Like most reasonably cute but not beautiful children who evolved into stereotypically awkward adolescents and emerged as reputable adults, I've wondered, from time to time, how I turned out the way I did. Immersing myself in studies of developmental theorists got me nowhere. Nor did talking to my mother ("You were always fine, dear").
Then, Helen Turley came into my life and made it all clear: The evolution of a human being and a wine are pretty much preordained. For a wine, it begins in the barrel, the cradle of Cabernet, Chardonnay and other great wines.
Barrel tasting calls for sampling a wine at various stages of its very early life, well before it is bottled, and making a judgment as to its future development and eventual worth. It's something that wine merchants and critics do on a regular basis, projecting to the wine-buying public how they believe the final product will turn out.