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Wine Tasting: Scientific Proof That Your Nose Lies

Ok - we all do it when we taste wine properly: we stick our noses right on that glass and smell. Right? That's our introduction to the wine, the first step in learning more about it and deciding to have a romance or a spit (the horror). Well according to an article posted in the Telegraph UK, scientists have decided that wine tasters are, well, full of it.

But now there is scientific evidence to suggest that wine buffs may just be talking rubbish, or at least that they greatly overestimate their own ability to pin down a wine's particular aroma.

Today a US team publishes hard evidence that people smell the world differently because of their genes.

The findings suggest that those who claim to pick up rich aromas from fine wines may owe more to genetics than to any great expertise.

Now I admit that when our friends are tasting wines together, we suggest scents to each other and then we can smell them. But to say that wine tasting is subjective? Absurd! OK not really.

Any wine taster of merit will admit that one person's palette differs from another. Why would our noses be any different. The best part of wine is that whatever we think about a wine is correct! It adds to the experience.

Perhaps another quote from the article states it best:

The Telegraph's wine buff, Jonathan Ray, commented: "Shock horror! So there is scientific proof that wine lovers talk rubbish. Doesn't everyone after a glass or two?

"How does one describe what scrambled eggs tastes like, or smoke smells like, without comparing them to something else? So it is that we wine lovers might describe a wine as tasting of truffles, leather, game and rotting veg. Well, dammit, that's what old red burgundy often resembles. It certainly doesn't taste of grapes."

Therefore, I'm not too concerned that scientists say we're full of rubbish. That's the point isn't it?

To read the whole article, go here.


Carol said...

We're full of it to some degree, sure... but I smell what I smell! I don't just make things up randomly and if you have several people sniffing the same wine, picking up the same smells, well, they can't all be BSing, right? Of course, then you get guys like this one who tasted Drew on some wines last week (and this has nothing to do with sniffing) - a real gem, trying to convince him that one of the flavors in the wine had a little bit of the taste of that skin around a pistachio nut, while in the shell. What? That's stretching it. But to say you're not really picking up mint, citrus, berries, cedar scents. Well, maybe all those grouchy scientists just need a drink ;-)

The Wino Club said...

Yay Carol! I can't agree more with your sentiments. When Darcy and I first started taking wine classes we would wait for the teacher to tell us what she smelled and then smelled for it - power of suggestion. As we grew more confident, we were brazen enough to suggest smells to her and it worked out just fine.

But the skin of a pistachio in the shell? How would you even know what that tastes like? Some winos do stretch a little I agree and I do also agree with you that there are some undeniable scents in most every wine and yes, we are all full of it to the extent that we attempt to verbalize a physical experience.

The important question then remains: how many drinks do you think it would take to really get those scientists loosened up?