Kim Pierce, a frequent contributor to (and mainstay of) the Dallas News' food and wine coverage called the other day to ask about tasting notes. More specifically to ask about taking tasting notes on wines and keeping track of them. And even more to the point, there are apps for smart phones. Does anybody use them?
I had seen her fishing for information on the subject on Facebook, but had not responded. My answer was somewhat embarrassing. No, most of the time I don't take notes. And at our regular staff tastings, I don't see many of my colleagues taking notes either. Why is it that? (One might ask.)
My first response is my standard line, that if wine guys were diligent organized individuals we would have big jobs making big money. But I think the truth is that one of reasons we are wine guys is our ability to analyze and remember flavors. Most of our staff tastings are visiting new releases of familiar producers, so there is a context for storing the information. The information has to be in our heads in a fluid system of logic so we can recall the information when talking with customers. NO NOTES ON THE SELLING FLOOR!!!
Where I do see notes being taken and coming back into the store is when guys go to big portfolio tastings where there are wines and producers which are either new or significant. So notes are taken. Are they stored? Well, they're usually on a desk or in a pocket.
Readers might be relieved to know that I have been a little more diligent about note-taking since I started writing this blog. But as far as storage, it's nice that I have the blog! When I started in the industry, my mother (a bookbinder) made a beautiful book for me to take notes. I took copious notes on a trip to France. Some are legible. At Mas Carlot in the Costieres de Nimes, a dog knocked over my wine glass with his tail and spilled wine on my book. From then on I recorded the color of every wine by controlled spillage. Sort of a Jackson Pollock approach to note taking. (Can't do that with an app!)
Alas, diligence flagged on the return home. Every now and then I drag it out and think I will make more notes. Yeah, it's a sad and sporadic journal.
I did tell Kim about a customer who takes pictures on his phone of every bottle of wine he drinks. When he comes into the store he shows me the ones he liked. He's an older gentleman, a friend of my father's. She was going to give him a call.