May 19, 2008

Tasting Note Innovation – Wine Recognition System

By Andrew Barrow In Articles

Johnny Jonas' wine recognition system

Innovation in wine tasting notes is a frequent topic across the wine blogs; little actually seems to develop with a universal attraction and most stick to the tired and tested written description refering to a wines flavour, length and so on. There is an article in this months Drinks Business that should interest all, sadly I can’t find the article on their website.

Entitled ‘An Artist’s Palate’ the piece details the work by artist Johnny Jonas. I have a hard enough time keeping up with the luminaries of the wine world let alone the sphere of portrait artists but Jonas has painted such people as the Queen Mother, a Field Marshall and sundry parlimentarians.

He has also developed a ‘wine recognition system’ that displays a wines flavour though graphical representation. He even refers to each finished piece as a ‘portrait’, which strikes me as typical artist pompousness but he has managed to encompass the strength of a wines aroma and whether the wine is soft and rounded or crisp and acidic.

The system is now refined and patented worldwide; not convinced myself that it is easy to ‘see’ the wine as you can in, say, a photograph but then the information being imparted is more specific than a feeling or mood invoked by a picture. The final wine ‘portraits’ are quite complex but the premise is to display flavour in a graphical form which they certainly do. There is a ‘scientific’ overtone to the finished image.

The Drinks Business article finishes with an interesting thought:

If Jonas’s thinking is just too blue-sky for us busy Westerners, consider for a moment the enormous potential of the Chinese wine market where people have been writing in ‘pictures’ for centuries.”

  1. Philip James May 19, 2008

    I think this is truly excellent. I think the linear plotting of dimensions like acidity and tannin isnt the most intuitive or remember-able, but the shape descriptors are utterly perfect in the way they convey the underlying information: sharp vs rounded corners, and the wave profile makes it easy to imagine the wine’s development in the mouth.
    PS. You have the funniest captcha system i’ve ever seen

  2. Arthur May 20, 2008

    Intersting. Potentially useful – depending on targe audience.
    Is this free-use or is it patented/trademarked?

  3. Andrew May 20, 2008

    It is patented, Arthur.

  4. Arthur May 20, 2008

    Yeah, I missed that on my initial reading. I caught it after I already clicked “submit”.
    This concept reminds me of some helpful shorthand used to graphically notate laboratory results in patient chards. However, this gets a bit busy (and maybe confusing) for some.
    I’ve been trying to come up with something like this – but even more intuitive. The challenge is making it informative without it becoming too cluttered.
    I have to defer to the Geek Box used (and created?) by Josh Hermsmeyer of

  5. Nancy May 20, 2008

    Wow. I’m sorry to say, I would find these geometric shapes incomprehensible and a complete turn off. Why not simply use streaks of color instead? Vivid hues for full body, thin streaks for acidity, and so on? Hey — should I patent that?

  6. Andrew May 20, 2008

    I must admit you do have to give them more than a cursory glance – but then there are 6 or so different aspects to encapsulate in one symbol.

  7. edward May 23, 2008

    It’s very clever, but I wonder if it is too idiosyncratic to be of much use. I guess one very good thing about it, is it forces you to think about individual components of the wine in question. A limitation, is that very soon many wines start to have a similar pictogram. I would imagine a riesling would look like a sauvignon blanc which would look like a semillon.


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