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Rebooting the Grid

Rebooting the Grid:

 

For all those in the struggle, here is a technique I developed in the lead up to the Advanced exam. I continue to use it with my staff and other sommeliers studying for certifications.

 

Six weeks before my exam, during a tasting with Rebecca Fineman, I correctly identified Rioja but basically only called dried fig, date, prune, bruised walnut, and leather. She pointed out that while I got the wine correctly, I missed all sorts of points on the nose and palate. Sweet and Sour, Curry, Hoisin, Blood/Sanguine, Molasses. I wasn’t checking for condiments!

 

Then on my way back from work that night I had an epiphany. The standard grid has a non-fruit category, earth organic and inorganic, but there was an opportunity to create multiple sub categories. I wrote down every descriptor for every wine scoring grid that I had, looked at the Court’s varietal profiles, went through the Wine Folly book and wrote down as many tasting notes from the flavor wheels and put them into my own order.

 

Fruits, Flowers, Herbs, Vegetables, Animal, Nuts, Dairy, Bread, Condiments, Gas/Fire, Earth, Rocks, Wood, Vinification.

 

It completely revolutionized my tasting prowess. It forced me to check for things like pyrazine, volatility, brettanomyces, oxidation, lees, TDN, stem inclusion, carbonic maceration, and sotolon, all while describing these features with real-world descriptors.

 

See my files for Word document version. I recommend saving key documents like vintage charts and references to iBooks so you can access them without internet connectivity.

 

Fruit:

 

Citrus:                       

            Clementine

            Eureka Lemon

            Grapefruit

            Kaffir Lime

            Kumquat

            Lime

            Mandarin

            Marmalade

            Meyer Lemon

            Orange

            Tangerine

            Yuzu

 

Orchard:       

            Apple

            Pear

            Quince

 

Stone:                       

            Apricot

            Nectarine

            Peach

 

Tropical:

            Banana

            Fruit Cup

            Guava

            Kiwi

            Lychee

            Mango

            Melons:

                        Cantaloupe

                        Charentais

                        Honeydew

                        Watermelon

            Passion fruit

            Papaya

            Pineapple

 

Red:              

            Cherry

            Cranberry

            Raspberry

            Pomegranate

            Strawberry

 

Purple:          

            Plum

 

Blue:              

            Blueberry

 

Black:            

            Blackberry

            Boysenberry

            Cassis

            Currant

            Huckleberry

            Mulberry

 

Dried:

            Date

            Fig

            Prune

            Raisin

 

Flowers/Tea/Tisane/Coffee:

            Acacia

            Bergamot

            Black Tea

            Citronella

            Chai

            Citrus Blossom

            Coffee

            Dandelion

            Hand Soap

            Honeysuckle

            Hibiscus

            Jasmine

            Lavender

            Lilac

            Matcha

            Oolong

            Potpourri

            Rooibos

            Rose 

            Violet

            Yerba Mate

 

Herbs/Spice

            Allspice

            Anise

            Bay Laurel

            Black Pepper

            Cannabis

            Cardamom

            Capers

            Cilantro

            Chervil

            Chive

            Clove

            Coriander

            Cumin

            Curry

            Dill

            Eucalyptus

            Fennel

            Fenugreek

            Ginger

            Garrigue

            Lemongrass

            Licorice

            Juniper

            Menthol

            Mint

            Oregano

            Paprika

            Parsley

            Peppercorn

            Provencal Herbs

            Quinine

            Rosemary

            Saffron

            Sage

            Tamarind

            Tarragon

            Tobacco

            Underbrush

            Vanilla

            Verbena

            Wasabi

            Wheatgrass

 

Vegetables

            Arugula

            Asparagus

            Beet

            Bell Pepper

            Cabbage

            Celery

            Chipotle

            Jalapeno

            Lentil

            Olive

            Onion

            Peppercress

            Radicchio

            Rhubarb

            Salad Greens

            Squash

            Tobacco

            Tomato

 

Animal

            Bacon

            Barbecue

            Barn

            Blood

            Brettanomyces

            Charcuterie

            Game

            Grilled Meat

            Lanolin

            Leather

            Pastrami

            Stable

 

Nuts

            Almond

            Cashew

            Chestnut

            Coconut

            Hazelnut

            Macadamia

            Marzipan

            Peanut

            Pecan

            Pinenut

            Pistachio

            Walnut

 

Dairy

            Butter

            Brown Butter

            Cream

            Crème Fraiche

            Marshmallow

            Meringue

            Panna Cotta

            Parmesan

            Rind

            Yogurt

 

Bread

            Brioche

            Dough

            Graham Cracker

            Lager

            Oatmeal

            Pie Crust

            Yeast

 

Sweeteners/Condiments

            Balsamic

            Beeswax

            Bubblegum

            Butterscotch

            Brown Sugar

            Caramel

            Chocolate

            Chutney

            Cola

            Cotton Candy

            Cream Soda

            Fudge

            Hoisin

            Honey

            Hops

            Mocha

            Molasses

            Plum Sauce

            Salt

            Sassafras

            Soy

            Sweet and Sour

 

Toast/Gas

            Ash

            Campfire

            Cigar box

            Gas   

            Graphite

            Gunmetal

            Incense

            Latex

            Paraffin

            Petrol

            Rubber

            Tar

 

Earth 

            Baked Earth

            Compost

            Forest floor

            Hay

            Leaves

            Mushroom

            Potting Soil

            Straw

            Tree Bark

            Truffle

 

Rocks

            Chalk

            Concrete

            Dust

            Iron

            Flint

            Granite

            Graphite

            Gravel

            Limestone

            Nickel

            Petrichor

            Sea Shell

            Slate

            Volcanic

 

Wood

            French

            American

            Slavonian

 

            Large

            New

            Used

 

            Cedar

            Hickory

            Stems

            Sticks

            Pencil Lead

            Pine

            Sandal Wood

            Saw Dust

 

Vinification

            Botrytis

            Carbonic

            Cork Taint

            Iodine

            Malolactic

            Oxidation

            Reduction

            Saline

            Sulphur