On Wine Criticism, Intentionality, Terroir, and Aboutness


When I judge a wine critically, I ask myself the usual questions about its color, aromas, flavors, textures, finish. But I also probe the second-order questions, those that reach beyond heuristics to grasp the wine’s true character: What is this wine like? Why was it made? Why does this wine matter? What is this wine about?

Beyond fruit and acid and terroir-expression, beyond somewhereness, beyond all of the wine’s formal qualities, lies intentionality. A winemaker thought about this wine, ideally throughout its growing season, and made decisions that acknowledged the vagaries of site, vintage, vine. Nature doesn’t have a plan, but a winemaker can. She or he aims at something. The wine in the glass is the expression of that something.

This interplay of the raw materials and the winemaker’s intentionality define what a wine’s really about. I call this idea “aboutness.”

Read about it in my article, The Fifth Annual Palate Press Grand Tasting: A Judge’s Report.

Many thanks to Wine Business and Wine Industry Insight for recommending this article to their readers.

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