Books: Beyond Flavour, Nick Jackson

This is a unique book. As it describes itself on the back cover, it’s the first systematic approach to blind tasting through the lens of wine structure. It’s really well written, and it’s certainly a book a lot of people seem to have been waiting for.

Nick Jackson, who recently gained his Master of Wine qualification, has written this book for people who are in the same position he was: facing daunting blind-tasting exams. Tasting blind is difficult, and in an exam setting doubly so.

What do you do to prepare? Taste as many wines as you can, and put as many markers on your taste-scape as possible. But while this sort of tasting is important, it’s even better if you have a theoretical framework to guide and inform your tasting.

This is what Jackson gives in this pithily-written book. His stroke of genius, though, isn’t simply to produce another book trying to describe the aromas and tastes of each wine style, place and grape variety. Instead, he seeks to forge a new way of looking at wine: how it feels in the mouth.

No one has really done this before in any sort of systematic way, and Jackson has done it really well. He’s also illustrated some of these ideas in terms of helpful schema of how the wine feels.

By its very nature, a book trying to sum up the taste of the world’s wines in 168 pages is going to end up generalizing a bit. It’s impossible not to. But I think this will serve as a very helpful theoretical framework to help people taste blind better. It won’t make you a genius taster straight away, but it should help focus the tasting efforts of anyone looking to learn about wine, and especially for anyone sitting a blind tasting exam.

This is the sort of book you read, and then you think – why has no one done this before?

Available direct from Amazon.