|For a while now I’ve been contemplating a post along the lines of why I find it so hard to assess wine. For example, wines I taste and subsequently buy can disappoint when consumed chez nous. It could equally be called why I don’t give scathing wine reviews or, more debatably, the difference between amateurs and pros. I touched on this a few years back with my post on scoring wine.|
The factors that influence me I’ll coin, with an occasional bit of stretching, the 9 W’s.
|Where||at home, restaurant/bar, tasting, winery, outdoors, party, in-flight etc.|
|When||time of day, maybe even the biodynamic calender|
|Who||family, friends, like-minded company, “commercial” situations|
|Whence||as in what was consumed (liquid or solid) in the build up to the moment|
|Whim||personal frame of mind, mood, ability to concentrate, preconception, bad day|
|With/without||food and what food|
|Weather||temperature (including the wine), humidity, even aircon etc.|
|Wine bottle||Stuff like when the bottle was opened, how recently bottled, storage conditions of older wines, state of the closure, tasted blind or not, knowledge of price.|
These are all reasons why passing judgement on a wine with one encounter is often unfair. It may also explain why I often don’t “get” a wine on first tasting, but find it can grow on me with subsequent encounters.
I have most success in finding wines that become favourites from friends, more serious restaurant lists and caviste recommendations. Least successful is at busy stand-up tastings where I can be wowed by tasting samples of over oaked reds and obvious aromatic whites that never work at home, or indeed anyone's home. My theory is that in line-ups subtle understated wines are easily overlooked, out shouted, if not even bullied by bolder styles. All of this can be magnified by unfamiliar surroundings. Perhaps it's really a debate on the subjective vs. objective approach.