Sweet Wine Drinkers, (A Lack Of) Panties, And How We Experience Wine

Vinted on July 26, 2011 binned in wine news

According to a recent survey of wine drinkers, headed up jointly by Cornell professor Virginia Utermohlen and controversial wine guru Tim Hanni, wine consumers who prefer sweet wines often hyper-experience across their other senses.  Apparently to the point that they might forego their undergarments entirely:

“People who love sweet or delicate wines are typically what we call Sweet or Hypersensitive tasters. They live with vivid sensations that people at the other end of the spectrum cannot imagine and will often prefer Moscato wines. Those more tolerant tasters would prefer wines with more tannins, for example… people with very sensitive palates are also more sensitive to light, sound, taste and touch. The touch aspect can be significant in their clothing, as the manufacturers’ tags irritate their skin and cause them to wear underclothing inside out, or in many cases, none at all.”

So… based on what we know about women’s wine habits from recent studies and polls… if you have amorous intent then you’re best bet might be buying your date a bottle of the most expensive, and sweetest (assuming she’s one of those hyper-sensorial types) rose wine possible.  If I were Sutter Home, I might increase my White Zin prices by several percentage points in anticipation of the windfall (after adding some more sugar to them).

Just sayin’.

But there is a serious side to all of this for us wine geeks…

It tells us that we probably don’t all taste the same, and reinforces that the best thing that we can do for getting our wine recommendations is to follow not one wine criticism voice but several, giving preference to those tasters whose sensory perception seems to align best to our personal tastes.

Tim Hanni’s work, though controversial, I think is gaining traction – and has a sort of spiritual alignment with the cosmopolitan wine tendencies of Millennials, and the focus on bringing tasting power from a select few critics and back into the hands of the people.  The latter is a stance that’s received a lot of publicity in recent months thanks to books like The Wine Trails, which urges consumers to taste wines blind, define their own palate preferences, and buy accordingly (all while controversially taking shots at the established wine media along the way).

While it could certainly be argued that Hanni is overstating the case when it comes to our sensory experience discrepancies, there’s no denying that key differences exist in how any two people perceive a given experience, and it feels like folly to assume that food, taste, and wine should be excluded:

“People often argue about the characteristics they perceive in a wine,” Hanni says. “It’s as though they’re not tasting the same thing — even experts tasting from the same bottle. These variables are evident in a spectrum of attitudes and behaviors — from the volume on television, temperature in a room, use of spices or the sheets in the bed.”

Personally, the day when people trust their own palates and can confidently navigate a wider group of experts providing recommendations based on varied tasting preferences couldn’t arrive soon enough. Vive la différence!  How about you?






  • 1WineDude

    Just received an email from someone about this post (will keep them anon. for now) and HAD to share one quote from it:

    "The great thing about Ice Wine is it actually tastes better when licked off of certain “body parts” than out of the Reidel crystal glasses we used to use for sampling."


  • Wine Harlots

    Oh geez, Joe! It’s too early in the morning on the Left Coast for this. I spit up my uppity-over-priced coffee!

    Not generally a sweet wine drinker – but manufacter’s labels always chafe! (One a harlot, always a harlot!)


    Nannette Eaton

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Nannette – too early for this for the Wine Harlots?!?? Say it ain't so!!! :)

  • @wineywomen

    Well, I will be looking at those sweet wine drinkers in a whole new light…. What does that say about us Bold, Full Red wine drinkers that like those tannins and furry feeling on our tongue???

    • 1WineDude

      Not sure, wineywoman… maybe we need to create a flavor profile / preferred undergarment poll? :)

  • Matt Esser

    Joe, I can't be sure but I don't think that there was actually an article here. All I saw was a picture…


    • 1WineDude

      Matt – HA! Now you know why I picked that photo..

  • Joe Herrig

    Feather in the cap of a good retailer who knows his/her customers and recommends based on personal preference and palate, rather than a score, marketing, or what's got to move quickly. Frankly, I'm surprised more of the boutique retailers I know don't keep profiles (info volunteered by consumer) of their regular customers to help with recommendations, marketing, etc. And yes, I wish we all trusted our palates more, admitting I can be influenced to like something more than I actually do by the opinions of those I know and trust.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Joe – I know that Moore Bros. does keep profiles similar to that, so that they can recommend items to those customers when they come back to the store.

  • sonomalass

    Please DO put together a taste & underwear preference poll!

    • 1WineDude

      Sonomalass – ok… in my spare time…! :)

  • Michael

    I just don't understand what all of this means. I agree that the best possible path is to find reviewers who have a similar outlook to your own and follow them, along with trusting yourself to know what you like. A good wine store or somelier should be able to guide you to wines you might like based on what you can tell them about your preferences. But I don't entirely get the line Hanni is drawing between those who like sweet or delicate wines and those who like others. Part of what I like about wine is the variety. I like port, I like sauternes, and some moscatos, (although some ice wines are just too gloppy) and also Pino Noir, and Merlot, and Rhone blends, and a good Cab (if it's not over oaked). Why is it either or? And is "delicate" a new word for boring?

    • 1WineDude

      Michael – I suspect the lines are drawn to attract some attention to the findings. The reality is probably more fuzzy – like you, I enjoy just about everything (though Retsina is, admittedly, a tough sell for me…). Cheers!

  • Jon Rogers - Wines Without The Mystery

    Interesting article and comments. I have met Tim Hanni and participated in a seminar of his. I have been teaching a non-snob approach to wine for 29 years. The comment about people not experiencing the same is elemental. That’s one of the great things about wine, food, art. You are right (correct) for your taste. If we all tasted the same, pun intended, life would be boring.
    Second, most rose’s are dry. I would be suggesting to folks to try the myriad styles of Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, and Muscat.
    I encourage my students, ages 21-91, to enjoy all wines. What we drink should be determined by the time of day, year, food, who we are drinking with, and most importantly, the best wine available to us at that time.
    Lastly, I don’t agree with the blind tasting thing until people have a general understanding of the premium grapes. Otherwise, they are grasping at straws.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks Jon – the Rose reference is a throwback to another slightly-off-color take on wine news that many women polled now view wine (especially rose) as essential on a date (link is in the article).

  • pengertian

    I just don't understand what all of this means. I agree that the best possible path is to find reviewers who have a similar outlook to your own and follow them, along with trusting yourself to know what you like……

    • 1WineDude

      Pengertian, surely you’ve more imagination than that… ;-)

  • Trackbacks

  • Trackback from Terroirist » Daily Wine News: Sweet, Sweet Wine
    Wednesday, 27 July, 2011

    […] other sweet wine news, 1WineDude highlights an odd study on those who enjoy a glass of vin moelleux. According to Professor Virginia Utermohlen of Cornell […]

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