Learn When to Keep Your Mouth Shut.


I’ve always been of the opinion (and maybe I’m in the minority on this one), but when tasting in a group, it’s best to say very little about what you taste as it relates to your overall opinion of a wine. To be totally brutally, I actually have very little respect for other people’s opinions.
How arrogant does that sound!?!?
I can of course see how you would think that is quite an egotistical statement, but I’m going to propose that you start thinking the same way  as me (if you don’t already).


Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.

I was the Sommelier pouring at a private residence tasting for a group of about 50 a few weeks ago. I had four wines to get through, all from Oregon, all from the same producer.  Wine number one was a Pinot Gris, the rest were Pinot Noir’s.
My usual way of doing things is to gather everyone around, explain a little about the wine (origin, producer, grape etc.), and then pour each guest a glass.  I served the first, and the general consensus from the the group was that they enjoyed it, as I expected.
I moved on to the second, a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. I had just about  finished pouring for everyone, with the exception of a small group of four guys who were congregating in the kitchen of the hosts house. I approached the first “gentleman”, who for the sake of this article we’ll call Mr. X.

What do we have here then!?!?” he boldly asked as I approached the group.

“Oregon Pinot Sir, from…” I explained whilst pouring at the same time.

“It looks like pink dishwater!”  interrupts Mr. X before I can finish pouring his glass.

“Well, Oregon Pinot is more of an exercise in subtlety than…”

“Hmmm, tastes like it too!” he exclaimed after taking a sip.

Obviously from that point on, before they could even taste it for themselves, his little group no doubt had a negative perception of the wine. No matter if they had liked it, they probably won’t going to disagree with his opinion (in polite company).


The point that I am trying to make is that sometimes it’s best to put on blinders when tasting with your peers. There are of course a few exceptions, depending on what you are looking to gain from a tasting. The one exception I have to this self-made rule is when I’m attending a tasting hosted by a Master Sommelier (or similar expert). Granted, this scenario doesn’t come up every week, but when it does I bow to their higher knowledge. If a Master Somm were to tell me a wine tastes like Fruit Loops, well then that wine tastes like Fruit Loops!!!

If you are going to take the same approach as me, just make sure that you are very selective over who you listen to, and that they have adequate credentials to back-up their opinion!

Always remember though; taste is a very personal thing, and your own palate and judgment will ALWAYS out-rank the opinion of others!

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