evolves in the glass, more. Tasting notes, especially of wines worth ageing, are all the more valuable if they are dated. Most tasting notes remain of personal use only, but Michael broadbent has produced two important books based entirely on his, and the majority of Robert parker’s output has been made up of his. Comparison of the two authors provides a reasonable guide to the different styles of British and American tasting notes respectively. The advent of sophisticated information technology has introduced the possibility of entering tasting notes directly into a computer database, and many wine websites are made up principally of tasting notes, although any nearby liquid poses a threat to a keyboard (which can become unpleasantly sticky during a tasting of sweet wines). This method of record-keeping should, in theory at least, lessen the usual problem of declining legibility of tasting notes towards the end of a tasting.