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You’ll have noticed, if your life is so drab and wretched that you’ve had time to read my previous posts, that I talk about the distinction between “tasting” and “drinking” wine, how those conditions differ, and how they bear upon wine both singly and as a (sort of) dialectic.

Usually the way a wine tastes is indeed different from the way it drinks when we’re not paying obsessive attention to it. Some wines are better when tasted, some are roughly the same, and some are best when they’re consumed. I haven’t formed a hypothesis whereby I could discern or predict a pattern. That is, I can’t identify a type of wine that’s likely to be better one way or the other. Even if I start to think that high-acid wines are better with food, or just better when consumed casually, some wines will come along to challenge that theory.

What can be said is, if there is any issue with a wine’s finish, that perception will diminish when one isn’t attending to it, i.e., when eating or simply when talking to someone in the kitchen while food’s being prepped.

My method of evaluating wines by taking both tasting and drinking into account is an attempt to flesh out the picture, to show a deeper truth, even if that truth entails contradictions (as many truths do), and to add to my experience of the wine/food relationship. Nor is it a contest to see in which matrix the wine is “better.” The two approaches create a palimpsest, in which the revelation is that the superimposed truths create a whole truth greater than the sum of its parts.

I bring this up now, because Cédric Moussé’s Champagnes almost always “showed” best when tasted, and I’ve wondered why. It occurred to me that drinking them in the evening meant having them on a palate that had spent the day tasting them, and maybe my palate was just shot. In that context I also noted that the best evening wines were the least dry – but I prefer to shy away from making this report “about” dosage, except to say it conferred a gras that was welcome after a tasting day.

But you never know what a wine might reveal. I admired the articulation and seriousness of the Champagnes while tasting, but some of that seriousness felt sour later at the table. You will find me effulgent with veneration for most of the Champagnes, yet at the same time I wondered exactly how I’d use them.

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