I am a big advocate for keeping tasting notes. Being a fan of the analog life, I still keep my notes using the old fashioned tools called pens and paper. The photo above is of the notebook I used while writing my book, Pour Me Another. It is a handy size and fits right in my shirt pocket along with a decent pen.
Being the architect that I am, I took the time to make a little sketch on the first page. It’s silly and nobody sees it but myself. It makes me happy.
Aside from being a memory prompt for later when I’m writing, or trying to make decisions about wines to buy or food pairings, the journal actually helps me taste the wine rather than drink it. Keeping the notes helps me to slow down and pay attention to the wine in a purposeful way. It makes my tasting a deliberate activity, not simply the consequence of drinking.
The photo above is of a typical winery’s page of notes. I note the name of the winery, and the date at the top. If there is a tasting fee I note that as well. Then I simply note the vintage and the name of the wine and my observations about the color, nose and taste. If it is a blend, I’ll try to write down the percentages of the different varietals. You’ll note in this one that the 2007 Riserva Sangiovese has blanks marked for the 1% of this and the 1% of that that I forgot. But come on, it’s 98% Sangiovese!
This little notebook has been an invaluable tool, not just for the purposes of writing the guide book, but also for my own education about the wines of Amador and El Dorado County. I wish that I had started keeping notes earlier.
I’m currently starting to research two new guides. I am going to be experimenting with two other tasting journal formats. I’ll be using the De Long Wine Tasting Notebook for one region and the Moleskine “passions” Wine Journal for the other one. I’ll be comparing them to one another and to my own improvised journal. Stay tuned for wine journal updates!