Lacrimarosa, Mastroberardino Irpinia Rosato 2017

This is an experiment in writing tasting notes. The first is the way I have been writing them for this blog based on a classical method with some descriptive prose. The second is based on a classical method with specific terminology. The third is a stream of consciousness including my experience of the wine in that moment.

The wine in a glass above my tasting notes

Barely there charm with firm elegance and bittersweet nuances. Light, onion skin pink with crystal clear luminosity, medium intensity and complexity on the nose with predominant floral notes of fresh white flowers followed by aromas of white peach, apricot, and hints of toasted nuts, on the palate dry with high acidity and pleasant minerality, light body with a nice balance and an elegant, grapefruit finish.

Food pairings: This wine has a very light body with fresh acidity and marked minerality making it best for lightly structured dishes with soft flavours, including shellfish, white meat and pasta. Some examples include: fried calamari, salmon fillet with steamed vegetables, or shrimp with linguini pasta.

AIS wine tasting sheet with terminology
AIS wine tasting sheet with the terminology used to describe different characteristics of the wine (in Italian)

Appearance: crystal clear, luminous, onion skin colour with copper toned reflections, almost transparent, medium-low consistency

Nose: medium intensity, medium complexity, frank and clean quality, floral, fruity and slightly toasted with notes of fresh white flowers, yellow stone fruit, citrus and toasted nuts.

Taste: dry, medium alcohol, medium softness high acidity, medium-high minerality, light body, balanced, medium-high intensity, medium persistence, elegant finish with returning citrus notes and fine quality.

Young but ready to drink, quite harmonious.

86 points

Food pairings: dishes with a light structure which include starch and/or fat, without too much salt, acidity, or spices.

*the terms are roughly translated from Italian based on the AIS wine tasting sheet shown above.

Soft, pink blanket with a rose motif

“Lacrima rosa” means pink tear in English, this wine is not sentimental, Chanel pink, far off memory of peanut shells in childhood, weak colour, more white than rosé, pretty blue bird on the label, lightness, sense of home with Mastroberardino, wholesome, this is not rosé!, juicy summer fruits, I used to love peaches, lounging, winking, purring, playful cats, sweet, inconsequential, laughter, silliness, bittersweet, what’s “Dolce vita”?, more bitter mixed with sweet after living in Italy, apricots (I don’t know if I like them), who needs heavy?, antique pink is so much less garish, pink like my rose blanket, soft, almost finished with Jane Austin, sweetness, acidity, toasty, cold, warm, bittersweet, pink like the yellow in the sunset outside my window.

Sunset outside my window

This wine with pasta and yesterday’s tomato sauce, I’m not a good cook, this is not the best choice, acidity in tomatoes, acidity in wine, salty sauce, give me wine, salty wine, give me sauce, more cheese, panettone with candied fruit, this is better, sweet and doughy, acidity, pink, bittersweet.

My cat playing with my tasting notes My cat playing with my tasting notes My cat playing with my tasting notes

Which is the most accurate description? Which is the most relatable, the most informative, and to who? Which is the most interesting to read, which to do. Which is completely idiosyncratic, subjective, or irrelevant? Why should we write tasting notes at all?

I was watching a film the other day called “The Final Portrait”, and I started to think that perhaps writing wine descriptions is like painting a portrait.

The final portrait film

In the film, the artist Alberto Giacometti, played by Geoffrey Rush, asks a New York journalist, played by Armie Hammer,to sit for him to paint his portrait. The eccentric artist is shrouded with self-doubt and a sense of inadequacy and failure, despite being a celebrated artist at that time. He repeatedly paints over the portrait just when it’s about to be “finished”. Meanwhile the frustrated and increasingly impatient journalist tries to understand the artist’s process and how he can intervene to declare the portrait is finished so he can fly back home and get back to his life.

The artist Giacometti painting a portrait in “The Final Portrait”
Scene from “The Final Portrait” with artist Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) painting a portrait of a journalist (Armie Hammer)

click this link to watch A scene from The Final Portrait

In the film, Giacometti calls himself a “liar” because he can never paint things exactly how he sees them, and a portrait is never really finished, thus perhaps they shouldn’t be started at all. However, he seems to neurotically enjoy the process and the challenge in any case.

This is possibly true of wine descriptions as well. Maybe we can never fully depict a wine as it truly is, or finish describing it as we perceive it. And even more so, maybe it is the act in itself and the process which is more interesting than the description. More interesting to the perceiver and only secondarily interesting to the one reading it who may enjoy the process which produced it, the aesthetic it has, or the relatability to their own senses and experience which it may provoke.

In an attempt to not be redundant, uninteresting, un-relatable, or irrelevant in my own tasting notes, I would like to address these questions in my future posts.

6 Comments

  1. I would say that it depends on who you are writing for. I like wine but I don’t understand it. Classical wine tasting notes leave me searching for the flavours that I am supposed to be tasting and scratching my head when I cannot find them. I prefer notes to be rather simple leading me to the predominant flavour and taste but not through the whole range.

    Based on that feedback I have to say that I like the third description best of all but wouldn’t mind a little more detail. I hope that this helps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Andrew, thank you for your comment! Our friend Dr. B made me question exactly that, and I’m tempted to believe it’s only for ourselves and to be appreciated by others from a distance. I prefer the third as well actually, but I fear it’s only interesting for me to do and me to read as it might not be that relatable to others. Maybe I’ll try the third one again but with more detail, as you said. Cheers! 🥂

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  2. My personal preference is for the one with a structure of appearance, nose, taste though I’m still thinking as a “client”. You know why I think this way, it’s because I believe in attracting more people to a wider range of wines via notes which help THEM. The structure, whether I agree with it or not, would have certain elements within it such as acidity, minerality, etc….. but contain the same elements every time whether low or high in them. I like scales too, so say 1-5 or 1-10 for each. Tasting notes should I believe always refer to the grape(s) and mention alcohol % too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so great that you did this exercise! If we’re talking solely about the evaluation of a wine – I like the second one the “best” because I feel like it’s the most objective. And I’m sure I’m also gravitating towards it because it’s in the WSET format – which I’m used to. The first one is lovely though, sounds like something I’d read in a wine magazine. And the third one . . . by reading it I’ve learned more about you, the writer, as opposed to the wine. Depending on your audience, this could be a very good thing. I happen to like it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’m happy to know that the WSET format is similar to the one I learned in Italy. I also feel it’s the most objective but also perhaps the least appealing to those not familiar with the format. The third is the other side of the spectrum being completely subjective in my associations. I haven’t really thought about my target audience, I’m looking for a way to write about the individual wines I try that is enjoyable for me and interesting and/or useful for others to read without it being anonymous, standard tasting notes. In this context, what’s more interesting: the wine itself, my perception of it, or perception and the act of tasting in general?

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