While there are a variety of wine tasting journals available on the market, most don’t allow for much personalization. We have a couple of favorite wine apps on our iPhone, however taking written notes on wines using a fine journal and a nice pen is relaxing and mindful (or should we say wineful?) Keeping a personalized wine journal is a great hobby for wine enthusiasts. And wine journals (and accessories!) are a great gift for the wine lover who has it all!
Why a Wine Tasting Journal?
A wine tasting journal is simply a place for recording observations and key aspects of the tasting experience to reflect upon later. They can be used and enjoyed by wine journals can be used and enjoyed by wine novices, serious enthusiasts, and wine professionals alike.
Students preparing for an exam through the Court of Master Sommeliers or Wine and Spirit Education trust take detailed notes on wines both to practice tasting notes and to commit to memory key points that will help them in theory or tasting exams. Studies show that writing things down is much more impactful than typing into a smartphone or laptop.
Why not use a Wine Tasting App?
If you’re just getting started in taking wine tasting notes or want to take some quick tasting notes on the go, then yes, the apps available at vivino.com and cellartracker.com are great.
But there’s just something to be said for pen and paper. If you’re like the rest of us, when you take out the iPhone to take tasting notes, it won’t take much for you to wander from your intent, either reading other users notes or going off the App and checking the weather forecast. Many people who prefer to take notes in a journal are looking for a chance to unplug and to discreetly take notes without the glow of a smartphone.
About Traditional Wine Tasting Journals
Traditional wine tasting journals are made by a variety of publishing houses and wine bloggers. Many wine lovers find that these “out of the box” wine journals have both positive and negative aspects. Below are some examples of traditional wine tasting journals.
The Moleskine Passion Journal:
The Write it Down Wine Journal:
Positive points about traditional wine tasting journals:
Great templates for enthusiasts to enter in wine names, vintage, price, aromas and flavors, and general topics like where it was consumed, with whom and with what food
Wine tasting terms for beginners
Wine references, like vintage ratings, maps and classic producers.
Downsides to traditional wine tasting journals:
Unattractive cover design (e.g. dated, poor photo, corny phrase)
Heavy (e.g. leather, can’t take it with you on wine travels)
Looks too much like a wine journal (not discreet - you’ll be ‘that person’ in the tasting room)
Wine pairing basics or other ‘notes’ that are not of interest, adding bulk/waste to the journal
Ink bleeding through on ‘cheap’ paper
Not enough space to affix wine labels
In case traditional wine tasting journals leave you feeling like you are “painting by the numbers,” this blog outlines a DIY wine journal package and methodology you may find useful.
The Customizable Wine Tasting Journal Package
Let’s look at the components of a personalized wine tasting journal.
The Leuchtturn Journal
We have been big fans of Leuchtturn 1917 journals since our first trip to Germany over 20 years ago.
Here’s what we love about this journal:
There are bullets instead of lines. These bullets allow writers to draw, write, or paste in their content without the visual deterrent of lines or the emptiness of a blank page
It has an index, and you can customize it! We’re amazed that many wine journals don’t come with the option to create an index before jumping right into the note-taking.
The journal lays flat - many leather wine journals don’t. This creates a nice looking spine after year(s) of use. We like how ours looks on a bookshelf!
There’s a classy label one can affix to the front of the journal when you’re done using it.
There’s a sturdy envelope in the back of the journal to hold winery brochures, menus, wine label remover sheets, and maps until one gets the chance to affix the info into the journal.
The journals are robust. We’ve used one journal for a year during regional and global travel, on a boat, and bouncing around in a bag.
The jornal is thin and slips in neatly next to one’s laptop or large tablet (8.85 x 12.4 inches).
These journals cost less than typical leather journals.
The Staedtler Pen
No one likes writing with a cheap pen, especially when taking tasting notes. You want a pen with a fine tip that writes smoothly and is a pleasure to hold.
The Staedtler Pen
These pens are ergonomic with a triangular shape and are very light in the hand. The ink dries more quickly than gel pens. They don’t smear, bleed or feather.
The only downside we’ve noticed is that sometimes the lighter colors are not as ‘bright’ on paper as some would like. We’ve noticed over the years that we use the black pen and the darker colors the most.
The Wine Label Lift
Some wine enthusiasts love to keep wine labels for future reference (as sometimes it can be hard to remember the details of wine(s) the next day!). As you’ll see in our blog on wine label removal, this can can be done by removing the wine label from the bottle or simply taking a good photo of the label. We do this either through taking photos of the wine labels or actually going through the motions of removing the wine label from the bottle.
Our preferred method for removing wine labels is utilizing a wine label lift. These are simply adhesive films that one adheres to the bottle then removes - extracting the label from the bottle. The label can then be inserted into the journal easily. While they don’t work 100% of the time, there are some tips/tricks online for increasing the likelihood of success when removing a label from the wine bottle.
We really like that these wine label removers slip easily into the envelope in the back of the journal for storage until needed. Once the label is removed from the bottle, the journaler has the option of adhering it to the wine journal as a memento.
Document Edges for Maps, Menus, and Winery Information
In addition to the wine labels themselves, some wine enthusiasts love to collect momentos from the meal, tasting, trip, or bar where the wine was consumed. For those purposes we love these document edges in classic colors for adhering such momentos to the journal.
Like the wine label removers, these adhesive corner pieces can also slip into the back of the journal for future use.
If You’re Gifting the Wine Journal Package
If you’re gifting the wine journal package, traditional gift wrap will work just fine. However, if you know a wine lover with a milestone birthday, anniversary or promotion, you may want to consider gifting the journal and accessories with a wine book or simply a bottle of wine. To make the gift extra special, place the journal and accessories in this covetable premium leather wine bag.
Additional Resources for the Personalized Wine Journal
If you or your wine tasting journal recipient is fairly new to making entries in a wine journal, here are a few resources for different approaches to recording tasting notes:
Court of Master Sommeliers: For those who watched the SOMM movies and want to learn the deductive tasting grid demonstrated in the movies, this is the place to go to find the free grid pdf.
Wine and Spirit Educational Trust: For those who prefer a more analytical approach to wine tasting, the WSET has courses available to wine enthusiasts and wine professionals, where one can learn the WSET systematic approach to tasting.
Also check out our article on the Wine Tasting Grid and how to set up a wine tasting in your home.
Finally, if you join a wine club or wine subscription, these services will often send attractive, informational cards that detail the qualities of your favorite wines. These make great wine journal entries!
You can be as simple or as elaborate as you like in your wine taking notes, including as many or as few details as you wish.
Additional Accessories for the Personalized Wine Journal
Here are a few more items that wine enthusiasts might enjoy with their personalized journal:
Wine Aroma Wheel
With over 800 aromatic compounds to explore, Dr. Ann Noble, winemaker and professor emeretis of U.C. Davis, came up with this wine aroma wheel that’s been used for decades.
The popular bullet journal methodology helped us escape from the rigidity of templated journals.
Maximizing the Personalized Wine Tasting Journal Experience
For wine lovers, journaling about the experience of each bottle is an invaluable resource for study and exam prep. It does not all need to be serious though! Sometimes one simply wants to keep their unique tasting experiences separate from other journals. Benefits of enthusiast documentation include watching your tastes and preferences grow and change.
There are disadvantages to pre-printed wine journals - format, design and flexibility are limited. The simplicity of a Personalized Wine Tasting Journal means that the journal will never go out of style. At the core it is about the content and what you want to document for yourself or to share with fellow wine lovers.