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Wine Tasting - A Myth, or a Fascinating Intellectual Exercise?

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For those who think wine tasting is some sort of bogus lie, I could name nearly an infinite number of counter examples:

* If you walk through an art gallery, can you tell a Renoir from a Rembrandt?

* If you close your eyes and sip a glass of juice, can you tell if it's apple juice or orange juice?

* If you hear a song, can you tell if it's Bob Dylan or David Bowie?


This is a true story:

About twenty years ago, in a New York tasting, a group of my wine-tasting friends were all there. Our own Sasha Katsman had passed out on the couch sometime after midnight, but the others were still going strong. 

One of my friends had opened and served an old wine, in a brown paper bag, which, after much arguing, was determined to be a 1964 Bordeaux. After about fifteen minutes of arguing and screaming, they had all narrowed it down to a Pomerol, but nobody could decide which one it was. 

When they had reached a point of permanent disagreement, they went to shake awake Sasha from the couch, who had been dead-to-the-world for thirty minutes. They roused him, and shouted, 'Sasha! We need you to tell us which 1964 Pomerol this is!'

With his eyes closed, he staggered over to the table where the glass of wine was, picked it up, and without opening his eyes, sniffed it, and without tasting it, put it back down, eyes still shut and said, "It's not a Pomerol; it's Cheval Blanc." He then staggered back to the couch and went back to sleep.

He was right.

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Years ago, Patz & Hall offered to come to my house for a private tasting for 10 of us. At that time, they only produced single vineyard Pinot noirs and single vineyard chardonnays. Each Pinot noir and each Chardonnay were prepared and aged the same way.  It was amazing to be able to taste them together. It finally showed the meaning of terroir,

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