Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wine Snobs Suck vs. It's An Acquired Taste

This BBC article was absolutely noteworthy, not only because it showed unbelievably low standards of journalism, but also because it received over 216 comments in less than 15 hours. The article Cheap wine as "good as pricier bottles" - blind taste test reports that random people, when given wines of contrasting prices, can only identify expensive or inexpensive wine correctly 50% of the time (the law of chance). As one astute commenter said:

“Who funded this? [...] a survey that proves people who most likely know nothing about wine, know nothing about wine. Really groundbreaking research.”


Is it too much to ask the guy on the street to identify good wine? Can a person who is unfamiliar with wine be a fair judge of quality? Comments like this suggest not:

“I find that decanting a bottle of 2.99 red improves the flavour no end and everybody drinks it quite happily”


But then again, I'm probably a wine snob; that loathsome creature who dwells in the dark corners of fine-dining restaurants. And everyone hates wine snobs:


“Just goes to show how pathetic and snobbish the whole wine process is.”


and


"The comments from the wine snobs are hilarious. 'They didn't understand the complexity'? Much like the little boy didn't appreciate the fine stitching of the emperor's 'new clothes'!"


Damn straight! Don't-know-much-about-art-but-I-know-what-I-like common sense! In the words of Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Go out and find 50 others that are rich enough to take pleasure in this facade. It seems that us wine drinkers are caught in at crossroads. Is it true that "price is no indication of quality," and that "There is no such thing as good or bad wine it all depends on what you like?" As one Freudian said, it's all about "perceptive expectation, which simply put means that paying more for something creates the expectation you will enjoy it more and you actually do enjoy it more."


Wait a minute. No. Wine is an acquired tasted, and there is definitely a difference between expensive and inexpensive wine. How do I know? I’ve worked in the wine business and know what goes into wine. Low-end wines have additives in them that shouldn’t be there and wouldn’t be there if winemakers were not trying to produce large quantities of wine. Do these additives taste good? Of course, why else would you put them in there? But you don’t have to be a genius to recognize the fact that a wine produced with little pieces of arobois (oak dust) in it results in eating wood. Some wines are absolutely crammed with sugar to get higher alcohol levels. This means that the wine is mostly water and that it needs to be given both alcohol and flavor through additives.


The difference between high-end wines and low-end wines (the extremes) is the difference between eating a grape and sucking on a grape-flavored Jolly Ranger. I like budget wines, and nothing makes me happier than finding that amazing wine that’s great tasting and cheap. It’s totally possible to find good wines for cheap, but high-end wines usually taste better because they have fewer additives and more natural flavor. Low-end wines can make us happy, but after you’ve drunk enough good wine, you really can taste the differences. It's sad but true and it deeply wounds your wallet. It takes time to develop a good taste for wine.

2 comments:

Santo said...

Just to let you know, some friends and I have been debating this since the article hit. So far I have lost two friends on Facebook because I told them that most people off the street could not tell the difference between a high-end wine and a low-end wine since they have never tried them before. Their palates are not zoned in to look at things closer. Plus the survey was just BS anyway. I don't care what the price it, as long as it is good and I can get my hands on it.

Mattie John Bamman said...

Right on. Sorry to hear about the Facebook friends! but I agree with you. The whole topic is so interesting and inflammatory. I have a hard time even distinguishing the grape variety when faced with a blind tasting, but I wouldn't expect that of someone who's formally trained. I think people feel that they are being told that they do not know what they like. What's really being stated, when someone says it's an acquired taste, is that more experience = a better understanding. Good to hear from you Santo.

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