Time and again we see headlines about how wine experts have been fooled by this or that. A few weeks ago it was that price influences how a wine tastes. More recently it has been that some experts couldn’t even tell the difference between red wine and white wine. Oh, these foolish wine drinkers! Has there ever been such a gullible bunch of snobby buffoons in the history of a world that seemingly never lacks for gullible buffoons?
Seriously, can we get the media to quit writing these ignorant pieces? There is so much that goes into tasting a glass of wine because it is such a complex and intriguing beverage. The same could be said for beer or coffee, but there aren’t stories about someone being denied the use of their senses like Tommy before the mirror while trying to distinguish between a tepid cup of Blue Mountain and a cup of Folger’s made in a dirty Mr. Coffee.
Drinking, and enjoying, a glass of wine is not that difficult. You look at it, swirl it, smell it, taste it, and think about it. Hey, if that is too much for you, omit any step other than tasting and the experience should still be quite enjoyable. However, you will miss a lot if you do.
Kind of like the authors of these snickering articles miss a lot. Looking at your wine can tell you many things right off the bat. Is it red or white? That is a big one. How is the depth and shade of the color? Many wines have a very distinctive appearance. Is it clear? Can you perceive any faults? Do you see bubbles? Most importantly, and what is most pertinent to the point, even a casual wine drinker is going to look at their glass and take away certain unconscious clues and have an expectation as to what the wine will taste like.
That swirl adds oxygen to the wine and wine to the air in the glass. This allows for the most important part of enjoying wine, smelling it. Even if you don’t intentionally swirl and evaluate the wine as part of the tasting process the aromas will still naturally travel into your nasal cavities and influence the taste. This is true of all food and drink unless something blocks the aromas. The swirling and sniffing just enhances the gathering of this information to allow the brain to process what occurs in the next step.
Tasting, the best part, is when all of the factors listed above come into play with the information the mouth can gather. The tongue gathers the four or five, depending on which camp you are in, basic tastes as the wine moves around your mouth. Viscosity, or mouth feel, plays a part in how you perceive what you are tasting. The temperature of the wine, something that affects how much or how little is tasted, is also quite important.
Other factors can also play a part. What was the wine served in? Next time you open a bottle of something that you know you like, try drinking it from a styrofoam cup or a coffee mug. It will taste quite different than it does from a crystal glass designed specifically for the style of wine. Mood, other smells in the air, even the place, can factor in.
With all that goes into tasting anything, much less wine, why is it such a surprise that the subjects of these studies, when deprived of the necessary tools, cannot properly evaluate what is placed in their mouths? Then again, why am I always surprised by the laziness, arrogance, and plain stupidity of those who claim to bring us our news?
This just in! A group of researchers have taken away a group of leading carpenters hammers and saws and they couldn’t build a damn thing. What a bunch of posers.