tasting notes


Poire Williams, a pear brandy, rather smells, as you might suspect, like pears. This is a problem. Pears smell like pears. There’s not a lot more to be said, as far as I can tell. One pear smells more or less like another. Why is this a problem? In the context of WSET, it’s a problem because the description of the nose contains five points for the description of aromas. Further, those points are awarded as one point per aroma. In...

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Pét Nat. It is short for pétillant naturel (naturally sparkling), a particular type of sparkling wine. I’ve only come across it in the last year or so, although I’ve found references on the web going back a few years earlier. It doesn’t seem to generate much coverage in the press, except for noting it’s a new trend, and apparently big with hipsters. But what is it? Pét Nat is wine that finishes fermenting in the bottle. It undergoes...

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Well, according to the WSET Unit 6 (fortified wines) exam results, anyway. My pride is somewhat assuaged by the fact that at least I passed the theory section. (One can insert here all the jokes about academics being useless in the real world.) I’m still debating spending the money WSET charges to get the feedback on the tasting section. It might be interesting to see how close I was to what they thought the fortified wines should...

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I wondered, back in December, if certain kinds of tasting notes were soulless. I want to return to this point, and take it in a slightly different direction. I want to think about the ways in which tasting notes can be unduly restrictive. One of the starting points for this is further reflection on the WSET fortified wines exam I sat about a month ago, and in particular, one of the wines, an Oloroso sherry. The other starting point is...

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Earlier this week, I sat in a hall in the rather decrepit-feeling Royal National Hotel in London to take the WSET Diploma Unit 6 (Fortified Wines) exam. There were somewhere between 130-140 of us, all Diploma students. Did I pass? I don’t know. It will take 3-4 months to find out. I correctly identified two out of the three wines (an Oloroso and a Rutherglen Muscat) but in the tasting section, correct identification is only about 10...

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After a longer-than-planned winter break, I’m back to blogging. Earlier this week, I had the pleasant of an all-too-brief visit to Plumpton College, in Sussex. For those not familiar with it, Plumpton is the one place in the UK that offers degrees in wine business and production. The College more generally does various agricultural and ‘land-based’ courses (as their website puts it.) Alas, I did not get to see the kangaroos. At any...

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