Did you enjoy reading our Great Debate blog on The Language of Wine, Tasting Notes & Scores with Andrew Jefford and Dr. William Kelley?
If so, now it is your chance to HAVE YOUR SAY with our two debaters.
The challenge of how we might best describe wine aromas and flavours continues to fascinate wine students and enthusiasts alike: this is your chance to question both a wine-writing veteran and one of the most talented of the new generation of wine critics about their work in this field The scoring of wines is now universally practised and the use of scores as a sale aid is ubiquitous. Is this a good thing -- or does it impoverish wine culture? Can we trust scores? Is there score inflation at work, and if so how can we re-set scores to optimise their usefulness? More broadly, can we trust wine journalists and wine critics to work ethically?
We are following up their written debate with a live one airing on Wednesday, February 23, and encourage you to share your opinion or ask them your question directly. No matter where you stand on the issue of tasting notes and wine criticism, this is the chance for you to make your voice heard!
Take a look at the debate again and share your questions and thoughts. In order to make the most of the live debate, you can leave a comment below or DM on the Great Debate post on Instagram or Facebook with your question or comment at before the live debate.
There also will be plenty of chances to post your opinions or questions on the day of the live debate via the chat box.
Get involved and Have your Say -- Andrew and William are looking forward to hearing from you!
William Kelly studied history at St John's College, Oxford for nine years, between 2008 and 2017. After completing his doctorate (D.Phil) at Oxford, he joined Decanter magazine as its North American correspondent, and since 2017 he has worked for The Wine Advocate, initially reviewing Burgundy -- where he also makes wine, and where he has one of his two homes (the other is in Texas). He has now added Champagne, Madeira, English sparkling wine and, most recently, Bordeaux to his list of duties.
Andrew Jefford is the Academic Advisor to the Wine Scholar Guild, and has been writing about wine since 1988, notably for The Evening Standard and The Financial Times,among other UK newspapers. He has columns in every edition of Decantermagazine and World of Fine Wine magazine, and is co-chair of Decanter World Wine Awards. His books include The New France, Whisky Island and Andrew Jefford’s Wine Course.
It is a regular occurrence, even for the most accomplished wine aficionado: a loss of words to describe exactly what’s going on in the glass. Try as we might, the language of wine will always be a tricky landscape to navigate. But, as educators and students of wine, it is a necessity. Whether scratched into a notepad or typed into a report, tasting notes help us commit our experience to memory, and serve as a vital avenue for sensory translation.
Nonetheless, issues abound when it comes to finding a common understanding of these experiences.
In this edition of our Great Debate series, Andrew Jefford — wine writer and the Wine Scholar Guild’s Academic Advisor — is joined by William Kelley, wine critic for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, to discuss a host of issues facing the language of wine and its primary vehicle of communication: the celebrated (or maligned, depending on your point of view) tasting note.
“A good tasting note should communicate as relatably and usefully as possible the character and perceived quality of the wine,” notes Kelley, who reviews roughly 5,000 wines annually from Burgundy and Champagne for his publication. However, he cautions, “it is a very limiting genre.”
By and large, Jefford agrees, but he also calls for “an equivalent of the ‘natural wine’ movement for wine writing” to refresh the possibilities and broaden the perspectives of wine language worldwide.
In the end, this debate is a fascinating look into the process of crafting tasting notes from two of the industry’s most accomplished practitioners. But both admit that there remains plenty of open area for discussion on how to best utilize language to communicate the magic (or lack thereof) in the glass.