How to read wine tasting notes – Ask Decanter

Do you ever find it difficult to read wine tasting notes?

Wine tasting will always have a subjective, personal quality, because taste and smell are so inextricably bound to an individual’s own reference points. Language, too, is both collective and individual, and you may identify more with one wine critic over another.

But, there are some common wine descriptive words that it is useful to know, and can help you understand what to expect from a style of wine.

As well as flavours, tasting notes can tell you about other aspects of the wine. Andrew Jefford wrote in his guide to writing wine tasting notes ‘a wine’s structure, shape and texture are just as interesting as its aroma and flavour.’

‘[Texture] is what really separates the great from the merely good,’ said Berkmann Wine Cellars purchasing director Alex Hunt MW, in Victoria Moore’s guide to wine tasting.

Wine tasting notes: how much is too much?

There has been debate about the use of overly descriptive tasting notes in the wine world, as Andrew Jefford discussed in his 2015 column.

‘Each contender is trying to outdo the other, and bludgeon their rivals to death by adjectival force of arms.’

But at the same time, overly bland notes do not communicate anything.

‘Conservative, restrained wine descriptions are tedious, repetitive and soporific, and utterly fail to evoke the excitement of smelling and tasting wine,’ wrote Jefford.

When writing tasting notes, Jefford advises to keep use analogical descriptors in moderation – half a dozen at the most.

‘Keep it simple when it comes to tasting notes,’ wine educator Kevin Zraly told Victoria Moore.

Below is what our experts put together.

Reading wine tasting notes

Dry white wines

Credit: Patrick Grabham / Decanter

Example wine: Louis Latour, Meursault, 1998

Tasting Note: Clean, limpid medium yellow with a hint of green, quite rich, a really lovely colour. Touch of new wood on the nose, ripe melony fruit, slightly exotic, stylish and very expressive. Fine, floral, honeysuckle fruit on the palate, with hazelnut overtones, rich and quite buttery, yet good lemony acidity, very elegant but still young. Very good balance, oak and fruit well blended in, an excellent example of grape variety dominated by terroir, great persistence, very good future.

  • limpid – literally transparent, like clear water, while retaining its colour
  • rich – showing ripeness and viscosity, usually from the legs or ‘tears’ that form on the sides of the glass than from depth of colour
  • new wood – the vanilla-vanillin aroma of new oak, whether French or American
  • melony – signifies ripe, slightly exotic fruit, usually referring to Chardonnay. More exotic fruits could be pineapple, guava
  • expressive – expressive of either its grape variety, terroir or both. Stylish + expressive would be a finely turned out wine with character
  • floral – usual on the nose, but on the palate means the blend of florality and flavour
  • honeysuckle/hazelnut – typical expressions of a the Chardonnay grown in Meursault, rounded and attractive
  • buttery – the impression of ripeness with a certain fleshiness, often the result of barrel fermentation or barrel ageing

Aromatic and sweet white wines

Credit: Patrick Grabham / Decanter

Example wine: Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Sauternes, 1er Cru Classé 1985 

Tasting note: Pure gold in colour, with hints of yellow still and no amber. Floral, honeyed-peach and apricot, an impression of great sweetness but not over-heady . Honey and lanolin flavours on the palate, rich barley sugar sweetness, great fruit extract, good botrytis, luscious, classy finish. A fully sweet Sauternes from a fine year, tasting superbly at 15 years, with as long again in front of it.

  • gold – a golden colour indicates both original ripeness and sweetness as well as maturity. In 10 years time the golden colour will have taken on an amber glow, and the colour will progress from gold to amber as it matures further
  • floral – on the…

Source : https://www.decanter.com/learn/how-to/how-to-read-tasting-notes-51254/