Wine tasting: an expert guide

Wine tasting

Professional athletes are acutely aware of the things that affect their physique. Wine lovers – particularly those who are on the buying or writing sides of the fence are more likely to propagate that mythical notion of an infallible taste (theirs naturally). Fortunately, the conversation is changing as we discover more about our taste and olfactory systems.

The instrument used by wine tasters is not just the nose, but the whole body as well,’ explains Ann-Sophie Barwich is a cognitive scientist and empirical philosopher, as well as writer of Smellosophy The Nose: What it Tells your Mind (PS28.95, Harvard University Press 2020). The skilled nose analyzes the volatiles present in wine, and their experience is also a reflection of the structure of the person who is tasting. The mood, expectations exhaustion… everything these influence the quality perception of wine.’

Can we take action to address our inconsistencies with physical and emotional and the effect they can have on our taste experience? Be aware of them first. Try to minimize the impact of variations instead of just ignoring them and make the most of the times we’re at our peak.

Many wine lovers say they are most effective during the early morning hours. Jacques Polge, head perfumer at Chanel from 1978 until 2015, said his experience was similar and intentionally assigned “important” scent tasks to the early period during the first day.

A winemaker, Derek Mossman Knapp, of Chile‘s Garage Wine Company, introduced the Old-Vine Revival initiative in the UK this month.

It also included the very first UK tasting of its latest-release Old-Vine Revival Pais 2021 wine.

Garage Wine Company’s Maule initiative is focused on making wine from neglected older vines and helping rural communities in the area.

Originating from the COVID-19 pandemic, this initiative let farmers get involved in their local vineyards. This also removed the requirement to travel.

Maule is home to many very old, dry-farmed family-owned vines. However, they have been overlooked by the main industry because of their insufficient production capacity and problems with accessibility.

About 5 000 bottles of the “Revival” Old Vine Pais 2021 were made and Mossman Knapp described the wine as a blend of the two: a Gamay and the Pinot Noir‘.

The wine was available for sale as a primeur just 18 months ago. This added to the financial security for the producers and growers during the pandemic.

It is believed that the Old-Vine Revival project has been sponsored by the Garage Wine Company’s UK distributor, Freixenet Copestick. Old-Vine Revival’s Pais 2021 was available to trade via Jascots as well as to consumers through the retail store Slurp Wine, priced at PS17.95.

They started in Maipo but soon realized that the idea of artisanal production in small quantities was not compatible with the high-volume, low-cost model, which was the norm across Chile in the early days. In order to maintain their hands-on focus, they moved on to Maule.

When asked why he opted for Maule, Mossman Knapp said”the human factor,” the people, their tales.

The environmental and social aspects of his strategy are, nevertheless, mostly organic. At first, they made sense as a model of business for a small-scale producer.

The large-scale bottle printers, label makers, and wax capsule makers were unable to fulfill small orders. Hence, the company resorted to recycling old bottles, a painter for bottles, and a supplier of crayon wax.

Despite this born-out-of-necessity method, it is clear that Mossman Knapp has a vast appreciation of the place and history behind his wines, referring to ‘land, not brand’.


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