Tips for Chinese wine students from the first ethnic Chinese Master of Wine Jennifer Docherty

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1. Blind tasting

Image © Decanter

Firstly I read very extensively on what I think the wine should taste like. For instance, Michael Schuster has a very good book, that says (things like) ‘Chablis should taste like this’.

I memorised that, then I wrote my own notes: ‘when I was tasting Chablis, it kind of tasted like this’. Those are my ‘hints’ to myself.

Because obviously it would be different for Chinese students who might not understand what a ‘stony flinty’ kind of smell taste as. But if they can write down ‘smells like this for me, and that’s Chablis’, that may help them to better memorising those distinctive flavours.

Besides going to various tastings events on monthly basis, I also tasted with a group of people that didn’t work in the wine industry. They helped me a lot as well, because they came from a different approach.

Every time we would go to have wine in a bar, I would tell my friend to get me a glass of wine and don’t tell me what it is. I never relax, there’s no down time.

Everyone can do it. It’s just practice!

2. Traveling to wine regions

Image: vineyard at Ihringen, Baden, Germany

Trips to wine regions are very important. I know when you’re living in China, it can be difficult to get to the classic European regions.

But you’ll remember more through these trips, as they are a visualisation of what’s happening.

You get to meet the winemaker, and you can ask so many questions. That’s important because you will have your examples of wine producing methods and so on for the exams.

It gives you a better understanding because you can actually see how it’s made from the vineyard all the way to bottling. Some things you just won’t be able to read in a book!

Another suggestion I would like to make is to make full use of the scholarships initiated by wine institutions.

I funded the journeys by myself. Obviously that’s very expensive. But there are actually lots of scholarships there that students can write papers for.

These will not only give you the practice, but also give you a trip away to a wine region. Opportunities are out there.

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