5 tips on how to take accurate wine tasting notes

Wine tasting is a great way to enjoy a relaxing day with friends or family, but if you’re trying to learn as you go, it can be a challenge to remember all the details of each sip. That’s why it’s a good idea to take wine tasting notes as you drink.

To help you take accurate wine tasting notes, we’ve put together some helpful tips.

Why Write Wine Tasting Notes?

When you taste a wine, you should focus on its aroma, flavour, texture, and overall impression.

So why bother writing these things down? There are several reasons:

  1. To help you recall the experience
  2. To make sure you didn’t miss anything
  3. To share your experiences with others
  4. To document your findings for future reference
  5. To help you learn more about wine
  6. To become a better taster
  7. To identify wines that you do and don’t like

Writing wine tasting notes is fun because it helps you learn about the wines as you taste them.

If you’re having trouble remembering what you thought about a particular wine, writing it down might help you recall it more easily. It’s also helpful when comparing two similar wines side by side.

5 tips on how to take accurate wine tasting notes

These are some of the things to focus your attention on, as you sip the wine.

1. Appearance

Before you drink, take a moment to note the colours, clarity and other visual features of the wine. Each wine will have its own unique appearance that, at first glance, you might just write off as ‘red’ or ‘white.’ Take a longer look and note down the specifics of the wine’s appearance.

Some helpful words for describing the visual aspect of wine include:

  • Brilliant: Remarkably clear
  • Clear: Without sediment or cloudiness
  • Cloudy: Not clear, which could indicate that something is wrong with the wine
  • Maderized: A wine with a brownish tinge due to oxidation or ageing
  • Ruby: A dark red colour that often indicates a young wine
  • Purplish: The colour of a young red wine that will take time to mature

2. Smell

When taking wine tasting notes, it is important to smell the wine before you sip. This will help you better understand the flavours and aromas present.

Swirl your wine and take a sniff. A wine drinker who knows how to smell aromas will tell you to stick your nose right in the glass. You can then note the different aromas that come off the top of the wine glass.

Generally, wine aromas fall into three categories:

  • Primary Aromas
  • Secondary Aromas
  • Tertiary Aromas
  • Primary Aromas

When taking wine tasting notes, you’ll want to first focus on the primary aromas. These are the most critical smells you will notice while smelling and tasting the wine.

These are often the aromas associated with the grape variety used to make the wine. The most common primary aromas are fruity, floral, and spicy.

Secondary Aromas
You should also pay attention to the secondary aromas when tasting wine.
It is the winemaker’s processes that produce these aromas. Among the influences on a wine’s secondary aroma are malolactic fermentation, a secondary fermentation that can reduce acidity, and oak ageing (from oak barrels).

Tertiary Aromas
As wine ages in the bottle, it develops tertiary aromas. It is how wine evolves if left to its own devices. Even wines that aren’t intended to age can develop tertiary aromas.

3. Taste

When it comes to the wine’s taste, you’ll want to note the following:

  • Texture: A wine’s texture refers to its dryness and astringency. Bordeaux region varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have the highest tannin content, which affects the texture of the wine.
  • Acidity: Acidic wines will taste more tart or feel crisper in the mouth. Sauvignon Blancs and some sparkling wines often taste more acidic, due to their citrusy flavours.
  • Sweetness: Residual sugars aren’t just in sweet wines like Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. During fermentation, some naturally occurring sugars remain in many white wines. 

4. Other details to include in your notes.

To be more consistent with your notes, you should also include the names of the winery or vineyard from which you tasted the wine and its retail price. Additionally, you should note the name of the wine, the producer, the variety, and the region of origin.

Once you have taken your first wine tasting notes, you can begin identifying similar wines in subsequent tastings.

5. General comments and observations.

When taking notes on wine tastings, you should remain objective – do not let your own biases or opinions affect your observations.

You should note how the wine tastes to you and your thoughts on it. Be as specific as you can about what you taste in the wine.

Remember not to take your wine tasting notes seriously, they are there to better help you understand the wine you are drinking and help you experience the wine in your own way. Don’t be hard on yourself if your wine notes don’t sound like they’ve come straight for a connoisseur, it takes time to learn the process and you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll pick things up.