How to keep a wine journal
June 16, 2005 1:20 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone here keep a wine journal?

I'm considering starting a wine journal. You know, a scrapbook to put labels and take notes about the wine and/or the occasion. I'm looking for any tips on how to keep a good journal. Suggestions could range from ways to mount the labels in the scrapbook or what talking points the entries should make. Also, has anyone ever found a usefulness for keeping a wine journal or is it a pleasure unto itself?
posted by quadog to Food & Drink (10 answers total)
I steam off the labels and tape 'em down. I write down the name, year and region, along with comments on what I liked or didn't like about the wine. Oh, and the price and where I bought the bottle. I highly recommend it. (I use an old spiral notebook that I made when I worked at Kinkos. You could buy one and it would be fine).
The usefulness is that when I want to entertain, I can look up wines that I think would be good with what I'm serving. And when I'm just drinkin' to drink, I can avoid wines I've had before (I like to try new stuff if I can).
posted by klangklangston at 5:50 AM on June 16, 2005

There's a neat little book called The Wine Chronicles by Gregory Moore, the sommelier at a top Philly restaurant, that helps with this sort of thing.

It provides some educational info (how to read labels, tasting tips, etc), and then has spaces to paste label and take notes and whatnot.

I can't seem to find a link to a place where you'd actually be able to buy it right now. It's published by Running Press and their site seems to be down at the moment, but maybe you could find it later.
posted by frufry at 6:59 AM on June 16, 2005

There are a variety of web sites that help you track and share your notes on wine. For example, a friend of mine runs, a small and very nicely designed site for tasting notes, wine cellar tracking, and sharing wine info. Having a database backing your notes is very helpful.

That said I gave up trying to take careful notes on my own wine tastings. It felt too much like work.
posted by Nelson at 7:11 AM on June 16, 2005

And I can't seem to find a link to a place to buy "label peelers", which are these great transparent sticky squares that you stick over a wine bottle's label and then peel off taking the label with, and then stick in a book and write your notes right around the label. They're fantastic but I guess not that popular yet in the US - here's a UK link to order them, with pictures of the process.
posted by nicwolff at 7:22 AM on June 16, 2005

Back when I could afford good wine, I used to steam off the labels and write my notes on the back; I guess it would have seemed like too much trouble to do it more systematically. (In a few cases, like the bottle of Chambertin over which I proposed to my wife, I kept the whole bottle and didn't bother making notes -- I remember well enough!)
posted by languagehat at 7:46 AM on June 16, 2005

IMHO - Steaming labels off damages them too much, just put the empty bottle in your oven at a really low setting, around 150f, for 90-120 minutes, the glue will melt while the label will still be perfect, just peel it off slowly. (note: this works perfectly on new world wines; Canada, US, Australia, etc, and usually (but not always) works fine on old world wines as well)
posted by Cosine at 10:08 AM on June 16, 2005

You could also just take a digital photograph. Faster and cleaner, and easier to use if you want to set up a simple database.

I hadn't thought of doing this before, but I like the idea of keeping a wine journal. Good question!
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:56 AM on June 16, 2005

You can use clear packing tape as label peelers too. I've kept a wine journal, it's really helpful not only to trigger your memory but as practice in identifying what exactly appeals to you. If you can walk into a wine store and tell them what flavors and styles you like and your budget, you'll walk out with a bottle you like, possibly one you wouldn't have chosen based on region or name. I'd also recommend printing out AC Noble's aroma wheel to help ID aromas and flavors in the wine. But don't feel like you have to evaluate everything carefully, sometimes all you'll want to say is "yum" or "ick".
posted by cali at 10:58 AM on June 16, 2005

I don't get why you'd want to keep the label. Can't you just make a note of the vintage, winemaker, variety / blend and price? How is having the label better than writing "2003 Peter Lehmann Barossa Semillon $12" or "2002 Umani Ronchi Montepulciano d'Abruzzo $14"? Are you going to take the journal into a cellar, hold it up, point to the label and say "a case of this, thanks"? Or is it a stamp collecting thing? Proof that you actually drank the wine (or stole the bottle from a restaurant's dumpster)?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:09 PM on June 16, 2005

Response by poster: Labels are what some would consider ephemera. But if you're into the nuances of the label design and the way it can enhance your appreciation of the experience then it's certainly something that's worth keeping. Some wine labels are strikingly beautiful. Others, like the one's you're probably referring to, serve a purely utilitarian function and thus may not be worth holding onto.
posted by quadog at 10:54 PM on June 16, 2005

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