Spicing up your wine life: Keep a Journal

Here’s Part 2 in my series of suggestions for enlivening your wine explorations in 2012:

Keep a journal. If 90 percent of success is just showing up, the key to wine appreciation is to pay attention. You don’t need to create a database of every wine you’ve ever tasted, but taking notes can help jog your memory about a wine you liked last month, you know, the one with the blue label. This can also help your conversations with your retailers. The more you can tell them about wines you liked or disliked, the better they can focus in on new recommendations for you to try.

I’ve tried several times over the years to keep a systematic record of wines I’ve tasted, but it just doesn’t work – I’m not organized enough, and entering various items into a database takes more time than writing a tasting note. I even bought a bar code scanner that supposedly linked to a database so it could fill the info in automatically, but that didn’t work either. Turns out I was helping the scanner company build its database, laboriously entering Winery, Wine Name, Country, Region, Vintage etc., for dozens of wines that weren’t recognized. Didn’t leave enough time to taste them!

Even though I’m resigned to keeping a journal the haphazard way, I’m not immune to tech love. Lately I’ve been using an app called Evernote that allows me to snap a photo of a wine label with my phone and enter a few words, then syncs automatically with my iPad and home computer. When I’m browsing the web and see an article I like, I can clip it to Evernote for reading later.

When I feel more traditional, I use a Moleskine notebook. These are rather cool in the blogger/writer community (after all, they advertise as “Hemingway’s favorite”). And while they require two hands, making holding a wine glass difficult, they have an advantage at tastings or meetings with winemakers over the Voice Message app on the iPhone: Privacy. I sometimes enjoy reaching into my stack of Moleskines and reading about wines I tasted a few years ago, and maybe some interesting article ideas I never followed up on. That’s a pleasure I don’t think I could get out of an app, scrolling through a list of files or a database.

Also in this series:

About Dave McIntyre

Wine columnist for The Washington Post, co-founder of DrinkLocalWine.com, and blogger at Dave McIntyre's WineLine (dmwineline.com).
This entry was posted in Uncategorized, Wine and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Spicing up your wine life: Keep a Journal

  1. CellarTracker, the he unofficial wine inventory software of the Wine Cumudgeon. Really easy to use, and most of the wines you’d ever drink are already in the data base.

  2. Allen Clark says:

    I like the CellarTracker concept, which I’ve followed from the time it was little more than that, but I’m not enamored of the execution. Hasn’t tempted me away from the simple two-spreadsheet Excel file I keep for both my cellar and tasting notes (two birds with one stone and all that). After enjoying a bottle, I literally just cut and paste the cellar entry (row) into the tasting notes sheet, writing over the location field with the note. Works. And I’ve used various voice recorders for about 20 yrs. now for walkaround tastings (awkward to hold a pen, paper, and a glass in two hands). Not hard to transcribe, though I really should look into voice recognition someday. Nearing 20,000 notes now.

  3. Tom Riley says:

    I’ve got a small Moleskin, like the one pictured, for nights out, but use a similar, handmade journal with a cool leather tie that my daughter picked up during a summer trip to Florence when taking notes at home. I’ve got wine notes going back years but they are haphazard and not as consistent as I’d like; getting them all typed up is a yearly grail that inevitably remains hidden in the mists of time. And, while I love Cellartracker for my wine cellar’s inventory, I don’t think I’ve put two notes in there since I began using it a few years ago.

    All the best,

    Tom Riley
    Alameda, CA
    The Grape Belt — thegrapebelt.wordpress.com

  4. Pingback: Spicing up your wine life: Explore new frontiers | Dave McIntyre's WineLine

  5. Pingback: Spicing up your wine life: Drink local | Dave McIntyre's WineLine

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