Wine has the building blocks of sweetness, acidity, tannin and body. Food has fats, protein and starch, and basic tastes such as salty, sweet, bitter, acidic and umami or ‘savoury’. First, you need to forget the traditional tasting note and put aside words like ‘appearance’. Let’s face it, if half the wine available today were judged by their looks (think skin contact and
‘orange’ wines that aren't always clear) they would be turned away immediately. When tasting wine, take three of the four key components – sweetness, tannin and acidity – and start to measure their intensity. Do this out of 10, with 0 being undetectable and 10 being undrinkable. Next, continue to disconnect from flavour and aroma by focusing on texture and taste. This means to stop looking for wet stones and crushed ants, and pay attention to the way the wine feels in your mouth. This is the fourth component, which is weight or ‘body’. Measure this in increments of light, medium and full. At this point, what you have is a clear and succinct set of words to describe wine as well as a tangible connection to food. This should kick-start a threestage mindset. First, a big part of your early wine education is learning what you like and why. The second is how to communicate this confidently and clearly when purchasing wine. Finally, it’s allowing the way you live to inform your wine decisions.
Changing up the traditional framework and equipping yourself with a language that reflects your taste and lifestyle is the most indispensable tool you can take with you on your journey in wine.