The assessment was at the Budometer, which is a web site dreamt up by mad-scientist Tim Hanni. It’s a quick test where one can determine where they stand as a taster. The basic four groups are Tolerant, Sensitive, Hyper-Sensitive and Sweet tasters. I’m somewhere between a Sensitive and a Tolerant taster. Give it a try, you might be surprised. It will definitely challenge your ideas of what you “think” you like vs. what your taste buds are calibrated for.
Doesn't have a Blackberry or a Bluetooth
His point, one of many, was that wee folks in the wine industry, marketers, masters, sommeliers and critics, set up tents that we’d like to think everybody needs to fit under, in order for them to “get” what we pro’s know, like the back of our ass. Because of that point of view, we are leaving a lot of people in the parking lot, not letting them through the ropes, because they don’t enjoy what we enjoy, because they have unsophisticated tastes, because they like sweet wine. When, in many cases, it seems to be physiological preferences, not intellectual choices, that rule the tongue and taste.
One of his observations was that he thinks Robert Parker might be a Tolerant taster, where one with his preferences likes wines that are big, oaky, powerful and rich. Hanni said, “Parker found the formula for the Tolerant tasters,” indicating that Bob set up a scenario whereby those folks who have his tastes can find their advocate for their tastes. Being a partial Tolerant, I can understand the pleasure and the allure, although I do enjoy my Riesling and my Aglianico.
Riesling with Sashimi, Aglianico with Yakitori
It also clarified why Parker and Jancis Robinson had such different ideas about wines like Pavie. Robinson, Hanni claims, is a Hyper-Sensitive taster.
It also explains why someone like Alice Feiring’s book and Op-Ed pieces are eliciting screams and hostile responses. Different strokes, it seems to me. Take the test, go to the site; the doors of perception will crack open.
Open the pod bay doors, Edvard
Hanni is heading up a psycho-sensory studies department at Copia in Napa, delving into this and other areas of research. Yeah, he’s a bit of a nutty professor, like Bucky Fuller and John Lilly. I dig it.
Fascinating stuff. Check it out.
While on the subject, it overlays with thoughts I have been having about wine styles lately. While I do appreciate natural wines, very much, I have had a couple of “very California” wines that I have truly enjoyed. One was a Merlot Cab Blend from Pellegrini, called Milestone. It was gulpable and delicious. That works for me. Not always, but this time, yes.
Three days later, in the patio of Bayona in New Orleans, I tried to order a bottle of Savennières and was shot down by my buddy, Guy Stout. Now Guy is a Good ‘ol boy and a Master Somm to boot, but at that time of the night he was objecting to the high acid of Loire Valley Chenin, while I was Jonesing for acid and mineral, with a little fruit topping. We compromised on a Julienas. Talk about a 180° .
Three can keep a secret, if two of them are poached
That difference in taste and preference, in any giving day, and subject to change, is beginning to explain why there are so many different kinds of Valpolicella Ripasso and Amarone’s floating around out there.
Hey, when a winemaker comes at you with his bottle thinking he has all the answers, here’s what to do. Take your red cape, get out of the way, swirl a bit to make your move look good, and get ready for the next winemaker, or critic, to pass your way with his sharpened horns of opinion. Don’t get hooked. You’re not necessarily wrong about what you like. So you might only have been getting into Italian wine, or wine in general, for a month or a year. Doesn’t matter. You are where you are. Live with it. Embrace it. Enjoy it.
Dream a little dram for me.