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Wine Tasting | 1 Wine Dude - Page 9

Posts Filed Under wine tasting

Stop Picking on Robert Parker (the Subjectivity of Wine Tasting)

Vinted on July 1, 2008 binned in commentary, wine tasting

You can all stop picking on Robert Parker now.

The oft-followed and just as oft-maligned wine critic extraordinaire is doing you a favor.

A favor if you, like him, have a wine palate that tends towards the bombastic, that is.

A great post on the science of wine tasting over at Catavino.net (and how that science can be manipulated) got me thinking about the subjectivity of wine critiquing in general, and more specifically on the philosophical question: Can wine tasting can ever be totally objective?

So for this topic, you can view this article as the yin to Catavino.net’s yang. The conclusion of all of my philosophical pondering? All y’all need to cut Robert Parker some slack!

To bolster my exclamatory claim, let’s turn to the (not too difficult) task of finding someone smarter than me to explain it…

According to Tim Crane’s essay in Questions of Taste: The Philospohy of Wine:

“A wine cannot be appreciated for its intrinsic value unless it is drunk; the value of the wine is intimately related to the kinds of experience to which it gives rise.”

In other words: the trouble with appreciation is that you need to taste wine to appreciate it (well, I suppose for some of us it’s not really too much trouble). And because tasting itself is such a subjective act, it suggests that wine tasting is also at least somewhat subjective.

Does our tasting subjectivity preclude us from coming to some general consensus of how a wine tastes, or its relative quality? Probably not. Throughout history, what was generally considered “good” wine has changed substanitally. In another essay from Questions of Taste, Barry C. Smith puts it like this:

“Saying that the experience of tasting is a personal one need not prevent us from saying that it acquaints us with how a particular wine tastes, or from supposing that other people can be acquainted with that taste too.”

Man, I am really digging smart philosophers right now! What does all of this have to do with wine critics like Parker? It suggests 2 things:

  1. Critics don’t have to be thinking “universally” about wine because
  2. Our collective palates will decide what is and isn’t a “quality” wine.

There are studies that back this up. Vinography.com recently reported on two such efforts that compare wine reviews by major wine critics (including Parker, of course) – with different taste preferences. These critics have been in very close agreement on which Bordeaux wines have been the best, and they’ve been agreeing for decades. So there’s gotta be something to the “collective” wine palate as well as to our individual, subjective ones.

Back to Questions of Taste – also from Smith’s essay:

“Having the ability to asses and describe wines in one thing; having certain personal tastes is another. That we, and the wine critics, have personal tastes does not imply that all taste is subjective... Wine critics understand that they cannot overrule an individual’s personal tastes… The moral is that we must find the right critic to advise us, the one whose personal tastes or preferences are more nearly aligned with ours.


So – we’re all Right, and we’re All right. Dig it.

Now give Parker a break. He’s just trying to help out the people who like the fruit bombs. Including himself.

Cheers!

(images: palmspringslife.com, tuscany-cooking-class.com, winechocolate.org)

Wine Events: Wine on the Deck @ Teikoku Restaurant!

Vinted on June 29, 2008 binned in pennsylvania, wine industry events, wine tasting

Another (sort of) rare event plug here on 1WineDude.com – I don’t do these plugs too often, so when I do, it’s because I think that the event is really going to be cool. And in this case, I think the cool potential is very high: I personally know the two people selecting and pouring wine at the event, and they definitely know their wine (not to mention that they’re also really splendid people).

The fabulous Teikoku restaurant (where I recently covered an event featuring the wines of Penns Woods Winery) is hosting a wine tasting event this coming Thursday, July 3 2008.

I will be there – so if you’re attending, drop me a line and stop by to say hello.

Teikoku Restaurant
Thursday July 3, 2008 –
5:30 to 7:30 p.m
.

5492 West Chester Pike
Newtown Square
, Pennsylvania 19073

telephone
610.644.8270

Join us for an evening of Wine On The Deck with former sommelier and wine educator, Matthew Esser from Shiffrin Selections and wine educator and consultant, Heather Wright from Cellar Door Imports.

We will be featuring some new, off the beaten path pours, along with small bites from Executive Chef Takao Iinuma to compliment them.

$30 per person all inclusive

Space is limited, reserve now

Cheers!

3 Things Your Dog Can Teach You About Wine Appreciation

Vinted on May 30, 2008 binned in best of, learning wine, wine appreciation, wine tasting, wine tips

I’m a dog guy.

While I don’t hate cats, I don’t love cats, either. Mostly, I get along best with the cats that think they’re dogs anyway. Since this post is going to be about my schooling of wine appreciation literally going to the dogs, my apologies in advance to those who are cat lovers. I’ve never been taught anything about wine appreciation from a cat (more on learning wine stuff from domesticated house pets in a minute) – though they have taught me the art of totally ignoring people.

Since Mrs. Dudette has most of the newborn baby dudette feeding responsibilities, Dude here has been given primary Dog Duty at the House of Dude. I’m the one who now has to feed and walk my wife’s Weimaraner, Samson (see pic above). (Actually, to be fair, after 7+ years together old Sammy is just as much my dog now as he is hers).

Sammy has been a great sport throughout the whole adjusting-to-the-baby thing, and he is very, very sweet with the baby. Having to walk the dog more often than I used to has made me take more notice of Sam’s behaviors – such as licking the baby, sniffing around, licking himself, sniffing the baby, licking himself, and licking himself (did I mention licking himself?).

By observing Sam, I’ve actually learned a bit about wine appreciation. And no, it doesn’t involve drinking so much that you want to sniff someone’s butt, unless that’s your thing (licking yourself is also optional). Though it does apparently involve startling segues from dog licking to wine tasting… maybe I should have thought about that one a bit more…

Anyway, straight from the home office in suburban eastern-PA, here are 3 Things that Your Dog Can Teach You About Wine Appreciation

  1. Short, concentrated sniffs work best. Dogs have some of the best senses of smell around – and Weimaraners have one of the best noses in the doggie business. When my dog smells something, he doesn’t take a long, drawn-out, overly-dramatic sniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiffffff. He takes a burst of short, concentrated sniffs. Sniff… sniff-sniff… sniff-sniff-sniff-sniiiiiifff.

    Turns out there is a lot of merit in that approach if you really want to smell something thoroughly – and in the case of wine, smelling is where you will get about 80% of your enjoyment and appreciation. Shorter sniffs help to focus your olfactory senses, and may also help to keep your sense of smell from fatiguing too quickly. The sharper your sense of smell, the more you can pinpoint what aspects you like (or don’t like) about the wine that your tasting.

    In the case of wine, smelling is where you will get about 80% of your enjoyment and appreciation for your glass of vino.

  2. Focus, focus, focus. Ever try to move a dog from a spot when he is smelling it during a walk? If not, I encourage you to do this as a test of your own upper limits of frustration. My dog will frequently stop in his tracks, plant his nose into a smell, and lock all four powerful legs so tightly that it would take a tow truck, steel cables, and an act of Congress to move him from whatever he is sniffing at that moment.

    When a dog is really smelling something, nothing can break his concentration. At that point, there is no walk, there is no leash, there is no master – there is only the smell. If you want to experience everything that a wine has to offer, you’d do well to imitate the concentration that the average dog gives to any random oder in which s/he gets interested. With that kind of focus, you’d be on your way to wine-tasting pro status in no time.

  3. Don’t rush it. Once my dog stops smelling something and decides to start eating it, he is an shining example of what not to do when enjoying a wine (or any food or drink, for that matter). My dog will inhale food that he really likes. He will eat it so quickly, you would think there was a pack of angry, hungry velociraptors waiting 7 inches away from him ready to steal his morsels should he take more than 14 nanoseconds to eat them. The tastier the treat, the less he chews (or breathes) before swallowing.

    Which is exactly what you don’t want to do when enjoying a wine. Take your time. Savor it. That glass isn’t going anywhere, man. Relaaaax. See, isn’t that nice? Sniff. Swirl. Focus. And enjoy.

    Now, go walk that dog!


Cheers!

(images: 1WineDude.com, nytimes.com, galacticpudding, javelinaleapwinery.com)

5 Common Wine Drinking Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

Vinted on May 9, 2008 binned in best of, wine appreciation, wine buying, wine tasting, wine tips


Whoops.

Everyone makes mistakes. In the case of the Dude here, mistake frequency is pretty much daily. Thankfully, almost every mistake is an opportunity to learn.

Fortunately for you, the Dude here has made plenty of mistakes when it comes to drinking and appreciating wine. That means that you don’t have to make all of those same mistakes, my friend! You can thank me later (preferably with a bottle or two of `82 Mouton…).

Anyway – following are Top 5 of the most common mistakes in wine drinking and wine appreciation that I’ve come across (or made myself) during my life dabbling in the wine biz. Hopefully these help you to avoid the same…

  1. The Over-pour. Far and away, the most common mistake that I’ve seen is over-pouring wine into your wine glass. Believe it or not, being skimpy in this case is not being wimpy – pouring the right amount of wine is what you need to do to allow you to really enjoy the wine in your glass.

    Filling that glass to the brim is being generous only in the extra amount of calories that you’re consuming. It’s a killer for wine enjoyment because a) it prevents the wine’s aromas from being concentrated towards your nose (where they belong), b) it prevents you from swirling the wine in your glass (which releases those wonderful aromas and flavors in the first place) and c) it makes you much more likely to spill your wine (and you probably paid good money for it!).

    At this point you’re probably thinking, “Wait a second Dude – waiters do the Over-pour all the time in restaurants. What am I supposed to do about that?” Simple: ask for a second (empty) wine glass. Now you have two glasses of wine that you can fill properly (which basically means filling to the bowl shape of the glass and not beyond). You’re welcome!

    “Filling that glass to the brim is being generous only in the extra amount of calories that you’re consuming.”

  2. Serving wine at the wrong temperature. Wine that is too cold will taste dull, with subdued fruit characteristics. Wine that is served too hot will taste astringent and will highlight the alcohol above the other flavors in the wine.

    In a word – Yuck.

    Now, you don’t need to be too anal about this one, but to get the most out of your wine, you do need to get the wine temperature in the right ballpark – and the right ballpark is different depending on they type of wine you’re trying to enjoy. Sweet whites and sparklers usually stand up to the coldest temperatures; hefty reds like Zinfandel and Port can withstand the highest temps. For more specific information, check out this handy chart of wine serving temps from recipetips.com.

  3. End-Bin shopping. What does “End-Bin shopping” mean? It means shopping only at those flashy, special displays at the end of the aisles in wine stores. Why is this a mistake? Because the end bins are sometimes where good wines go to die.

    If you already know the wine and think it’s a good buy, then you may have found a good deal in that end-bin. While it’s certainly possible to catch a great bargain, I’ve also seen on many, many occasions wines that are woefully past their prime stuck into the end-bin at steep “discounts”. Don’t totally ignore those end-bins – but it’s a big mistake to make those the only stops on your foray through the wine store.

    “…the end bins are sometimes where good wines go to die…”

  4. Ignoring the sauce. There are few hard-and-fast rules when it comes to wine and food matching. I only really offer people two rules: 1) Match the “weight”/body of the food with the weight/body of the wine (lighter wines with lighter fare, heftier wines with heartier fare) and b) Don’t ignore the sauce!

    A thick, flavorful sauce can turn a lighter dish into a heavy monster of a meal. So, if you’re pairing a lighter wine with that heavier sauce, you might not ever get to really taste that wine, as it will get totally overpowered. Epicureans take note!

  5. Not doing any homework. You by no means need to have fancy-schmansy wine certifications to appreciate wine. But a little knowledge about wine styles and wines from different areas of the world can arm you with a very important weapon when it comes to wine enjoyment: Context.

    What do I mean by context? I mean knowing what some of those wines typically taste like, and what foods are typically enjoyed with them. This allows you to avoid a whole heap of mistakes when it comes to wine appreciation, because it means you’re more likely to taste the wine in its proper context. Someone can tell you that they hate Italian wines – and if that person tried those wines with super-spicy Thai food instead of Italian cuisine, they’re probably not giving that poor Italian wine a fighting chance to be liked!

    Grab yourself a book and get in some wine learning. Take a wine class, practice your tasting, or host a wine tasting party. The important thing is to keep an open mind about wine, and be willing to learn – in terms of helping you avoid the most common wine drinking foibles, those two things will never let you down.

Cheers!

(images: chichesterdesign.co.uk, comparestoreprices.co.uk, oleswanson.com)

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