Many guests to our tasting room plead ignorance regarding their ability to describe what they are tasting and what they like in a wine. They are somewhat shy about expressing their opinion because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing.
I like to suggest to guests that they start out with the simple “yum” or “yuk” approach. The first and most important thing is whether you like it or not. If not, then your evaluation can simply stop there. If your initial reaction is “yum”, then you may also stop there. And if you do want to describe what you believe it tastes like or why you like it, it is best to use your own words and descriptions. It is not necessary to use pontifications such as those used by wine critics.
Describing it in your own terms will help you better remember the wine and understand why you like one wine and not another.
Having said that, there is one good reason to have a better understanding of what characteristics you like in a wine and be able to express them. When in a restaurant or a wine retailer, you may be shopping for a wine or ordering from a list of wines you are unfamiliar with. In those situations, there will likely be someone to help you make a selection. But how can he help if he does not know what you like in a wine? That is where it is beneficial to be able to explain the characteristics you like, in your own words. It will be easier for you to explain and easier to be understood. And if you’re in a restaurant and are not sure what you like, be adventurous!