Taste differences: who was right, me or the label?

That's me!However tempting the wine label’s proclamation of ‘aromas of wild summer berries’ and ‘flavours of red fruits...with a refreshing finish’ my own senses found a smell reminiscent of rubbery elderberry and a smoky tart taste with a hint of chocolate – in fact the overwhelming impression of Tesco’s Sicilian Rosso (£3.99) was that it had been poured from the end of a very oxidised barrel. So who was right – me or the label?

degree mortarIt’s useful to remember that behind every label description is a set of taste buds – usually belonging to the supermarket buyer or wine maker – who have varying amounts of experience to match their varying qualifications - from Master of Wine (the highest internationally recognised wine-related qualification allowing the holders to put ‘MW’ after their names) through to, well none at all.

Because you don’t need a wine qualification to be able to taste wine (I don’t hold one) but it does help if you’ve got knowledge – of wine and what a good one tastes like. And Tesco’s Sicilian Rosso wasn’t. Well that particular bottle anyway. Because it could have been a one-off where that particular bottle had been stored incorrectly (possibly at too high a temperature) or the contents of that particular batch had became oxidised as it went through the bottling machine.

facesAlthough a lot of waffle accompanies wine tasting the only thing that matters is do you actually like the wine. If the answer is no, you'll know not to buy that certain grape variety or wines from that specific region again. That’s what you tasted the wine to find out.

PG Wine Tips

Try these wines that pass the PG taste test instead.

Mavrodaphne of Patras, Greek sweet red wine

£4.99 Morrisons

No label description so I don’t know the wine maker’s thoughts on their wine but mine are wonderful – you’d think this was high-value port unless you saw the label. Sweet raisin flavours balanced with fresh blackberry and apple acidity. Amazing value.

Waitrose Spanish dry whiteWaitrose Aromatic & Citrus Spanish Dry White

£4.99 Waitrose

Well the aromas were of lemon, pear and toasted almond and the flavour was citrusy – with a creamy ending. This is a much better wine than the plain packaging (to go with the Waitrose ‘value’ range of wines) and limited label description would have you believe – particularly if you don’t drink it too cold. Take the wine out of the fridge 10 minutes before you serve to enjoy the subtleties of aroma and taste.

Turner Road Californian Reserve Merlot 2011

£4.99 Sainsbury’s

The label tells me to expect ‘ripe fruit flavours’. Well the only fruit I tasted was plum, then coffee and a hint of Marmite. A very pleasant slurper but with deeper flavours than the label leads you to expect.

Les Pierres BordesLes Pierres Bordes French Marsanne Viognier 2012

£5.75 The Wine Society

No back label on this wine but the front one is very reassuring, and so are the flavours: creamy hazelnut, pear and peach. Nice.

Wolf Blass Australian Red label Shiraz Cabernet 2012

£7.99 Morrisons

‘Bouquet of fresh red fruits, spice, mint and balanced oak. Soft, fruity’ is how the label describes the wine and I have to agree. Well I didn’t get the mint...

This article has also appeared as Paua's Wines of the Week on MatureTimes.co.uk