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A brief précis of what I mean by “tasting.”

A new (shipped in December 2021, received Sept 2022) batch of SchlossGobelsburg has arrived, and tasted - wander on over.

I do not intend this writing to tell you What. Wine. To. Buy. In the event it does that, it is inadvertent. Nor am I tempted to join the rather swollen stream of guides whose purpose is to issue ironclad evaluations from which you can decide what (or whether) to purchase. There’s plenty of that, and much of it is done very well.

My task here, and with all of these reports, is to consider – and apologies if this sounds pompous – a phenomenology of tasting. In my view, the collision of a taster and her tasting object constitutes a narrative. If I am correct, these narratives are poorly served by the “Good fruit….fragrant….nice creamy texture….decent length….” vein of tasting notes. I respect them, mind you, but I see my work differently.

The way I see my work can appear self-indulgent. Guilty as charged! The question is whether the self being indulged is interesting enough to claim your attention. I hope that it is.

Tasting, for me, is a process of engagement with a flavor in its moment. It therefore needs to depict that “moment” and in order to do that it needs to describe a variety of contexts, that of the wine, that of the environment of tasting, and those of the impulses that arise. The origin point is the way the wine tastes. That is less than concrete, though we may wish it were otherwise. Wines change according to the sequence in which they’re tasted, and the glass being used, and the temperature (both of the wine and the place where it’s tasted). So before I can say Here’s how it tasted I need to establish Here’s how it was while I tasted it.

I presume that wine exists in a nexus of emotion and beauty and imagination. In the process of describing and deconstructing and evaluating its flavors it sometimes suffices to stay within the wine as-such, and how it happens to have tasted. But at other times a wine wriggles free of that stricture and starts to roam the world, and when that happens the narrative needs to ask, where is it going and what does it see? And finally, does this engender strong feeling? And if it does, is any good served by ignoring them?

The wine itself will tell me when I’m done with it. That’s what usually happens. But some wines never feel finished, and when that happens all I can do is abandon the process, as no conclusion offers itself – or the bottle’s empty!

I’ll risk being pompous again. If the way I write about wines amounts to “literature,” I’d be pleased. Tasting is important, and needs a literature beyond the quotidian functions of the usual tasting notes. “Wine writing” is pretty silly if you think about it. But writing about wine, or even about individual wines, is a worthwhile endeavor provided wine receives all the respect due to its amazing richness of context.

The question of whether I’m good at it is for you to determine. The question of whether it ought to be done that way – has been decided!


Daddy will be bizzy. I’m told that 32 cases of wine are in NJ for me, and tastings will commence as soon as I actually receive them. Bring it on!

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