I ran across an article on “The Subjectivity of Wine” on The Frontal Cortex
This is the part that held my attention:
“In 2001, Frederic Brochet, of the University of Bordeaux, conducted two separate and very mischievous experiments. In the first test, Brochet invited 57 wine experts and asked them to give their impressions of what looked like two glasses of red and white wine. 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.
The second test Brochet conducted was even more damning. He took a middling Bordeaux and served it in two different bottles. One bottle was a fancy grand-cru. The other bottle was an ordinary vin du table. Despite the fact that they were actually being served the exact same wine, the experts gave the differently labeled bottles nearly opposite ratings. The grand cru was “agreeable, woody, complex, balanced and rounded,” while the vin du table was “weak, short, light, flat and faulty”. Forty experts said the wine with the fancy label was worth drinking, while only 12 said the cheap wine was.”
This makes my day because one day, a couple of years ago, I described a red wine as “grapey” and I have not yet heard the end of it. I realize that “grapey” is a goofy way to describe wine since, you know, they are all technically “grapey”, but what I meant when I said “grapey” was that the wine was closer to grape juice than wine. I don’t drink most wine and get a grape juice flavor, so my critique was accurate, goofy, but accurate.
Based on these spiffy tests Mr. Brochet came up with, I can conclude the following:
One – Wine tasting is a terribly subjective sport and I think is often taken too seriously
Two – The food coloring stunt makes me feel good about my pallet and next time wine tastes “grapey”, I’m going to let it be known. I am the common mans wine critic and proud of it.
Good Post! This experiment has been repeated several times and almost always comes out with the same result. It is quite funny though. I work in the sensory science field and visual perception can change everything – a picture of a lemon on packaging of a beverage can start your mouth salivating before you even take a sip.
Also, Grapey is a great descriptor, because sometimes wines just taste like grapes.
Wine tasting should make the wine drinking process more enjoyable (it does for me at least), not hamper your experience, and should never be taken TOO seriously.
Hey, Kamen – I agree – appreciation for wine, like beauty, is in the taste, or eye, of the beholder. I recently went to a tasting that emphasized that point. You might find the post interesting: