Tasting Wine and Remembering the Taste

Wine Tasting Chicago

Wine Rx: “How do you remember all those details about wines and what they taste like?”

Friends frequently ask me this question. While I admit to devoting a good number of years to studying wine region by region around the globe, I’m a firm believer that if you want to learn and remember, you will. It may not just wash over you. You’ll need to put some conscious effort into learning, and my advice is to keep a notebook to jot thoughts, flavors, impressions, and your ‘score’ of sorts, on the wines you taste.

This should be a super fun exercise since it allows you to express yourself and recall the thoughts you had immediately. My typical routine would be to try the wine, often with friends and in a social situation, then take a few minutes to sip consciously, concentrate on the process from aromas to flavors, then jot the notes down. Heck, you can even do it on your smartphone and email it to yourself to keep compiled in a folder on your computer.

The idea is that at some point in the course of tasting a new wine, you should slow down and focus; read the label, take note of the grape variety and vintage, look at the color, then sniff, swirl and taste. Over time, you will create quite a taste library of your own palate since tasting wine is less about what’s the ‘best’ and more about what you like. One more detail that makes this wine journaling even more fun, make a practice of looking up the wine online and reading four or five descriptions or mentions of it by various website (or books). It’s amazing how the simple action of minor research solidifies the wine in your memory. I remind my wine friends to enjoy this process and don’t take it all too seriously or you’re missing the point.

A few resources that can help you get started on your studies include these books and these wine websites, covering most all regions across the globe.

Try it and let me know how it goes. I’m glad to share a format for note taking with you, too. Just send me an email or leave a comment here. I also conduct wine tasting parties for groups, so keep me in mind for your next gathering of friends. Thanks and happy tasting. Let me know what you choose to enjoy for your Thanksgiving food and wine pairing.


About Laura Levy Shatkin

Laura Levy Shatkin served for 10 years as food and wine critic for the Chicago Reader. Later, she became an Emmy-nominated executive producer for Taste, a 30-minute food and wine show on NBC-5 Chicago, which later merged into www.WineTasteTV.com, where Ms. Levy is a partner/owner. Today, she teaches private wine classes and hosts wine parties for consumers and firms, and continues to tell the video stories of wine, girlfriends and wine travel on her TCW blog, Wine…ing Women.