A common complaint among my friends just getting into wine is how difficult it is to describe the different flavor and aromatic nuances that more experienced wine drinkers detect.
I know just how they feel, since it's something I still need to work on. But I think you can improve your palate and your enjoyment of tasting wines just by knowing what to look for when you taste. And you might even impress some people too the next time you uncork a bottle of Collier Falls Zinfandel.
We have a great tasting poster from Taste Tour at our house that can really help out with the tasting process, and I've transcribed the gist of it below.
Don't be overly intimidated by this list, just use it as a starting point. Keeping the broad categories in mind will help at first, and then you can segment to more specific descriptors as you become more experienced. And have fun! So what does Zinfandel taste like? Well, here's what to look for:
Fruit may be further segmented into: fresh, juice, soft drink, peel, dried, jelly/jam, syrup, concentrate, baked, canned, candy/candied, artificial, kernel, distilled, fruit brandy, liqueur, and specific varieties/types of each fruit.
Raspberry (Red, Black)
Currant (Red, Black)
Table grape (Red, Purple)
FLOWER (floral, flowery)
May be fresh, dried, ground or extract
Aniseed, Fennel Seed
Wood Smoke, Smoky
Pine (Pine Needle)
May be fresh, raw, roasted or toasted
HERB (herbal, herbaceous)
May be fresh or dried
BAY LEAF (Laurel)
Tea (Green, Black)
VEGETABLE (Vegetative, vegetal)
May be fresh, cooked, canned or dried
Olive (Black, Green)
Sweet Pepper (Yellow, Red)
Squash - Pumpkin
OTHER FOOD AND ANIMAL PRODUCTS
Whew! That's a lot. But the more you know what to look for, the easier it becomes to identify these characteristics in your next glass of Zin.