The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2013

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 4 of 152

FROM THE EDITOR CONTRIBUTORS Why Are Most Winemakers Terrible Tasters? Most wine writers write about wines PHOTO: DOUG YOUNG Roxanne Langer is a sommelier, international wine judge and author of two wine books:  The 60-Minute Wine MBA and Wine at Thanksgiving–Talking Turkey with Glass in Hand. Langer has moved from the tasting rooms of Napa Valley to management positions in global wine sales, public relations and marketing. For the last ten years, she has been the President of WineFUNdamentals, a wine edutainment, event and experiences company. Emily McIntyre is a travel/beverage writer who particularly enjoys a classic cocktail. She has written for many publications including Fresh Cup, Orange County Register and Woodland. She, her coffee-roaster husband and their toddler travel the country asking questions about craft beverages and sleeping in odd places. View her travel blog at www.travelingmcintyres. tumblr .com. Jesse Winter is a professional photographer working in New York City who specializes in environmental portraits and commercial photography. His projects range from photographing hip-hop performers and tattoo artists, to corporate teams and chief executives for organizations like Bloomberg and IAC. Jesse creates photo essays on his travels to such places as Spain, Las Vegas, Colombia and South Africa. He has also volunteered his services for non-profits such as Flashes of Hope, Harlem Villages Academies, New York Cares and the Lupus Foundation. He is the owner of TEN10 Studios in Long Island City, NY, and lives nearby with his wife, Melissa. PHOTO: RACHEL LEAH BLUMENTHAL they like; there are too many wines out there to dwell on wines they don't like. The idea, after all, is to provide a service to readers—something they can act on. Some years ago, I made an exception to this rule. A certain large winery with a vast number of releases deserved, I thought, to be called out about their wines, which were consistently overwhelmed with strong vegetal flavors. The column caused a sensation. Most revealing were the comments by the winemaker himself. He couldn't understand what I was talking about. To him, the wines tasted exactly the way they were supposed to taste. How could this be? Clearly, this guy had never tasted any wines but his own. After months (maybe years) of tasting his own wines, he had concluded that all wines had that vegetal quality. It was the norm to him. He had become, in the wine tasters' vernacular, "cellar blind." A few years later, at the San Francisco Wine Competition, I watched in amazement as a wellknown winemaker picked apart a wine, citing multiple flaws . . . only to discover that it was a wine he himself had made! Over a few years of judging, I observed that winemakers seemed obsessed with flaws. Clearly, many American winemakers have been taught in their university courses to put each wine through a rigorous check list of defects: too much acid, too little acid, reduction, volatile acidity, TCA, brettanomyces, etc., etc. They are adept at breaking a wine into many pieces. Unfortunately, this obsessive attention to detail can obscure the view of the wine as a whole. It can cause the taster to miss the individuality and character of a wine. Think about it: The wine completely without flaws is going to be a wine without character, an innocuous, boring and totally forgettable wine. Wine is an extremely complex liquid with hundreds of components. The proportion and juxtaposition of these components are what give each wine its own unique personality. When I became director of the San Francisco Competition one of my first official acts was to nicely but firmly tell all winemaker judges to stay home. It doesn't have to be this way. There are plenty of opportunities during the vintage year where winemakers have free time. They should devote some of this time to tasting wines made by other people—wines from their own region, wines from other parts of the state and wines from abroad. This kind of careful, focused tasting is all about increasing the sensory memory—seeing what is possible and becoming a better winemaker by learning from what others have accomplished. Winemakers, listen up. Go out there and taste other wines, a lot of other wines. Maybe someday you'll get to be a judge and, more important, it's sure to make your own wines better. Donna Fedenko quite simply loves to take pictures. And she takes loads of them . . . ever since she received a camera for her ninth birthday. A background in fine art helps keep her images fresh and modern. Equally comfortable shooting families, events and commercial work, she gets inspired by the challenges each new project brings. When not on assignment, Donna can be found clicking away after her four children, husband and Portuguese water dog on the trails in Topanga, CA. 4  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2013 TP1113_001-33.indd 4 10/24/13 8:46 AM

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - November 2013