Food & Wine Thursdays: Wine Aromas

I recently encountered a Master Sommelier who, to me, encapsulated the worst of what the CMS (Court of Master Sommeliers) curriculum can do to hamper wine education, outreach, and, simply, enjoyment. He was pompous, elitist, aggressively assertive with his half-truths, accepted myths, and wine old wives tales, and spoke from that annoying position that privileges the wines and grapes of the major Old World wine regions as wines to be emulated and imitated rather than merely a part of a dynamic global wine community.

Most annoying, however, is the insistence on sticking to this outmoded idea that there are certain “correct” aromas that should be gleaned from certain varietals and that, should you encounter a different aroma (say, white pepper instead of black pepper) you are incorrect. That concept is stupid, counter-intuitive, and does a lot to discourage the average wine drinker from the furthering their fine wine knowledge. It turns wine education into a system in which the students are students but rather sycophants memorizing received wisdom with little regard for that wisdom’s ongoing relevance.

I’ve written about this in various ways a few times before, so I won’t dwell on this too much more. If you want to read about my general displeasure with organized sommelier education programs, you can read that here and if you want to read my call to replace the conventional educational Wine Aroma Wheel, you can read that here.

Ultimately, wine education needs to be personal. The mental associations we make with what we drink and eat is what elevates mere consumption to pleasure. Each consumer needs to learn to develop his or her own vocabulary so that they can more readily articulate their tasting experience in a relevant, modern, and personal way. Describing a wine as smelling like “grandma’s pie” is much more revelatory, personal, and evocative than any string of aroma wheel adjectives.

About David D.

I'm a wine professional. Like a real one who makes most of his living in wine and have for most of my adult life. I also write, but you can see that.
This entry was posted in I'm Just Sayin, Wine & Cheese and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Food & Wine Thursdays: Wine Aromas

  1. Pingback: Weekend Linkroll « M. Fenn

  2. Roger Sterling says:

    What you need to understand about the Court of Master Sommeliers is that very, very few of these people have a decent real education. Many stopped after high school, some did a couple of years at a forgettable regional state school and those with a degree are far more likely to have a hospitality management degree from UNLV than a History degree from Berkeley. Subsequently, there often occurs an almost pathological overcompensation on their part, a need to be pedantic (though most would not recognize the word), out of control egos and a mind-numbing sense of self-importance.

    Being in the business, one of the great ironies that I’ve found is that those sommeliers with a degree from a high quality university (say top 50 privates and top 25 publics) shun the Court of Master Sommeliers like the plague and are, in private conversations, often quite dismissive of it and its members.

    • David D. says:

      I think you hit it right on the nose, of course as someone with a degree from a “high quality university,” In fact something very near a History degree from Berkeley, I’m admittedly biased.

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