If you are really into wine, you've probably attend your fair share of wine tastings and accrued quite the mess of wine tasting notes. As you look back at your notes, some may not make sense and some are even unreadable even though they may be detailed and well-written; but there might be some things left out that you wish you would have remembered. This is something we all experience that leaves us asking the question, "how do you take good wine tasting notes?" (Learn more in "Wine Tasting 101.")
Categorize Your Notes
Each wine tasting may vary depending on the proctor. However, regardless of how they go about their tasting, there are consistent details that apply from wine to wine. This makes taking good wine tasting notes even more convenient, because you can make yourself a worksheet! I won't do it for you, because each person has there own way of doing things and learning about wine, but I will give you a general outline of what you should take notes on.
First, get yourself a three-ring binder. C'mon, you're already geeking out, might as well go all the way! Make a few sections in this binder where you will categorize your wines:
Basic Wine Binder Sections
I add these last few because once you fall in love with the wine world, anything related becomes incredibly more fascinating.
Make a Template
Now that you have made your categories, the next step is to make your version of a worksheet for your notes. This may seem a bit excessive to some, but for those of you who really wish to learn and compare wines, this notebook in the end will become sort of a diary and record for future reference. There are not many of us who can remember a wine for all its detail, especially when it's done in a classroom setting such as many wine tastings. The notebook/printed worksheets will become your go-to source for wine selection during meal pairings, entertainment hosting and just when you'd like to enjoy a good wine based on your mood. Your own notes are subjective, tailored to you, so they are a personalized sommelier at your fingertips.
What to Include in Your Wine Tasting Notes Template
Once the wine is identified and noted, the next thing performed in a tasting is to observe the color of the wine. Make it easy on yourself and list the following, of which you can simply circle what applies to the wine you are tasting and viewing:
White Wine Color Chart (Includes Sparkling Wine)
- Pale Yellow/Green
- Dark Gold/Amber
Red Wine Color Chart
- Fresh Red Berry Hues
- Dark Purple/Opaque
Rosé Wine Color Chart
- Pale pink
- Other (write what you observe)
*For fortified wines, spirits and so forth, you might have to simply write what you see.
The next detail you should make when noting a wine's color is its vibrancy or lack thereof. Whether a wine reflects light or not is a sign of its health. So make another part to circle whether the wine is "Dull" or "Brillant".
Nose, Aroma and Bouquet of Wine
The next part of a wine tasting is smelling the wine. Unfortunately, for note-taking, there is no easy circle-what-you-smell strategy. There are just too many variables. Just make enough space to write what you perceive in the nose of the wine and even what other people in the tasting smell. For some, this might translate into "the power of suggestion", but the notes will help you later to identify more aromas and bouquet of a wine in your wine-learning progression. (Learn more about this in "Wine Tasting - Nose, Aroma or Bouquet?")
The Tasting Notes
Now we get on with tasting the wine! As you did for smelling the wine, just give yourself a few lines to make note of what you taste, and likewise, what other people taste in the wine tasting. In addition to these notes, you will want to note the wine's texture and mouthfeel. This includes the wine's body, acidity and/or tannin structure as perceived by the palate. For those, you can also easily do a list of circle-what-you-taste!
The Body of Wine
For the wine's body, list the following to circle what applies; is the wine:
The Acidity of Wine
Wines contain a lot of different forms of acidity. Some wines may have you experiencing more than others, and in some cases, too much acidity is not a good thing and a sign of spoilage. But just enough is quite fine. When noting the acidity of wine, note if there is a presence of the following acids:
A Wines Tannin Profile
Wines have always been the best food item to explain what tannins are; basically, tannins are the compound found in some foods, including the skins of grapes, that leave a dry feeling on your tongue when you eat them. Wine is the perfect example of this, especially dry red wines. (Read on in "What Does Dry Mean? A Beginners Guide to Wine Tasting Lingo.") When it comes to tasting wine, be sure to note if its tannins are:
You have noted the pertinent details of a wine if you follow this template outline. But each wine is different and there are some things which may not be covered. Was the wine corked? Or did the it have any mysterious taints or off-odors? Make additional space to write these factors down. You might also enjoy writing your overall impression of the wine. Did you like the wine or not, why? All of these details will aid you as a future reference. (Also read, "How to Organize a Wine Tasting at Home."