Leading Wine Educator, Speaker, Writer and Researcher
NVWA: Tim, your latest project involves innovative research on how to taste like a genius wine master. Can you tell us a bit about this?
Tim: My project involves mapping the internal tasting strategies of Master Sommeliers and Masters of Wine—top tasters in the industry. By tracking their eye movements and language patterns we’re able to deconstruct how they organize all the data in a glass of wine internally. The end goal of the project is to be able to teach wine more effectively—especially to beginners; to take strategies from top tasters and reduce them so anyone can use them.
NVWA: Would you share something you have learned from this research with our students?
Tim: The most important thing I’ve discovered is that the tasting experience is over 90% visual for practically all of us. Even calibrating the structure in wine—how much acid, alcohol and tannin—is done by some kind of visual tool. Further, that we also represent everything we smell and taste in the glass with internal images based on our own personal memories. The surprising thing is that all these images have structural qualities in terms of their size, location, brightness, color and more in our internal field of vision. If we change any one of the most important qualities of the images our experience of the aroma changes as well.
NVWA: For our students who are currently studying for wine exams, what is one piece of advice you would give to them?
Tim: It’s all about your memory and figuring out how you remember things easily. Most people have some kind of a hobby, be it baseball cards, music or whatever, and they’re able to store an amazing amount of data in their heads without working at it. Then they get to “studying” and “learning” something “academic” and the game changes completely. They struggle to remember things because they’re trying to reinvent the wheel with learning inside their head. Best to figure out your memory strategies and then use them to your advantage. Most people are also visual learners but I’ve found throughout the years that visual memory and stress don’t happily coexist. So I advise students to combine visual memory but to combine it with auditory (asking and answering questions out loud) and even kinesthetic (pointing to places on a map. Finally, I’ve found that using maps of wine regions is probably the best thing you can do.
(The NVWA weighs in here: we are thrilled to hear this from Tim Gaiser because one of our tried and true techniques with students is to draw out regional maps in order to visually place important topographical and other features that will then help with recall at the time of the test.)
You can learn more about Tim Gaiser’s project and his tips on how to taste wine like a pro by visiting Tim Gaiser’s site: http://www.timgaiser.com/.
Food & Wine Pairings
Love to cook? Tim Gaiser provides wine pairings in two must-have books by Molly Stevens, queen of braising and roasting. Finally, there are cookbooks where basic questions are answered. Molly does not assume you know the little things about braising or roasting, and she is not a kitchen snob. Don’t have a roasting tray with a rack to separate the drippings from the roast? Use rolled-up tinfoil.
For more information on Molly Steven’s books (there is no monetary benefit to our leading you to a cookbook sale – we just love the recipes and wine pairings!), visit: http://mollystevenscooks.com/cookbooks/