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On the Subjectivity of Wine Tasting


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When we taste a wine, we aren't simply tasting the wine. This is because what we experience is not what we sense. Rather, experience is what happens when our senses are interpreted by our subjective brain, which brings to the moment its entire library of personal memories and idiosyncratic desires.

Well, duh. Isn't this also why make-up sex is so good?

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Well, duh. Isn't this also why make-up sex is so good?

I actually interpreted this in two different ways before realizing what you were saying:

1) Make-up, as in, pretend.

2) Make-up, as in cosmetics. And I was thinking to myself ... what IS Make-up sex?

Anyway I guess I need another cup of coffee.

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I actually interpreted this in two different ways before realizing what you were saying:

1) Make-up, as in, pretend.

2) Make-up, as in cosmetics. And I was thinking to myself ... what IS Make-up sex?

Anyway I guess I need another cup of coffee.

You don't watch enough network sitcoms.

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Recent research by Hilke Plassmann at Caltech documents an effect associating pricing knowledge with increased wine-drinking pleasure...that is to say, "wine may seem to taste better" for no other reason than the belief that it's expensive. Eleven male grad students were given the same wine and told a fictitious price for the bottle - either low or high. The pleasure center of each subject's brain was then examined using a functional-MRI (fMRI) scanner.

The dry abstract here.

More accessible explanations here and here.

Presumably, a similar physiological effect occurs with other Veblen goods.

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Recent research by Hilke Plassmann at Caltech documents an effect associating pricing knowledge with increased wine-drinking pleasure...that is to say, "wine may seem to taste better" for no other reason than the belief that it's expensive.

Also read this about the same placebo-like effect with respect to glassware. Anyone who believes that Riedel and the like make a difference needs to read this. The answer is not what you might expect based on how I phrased that last sentence.

It also debunks the tongue taste map myth.

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Along the lines of this discussion, I've just picked up this book, which was reviewed recently in the TLS. It has contributions by a number of philosophers on the notion of taste in wine, and is a good deal more entertaining than one might think. The first chapter, for example, is an unabashed and philosophically grounded defense of the pleasures of intoxication.

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These things happen all of the time.

I know of examples where subject wine drinkers were served white wine double-blind and were absolutely convinced that they were drinking red. Of course, if they've never been served any white wine unchilled, that might have skewed their perception.

The famous British wine writer, Harry Waugh, was once asked when the last time he mistook Bordeaux for Burgundy (might have been the other way around, but you get the idea) and he replied, "Not since lunch."

To me, these things often generate lots of heat but no light. It can be an amusing parlor game, and possibly a vehicle for self-discovery or deflating of one's own perceptions.

I like to think that I can identify certain wines TO A POINT, but I'll never be able to identify any wine with pinpoint accuracy. I'd like to think that I have a better-than-average chance at identifying a South African Sauvignon from a New Zealand Sauvignon, from a Loire Valley Sauvignon-based wine, but different bottles, different vintages, different vinification methods can fool you. Less-than-ideal stemware can throw you off. What you just ate or drank previously can throw you off. If you're a die-hard fan of a sports team and they just lost a big game, your perception can be off. There are just too many variables to consider. Are you ill, or recovering from illness? Are you on medication? I once was on some prescription medication that seriously killed my palate and I didn't figure it out right away, I just thought that I was on a bad streak of tasting crap wine.

If you enjoy these experiments and tasting-trials, I urge you to take the results with a grain of salt. Repeated the following week, your results may vary.

For that matter, the next time you read the results of a vodka tasting ("Rated #1! Best vodka of the millennium!") just think that the results could be completely different with a different panel of equally-qualified tasters.

We all bring the sum of our experiences to tastings, and that includes our own biases and prejudices.

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I have a question for the wine experts. I've been looking at reviews on Cellar Tracker when trying to choose new wines to try. (I know, I could head to the store and talk to someone, but the reality is, I'm more likely to kick back in front of the iMac and browse.) As a test run recently, I picked an uber-cheap and not so great wine to see what came up. Two buck Chuck chardonnay has a lot of ratings, and the differences in opinions are incredible with point assessments ranging from 50 to 88. I found similar ranges with other wines, and on different sites.

So with this exercise in mind, and with subjectivity in mind, what I really want to know is, who can I trust? I'd like to be able to sit down maybe once a week and read about some wines to try, and I'm guessing I need to read someone with similar taste to mine. I like dry wines, and never go much beyond a medium bodied wine in reds because I cook vegetarian. Any suggestions?

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Now you see the difficulty.... Wine Criticism is just like music criticism or any other form of criticism. It is just the writing of an individual on a given day and their opinion of a wine experienced in a given context {ie tasting 100 Barolo's in a given day, for example, or wines drunk with winery representatives etc.} The trick is to find someone calibrated to your taste and to recognize that you taste will likely change as you discover more about the craft. Just as I now like operas that I first did not like, my love of Italian wines was something that had to develop later in my wine career as my first few experiences were not ones I relished {although I would love to have back that bottle of 64 G Mascarello Barolo which was my first Italian red and so hugely tannic and old school that it took maybe 10 years for me to try another Barolo!}.

I think the best thing to do is go to your local wine shop and try to develop a relationship with a particular wine sales person and se how you palate calibrates. You need to give good, concise feedback, technical speak not required. If the selections don't improve, then move on till you find the right person.

I personally rail against overly alcoholic, overly extracted wines made from low acid, overripe grapes. But the market says I am wrong as there are more of that style wine being made than ever. So it is important to know your tastes. Get a spiral bound notebook and for the next 6 months, take notes on every wine you drink. Doing so will impress your friends to no end :lol: plus it will make you think about what it is you like and don't like in wine in a systematic manner.

Last, be sure to stretch your palate. Once you find you like, say, cur Beaujolais and Valpolicella, ask your wine seller what else you should try. Wine is a great journey of discovery. Although it happens less frequently as time goes by, even today after 35 years of serious and not so serious drinking, I can still be astounded by the beauty of some new wine.

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The trick is to find someone calibrated to your taste and to recognize that you taste will likely change as you discover more about the craft.

Agree with everything Dean wrote especially the line above. Wine lovers (as opposed to wine snobs) want your experience to be as good as possible - whether it's importers, retailers, sommeliers, chefs, online posters, friends. The more that you let them know what you like and dislike the better their suggestions will be.

There are several people over the almost a decade that I've been wandering around the food boards whose tastes I have come to trust by trying their suggestions and/or seeing how their opinions on certain bottles line up with mine. There are several others who may be knowledgeable, but whose tastes and palate do not match mine at all.

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Agree with everything Dean wrote especially the line above. Wine lovers (as opposed to wine snobs) want your experience to be as good as possible - whether it's importers, retailers, sommeliers, chefs, online posters, friends. The more that you let them know what you like and dislike the better their suggestions will be.

There are several people over the almost a decade that I've been wandering around the food boards whose tastes I have come to trust by trying their suggestions and/or seeing how their opinions on certain bottles line up with mine. There are several others who may be knowledgeable, but whose tastes and palate do not match mine at all.

I give this post a 95 score. It is weighty and shows the good judgment of the poster. I detect hints of restraint along with a peppery-ness reminiscent of past meals at Joe's Noodle House. Effusive, humble, concise. Ideal drinking window: well maybe a little past his prime but not as over the hill as your humble scribe!

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I give this post a 95 score. It is weighty and shows the good judgment of the poster. I detect hints of restraint along with a peppery-ness reminiscent of past meals at Joe's Noodle House. Effusive, humble, concise. Ideal drinking window: well maybe a little past his prime but not as over the hill as your humble scribe!

Now, now. You need to wait at least two years before you repeat the same witticism. :lol:

Now you see the difficulty.... Wine Criticism is just like music criticism or any other form of criticism. It is just the writing of an individual on a given day and their opinion of a wine experienced in a given context {ie tasting 100 Barolo's in a given day, for example, or wines drunk with winery representatives etc.}

This (and the larger question by OP) somehow reminds of Gene Weingarten's Pulitzer Prize-winning article wherein he convinced fiddle genius Joshua Bell to stand at a Metro stop one morning and saw through a couple of fugues for the commuters -- Strad on his shoulder and case open at his feet, for the occasional quarter. Or maybe Tim Leary's "set and setting."

I think I have a decent (if far from professional) palate and that if you brought me in and set me down with three properly treated wines that were typically "good" examples of a $10, $20, and $50 red -- or maybe a Parker 80, 88 and 96 -- I could rank the stuff with a statistically significant rate of success. But, you know,if I was trying to impress the guy opposite who might offer me a job, or worried about getting dinner for six on the table or just had a handful of Ritz crackers with cheap Brie (or was a wine pro on day 3 of a 150-glass-a-day tour of Piedmont), who knows? Also, there's just some stuff I like and some I don't. I'll take $20 bottle of White Graves (I know, living in the past) over a $60 bottle of Marlboro SB any day,

I don't trust people who focus on the subjectivity of art -- whether it's sculpture or winemaking. Some stuff is just better than other stuff and if we can't perfectly explain why, that's because we're inarticulate, not because an artist is superior, But, there's overlap (Matisse or Cezanne, who's best?), taste, mood and, when reading critics, pretension and prejudice.

So, just think of anyone who makes a wine recommendation like you would a stranger giving you directions in a strange city. They probably have a better grasp of where you want to go than you do. But there are no guarantees.

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Okay now, this is just mean! :D One of my big fears is that ... I've had "things" swirling around in my mind since I was eight years old - for example, having sex with a knothole in a tree stump while simultaneously getting tea-bagged by a herpetic slug residing therein - and while they may be funny the first time I write them, they are decidedly NOT funny the second time. And how can I possibly remember?

I think I have a decent (if far from professional) palate and that if you brought me in and set me down with three properly treated wines that were typically "good" examples of a $10, $20, and $50 red -- or maybe a Parker 80, 88 and 96 -- I could rank the stuff with a statistically significant rate of success. But, you know,if I was trying to impress the guy opposite who might offer me a job, or worried about getting dinner for six on the table or just had a handful of Ritz crackers with cheap Brie (or was a wine pro on day 3 of a 150-glass-a-day tour of Piedmont), who knows? Also, there's just some stuff I like and some I don't. I'll take $20 bottle of White Graves (I know, living in the past) over a $60 bottle of Marlboro SB any day,

Go to Cork and have the flight of 2009 Rosés (I had this last night). All three are from the same importer (!) (Neil Rosenthal), and all three are from southern France, within just a few hours drive of each other. You'll have a distinct preference, I assure you, but I don't think you can qualitatively choose one over the other two. I mean ... I can, but that's only because I'm me.

Seriously, we talked recently about doing online "wine classes" - this particular flight wouldn't be a bad place to start. If anyone wants to try them, and do their research beforehand:

Domaine du Bagnol (Cassis)

Commanderie de Peyrassol (Côtes de Provence)

Domaine du Gour de Chaulé (Gigondas)

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I've had "things" swirling around in my mind since I was eight years old - for example, having sex with a knothole in a tree stump while simultaneously getting tea-bagged by a herpetic slug residing therein

If that's what eight-year-olds are thinking, I'll be damned if I'm ever having kids. Or were you just precocious?

I'm fairly sure I now need to move this thread in the index but we don't have a category for it.

This will also shortly be deleted.

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I don't trust people who focus on the subjectivity of art -- whether it's sculpture or winemaking. Some stuff is just better than other stuff and if we can't perfectly explain why, that's because we're inarticulate, not because an artist is superior, But, there's overlap (Matisse or Cezanne, who's best?), taste, mood and, when reading critics, pretension and prejudice.

So, just think of anyone who makes a wine recommendation like you would a stranger giving you directions in a strange city. They probably have a better grasp of where you want to go than you do. But there are no guarantees.

One of my favorite books is Godel, Escher, Bach which has a discussion of maps in our minds vs "real" maps. If you asked me how to get somewhere in LA, the map in my mind would work for me if I was in LA, but you might very well wind up someplace very different. I can be looking at a real map of NOVA and still get lost. But I am pretty good at directing people thru Montalcino or how to get from Florence to Lucca or how to walk to a huge number of restaurants in Venice. In fact, my mental map of Venice is probably more useful to a first time visitor to Venice than a real map.

However, we are led to believe by wine writters, that they have a map in their mind that is better than anyone elses map of every city in the world!

I have a customer who loves wine. We never argue about wine. But we always argue about Verdi {his favorite} vs Puccini {my favorite} and we both use the same argument... they both sound like themselves and repeat themselves over their career. And we both are right. Of course, I am righter than he is!

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One of my favorite books is Godel, Escher, Bach which has a discussion of maps in our minds vs "real" maps. If you asked me how to get somewhere in LA, the map in my mind would work for me if I was in LA, but you might very well wind up someplace very different. I can be looking at a real map of NOVA and still get lost. But I am pretty good at directing people thru Montalcino or how to get from Florence to Lucca or how to walk to a huge number of restaurants in Venice. In fact, my mental map of Venice is probably more useful to a first time visitor to Venice than a real map.

However, we are led to believe by wine writters, that they have a map in their mind that is better than anyone elses map of every city in the world!

I have a customer who loves wine. We never argue about wine. But we always argue about Verdi {his favorite} vs Puccini {my favorite} and we both use the same argument... they both sound like themselves and repeat themselves over their career. And we both are right. Of course, I am righter than he is!

Is there really a need to be so darn dorky about wine? or anything else for that matter?

Caveat: whenever someone tells you they know everything and can identify it with their eyes closed i.e.: wine, beer, spirits, pheromones, cheese et al.... They are full of manure.

Everything is subjective! (or relative for that matter)! There maybe some dead giveaways in any blind taste or test. However, the variables ar inmense and NO ONE knows everything.

My one wish is that we could all have a morsel of wonderfuly prepared food and a sip of a fermented grape juice that brings a smile to your face.... and feel the warmth of happiness. :lol:

Salud!

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: whenever someone tells you they know everything and can identify it with their eyes closed i.e.: wine, beer, spirits, pheromones, cheese et al.... They are full of manure.

Everything is subjective!

look here

Cut to the chase: "But the research that he and others have done on the science of expectation convinces him that they’ve found the key: Riedel and other high-end glasses can make wine taste better. Because they’re pretty. Because they’re delicate. Because they’re expensive. Because you expect them to make the wine taste better."

and here

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An awful lot of what I know about wine and spirits, I learned from excellent message boards, including Robin Garr's Wine Lovers Discussion Group, Wine Disorder, the forums on StraightBourbon.com, and the late, lamented Wine Therapy.

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If that's what eight-year-olds are thinking, I'll be damned if I'm ever having kids. Or were you just precocious?

Maybe it's just 8 year old boys versus girls. I know my thoughts might not have included a word like "herpetic" but other than that...

(and it's not like I've matured since then)

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Changing the subject... What wine needs is connection software like Netflix uses. If you like this, then try this. I Googled that phrase and came up with some columns that are interesting. Like this one. This page is the sort of thing I find interesting. It gives me some guidelines to take with me to the store, and lets me try something new that I'll probably like.

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Changing the subject... What wine needs is connection software like Netflix uses. If you like this, then try this. I Googled that phrase and came up with some columns that are interesting. Like this one. This page is the sort of thing I find interesting. It gives me some guidelines to take with me to the store, and lets me try something new that I'll probably like.

Snooth, for which serious Italian wine maven Greg Dal Piaz works, makes a decent attempt at doing this.

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Changing the subject... What wine needs is connection software like Netflix uses. If you like this, then try this. I Googled that phrase and came up with some columns that are interesting. Like this one. This page is the sort of thing I find interesting. It gives me some guidelines to take with me to the store, and lets me try something new that I'll probably like.

That's why I keep inquiring about the status of a Pandora-like wine project. But so far, no real leads.

(one day, fingers crossed)

('cuz that kind of methodology would trump all others)

(yea, verily)

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Changing the subject... What wine needs is connection software like Netflix uses. If you like this, then try this. I Googled that phrase and came up with some columns that are interesting. Like this one. This page is the sort of thing I find interesting. It gives me some guidelines to take with me to the store, and lets me try something new that I'll probably like.

Snooth, for which serious Italian wine maven Greg Dal Piaz works, makes a decent attempt at doing this.

That's why I keep inquiring about the status of a Pandora-like wine project. But so far, no real leads.

(one day, fingers crossed)

('cuz that kind of methodology would trump all others)

(yea, verily)

Just what I need, one more piece of commercial technology to reinforce my previous prejudices rather than challenging me. The internet is so very good at that.

I prefer a program that when I punch in "Cote Rotie" sends back "I could recommend an earthy Zin or maybe a Primitivo, but fuck that shit. Get out of your rut and try some Xinomavro or maybe this wild juice from the Bekaa Valley (it's not just for hash any more") you soulless consumer sheep."

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Just what I need, one more piece of commercial technology to reinforce my previous prejudices rather than challenging me. The internet is so very good at that.

I prefer a program that when I punch in "Cote Rotie" sends back "I could recommend an earthy Zin or maybe a Primitivo, but fuck that shit. Get out of your rut and try some Xinomavro or maybe this wild juice from the Bekaa Valley (it's not just for hash any more") you soulless consumer sheep."

But if you don't know a great deal about wine, much less what a "Cote Rotie" is (but, perhaps, you do have enough French to know the "program" left out two accents circonflexe :lol: ), you have to start somewhere. Besides, I prefer my software sans grossièreté.

I liked the page I linked because it mentions different regions and different grapes, but a similar style that will work well with what I cook. All roads lead to Rome. Some of us simply prefer to take smaller steps. :D

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But if you don't know a great deal about wine, much less what a "Cote Rotie" is (but, perhaps, you do have enough French to know the "program" left out two accents circonflexe :lol: ), you have to start somewhere. Besides, I prefer my software sans grossièreté.

I liked the page I linked because it mentions different regions and different grapes, but a similar style that will work well with what I cook. All roads lead to Rome. Some of us simply prefer to take smaller steps. :D

I'm too lazy to do the extra work required to add the circonflexes, perhaps because of the decent but unchallenging Aussie Shiraz-Cabernet I knocked back because it was cheap and easy -- who knows what exciting new discovery might have been there in D'Vines (probably not the clerk, alas) had I possessed demanding and snarky wine ap for my iPhone. (Though, for $13 with an onglet and fried potatoes....)

All roads lead to Rome. Some of us simply prefer to take smaller steps

Detours. Think in terms of detours.

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Detours. Think in terms of detours.

Detours are the entire point, but I still want to know that the wine is going to work with whatever dish I'm preparing. I know many people enjoy a bottle of wine for the sake of the wine, and I do that on occasion, but for the most part, wine for me is an accompaniment to food. So if I know a Rioja would go well with a certain meal, maybe I should try a (fill in the blank). That's what I want. Something useful.

Sorry about your boring Aussie wine. About ten years ago I spent a couple of weeks in Sydney with a wine-loving friend who has filled the space under the stairwell of his old VIctorian house with cases of shiraz procured from a lifetime of wine tours. I drank many, many lovely wines that had been resting for more than a decade only to return home to try to do the same here. My detours have not led me into the Australian shiraz export section for quite some time.

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Not wishing to fully divulge one of my patented sales techniques, I will say that I have over the years played a game with tasters, friends and customers called Vin Mystère, wherein I pour a glass of wine and ask one single question: Do you like it? In the majority of instances, the answer is yes. It is then that the origin of the wine is revealed. I have done this far more times with Virginia wines than any other appellation. Even the Great Rocks has been a "victim" of my coy subterfuge.

My current favorite Virginia wine: "Topiary", Boxwood Vineyard, Middleburg 2007. 50% Cabernet Franc %50 Merlot. I tasted it blind and was overwhelmed by its deliciousness.

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Not wishing to fully divulge one of my patented sales techniques, I will say that I have over the years played a game with tasters, friends and customers called Vin Mystère, wherein I pour a glass of wine and ask one single question: Do you like it? In the majority of instances, the answer is yes. It is then that the origin of the wine is revealed. I have done this far more times with Virginia wines than any other appellation. Even the Great Rocks has been a "victim" of my coy subterfuge.

My current favorite Virginia wine: "Topiary", Boxwood Vineyard, Middleburg 2007. 50% Cabernet Franc %50 Merlot. I tasted it blind and was overwhelmed by its deliciousness.

[Off topic--feel free to move or delete--but do you ever play this game with a wine that everybody would agree is plonk, say Kendall Jackson off of an airplane? Much research in psychology would suggest that people blindly being given wine by an award-winning sommelier will assume that it must be good and that they are supposed to like it.]

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[Off topic--feel free to move or delete--but do you ever play this game with a wine that everybody would agree is plonk, say Kendall Jackson off of an airplane? Much research in psychology would suggest that people blindly being given wine by an award-winning sommelier will assume that it must be good and that they are supposed to like it.]

No, but I did something in that vein years ago by giving away small glasses of sweet wine to great connoisseurs after dinner and asking them to guess what it was. Sherry? Port? Madeira? Vin Santo? Not one person ever guessed correctly: St. John Commanderia (which cost the restaurant $6.99 a bottle).

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No, but I did something in that vein years ago by giving away small glasses of sweet wine to great connoisseurs after dinner and asking them to guess what it was. Sherry? Port? Madeira? Vin Santo? Not one person ever guessed correctly: St. John Commanderia (which cost the restaurant $6.99 a bottle).

LOVE that wine! Haven't seen it in years ...

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I must say that in general I agree. Most high priced wines I drink are not my cup of tea. I don't think they offer drinking enjoyment, but more the enjoyment of saying how much you paid for the bottle. Hell, I'll be generous and exempt Red Burgundy frm this critique {I don't want to get into religious argument, though I rarely find one remotely worth the often stupid high prices they command}.

Your average $150 Super Tuscan or Napa Cab or Bordeaux is so full of oak and alcohol and extract that there is no wine pleasure to be found. There are few Barolo or Barbaresco I find worth more than $50 or $60 a bottle wholesale {GIacomo Conterno definitely excepted} and can find really ytummy examples for $30 a bottle wholesale and south that offer incredible bang for the buck.

Just last week some customers brought in a heavily oaked, overripe XXXXXXX and were ooohing and ahhhing over it. I would rather have had the same varietal, fermented in concrete and aged in stainless which I am pouring by the glass of around $30 a bottle in the restaurant. Their wine retails for over $60 a bottle and would run around $80-100 on my list.

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I must say that in general I agree. Most high priced wines I drink are not my cup of tea. I don't think they offer drinking enjoyment, but more the enjoyment of saying how much you paid for the bottle.

I have been lucky in my career to have tasted some really outstanding wines that, regardless of the current price, make you sit up and take notice, blind tasting or not. Some of them are: 1989 Chateau Lynch-Bages, 1989 Chateau Pichon-Lalande Comtesse de Lalande, 1995 Chateau Angelus, 2004 Bonny's Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet and my all time favorite Bordeaux, 1961 Chateau Cheval Blanc (which my friend purchased in the 60's for a whopping $4 a bottle). Each one of these wines offer exotic aromatics right from the start, structure and balance and tremendous pleasure with each sip. Sorry to disagree.

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I must say that in general I agree. Most high priced wines I drink are not my cup of tea. I don't think they offer drinking enjoyment, but more the enjoyment of saying how much you paid for the bottle. Hell, I'll be generous and exempt Red Burgundy frm this critique {I don't want to get into religious argument, though I rarely find one remotely worth the often stupid high prices they command}.

Your average $150 Super Tuscan or Napa Cab or Bordeaux is so full of oak and alcohol and extract that there is no wine pleasure to be found. There are few Barolo or Barbaresco I find worth more than $50 or $60 a bottle wholesale {GIacomo Conterno definitely excepted} and can find really ytummy examples for $30 a bottle wholesale and south that offer incredible bang for the buck.

Just last week some customers brought in a heavily oaked, overripe XXXXXXX and were ooohing and ahhhing over it. I would rather have had the same varietal, fermented in concrete and aged in stainless which I am pouring by the glass of around $30 a bottle in the restaurant. Their wine retails for over $60 a bottle and would run around $80-100 on my list.

I have been lucky in my career to have tasted some really outstanding wines that, regardless of the current price, make you sit up and take notice, blind tasting or not. Some of them are: 1989 Chateau Lynch-Bages, 1989 Chateau Pichon-Lalande Comtesse de Lalande, 1995 Chateau Angelus, 2004 Bonny's Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet and my all time favorite Bordeaux, 1961 Chateau Cheval Blanc (which my friend purchased in the 60's for a whopping $4 a bottle). Each one of these wines offer exotic aromatics right from the start, structure and balance and tremendous pleasure with each sip. Sorry to disagree.

Mark, you're not disagreeing. Dean is pointing out that many expensive wines just aren't that good (or, to put it in the language of the article, "don't taste better."), whereas you've picked out several expensive wines that are that good (and do taste better). I see no conflict here, and I agree with both of you.

I have a slight disagreement with Dean in his Barolo and Barbaresco comment in that I can (personally) find more producers than Giacomo Conterno that merit being expensive, but that's a side issue. (Dean, you're also showing your bias by not mentioning Brunello di Montalcino!)

Cheers,

Rocks

P.S. Mark, regarding your <<Vin Mystère>> game ... I play one of my own - I call it <<Politesse.>> :) (But in all seriousness, Mark (and many others) have indeed served me inexpensive wines double-blind that I've liked very much.)

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Don, there is only one Brunello that I regualarly carry that is more than $50 a bottle wholesale and that is Cerbaiona. Salvioni and Poggio di Sotto would also qualify but are rarely seen in this market. The only Brunello Riserva I own personaly or for the restaurant are Costanti, Ciacci Piccolomini, Collemattoni and Pertimali. All of these are less than $100 a bottle wholesale or far less than a bottle of Lynch Bages from a top vintage which is made int he 1000's of case quantity whereas the Brunello riserva's I mention aremade int he 100's of case quantity.

But I drink a lot of Bordeaux here at the restaurant, most of which is brought in by customers. I drink a lot of Brunello, the older stuff is usually brought in by customers. My track recod indicates that I like they typical Brunello better: less wood, more acidity, more textures. Its a matter of taste. But the original release prices on this group of Brunelli are less thatn the original release prices on the Bordelais.

Having hosted a 1970's bordeaux vs California tastig where all wines were tasted blind, the nearly unanimous #1 and #2 were Mayacamas and Chappellet and then came the Bordeaux (Montrose and Cos IIRC). Again, at release none of these wines were cheap: the Mayacamas was a scandalous $18 a bottle and the Cos $20!!!

I still am happy to put Ridge Montebello in my cellar at $80 a bottle on pre release futures, but I owuld say tht I have never tasted a Cali cab that releases for more than the Ridge MB that is clearly better, and few are even as interesting. My one taste of screagle made me think of the emperor's tailor. I could goon and name more but what's the point.

I too have had wines that blew my mind for their incredible qualities that were expensive: 28 and 29 Latour, 29 Montrose, a verticle of Georged del Latour's of the 60's {twice}, Louis Latours burgs from the 50's, Moillard grand crus of the 60's, Lynch Bages 70 and 75. 82 Montrose and Cos are amazing and worth the considerable price tag they command. But 1990 Margaux, tasted twice int he last 3 years,just isnt fun to drink IMO. And it goes for $1200 a bottle or so according to Wine Searcher. If you like it, and can afford it, more power to you. But I can get a Giacomo Conterno 1990 for $345 from Rare Wine and I'd be happier.

By the way I paid $7.00 for a Talbott 1961 from Trader Joe's in the 7's. It was yummy.

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I must say that in general I agree. Most high priced wines I drink are not my cup of tea. I don't think they offer drinking enjoyment, but more the enjoyment of saying how much you paid for the bottle. Hell, I'll be generous and exempt Red Burgundy frm this critique {I don't want to get into religious argument, though I rarely find one remotely worth the often stupid high prices they command}.

Your average $150 Super Tuscan or Napa Cab or Bordeaux is so full of oak and alcohol and extract that there is no wine pleasure to be found. There are few Barolo or Barbaresco I find worth more than $50 or $60 a bottle wholesale {GIacomo Conterno definitely excepted} and can find really ytummy examples for $30 a bottle wholesale and south that offer incredible bang for the buck.

Just last week some customers brought in a heavily oaked, overripe XXXXXXX and were ooohing and ahhhing over it. I would rather have had the same varietal, fermented in concrete and aged in stainless which I am pouring by the glass of around $30 a bottle in the restaurant. Their wine retails for over $60 a bottle and would run around $80-100 on my list.

In this other related thread here:

http://donrockwell.com/index.php?showtopic=15608

there are these two observations:

"...Another example from one of Brochet’s unique tastings involved 57 French wine gurus asked to evaluate two red wines. The crafty evaluator, however, poured the same average rated Bordeaux into two different bottles. The first was an expensive Grand Cru bottle and the second one had previously been the lair of a cheap table wine. The one mostly highly rated by the experts? Of course, the pedestrian red poured from the more expensive bottle. And remember, these were experts. The mind is a terrible thing to trick.

A common secret is that some bars substitute mid-range liquors for the leading brands when they pour mixed drinks. Almost nobody is the wiser because most cocktail sipping patrons simply cannot tell the difference. As long at the brand name is called out upon ordering, the satisfaction is achieved, even if the drink delivered to the table is not what was requested. It’s a bit embarrassing, but we all are susceptible to such chicanery...."

Looking at your website, it's pretty obvious that food sourcing is important to you (the locavore movement being my favorite food trend) so I'd assume the "chicanery" above is unlikely. But if we agree no names/non-attribution, is this a common problem in the industry? I ask because beyond a few special occasions, we seldom order a bottle of wine when eating out - just a glass for my wife, maybe a beer for me. If she orders ______ merlot by the glass, much chance the bartender/owner makes a swap to save money?

Regarding the second observation about swapping out liquors, I've swapped Patron for Cuervo Gold, Grand Marnier for Triple Sec, and at least for me I like the Margarita made with the latter better than the former. On rare occasion I go straight up, Patron and Grand Marnier. A bottle of Talisker lasts me a year most of the time, so the premium over a bottle of say Dewars is maybe $30-40 a year? On the other hand, we probably go thru a bottle of wine a week, more or less. If we make the price jump from $10 to $30 a bottle, that could easily add $1000 to my bottom line.

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