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-   -   Is wine tasting (quality) BS? (http://www.early-retirement.org/forums/f38/is-wine-tasting-quality-bs-70007.html)

Midpack 01-06-2014 06:31 PM

Is wine tasting (quality) BS?
 
IF you like wine to begin with, what do you think?

Wine tasting is bullshit. Here's why.

Quote:

The human palate is arguably the weakest of the five traditional senses. This begs an important question regarding wine tasting: is it bullshit, or is it complete and utter bullshit?

There are no two ways about it: the bullshit is strong with wine. Wine tasting. Wine rating. Wine reviews. Wine descriptions. They're all related. And they're all egregious offenders, from a bullshit standpoint.
I'd like to believe there are just some people born with a far more acute sense of taste than the rest of us (hopefully all good sommeliers and chefs) and it's not something most of us can develop no matter how hard we try. Unfortunately (fortunately?) we don't have acute taste sense though we enjoy reasonably priced wines.

calmloki 01-06-2014 06:37 PM

Tastes kinda.... red? wine. pretty sure it's wine.

Gumby 01-06-2014 06:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Midpack (Post 1400120)


I'd like to believe there are just some people born with a far more acute sense of taste than the rest of us (hopefully all good sommeliers and chefs) and it's not something most of us can develop no matter how hard we try.

Apparently, that is indeed the case.

Life's Extremes: Supertaster vs. Nontaster | Food Preferences & Picky Eating | Taste Buds & Tongue Receptors | Bitterness Taste Buds & Evolution | LiveScience

NW-Bound 01-06-2014 06:56 PM

I can tell the difference between wine bottles. And I generally classify them into two classes: like or don't like. Most of the wines I have drunk fall into the "Like" class. I guess I am easy. Even in the "Like" class, I would be hard pressed to state my preference of one over another. Tasting two side by side, I can tell they are different, but I would not know why one should be judged better than the other.

Strangely, my preference with food is stronger. It does not mean that I am a true gourmet, just that I know what I like or not more distinctly with food than with wine. Maybe it's because I eat more often than I drink, and learn to do the former at a much earlier age ;), hence have developed a more personalized taste.

audreyh1 01-06-2014 06:59 PM

I do occasionally read wine reviews - but only for an initial guess at how dry or full-bodied an unfamiliar red wine might be. I totally gloss over the abstract adjectives - much of it is indeed nonsensical. And I agree that wines rated between 85 and 95 - well, often you really can't tell that one is superior or inferior, it's super subjective.

For us: wine tasting is not reading a bunch of reviews, it's tasting the wines ourselves. We don't try to describe them. It's more of - I like this, I REALLY like this, nyeh - don't care for it, yuck, it's OK, not bad, etc. Our rating personal system is by assigning a grade.

We recognize certain varietals, styles, and blends - so we are usually comparing between them. A Rioja against another Rioja or Spanish wine from a close by region, etc.

When we go on our of our occasional wine buying "tours" (which pretty much are mostly WA and a little OR every few years), we usually review the wineries that have been recently recognized in the area and read about the wines making the news. We make a list of wineries to visit and wines to try. We already have a list of favorite wineries and wines and wine styles, so this is more just to figure out anything new to add to our list.

Armed with our lists, we visit each winery and taste their wines, making a few notes. We figure out what we like, and what we really like. If the person working the tasting room is good, they'll notice what our tastes are and recommend other wines to try. We've discovered a few favorites this way. We buy some of the wines we really like and prepare for ordering more from home.

BTW - my husband is one of those people with a really discriminating palate. He's a pleasure to cook for. :) He can describe somethings about the wine and notice certain aspects. Me - not so much. I just know if I REALLY like it or not.

Trying wines in the wine tasting room of a winery, there near where the wine is produced, talking to the winemaker or people working for the company - especially if the winery is an old favorite, discovering new things - that is one of the most enjoyable/rewarding of experiences for us.

We still have quite a bit of wine left from our 2011 run. But, before too long......

Also - there are so many great red wines available for under $30, that we don't bother tasting the much more expensive wines ($50 or more).

And we love beer too....

NW-Bound 01-06-2014 07:12 PM

Perhaps that explains why I never had any problem with the stuff that I had to knocked down for colonoscopy preps. I have had two different types, and taking them was simply a non-event. I could not even remember what they were like, except that one was recommended to be mixed with Gatorade. Yet, some people make a big deal out of it. I must have a defective palate and tongue. Or I have ruined them with spicy food.

easysurfer 01-06-2014 07:20 PM

I think it depends who you talk to.

I remember back in my college days and saying "beer is just beer, doesn't matter which brand" then I got some glares from my dorm mates and thought I was gonna get stoned to death :laugh:

sengsational 01-06-2014 07:26 PM

I was told by several folks that I could easily pass the "practical" portion of the BJCP (beer judge certification program) since they heard me describe beers and knew I could taste diacytle and DMS. But I didn't pursue the certification. Maybe once I retire.

At least with beer, there is a whole lot to taste, and there is a huge range, from excellent to crap. That being said, there is a lot of hype at the top...meaning, if you make an excellent beer and the marketing and hype stars align, the beer is worshipped, but there are 5 reasonably priced beers that aer every bit as good. The problem is that once you have tasted one of the hyped beers, you can't untaste it, so in a blind tasting, you make it number 1 because otherwise you're a fool for paying so much for the one you bought.

I'm sure the same thing goes on in the wine world.

NW-Bound 01-06-2014 07:28 PM

No beer connoisseur here, but to say a bottle of Chimay or Duvel is the same as Budweiser or Heineken is blasphemy. I would not stone an offender to death, but 10 lashes on the buttock would be fair. Whether the former are worth the price is open to debate, but to say they are no different is, well, punishable.

chilkoot 01-06-2014 07:38 PM

I've told friends that wine is wasted on me. I'm sure there's a difference between the stuff that goes for $100/bottle and Two-buck Chuck, but I sure couldn't tell what it is.

Throwdownmyaceinthehole 01-06-2014 07:53 PM

We had a few couples over and did a blind wine tasting with 8 Chardonnays, from 5 bucks to 30 bucks, different countries and I provided the published tasting notes where they tried to match them to the wines. It was great fun and a 10 buck chard was the preferred of the group. I drink way too much wine and while there is a big difference in a 6 dollar and a 60 dollar bottle, there is some pretty good wines out there at 12 bucks. Current fav is Joel Gott Zinfandel at 12 bucks.

Ready 01-06-2014 08:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chilkoot (Post 1400156)
I've told friends that wine is wasted on me. I'm sure there's a difference between the stuff that goes for $100/bottle and Two-buck Chuck, but I sure couldn't tell what it is.

+1

My partner buys the two-buck-chuck at Trader Joe's and is perfectly happy with it. Whole Foods was having a sale on wine a few weeks ago and the bottles were $2.49, so we bought a few. He didn't think they tasted as good as the $2.00 stuff and though we wasted fifty cents for no good purpose.

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.

braumeister 01-06-2014 08:07 PM

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.

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.

Surfs_Up 01-06-2014 08:11 PM

Clos, it's not wine, but its close.

Animorph 01-06-2014 08:36 PM

I don't know anything about wine, but I used to do the whole audiophile thing before tinnitus got in the way. Some of that is interest, education, and experience. I sought a level of equipment that worked for me. And there was plenty of BS there too. Like the Tice Clock with its specially trained electrons.

I'm fine with all the wine reviews, and I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. I assume that if I started educating myself about wine I'd start catching on to the basics but may never be all that discriminating. Or care all that much.

robnplunder 01-06-2014 09:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Animorph (Post 1400178)
I don't know anything about wine, but I used to do the whole audiophile thing before tinnitus got in the way. Some of that is interest, education, and experience. I sought a level of equipment that worked for me. And there was plenty of BS there too. Like the Tice Clock with its specially trained electrons.

I was once an audiophile, too. It is like wine tasting when evaluating various set ups. Between $1000 & $10000 set up, you can hear a difference if you know what you are looking for. Is it worth $9000 difference in price? For most, no. But if you got the money and is looking for specific sound in a set up, you pay for it.

Meadbh 01-06-2014 09:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by robnplunder (Post 1400184)
I was once an audiophile, too. It is like wine tasting when evaluating various set ups. Between $1000 & $10000 set up, you can hear a difference if you know what you are looking for. Is it worth $9000 difference in price? For most, no. But if you got the money and is looking for specific sound in a set up, you pay for it.

Last weekend I invited friends back to my place for tea after a social event. I turned on my 1997 Sony 5-CD player, which is inside a cabinet, is hooked to a stereo system and still had Christmas music CDs in it. They liked the sound and asked me if my stereo was a Bose as it sounded pretty good. I replied that it was Kmart, 1986 vintage (it has a turntable and tape decks!!!). So if they can't tell the difference, and I can't tell the difference…….

jetpack 01-06-2014 09:55 PM

Yeah, but what's the good of a $1000 stereo system if you don't like the music being played? That is the basis of much of the trouble with wine. There are a lot of different flavors and varieties, but if you don't like the basis of them, you might not like them.

I've tried making some of my own wine, and have hung out with wine club people. My best wine find was a $7 bottle red (brought to $$$ wine fans and they loved it) who knows.

robnplunder 01-06-2014 10:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jetpack (Post 1400207)
Yeah, but what's the good of a $1000 stereo system if you don't like the music being played? That is the basis of much of the trouble with wine. There are a lot of different flavors and varieties, but if you don't like the basis of them, you might not like them.

I've tried making some of my own wine, and have hung out with wine club people. My best wine find was a $7 bottle red (brought to $$$ wine fans and they loved it) who knows.

Sometimes, the stereo system makes music sound better. Such is the case with my "audiophile" set up. Once I start listening to music through my system, it's hard to turn it off. It's that good. But for others who are not so into music and/or care how it sounds, they could care less.

I must say, I tasted some good wine in my life, be it $10 ones from costco to $60 from a winery. Some are divine regardless of its cheap price tag, and others are just sour grapes so to speak. Regardless of $$$, if it tastes good, enjoy.

MooreBonds 01-06-2014 10:57 PM

I'm not disputing that there can be significant differences between 2 people as far as their taste buds on their tongues are concerned.

However, my issue is whenever I heard someone describe the 'taste' of something.

In reality, 99.9999% of the wide spectrum of sensations we experience are not 'taste', but in fact smell - precisely because, as the OP's referenced article states, there are only 5 distinct senses that our taste buds can pick up on (sweet, sour, bitter, salt, and savory). Anything and everything else is the result of our sensory glands in our throat/nasal cavities having small amounts of vapors rising up in our throats as we consume food and beverages.

Don't believe me? Do what I did as a child when I was forced to eat food that I didn't enjoy (like plain broccoli) - just don't breath through your nose (or physically hold your nostrils closed so no air passes in or out). Or pay attention the next time you are sick with a stuffed up nose, and try to eat something, and notice that it has no "taste", and tastes completely different than when you aren't sick.

When you eat/chew/swallow food, even though you may not be intentionally breathing in or out of your nose, all you need is just the tiniest amount of air pressure differential to waft some food/liquid vapors up to your nasal cavities for a sensation.

And because your nasal cavities have such a broader range of sensing, perhaps those who don't see any difference at all between two buck Chuck and a $1,000 bottle may just not be giving their nasal passages enough of a chance? (or maybe your nasal passages just aren't as sensitive for whatever reason). That's one reason to not be afraid to dip your nose into the wine glass after you swirl it but before you take a sip, so you can start to sense the impending flavors that will be entering your mouth.


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