I have some serious wine friends who keep cellar books and meticulously record each wine they take from their stock and write a description of it once they’ve tasted it.
This, they say, enables them to make decisions about what to buy in future.
I tried that at one time, but soon became bored with it for the same reason I gave up writing restaurant reviews – I like to enjoy myself without strings attached.
I found I couldn’t relax and enjoy a good meal if I was constantly thinking of the right words to describe each dish. Is the duck crisp enough? Should there be a little more paprika in the sauce?
And of course I could never order what my dinner partner had ordered. “I’d like to have the fish, but if you’re having it I’ll try the roast gemsbok instead.”
Then there was the furtive note-taking between courses.
No, it was rather too businesslike, I felt like a prostitute glancing furtively at the bedside clock while serving a client.
The same with wine.
I spend a considerable amount of time tasting wines professionally and concentrating on colour, aroma, tannin, residual sugar, typicity, mouthfeel – does it get a gold or a silver award? Will it age well?
I enjoy doing it and get to experience all sorts of wine I would not otherwise encounter. But it’s still work.
When I drink wine for my own pleasure I prefer to limit my comments to a simple “Yum” or “Yuk” and get on with enjoying the evening.
Occasionally I do try to remember a wine I enjoyed. “What was the name of that rather nice Chenin we had last week at the Joneses?”
If I do go back to keeping a cellar book it will be a simple little notebook in which I will try to scribble the names of those wines I think I may want to buy again.
Comments on quality will be limited to my usual; “Yum” or “Yuk.”
No, there won’t be any “Yuks.” I’ll simply leave them out. Life’s too short for recording Yuks.
Photograph: Wendy Michaels