Wine: Tasting vs. Drinking

Over the past few months, since returning home from Italy and my extended European work, I realized I’d drifted away from “wine tasting” and moved more into “wine drinking.” For many, the two may appear to be the same on the surface. But they’re not. Tasting wine involves a lot more spitting, far less consumption, and is far more analytical while drinking wine is more social and much higher in consumption levels.


This transition from taster to drinker was primarily promulgated by Covid the past few years. With less and less socialization and fewer gatherings, I found myself at home working my way through a bottle of wine, whereas, in the past, I would bring two or three bottles to dinner, share them with friends and the staff, and “taste” versus drink wine. When I would travel on business and had the opportunity to visit a wine bar, I was tasting more, but as the situations were more social, so I was spitting far less than in the past


Wine drinking and wine tasting are very different activities with different purposes and require different skill sets. Wine drinking is the act of consuming wine for pleasure, while wine tasting is the process of evaluating and analyzing wine to determine its quality and characteristics. The latter is far geekier and something other than what the casual wine drinker is about.


Wine drinking is also more of a social activity typically done in a relaxed setting with friends or family. It is a way to enjoy the flavors and aromas of wine and appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into making it. The focus is on the pleasure of the experience and the ability to relax and unwind, often enjoying a meal that matches up with the wines on the table.


On the other hand, wine tasting is usually a more formal activity typically done by professionals in the wine industry. It is a way to evaluate and analyze the quality of a wine, as well as its characteristics, such as aroma, flavor, and texture. The focus is on the technical aspects of the wine and the ability to identify and understand the different components that make up the wine.


When I’m in those situations, at a trade tasting event, with winemakers or serious wine professionals, the discussion about the wine, the winery, winemaker, region, terroir, age of the vines, and the blend is as deeply discussed and debated as an Eagles-Cowboys game or often as energetic as a political debate


Wine tasters use a variety of techniques to discuss and evaluate wine, including visual analysis, aroma analysis, and taste analysis. They will observe the color, clarity, and viscosity of the wine, as well as its aroma, flavor, and texture. They will also take note of any defects or flaws in the wine. They will also consider factors such as the wine’s age and the region where it was grown. Wine tasters also use a scoring system to evaluate the wine based on a set of criteria, such as the aromatic bouquet, flavor, and finish.


The difference between wine drinking and wine tasting is that wine drinking is a pleasure-based activity. In contrast, wine tasting is a professional activity that requires a high level of knowledge and skill. Wine drinkers can enjoy wine without knowing the technical aspects of it, while wine tasters must have a deep understanding of the wine and the ability to evaluate it objectively.


As a wine drinker socially and a wine taster professionally, I’ve learned that these are two different activities that have other purposes and require different skills. You also have to pick when you do each, as wine drinking is a social activity meant to be enjoyed, while wine tasting is more of a professional training opportunity meant to evaluate and analyze wine to determine its quality and characteristics. 


As I’m becoming more social again, being able to bridge the two is what I’m striving to accomplish. This means more open bottles, but less of it consumed, while sharing more with others, so more people can enjoy the better-made and lesser-known fine wines while learning more about each of them, as little or as much as they want to know.



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