Tasting Notes Language

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

The language we use to write or speak about wine may vary according to our intended audience—is the aim to sell to a potential customer, to inform an enthusiast, or to display academic rigour in an exam or a blind-tasting competition? The language of wine can be descriptive (what is this wine like?) or evaluative (how good a wine is this?).

Using language to convey sense impressions, as we do when we describe a wine’s properties, is inherently problematic. The brain receives so many data through the senses of smell, taste, vision, and touch that it has to select in order to prevent it from being overwhelmed. Thus the brain does not measure the world around us but models it by constant filtering (known as higher-order processing), and there is no one-to-one correspondence between sense data and conscious perception. Hence a tasting note cannot be an exact representation of a wine: it conveys the taster’s interaction with the wine.