|What’s involved in tasting wine|
|Thursday, 21 June 2012 09:34|
We can smell thousands of smells and taste only five flavors; sweet, salty, sour, bitter and a savory richness that the Japanese call “umame”. But, as we taste wine, is there a sixth flavor- the price tag?
When doing a wine tasting, is your palate affected by knowing the price of a wine before you try it? If you are given a glass of wine from a bottle right after you were told it was a $1000 bottle, do you think you will view it differently? Or if someone suggested a cheap bottle of wine was up for grabs, would that negatively affect the taster’s palate? I would argue that to most amateur or “unpracticed” palates (and to some practiced palates), there are dollar signs attached. We probably would all rather think that this might not be the case, and that we can taste with for the merits of the wine itself, and that is entirely possible- but, let’s play to human nature and say it is safe to say the best way to do that is blind tasting. Taste a wine with no knowledge of its value or what it is and see how you like it, what qualities does it have that you enjoy? Are there any qualities you do not care for? What is the body like? How long is the finish? What is the taste profile? What is your perceived quality of the wine? Evaluate solely on the taste of the wine without any preconceived notions, then ask the question of its price tag and see if you are surprised, I bet you would be.
I think that if you blindly applied a dollar value to a wine you taste blindly, you would likely give it a higher value than its actual market value. In my opinion, there are several wine regions (and a few specific wines) that you would likely give a lower value to than their current market value, and this is based solely on supply and demand; California is one of them. California has been the mastermind at creating a demand for their products based on marketing and creating a certain status for them. Traditional wine producing areas in France and Italy hold a social status that allows them to charge exorbitant prices for sometimes only average wines. Lesser known wine producing areas have lower demand and therefore the market value is lower than higher demand wines. Blind taste a Spanish wine from Jumilla region and I guarantee you that you would place a much higher value on it than the market value. But, what if you knew this seductive red wine held a $6 price tag before you tasted it, would you think it wasn’t as good as if you did not know? What if that $75 Cabernet Sauvignon from California was tasted blind, would you think it was worth $75?
There is an infamous Napa, California Chardonnay, the 1973 Chateau Montalena, which in a blind tasting in France in 1976 was chosen as superior over French Burgundies (consisting mostly of Chardonnay). This created such controversy in the world of wine that the French were speechless and did not believe the results. The movie Bottle Shock covers this story if you would like more details on the subject. This proves a very valuable point- blind tasting is the sure fire way to make sure your tasting has no bias.
The best way to taste a wine is as follows:
Assess the wine’s appearance. Is it clear, hazy, dull, bright? Is the color intense or muted? Are there any other observations worth noting?
Assess the wine’s “nose”. What do you smell (this is known as its bouquet and aromas)? Is the bouquet intense? Or mild? What does it smell like?
Assess the wine on your palate. Since you can smell thousands of smells and only taste five tastes, your nose should already tell you what the wine should taste like. Tasting really only proves your nose right (or wrong!). Is there sweetness? Acidity? What are the flavor characteristics? What is the body like, the alcohol level? What is the length of the finish (does it linger or stop abruptly)?
Make your conclusions. What is your opinion on the wine? Would you like to drink this again? What do you think it would pair well with? And finally, HOW MUCH would you pay for it?
So next time you are trying a wine, try it blind and assess for yourself what you think the wine is worth. Don’t leave the tasting to be skewed by the sixth sense, the price tag! Enjoy the wine for what it is and enjoy the company you are sharing it with.
As always, savoring the flavors of wine is all about creating flavor memories so that you draw on those memories to create food and wine pairings.
And, if you have any other wine or food questions drop by our website at www.ninetynineone.com and drop us a line in the Q&A section of the site. We’re always happy to answer any questions you have.
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Cheers and happy quaffing,
99/1 Food Service Management in Freeport is owned & run by Tim & Rebecca Tibbitts. Flying Fish Modern Seafood restaurant is the newest adventure from 99/1 opened in February adjacent to Pelican Bay Hotel & The Grand Lucayan in Lucaya. With unmatched service & attention to detail, Flying Fish is a blend of traditional & modernist cuisine techniques not used anywhere else in the Bahamas.
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