I received some wine from Napa Valley winery Benessere to review, so I thought it would be fun to include two in a tasting I was doing in my home with three other couples. What my guests didn’t expect was that a simple suggestion – for the men to describe one while the women described the other – would create a fierce competition between the sexes.
The tasting was an auction item I had offered up in a fundraiser for my church. The winning bidder automatically invited the other bidders to also attend. When I asked what she’d like to do, she left it up to me.
So, before I gave my guests 8 wines to taste, I decided to give them a short 101 lesson on how to describe Appearance, Aroma, Taste and then make a Conclusion. I had my “WSET Systematic Approach to Tasting (Level 2) laminated guide handy (see photos) and briefly went over what to look for.
For anyone new to describing wines, this is a very pleasant pastime. By focusing on what’s in your glass, instead of just drinking it, you can expand your pleasure, expertise and, most importantly, learn what you like or don’t like. For me, it’s the education. I don’t just love whites, or a particular red, that’s ridiculous to me. I love trying everything, and what I love today will undoubtedly change with tomorrow – as I’ll be drinking with different friends in different environment and, if I’m lucky, will be traveling the world via wine…
07 Benessere Napa Valley Zinfandel, Hollystone – Collins, Old Vines
Appearance – Clear, maroon-ruby color.
Aroma – Tar, red fruit, cherry.
Taste – Peppery, cherry, Jolly Rancher.
Conclusion – Long finish.
08 Benessere Napa Valley Zinfandel, Estate Black Glass Vineyard
Appearance – Clear, long legs, ruby red with a ruby edge and gold flecks.
Aroma – Juniper, herbaceous, pine.
Taste – Smooth, balanced, vanilla, pale cherry-fruit
Conclusion – Long, past the count of 15 on our palates. (With 1-3 being short, 4-6 medium and up towards ten being long, per WSET.)
General – the women won – conclusion: We beat them by a long stretch, aka many more descriptors than they could shake a stick at! But, of course, what else could you expect? Women are known for their endurance – childbirth – and men are known for…for…strength? Okay, fine, WSET agrees with that in their guidelines on alcohol consumption, more wine consumption (due to “muscle” weight no doubt) for men than women. So, I guess they win after all?
(We also returned to the wine our partners tasted and did come to an amicable agreement: Between the two the 08 was lighter.)
09 Pinot Grigio
Appearance – clear, pale yellow.
Aroma – wood, honeysuckle, cactus.
Taste – high acidity, grapefruit, lemon.
Conclusion – An interesting juxtaposition of aromas and tastes, unexpected but pleasant. Medium length.