"Complex deep black fruits with aromas of black cherry, cassis, black tea, cedar, cigar box, cocoa, and baking spices with gripping tannins for structure and weight." Or something like that. So reads the website description of the 2013 Cloisonne Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which is probably the best bottle of its kind in the store right now. While I haven't actually tasted the wine I will take the word of the young man who sold it to me and I'll assume the verbiage above is at least mostly accurate.
If the truth be known, whenever I read a wine description like that, I'm lucky if I taste half of what they're talking about. Actually most of the above was about the wine's aroma and I'm even worse in that area than I am with taste. I take consolation by reminding myself that my tasting odometer has serviced me well for the past thirty-five years, meaning I have tasted so many California Cabs I can probably guess the flavor profile without even tasting the wine, which is what I'm basically doing with Cloisonne.
The 2012 Turris Chianti Classico is different. I tasted it last week with the importer and couldn't get it into the store quick enough to satisfy my desires. The wine is per-r-fect. At their website they are less about the verbiage - "elegant red fruits (dark cherries and plum) dried herbs and spices" - and more about what matters with European wine - "high acidity, balanced tannins, persistent finish", i.e., it's a food wine. What I lack in taste buds and olfactory acumen I compensate for with appreciation for balance and texture in the mouth, which I guess reflect both my sense of touch and my cognitive faculties.
Have I mentioned my red-green color blindness yet?
What I'm getting at here is that wine appreciation doesn't have to be strictly by the book. One of my favorite old bumper stickers was "Question Authority" and with regard to wine tasting, to me that means, believe in your own palate. Inevitably, if there is an opinionated outspoken "expert" at any wine event, that individual can ruin the experience for many of the rest of us who have our own experience. And as for the wine descriptions in print, I'm not so sure that a lot of that isn't just creative writing. In my opinion the same goes for jazz music critics, by the way.
My Five Senses is a children's book I read to my preschool grandchildren. They love it and gobble it up like the little sponges they are. They have yet to develop inhibitions and fears concerning correctness. If the truth be known, us old wine guys still get apprehensive when tasting with others. No one wants to be corrected. We all want approval. We just need to take a lesson from the kids and believe in ourselves.