Detailed wine tasting notes - trick or treat?

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Do elaborate descriptions of wine make us think a wine tastes better?

I was drawn to an article in The Independent which reported a study that concluded that elaborate descriptions of wine on labels can make us think that a wine tastes better - and make us spend more on wine. The article suggests therefore that this is a clever marketing trick.

Wine Tasting Notes

As Wines With Attitude™ customers will know I write unique and descriptive tasting notes for my wines which by the way have been copied by other retailers on more than one occasion (well they do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...). But there is no intention to trick my customers.

One of the reasons behind me setting up Wines With Attitude™ was that I was fed up with being faced with shelves (real or virtual) of wine in shops or online that gave absolutely no descriptions of the wine whatsoever. How are we expected to make an informed decision? It strikes me as rather lazy practice on the part of the retailer.

During the 15 month course for my Diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, I reckon we must have tasted at least 300 wines and 100 spirits in the classroom in preparation for the blind tastings in the exams. At the graduation ceremony I was slightly in awe of a guy I chatted with who had managed to study from home including completing all those tastings on his own.

You can learn so much from tasting with other people, hearing what they can smell and taste and what clues to the vintage and wine-making process they can find in a particular wine. I certainly did.

Are tasting notes just flowery descriptions? 

I'm not a fan however of those tasting notes that are as flowery as an Argentinian Torrontés and so, aside from a few words about the taste, to make my notes useful to customers I also try to give a sense of the experience you might feel on sipping the wine, the wine's texture, its structure and whether its components are is balanced, when it might best be consumed and with which foods - and also similarities in profile to other wines for comparison. 

Whilst nuances of a wine's aromas and tastes can be more obvious to some people than to others, tasting notes hopefully give consumers a starting point when considering their purchases. And if they make the wine taste better, that's surely an added benefit rather than a clever marketing trick?


© Wines With Attitude Limited,

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Lindsay Cornelissen DipWSET is passionate about good quality wine and set up Wines With Attitude to share that passion with other wine lovers.

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