Wine Writing

Why being a member of the Circle of Wine Writers matters to me

Photo: Instagram: @cruz_lilje

Photo: Instagram: @cruz_lilje

Thrilled to be a part of the increasingly global organisation of wine communicators. ”The Circle” is the leading association of its kind within the world of wine. Exiting therefore to hear that I must be one of the youngest members ever, if not the youngest, to be included. 

The reason for me, as a non Londoner, to join is that I share the Circles general concern about improving the quality of wine journalism, specifically in emerging wine markets. How cheerful that nations as diverse as Mexico, Nigeria and Sri Lanka are getting increasingly more curious about wine.

Wine communicators are an important ingredient in keeping that sparkle alive and informing about the pleasures around the corner. This is something I care about, but not for economical reasons, but for the cultural, societal, ecological and personal gains attached to an interest in what we put in our mouths. 

Today wine brand and winery export managers have an unprecedented opportunity to get noticed in uncrowded new markets. My old study pal from the Burgundy School of Business, Dmitry Koutcherouk, is one example of an increasingly important communicator in an emerging market. As a sommelier and writer he is relentless in his ambitions to grow the wine culture in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. How much under-appreciated is he, and the wine lovers like him, in relation to his potential impact on the market? 

Thats all

Now hurry up, back to work

Jamie Goode is waiting for his samples to be sent

Tasting Notes for a Globalised World

Focus on structure, especially if you write for a global audience.  

Focus on structure, especially if you write for a global audience.  

Reading about what aromas wine writers find in a particular wine is not only boring, actually it's pretty useless also. If you are in a hurry stop here, you have just read the essence of this post. Thank you for your time. 

Still reading?.. Good. I like you. Let me continue a bit more. I wonder if there is a way to write tasting notes that can "fly without getting lost" to use a contemporary metaphor (and applying it insensibly early..)   

Is there a way that a wine writers impressions of a wine can be understood by readers from Helsinki to Hong Kong? A globalisation-friendly tasting note that can help people across cultures to make informed purchasing decisions. I believe it´s possible. But aromas are problematic. 

Consumers that read tasting notes generally focus on the aroma descriptors. As for example lemon sounds more delicious than high acidity, aroma descriptors leads the customer to believe that it´s the aromas that will make them like or dislike a particular wine. As a writer it's also much easier to rant about subjective aromas, compared with writing about the structural components, which takes real skill to assess. 

Aromas - the further they go, the lesser they mean  

In the light of that wine writers nowadays potentially target a whole world of readers, aroma descriptors become sort of confusing and are potentially useless and even "wrong" to all other cultures than the writers own. Even if a critic has an amazing precision and consistency in aromas, the consumers are eating different apples and smelling different gooseberries.

Aromas - they are pretty quasi-factual anyway  

Aroma descriptors is rarely a useful tool to share ones experience of a wine. The intensity and "style" of aromas might be, but to try to define what aromas are present in your glass is off no more use than the possibly poetic appeal of it. It can make the wine sound delicious that's true, but it creates insecurity in wine drinkers that can’t find the dried violets in a Barolo. And lastly, because of the ever changing nature of aromas they should not be considered a feature of the wine, but a subjective experience of the interaction between yourself, the taster, and the wine at a given place and at a given time. 

Writer, keep your bananas for yourself. 

Writer, keep your bananas for yourself. 

So focus on structure

As a sommelier I can say from experience that wine drinkers don’t like or dislike a wine due to it´s red or black fruit aromas, even if they sometimes think so. Whats really important is the body, the balance between sweetness and acidity, the softness of the tannins, the alcohol and other structural elements. Structure is also of fundamental importance in paring wine with food. Let me share a few tasting notes with you that I have been working on. The effect of the structural tasting note is definitely less romantic than the conventional aroma-inclusive tasting note, but I wonder, are these examples below not more understandable across cultures?


Structural Tasting Note V.1. (Minimalistic) 

Example: Meursault: The wine is completely dry and has a rich body with high but balanced acidity. This white wine stands out because of it´s mouth watering mineral character, elegance and complex, ripe persistent flavour. Its a wine that is usually served with fat white fish dishes or poultry with mushroom sauce.

Example: Mosel Riesling (Kabinett:) This wine is off-dry, light in body and with high acidity. The wine stands out because of it´s fresh, clean profile and low alcohol. It´s a wine that is usually served with light fish dishes or on its own. Its very versatile.

Structural Tasting Note V.1. (Minimalistic) This wine is dryness and has a body with tannins? and acidity. This wine stands out because of it´s special traits. Its a wine that is usually served with what foods.