An academic article titled Wine Expertise Predicts Taste Phenotype was recently published in the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture. It received a lot of attention in the press mainly due to the finding that those who gravitate towards wine writing, tasting, making, etc, have a more acute sense of taste than the rest of the population. This led to the conclusion in some media outlet that written reviews of fine wines are irrelevant to the majority of consumers as they simply can’t taste the flavours described by the wine critic. Tim Atkin MW has an excellent riposte to this on his blog.
My response to this is simple. I believe anyone can get more enjoyment out of wine (or any pastime) simply by paying more attention to your senses and learning a little. Indeed, my very first post here is titled ‘Think about what you drink‘. You certainly don’t need to be a ‘super-taster’ to do that.
All wine critics and makers began as ‘beginners’ themselves and developed a discriminatory sense of taste and smell through training and practice. Perhaps some have a heightened ability to differentiate more flavours and aromas, yet I believe everyone has the ability to maximise their tasting potential, to learn to discriminate more flavours in their food and drink, and thus to increasingly appreciate more complex sensory experiences. The general predeliction among children to favour sweet things over savoury is an indication that your tastes change and evolve over time.
Yes there is a lot of jargon out there in the wine world and it can be tough cutting through all that. One of the reasons I started this blog was because I was learning about wine, encountering all these foreign, pseudo-technical terms, and wanted to rephrase them in the clearest manner I could. Look out for a forthcoming post, Tasting in a nutshell, where I’ll attempt to explain my approaches in learning how to taste wine.
To appreciate fine wine, you don’t need a fine palate – that will come with time. You just need a sense of curiosity.
- Should we write about wines we don’t like? (theoxfordwineblog.wordpress.com)