Wine Drinkers are from Venus; Wine Tasters are from Mars

misunderstandingMany discussions about wine that appear in popular writing or in casual conversations fail to distinguish the practice of wine tasting from the activity of wine drinking.

Wine tasters bring at least a rudimentary knowledge of regions and varietals as well as some experience to their tasting practice. Wine tasters, even if they are novices, have made  a commitment to learning more about wine and have begun to reflect on their experiences and commit them to memory. They have learned some of the procedures used to maximize their ability to discern features of the wine and have begun to enter into conversations about wine, internalizing some of the vocabulary historically used to describe wine. For wine tasters, wine is no longer solely about immediate sensation; it is a practice that requires discipline and a variety of skills.

Wine drinkers, by contrast, bring none of this to their  experience. They seek immediate enjoyment only. There is of course nothing wrong with that but the experience of the wine is quite different for a taster vs. a drinker.

There can be some overlap. Wine tasters can sometimes relax their commitments and be wine drinkers. But the relationship is not symmetrical. Wine drinkers cannot be wine tasters unless they acquire the commitment of a taster and cannot discover the virtues of tasting until they do so.

It thus would not be surprising that the advice wine tasters give to wine drinkers is not helpful or that the activity of wine drinking seems unreflective and impoverished to wine tasters. Mutual incomprehension would seem to be baked in and there is probably not much to be done about it. Live and let live is the best attitude for both.

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