Barret Pearson

Barret Pearson

Barret is a wine enthusiast and proud Vancouverite. Barret currently works as a service specialist at a wine store downtown, and divides his spare time between books, art, and travel.

By Barret Pearson January 27, 2015 Comments Off on Wine Tasting, Socially

What makes sharing a bottle of wine with other people such a rewarding experience? It’s completely different from just writing things down or keeping a wine tasting journal; you get to share your thoughts. Wine is an amazing way to open up a conversation. Whether or not it’s true that everyone’s palate is completely unique, sit ten people down and ask them what they think, and you’re going to get ten very different opinions. There’s obviously going to be some scientific basis for the assumption, but I don’t think it all comes down to just the physical make-up of our palates alone.

I’ve always found that the most intriguing part about wine tasting socially is the little mental nudge it gives people. Scents and tastes are powerful psychological triggers; they open us up to remembering certain things that are completely unique to our own subjective experience. It is the same way perfume or cologne can affect people: sure the scent might be the same right out of the bottle, but it’s how it smelled on the person who wore it that you really remember. That’s one of the reasons why everyone comes up with a slightly different opinion when they taste wine. You definitely have some constants (it’s hard not to recognize ‘cherry’ or ‘blackcurrant’ or ‘pepper’), but when each person tastes, they are remembering (whether subconsciously or not) completely different things.

Smell Everything

I had someone give me a funny piece of advice when I first started getting into wine: smell everything, taste everything. Wine tasting isn’t necessarily just about what’s in the glass, but what is outside of it too, and the connection that you can learn between the two. It’s a bit of an odd thing to say, you would think, but it really is a valid point. When a sommelier is tasting wine and begins his or her wine-speak of fancy descriptors like “tennis ball” or “fresh linen”, they aren’t just drawing from a ready-made list of “correct” words. Being confident in your own ability to draw connections from the world around you is crucial to developing your own wine palate.

I like wine tasting around other people, because it gives me an opportunity to share my tasting notes, and to hear what sorts of things other people have come up with. It’s a fun way to learn, because sometimes people will point out things that you might never have even noticed. Drinking wine is often like looking at a painting; sometimes you can’t appreciate the whole work until someone points out a single detail for you.

Learn to Appreciate What’s Around You

A little story: not too long ago a friend and I drove to the Okanagan. It was near the end of summer and there had been a very light rain. It you’ve ever been in that area, you’ll know it’s warm. After the rain hits the earth, the whole valley fills up with the scent of hot rocks, dusty earth, rainwater, and the dry grass and herbs that are pretty much everywhere. I didn’t consciously notice this until my friend pointed it out, at which point I committed it to my memory. Two weeks later I had a gorgeous Syrah and encountered something that reminded me exactly of that. It helps to have a tool, or some kind of reminder to help you jog your memory, or in my case it helped to have a friend to point out exactly what it was I was noticing.

I like wine because in a sense it’s a tool to explore and appreciate the world around you, and the company you share it with. The next time you taste a wine, take your time with the bottle, watch it evolve, notice your environment and appreciate the whole experience.

By Barret Pearson December 16, 2014 Comments Off on Speaking of terroir…

The other day someone asked me what the most important aspect of a bottle of wine is to me; Aside from whether it simply tastes good or not, I’ve got a fairly concrete answer. My wine education has been grounded around geography. It’s an idea that sheds an enormous amount of light on the world of wine.
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