‘Tasting Like a Pro’ in Paso Robles

From ‘Fresh Cut Garden Hose’ to ‘Wet Dog’, noted wine writer Matt Kettmann will help unravel some tasting mysteries at the Fourth Annual Garagiste Festival November 8th

 By Melanie Webber

In the documentary Somm, fresh-cut garden hose is used as an aroma descriptor for a wine by one of the Master Sommelier candidates.  Call me crazy, but I have a hose and a garden and yet would still be challenged to recognize that aroma in a glass, let alone in real life… and it is just this kind of esoteric silliness that causes some to disdain what can, in fact, be a fun and enlightening process for understanding wine.  In fact, until I actually smelled ‘wet dog’ on the nose of a wine, I would not have believed that descriptor made sense any more than fresh cut garden hose does. Yet once you smell ‘wet dog' on the nose of a wine, it smells exactly like that.   Some ‘experts’ say that ‘wet dog’ is indicative of a flaw in the wine, others insist it is a key indicator for TCA (corked wine)…and then there are those that confuse it with positive notes like ‘wet leaves.’  In other words, one man’s wet leaves is another woman’s wet dog! Very confusing… but does it have to be?

The confusion doesn’t end there: how do you know how to judge whether you will like a wine when you are buying it or reading a review about it? What does one make of all those wine scores, which can be equally confusing since no one seems to agree there either? Most wine stores proudly display a wine’s points on the shelf and most consumers assume that anything above an 89 is going to be fabulous. Is that true? How does the inherent subjectivity of tasting play into these points? 

For the answer to these and more questions about wine tasting and scoring, look no further than the 4th annual Garagiste Wine Festival where noted wine writer and critic Matt Kettmann, who covers (and reviews) Central Coast wines for the Wine Enthusiast and the Santa Barbara Independent, will be leading our ‘Taste Like a Pro” seminar on November 8th. Kettmann will take attendees through a blind tasting and offer up tips to enhance the tasting experience for any wine consumer -- whether a newbie or total geek.

Probably no one has tasted more Central Coast wines than Matt, who has been writing about wine for over a decade and samples about 150 Central Coast wines a month. An early champion of Central Coast artisan or ‘garagiste’ wines, he has discovered and highlighted the wines of many Paso area winemakers who have poured at the annual Garagiste Wine Festival. This year, festival attendees will have the chance to discover the wines of over 75 garagiste winemakers pouring over 300 different wines during the four day festival, which starts on November 6th.


For more information go to www.garagistefestival.com.