First of all, I’ve always found it a little preposterous that there could be hard and fast rules for drinking any beverage, even one taken as seriously as wine or whisky. The name of this website would suggest a higher level of pretense to this subject; would a Gentleman sip Chateau Petrus over ice through a straw? I have a bit of a libertarian whisper in my ear saying,” if you can afford it, do whatever you want with it.” The point of these guides has always been to provide a framework for the beginner who hopes to reach a higher appreciation of his investment by doing things “the right way.” Or maybe, for a seasoned professional, it represents a return to a sort of wine-based scientific method.
Exploring the existing guides that abound in the beverage media has always left me with a sense that tasting wine “the right way” belies the actual experience most of us have when drinking any sort of fine ferment. We want to get as much enjoyment as possible for the often high prices we pay for these drinks. Cataloguing the fruit flavour components of a wine can’t possible be the best way to do this. This is primarily because even if you are a trained professional taster, differentiating between raspberry and blackberry flavour compounds is both somewhat subjective and largely pointless.
The Wine & Spirit Education Trust(WSET) systematic approach to tasting wine is a widely accepted standard that is rich in wine-trade jargon, and admittedly a method I do try to use occasionally in my own tasting notes. It is fairly useful for cataloguing large numbers of notes in a purely technical manner, and can be used to compare notes to other tasters who use the method. A tasting note from using this method is probably the least successful way to intuitively enjoy a wine, but I like to be familiar with standards like this before I come up with a variation that better fits my needs on a more casual basis. You can see in the chart below that this method is indeed quite technical, the type of terminology is what typically would bring about accusations of snobbery.