Friday, May 30, 2008

Do Mechanics Dream of Riesling?

I took the test. Twice. I thought the results the first time were a shade off. The second time I took it, that was more like it. I knew there was a reason why I like Riesling, and so it seems many people do. And they also like Pinot Grigio and White Zinfandel. And Lambrusco. Whoa, hold on a minute, let’s not get carried away.

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.


Peter Rozovsky said...

I've just found your blog though Blogs of Note. Not only do I not know especially much about wine, but I'm not even sure what I like. But I would swear that a Brunello da Montalcino 1988 once brought me closer to God.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

ahmad wiyono said...

be careful man! good job....:D

John said...

Nice to see the comment in your last paragraph; we can't all be wine experts, and some of them get a bit 'precious' about the whole thing. I'm in the group who know if they like it after they've tried it; not very good at knowing a wine just from a list.

Really like the last photo.

Unknown said...

OK, AC... reading what you wrote, then reading what you wrote, leaves me wondering "What test did you take and are you fudging the results to your parents?!"

So, riddle me this: how can you be between a Sensitive Taster and a Tolerant taster when your lede sets up the piece explaining that you discovered why you like "Riesling... Pinot Grigio and White Zinfandel. And Lambrusco"

Said juice places you smack dab between Sweet and Hyper-Sensitive Tasters, quaffing at the same table as Carrie Bradshaw and friends.

Not that I'd protest such an opportunity at all. But, this Tolerant Taster, as well as Mr. Big, want to know what you been messing on and for how long? Or, is it just the N'Awlins humidity and heat and you need to take the test a third time once you're back?

Yer welcum. ;-)

Anonymous said...

The blue hurts my eyes

- Paul Prudhomme

Alfonso Cevola said...

I gots to get me some new friends

Anonymous said...

It is splendid blog. I am studied.
Please link to this site.

Anonymous said...

What's with the Fava?

That's sick, dude.

Anonymous said...

got any nails that go with Seersucker?

Buddhist In The West said...

I already know which wines I like without a test (Shiraz and Cab Sav)- but I might take it for fun, anyway.

Marco said...

Budometer says that I'm a sensitive taster. I guess that fits with my temperament/fate. I started out on Mateus and May wine but soon hit the harder stuff
BK, humidity can bring out the best in one or...

Gastropoda said...

You write & we obey. Excellent post, as always.

Marco said...

@ marcomg
sorry, but we have discontinued seersucker nails by popular demand

William Wren said...

i had a dream about wine- funny that- then discovered this blog and can put a name to the stuff

Tracie P. said...

i came out as sensitive, don't necessarily agree with the wine suggestions, though. i think it needs a tweakin'!

PattieP said...

Please journey to a spot in the USA's midwest along the Mississippi River during the summer. It will give you a hot, humid reason to enjoy a crisp Pinot Grigio. But I agree with you on the other mentions (zinfindel, riesling, lambrusco) Just saying the word "lambrusco" gives me the "lambruscos" (hee-bee-gee-bees).

pondlife said...

Just discovered this from Blogs of Note.

I may have to return in order to learn more about Italian Wine. Which considering I live about a 90 minute drive from Italy is harder than you might think.

It isn't easy to find Italian wine in France, but then again it isn't easy to find French wine in Italy; which is odd considering the different grapes and therefore tastes.

Nice blog.

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