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  Editorial Issue 176, September 2018   
The Beauty of Sensorial TastingThe Beauty of Sensorial Tasting  Contents 
Issue 175, Summer 2018 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 177, October 2018

The Beauty of Sensorial Tasting


 It all started with my interest in ancient Chinese philosophy and martial arts practice, Méi Huā Qun and Tài J Qun. At that time, in Italy and in the so called western world, any Chinese martial art was simply and generically called Kung Fu, (more properly, Gōng Fu), although it would have been more correct to say Wŭ Shù. More specifically, it all started with my interest and passion for tea. The precious leaves of Camellia Sinensis, in fact, are mentioned in many books and writings of ancient China, a plant – and a beverage – having deeply marked the culture and philosophy of those lands and their people, including martial arts. I, in constant search of what, in terms of tea, my country, Italy, could have never been able to give me – it was the first half of the 1980's – was forced to look elsewhere in order to quench my thirst of knowing more about tea.


 

 There was not Internet yet – or, better said, the famous telematic network already existed for many years, but it was not yet the mass phenomenon that it has become today – therefore establishing and finding contacts was not exactly easy or at the reach of a click. All I could do was using the phone and sending letters everywhere in the world – many, many letters – and hoping someone replied. You are probably wondering what ancient Chinese philosophy, martial arts and tea have to do with wine. Certainly, for the majority, it has nothing at all or just a little to do with it, for me, to tell the truth, a lot. It was in fact thanks to my spasmodic interest in tea – the continuous search and tasting of tea of increasingly value and rarity – to educate me to sensorial analysis. A discipline requiring – among the many – commitment, study, passion, strictness, method, concentration, infinite practice: just like Wŭ Shù or any other martial art, with no exception.

 Tea sensorial tasting is – in many aspects – more complex and vast than that of wine because it introduces elements totally unrelated to the beverage of Bacchus. It is not my intention to diminish the greatness of wine – in its entirety and for all that it represents – since its sensorial tasting is obviously neither trivial nor simple, but I think tea is definitely more complex. I admit, however, the years spent practicing and studying tea sensorial tasting have greatly determined the way I taste wine. The same can be said for all the other things that are part of my sensorial interests, including beer, coffee, extra-virgin olive oil, cheese, spirits, food and cooking, more generally, life as well as the senses that are part of life and make it alive. An infinite journey giving the ephemeral illusion of knowledge and in which, in reality, a growing, desolating and unbridgeable ignorance is always and skillfully camouflaged, most of the times rendered invisible by an unsuspected, silly and pathetic pride.

 Sensorial tasting – of wine, of anything else capable of stimulating emotions and senses – strongly determines what we perceive in a more or less conscious way and what it represents for ourselves in the inner of us. This evidently is a choice – conscious or not – clearly determining the way we consider or listen to wine and things. I am aware not everyone is interested in listening to wine or things – moreover, it is so exquisitely linked to our concept of knowledge and curiosity – and for some, the gratification of drinking a glass is more than enough. Including the fact for some it is even enough celebrating oneself through wine and what one wants it to say. These are in fact choices, including the choice, so to speak, of being happy with just so little. Sensorial tasting, of course, is not an exact science because it is inevitably conditioned by the subject performing it, by ability and experience, sensitivity and training of senses, psychological and intellectual attitude, as well as culture, memory and talent. And honesty. The honesty of sincerely listening to one's own senses without allowing alien stimuli and entanglements to spoil them.

 Sensorial tasting is a journey to beauty. During this journey, you do not always meet what makes you think about the “beautiful” – and here I specifically refer to faults – but it is also thanks to what you consider ugly if you get a better understanding of beauty. After all, one can consider something as good or beautiful – including wine – when one recognizes it as such. This presupposes, in fact, the critical exercise of comparing what is, or we believe, ugly with what we consider beautiful. Without the knowledge or existence of what we consider ugly, it would not be possible to define and recognize what it is beautiful for us. After all, a world made only of good wines would be even boring. A utopia, of course, but also an unattainable perfection because it is impossible to achieve it objectively because it is strongly conditioned by the subjective perception in each of us. Beauty is part of culture: for everyone it takes and represents a distinct and different form of expression, therefore unquestionable.

 Sensorial tasting is also the beauty of a ritual – a ceremony – which is always repeated with the same suggestion and, in some respects, mystery. I refer, of course, to sensorial tasting done by means of the so called “blind method”, that is without any prior knowledge of what it has been poured in the glass. Because the beauty of sensorial tasting is just this: being in front of a stranger and being forced – so to speak – to watch, observe, listen to it, understand and deal with it, trying to discover and unfold its secrets, its story and those of the one who produced it, its land. An experience in which you can never be superficial: attention and commitment are the key to everything. It is a never ending journey and, probably, without return, because when you listen to the wine through sensorial tasting, you will not come back and look at it as you did before. This is also the beauty of sensorial tasting: the endless story of a timeless book, in which what really matters is the emotion of the new being renewed, the beauty of feeling the reassuring sense leading to new horizons. And this is absolutely true for everything, not just wine.

Antonello Biancalana



   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 176, September 2018   
The Beauty of Sensorial TastingThe Beauty of Sensorial Tasting  Contents 
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