Articles Tagged wine science
Piling onto so-called expert wine evaluators has become all the rage lately. Remember when the California State Fair commercial wine competition judges got steamrolled (again) by data showing that blind tasting medals are awarded in a random distribution?
So expert wine evaluation is all just donkey-bong bunk, right?
Not so fast, Jerky.
According to data collected over the last several months by VineSleuth, it turns out that when we live by the wine evaluation data sword, we also die by the wine data evaluation sword. VineSleuth’s data show that expert wine evaluators “are able to repeat their observations on individual wine samples about 90% of the time” when tasting wines blind.
Now, where I come from, 90% is a sh*t-ton better performance than can be explained by random chance. It suggests that the blind wine evaluation game isn’t so clearly flawed as some might make it out to be.
And before you start manically flailing away at your keyboards typing me flaming e-mails about how the experts chosen for VineSleuth’s analysis must not actually be experts, or that their (patent-pending and proprietary) methodology is somehow flawed, you should know that they ran it with the help of sensory scientists and numerical algorithms researchers/experts, and that they stocked their tasting panels with folks who make their livings tasting wine: winemakers, oenologists, sommeliers, writers… and little ol’ me.
And pretty soon, you’ll be able to test out my work for yourself…
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Welcome to the Weekly Wine Quiz, peoples.
Based on feedback from ever-so-vocal-and-intelligent peeps like you, I supply the quiz question each week, but do *not* supply the quiz answer directly in the post. That’s because YOU are supposed to supply the answer in the comments, and then tune back in later today in the comments section for the official answer.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on a topic that many wine lovers love to hate, and which many other wine lovers just love: OAK. Why? Because I felt like stirring the pot, okay?
Some Coffee With That Oak?
What volatile compound imparted by oak barrels is responsible for giving a wine aromas of coffee or toasted hazelnuts?
- A. Furans
- B. Dimethyl pirazines
- C. Acetic acid
- D. Eugenol
Cheers – and good luck!
I don’t mean here that if you lick a wine expert (something I do not recommend, unless you happen to be Heidi Klum and the wine expert you plan on tasting is me) they taste like chocolate-covered hazelnut while you taste like a dog coming out of the rain.
I mean, are wine experts hard-wired to taste wine in a fundamentally different way than you are, physiologically?
Sound crazy? Well, crazy or not, that’s the conclusion suggested by results published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, from a study performed by John Hayes (assistant professor of food science) and others at (WE ARE!) Penn State. Even NPR jumped in on this action despite the study results not having been repeated yet (see “Most Of Us Just Can’t Taste The Nuances In High-Priced Wines” – not that they’d stoop to using an incendiary title that insinuates the conclusions as unalterable scientific fact or anything gimmicky like that…).
The coverage of the study at PSU.edu is pretty sparse, and open to some rather gaping critical holes, but assuming the results hold up to further scientific scrutiny they will bolster the controversial position taken by Master of Wine Tim Hanni (and others) that individually we perceive wines differently based on a number of factors, some of them physical.
To the tape, quoting Mr. Hayes (emphasis mine):
“While learning plays a role in their expertise and other factors matter, such as how they communicate their thoughts and opinions on wines, some wine experts may have an innate advantage in learning to discern small differences in wine.”
The most interesting thing about this study? For my money, it’s the further implication that reviews from wine experts are actually even less helpful to the general public than previously thought…
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Just about every year around St. Valentine’s Day, I remind people that wine knowledge makes you appear sexier.
In the past, I’ve cited three (mostly) scientific sources to bolster that viewpoint:
According to a survey jointly sponsored by the Australian Wine Council and on-line dating service Match.com, having a healthy knowledge of the world’s most romantic beverage makes you more attractive, with those people preferring Italian wines being viewed as particularly “sexy” and “stylish.”
Wine X Magazine (as reported by autumnilia) backs up the “wine = sexier” conclusion in an interview with sexpert Dr. Ruth, who tells us that wine is an essential element of foreplay (she prefers Beaujolais Nouveau, gewurztraminer, and CA white, so those may be some of the sexiest wine choices, seeing as how she’s a sexpert and whatnot- just sayin’).
If you’re totally desperate on this most Hallmark of holidays, Yahoo! Answers has a thread about what wine choices make a drinking partner appear the most attractive. Chianti and Sake got the nods there.
Cheers – and may you be lucky in wine and love!
(image: courtesy of Celeste Guliano Photography)