This was another – yet another – example of the difference between tasting and sipping. Having written about this many times now, I’ll try not to labor the point. A small summary might look like this: Tasting is a crucial angle of approach for a wine professional of any kind, writer or merchant alike. It entails a lot of deconstruction and detailed analysis. It tells a pure (if subjective) truth whose utility applies to other analysts and to a few wine geeks who find such things absorbing. It is less apropos to the drinker, whom I suppose to comprise a majority of my readers, and of readers of wine-lit in general.
As such I have a growing concern that the analytical work occupies an excessively rarefied realm. Mind you, it fascinates me deeply and entirely, and I know I am not alone. But I wonder how much it matters, and to whom. Unless a wine is blatantly flawed or unpleasant, niggling over small faults (or in this case, Pfalz) risks serving the ego of the taster more than the needs of the reader.
Taking the first wine as an example, I’m tasting it now for the fourth time, and have sipped it once while dinner was cooking one evening. As you’ll see, it has a finishing asperity that adheres to the vintage in many cases. Will it bother you so much as to negate the many pleasurable things that preceded it? Maybe it will, if you insist on “perfect” wines. Put it this way; is the movie ruined because you didn’t like the ending? It can be compromised, but does it obliterate its virtues?
My task, I think, is to try to occupy both sensibilities, if not simultaneously then at least concurrently. Sometimes there’s no seam between the two experiences of a wine, but when there is, I’ll try to tell you how it was to taste it versus how it was to drink it.