Keep a Wine Diary

This leather-bound diary from Italy was a gift from my nieces Amy and Alicia. I use it to record all my wine experiences, even when ordering wine at a restaurant or sharing a bottle at a friend's house.

It was a lost weekend for my wine exploration. I was knocked off the browsing circuit with a nasty cold. I’m still recovering. Can’t smell. Can’t taste. Can’t enjoy. A real bummer. I watched my wife uncork a nice 2008 Sebastiani Cabernet on Saturday night to go along with the steak tips and insalada verde she so expertly produced, but I had no interest whatsoever. No reason why she couldn’t have a pleasant experience even if I was under a blanket, on the couch, feeling miserably out of touch with my wine senses. All was not lost, however. With the little energy I did have, I began reading my wine diary, a log of all our wine experiences. I started it in late October, after returning from a trip to Sonoma Valley, Napa Valley and San Francisco.
The sommelier at Ledson Wineries told me it was a good way to build a resource wine library on my own terms. He right. In my book, I jot down the date, the people sharing the wine, the location, and all the pertinent information on the bottle’s label: vineyard or producer, year, varietal and where the wine is from. I also pay attention to the alcohol
content and price. If I am eating food, I make note how the meal tastes with the wine. Most important in my education – and yours – is never to read the back label of the bottle describing how the vintner describes the wine until you have finished consuming some of it and forming your own thoughts. This is critical. If you ever want to develop a “nose” for wine, you have to let your “nose” do the work. It doesn’t come easy. I have a difficult time sorting out the more than 200 aromas that can be produced by any number of wines. I’m not a wine master; I’m a wine novice. I can’t smell leather or chalk. Yet I’ve learned to identify contrasts aromas. It’s simple and it’s a start toward refining your senses. Try this: Put your nose in the glass and draw in the aromas slowly and gradually. Let you senses “feel” the fragrance. What do you smell? Write it down. No answer is wrong. Is it floral, nutty or fruity? Is it lemony, citrusy, apricot, orapple? If fruity, is it raspberry or blackberry, or is it jammy like a strawberry? Follow up what you smell with a sip. Is the taste the same? Write it down. Ask your friends or companions what they smell and taste. Write it down. You’ll be surprised how rapidly your wine log and wine sense will grow with each new glass of vino that you try. The best part is that it’s fun!

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