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The Tasting Note is Alive and Well

By Stephen Eliot

It may not be quite so polarizing a topic as alcohol levels, “natural” wine or the tyranny of “points”, but the value and legitimacy of tasting notes is a subject that has proven to be fairly resilient in the ongoing conversation about wine, one that occasionally comes to the point of a boil, but mostly one of a slow simmer that never quite goes away.

Of late, there has been renewed criticism of tasting notes leading to woeful conclusions that, in general, they have become self-indulgent exercises in adjective escalation that have lost all relevance and should be abandoned.

Now, most everyone with so much as a casual interest in wine has been exposed to the purple, often-incoherent prose of its would-be experts and champions, and, with the advent of social media, that exposure has become pandemic. To regard tasting notes as inherently useless, however, and see them, as some have suggested, as “the shame of the wine world” strikes me as every bit as extreme as the most irreparably florid tasting note imaginable.

Bad notes might be shameful and even harmful if anyone actually paid attention, but, I would argue, that, in the main, those notes crafted by professional critics and writers of long standing remain important tools in providing valid consumer information, arguably the most important tool of them all. Purple prose has always been a part of the wine-writing world, but so too have skilled and sensible writers, and the best of them have always been keenly aware of how their words would be received by their readers.

Sadly, I hear far fewer calls for competent writing than for outright dismissal and abandonment, and feel a bit of dismay when such capable wordsmiths as Andrew Jefford admit to feeling “uneasy for having based my career in part ” on writing tasting notes. That very career exists because there are and always will be plenty of inquisitive folks looking for authoritative recommendation and guidance.

Now, even though, I happen to write tasting notes for a living, I do not feel particularly defensive when reading the latest attack on what I do. If what I write has meaning and genuine usefulness to my readers, my work will continue to pay my mortgage. If my words cause confusion, it will not. People are not stupid and so easily led astray, and a well-crafted tasting note that clearly addresses a wine’s quality and character will never go out of style. Without them we are left with nothing but pointless “scores.”

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Tasting Notes
by James
Posted on:9/2/2015 11:25:52 AM

My best advice on tasting notes can be summarized as, "Keep it Simple Stupid". 

No Subject
by June McAstor
Posted on:9/18/2015 1:55:59 AM

Wine tasting note is a very usefeul tip to see before  buying a wine.

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