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Old 01-07-2014, 07:19 AM   #21
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Not a great fan of beer, but I did a study (no really I did) to educate myself a few years ago. I'd say the differences in beers is greater then the differences in wines, my opinion. The difference between a light lager and a double IPA is more dramatic to me than between a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet. The difference between a wheat beer and a stout is greater than between a Reisling and a Syrah. Maybe it's just me, but beers seem easier to note differences than wines.
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Old 01-07-2014, 07:41 AM   #22
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IF you like wine to begin with, what do you think?

Wine tasting is bullshit. Here's why.
I'd say the article is just like it's subject. There is some truth and a lot of bs.
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Old 01-07-2014, 07:43 AM   #23
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I can tell a lot of difference between one bottle of wine and another in general terms of type and quality. And I definitely have a WOW reaction to some wines and a negative or ho-hum reaction to others. But I have not seen a consistent match between price and quality. Yeah, often a $50 bottle of wine will beat a $10 bottle but not always and usually not to a degree that merits the price (for me). Nevertheless, I continue to buy random bottles of $10-15 wines that have gotten good reviews to see if I like them. Some I do and some I don't. I have been very happy with several of Costco's Kirkland Brand wines. They have it bottled for them. Their buyer gets fantastic deals from producers and has become a force in the market. She is self taught (used to do clothes or something).

I do believe some people have very refined palates and can distinguish a lot of features about wine that totally escape me. There is a guy at my local wine store that will point me to particular sale wines that are consistently high quality.
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Old 01-07-2014, 08:31 AM   #24
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I've always thought that wine tasting was just a respectable way for friends to go out and get drunk.
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Old 01-07-2014, 09:06 AM   #25
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No beer connoisseur here, but to say a bottle of Chimay or Duvel is the same as Budweiser or Heineken is blasphemy.
I don't think anyone said that. But if they did, I'm with ya! One could argue that Budweiser is "good" or maybe even "exellent" for what it is: an american light lager. If you like that style, then great. One might get "the same enjoyment" from a Bud as one of those Belgians, but even if one held their nose while drinking them, they'd almost certainly say "they are not the same"!

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Not a great fan of beer, but I did a study (no really I did) to educate myself a few years ago. I'd say the differences in beers is greater then the differences in wines, my opinion. The difference between a light lager and a double IPA is more dramatic to me than between a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet. The difference between a wheat beer and a stout is greater than between a Reisling and a Syrah. Maybe it's just me, but beers seem easier to note differences than wines.
Agreed. The pallet of the beer brewer is giant!

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I know very little about wine, but as a professional beer judge with about a quarter century's experience, I would say it's partly a matter of your equipment (supertasters are in a class by themselves), partly how much practice you put in (the fun part), partly your understanding of the production process, and frankly, partly your command of the specialized vocabulary used.
True about to vocabulary. It's intimidating to step into a realm, like wine tasting, or beer tasting, or even something like sailing, where if the wrong phraseology is uttered, all respect is lost, hehe.

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I know I'm in awe of some of the old timers I judge with at events like GABF. They've been doing it daily for many decades, and make people like me (who are merely good judges) almost ashamed of ourselves. Regular folks are absolutely right to think they're missing something when a beer (or wine) snob starts talking, but it really has little to do with how much enjoyment they can get (or not get) from a drink.
You judged at GABF? I was afraid my analytical self would push out the enjoyment side, which is why I didn't go for this last round of BJCP testing; I'm not sure I trust myself to turn that off when I just want to "have a beer". But some day, maybe.
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Old 01-07-2014, 09:26 AM   #26
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I do happen to like the $8-$10 bottles better than the $2.00 stuff, but once it goes over $10, I can't tell the difference between the $10.00 wine and the $100 wine. And I'm glad. If I started to really enjoy the $100 wine, I'd have to work longer to add to the retirement reserves.
Interesting. I often can't taste the difference between a $5 bottle and a $15 bottle, but give me a $50+ bottle (one really worth the price) and I can taste the difference. There are so many interesting nuances in the more expensive wine. Alas, I can rarely afford a $50+ bottle.
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Old 01-07-2014, 09:35 AM   #27
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You judged at GABF?
Nearly every year since 2002. It's a LOT of fun!

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I'm not sure I trust myself to turn that off when I just want to "have a beer".
In part, a very reasonable concern. My friends have sometimes had a good laugh at my expense when I hear the server recite their so-called beer list at a restaurant and then decide on a glass of water.
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Old 01-07-2014, 09:46 AM   #28
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Does Trader Joe's charge more for shipping in some states?

In Minnesota it's Three Buck Chuck - we usually buy the Pinot Grigio by the case - can't beat the price and we think it's pretty decent. Guess maybe we are in the non-discriminating group.
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Old 01-07-2014, 09:52 AM   #29
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I don't think anyone said that. But if they did, I'm with ya! One could argue that Budweiser is "good" or maybe even "exellent" for what it is: an american light lager. If you like that style, then great. One might get "the same enjoyment" from a Bud as one of those Belgians, but even if one held their nose while drinking them, they'd almost certainly say "they are not the same"!
In case people get me wrong, I drink lager a lot more often than Belgian beer. The cost may have something to do with that, but on a hot summer day, a lager hits the spot while a strong beer could hit you with a punch to send you staggering if you consume enough to quench the thirst. I draw the line at light beer though.

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Agreed. The pallet of the beer brewer is giant!
The beer maker has a lot more latitude. The vintner is stuck with just grapes!

But, but, but the cook has the whole world open to him. Look how different dishes are prepared over the world. That's why I am into food more than drinks.
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Old 01-07-2014, 09:56 AM   #30
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Is There Really A Taste Difference Between Cheap and Expensive Wines? - Forbes

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The wines were actually the same white wine, one of which had been tinted red with food coloring. But that didn’t stop the experts from describing the “red” wine in language typically used to describe red wines. One expert praised its “jamminess,” while another enjoyed its “crushed red fruit.” Not a single one noticed it was actually a white wine.
Cheap Wine vs. Expensive Wine: Can You Really Tell The Difference?

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There are two lessons to be learned from this. The first is that wine drinking is a subjective art. The second? Don't judge a wine by its price. (All the more reason to get out there and try some new wines, right?)
Wine-tasting: it's junk science | Life and style | The Observer

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His studies have irritated many figures in the industry. "They say I'm full of bullshit but that's OK. I'm proud of what I do. It's part of my academic background to find the truth.''
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Old 01-07-2014, 10:04 AM   #31
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I've always thought that wine tasting was just a respectable way for friends to go out and get drunk.

Ding, Ding, Ding!

We have a winner
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Old 01-07-2014, 10:20 AM   #32
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This is a fun blog: CostcoWineBlog.com - Reviews of wines found at Costco

Most Costcos carry an impressive wine selection at terrific prices. And guess what? You don't have to have a membership to buy wine in Costco in most states. Just tell them at the door you are there to buy wine.

This fall we tasted a Rioja under $10 that was one of the last bottles available. It was one of those WOW!!! wines. When I looked it up on the Internet I found that it was the rage all summer, but when I finally discovered it - all taken!

$18 per bottle is our usual limit for wine, but we're delighted to find nice wines under $10/11 and we often do.

I'll make some exceptions for some of our favorites from the Pacific NW. There I'm reluctant to go above $25 a bottle. Fortunately there are plenty of truly great ones in the $18-$25 range. But they have to be ordered as they aren't carried locally for us. We wait for end of year discounts and specials on shipping. Sometimes Valentine's day specials. Dec-Feb is also the only time it's cold enough to have wine delivered to us in South Texas.

I've tasted a few in the $45 to $60 range, and there have been some terrific ones. But since DH and I drink wine casually (as opposed to serving them at some event), we have bought only a couple at those prices. And they are still in the cellar!

There are plenty of wines over $60, but we don't even bother!
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Old 01-07-2014, 10:28 AM   #33
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There is a lot of BS in that article as well. For example, where he says:

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Exhibit B: Expert wine critics can't distinguish between red and white wines
Total BS. If you read the study itself, that is not what was tested at all and was not the conclusion. The article gives the impression that wine experts could not tell the difference between a Cabernet and a Chardonnay.

What the study indicated was, if you hand a wine expert a glass of red wine, they evaluate it in terms of a red wine. This really isn't any big surprise, and has a scientific backing as well. I've read (and I believe it to be true from my own experience), that even very experienced tasters can only focus on about 3 flavors at once. So if what you are tasting is complex, with 7 different flavors, you may be drawn to 3 of those seven, and another person to a different 3. But if you mention one of your flavors to the other, they will often pick up on that flavor (and one of their three will fade to the background). So handed a glass of red wine, you focus on the things you associate with a red wine and note them. And those would likely be different from what you would focus on with a white wine. So it isn't surprising to me at all that a white wine colored red would be judged differently from the same wine judged as a white - the judges expectations are different.

As an extreme illustration, imagine I told you you were going to partake in a blind taste test of Chocolate Mousse, but I gave you a taste of sauerkraut. You'd spit it out and say yuck! But if I told you you were tasting sauerkraut (assuming you like sauerkraut as I do), you'd savor it and try to evaluate all those sauer-kraut-y flavors. So in one case the sauerkraut was 'yucky', and in another it had a 'nice balance of sharpness, salt and vegetable'. Does that mean you can't tell the difference between Chocolate Mousse and sauerkraut?! Of course not. It means that in one case you tried to judge the sauerkraut in terms of Chocolate Mousse.

As a less extreme example, if someone asks me to evaluate a Stout they brewed, I'll evaluate it as a Stout. If the ask me to evaluate their Cascadian Dark Ale, which may be as black as a stout, but a very different flavor profile (hoppy, no/little roast), I'll evaluate that as a CDA. You evaluate based on expectations.



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... I know I'm in awe of some of the old timers I judge with at events like GABF. ....
You judged at GABF? I was afraid my analytical self would push out the enjoyment side, which is why I didn't go for this last round of BJCP testing; I'm not sure I trust myself to turn that off when I just want to "have a beer". But some day, maybe.
Judging at GABF is the big time all right, very impressive. It's funny though, I don't enjoy formal beer judging at all. Our club members kept trying to get me to study for and take the BJCP exam, claiming I had the palate for it (it takes a lot of study though). I do enjoy it in a more informal setting, in our club we sometimes go through the BJCP score sheet on some beers a member brewed, maybe along a commercial example. That's fun, and we learn a lot. But I have sat in with an experienced judge at our sanctioned competition when we were short of judges, and I hated it. I just can't come up with descriptors for what I'm tasting, and I feel pressure since someone paid an entry fee to have their beer judged, they should get proper feedback. But a lot of people enjoy it.

Cheers! -ERD50
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Old 01-07-2014, 10:57 AM   #34
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I think the enjoyment of food and drink is very subjective. It varies from person to person, and even with one person, it changes with the occasion and his mood too. Can one overanalyze it? And often, unless I taste two things side by side I cannot compare them. My memory of the taste or flavor of something I had in the past is very poor, so it does not allow me to compare the wine I had last week to something I am having now. So I often do not bother. Just pour it and enjoy it for what it is. And I usually do fine with wines less than $10/bottle.
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Old 01-07-2014, 11:23 AM   #35
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I find wine tastes very different depending on how long the bottle has been left open & what I've eaten just before the sip.

I try to open a bottle (even inexpensive ones) & pour out a glass (or the whole bottle into a jug) at least an hour before we start drinking. I also need to eat some starch - a cracker or piece of bread - to get red wine to taste good to me. Of late, if I eat cured meats, red wine tastes metallic afterwards. Wine also tastes terrible if I have just brushed my teeth.

I think you have to know what the wine taster ate just before they rated the wine!
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Old 01-07-2014, 11:27 AM   #36
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I used to wonder about wine tasting, I'm not sure now.

Watch the movie: Somm

It's about 4 guys studying for the Master Sommelier exam. Great documentary movie.

Watch the trailer. These guys know wine.
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Old 01-07-2014, 11:35 AM   #37
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As someone who drinks mostly spirits (duh) I can say that I've had this argument many times and I always say that spirits are the only category of alcohol where paying substantially more generally assures you better quality product (up to a certain, practical level as well) and is worthwhile.

ie: a decent craft beer is definitely better than Budweiser but the price difference isn't orders of magnitude higher. However, an expensive aged rum is sublime while cutrate rum in jugs that tastes like gasoline should only be used to treat wounds...
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Old 01-07-2014, 11:45 AM   #38
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After reading some time ago that, in a blind tasting, people could not even distinguish whites from reds, DW and I did an experiment on our own.

3 reds (cabernet sauvignon, merlot, zinfandel), 3 whites (chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling) - all in the $10-$15 range. We were blindfolded and the samples were randomly presented to the taster. Distinguishing reds from whites was fairly easy for both of us. But while we both also got the varietals right I can honestly say that there was some guessing going on. The riesling and cabernet were easily recognized, but we had to go through a process to nail the others. I am pretty sure that we would not be able to distinguish varietals in a complex blend.

Next test would be trying to distinguish between a cheap wine and a more expensive one. We bought some really cheap wine at whole foods once (<$4 a bottle IIRC) and it was clearly disgusting. But once we get to the $10 price point, we rarely seem to find a bad bottle of wine.
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Old 01-07-2014, 11:53 AM   #39
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As someone who drinks mostly spirits (duh) I can say that I've had this argument many times and I always say that spirits are the only category of alcohol where paying substantially more generally assures you better quality product (up to a certain, practical level as well) and is worthwhile.
I agree for the most part - but some can, some can't. DW, scotch is her drink of choice, did a blind tasting with three (all Balvenie) scotches, two mid-level and one twice the price. She missed all three. She (then angrily) tested me, and I got all three correct, even though I rarely drink scotch anymore. I guess I don't have to buy good scotch for her anymore...
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Old 01-07-2014, 12:05 PM   #40
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I drink Cognac much more than other spirits, and without fail the more expensive stuff is better, albeit with diminishing returns as anything else. A bottle of XO at $150 is definitely far superior to one VS at $30. However, if I do not pay attention, I may not be able to tell that XO from a VSOP at $50-60.

When in my 40s, I said to myself that at my 50th birthday, I would get a $1500 XO bottle for the occasion. I do not even remember if I celebrated that birthday at all, let alone spending that money. I am thinking that I may do that on my 60th, and pour it for the drinkers in my family.

PS. As a cheapskate, I usually reserve my XO for special occasions. And as I do not really drink that much, my wife just raided my cabinet and pulled out 4 unopened bottles. As they are all in gift packs, they must be bought as gifts for me as I do not recall buying any ever! My wife must have bought them for me, and not even she recalled it.
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