Objectivity is Tough!
This week Maggie looks at the WSET Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine. As always the script is below for those who prefer to read rather than listen.
Hello darlings! Maggie here with the third in our podcast series ‘thoughts on WSET 2’. One of the key elements in the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust qualifications is their Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine. It forms part of each course getting progressively more complex as you rise through the levels. The tasting charts are free to download from their website http://www.wsetglobal.com and can be a useful tool for any wine drinker when searching for the right description for a wine. Of course a better option would be to do the course to truly learn the WSET Systematic Approach.
The system is based on two key principals. Firstly that the language used to describe the wine should be words that are clearly identifiable by the average wine drinker. For example you try an oaked Chardonnay and it reminds you of your grandmother’s apple pie. This description is fine if only you are going to read it, but not much use for describing the wine to someone else, unless they’ve sampled your granny’s pie. Let’s say your granny made her pie from sharp cooking apples, mixed in spices of cinnamon and nutmeg and used a thick butter crust (I.e the flavours of sharp, acidic, apple, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter). However the other person thinks of apple pie made with sweet red apples, added raisins and a biscuit crumble on top (I.e. a more fruit led, red apple, dried fruits and biscuit flavour wine). You see the difference in description? It is important to be specific with the flavours and this is part of the systematic approach.
The second principle of the WSET Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine is that it should be objective as opposed to subjective. What does this mean? Well a subjective judgement of the wine is whether you like it or not. However this decision is based on your own personal tastes and not on the quality of the wine. In my case I quite enjoy some of the simpler easy to drink wines, and prefer fruit led wines. Whilst these are often good wines they are not necessarily top quality wines as they lack the depth and complexity of a top level wine. An objective tasting judges the wine on its depth and complexity, it’s body, it’s finish and how well balanced it is.
Here at the Honest Wine Drinker we totally agree with the WSET Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine. It is a well thought out and comprehensive method based on sound principles and designed to be accessible. So armed with this Approach you’d think that all our wine tastings would now be detailed and totally objective. Ha ha! It’s one thing to learn the system and an entirely different kettle of fish to apply it. Let me tell you:
Objectivity is tough!
Interestingly it is easier to objectively judge a wine I don’t like as I’m better able to focus on the elements that make up that wine. When it is a wine I like I’m too busy enjoying it to worry overly much about its quality. My instinct is to just enjoy the moment.
So it’s fair to say that our tastings have become a bit more Systematic, but sometimes our enthusiasm carries us away and the subjectivity creeps back in. We are but human and like what we like. We do try to to be fair and mention that just because we aren’t keen on the wine doesn’t mean it isn’t a great wine, just not our style.
So how can you tell from our tastings whether you will enjoy the wine or not? Well the best way is to try it yourself. Until next time folks, bottoms up!