[I once attended a wine tasting at a fancy resort. The person running the tasting was filled with all those pretentious phrases that Silverback Larry references in his rant. The final, and supposedly best wine of the day was served. “Don’t taste it yet!” commanded the instructor, “Swirl and sniff first.” After pausing a minute he said, “Now what do you smell?”
I don’t usually volunteer opinions on occasions like this, but this time I couldn’t resist. “It smells like shit.”
“EXACTLY!!” exclaimed the instructor, going on to say that this particular wine came from a small, French farmstead winery and that part of the “terroir” was created by not-so-subtle undertones of barnyard. SB SM]
by SB Larry (The Villages SBs)
Silverback Larry (on left)
With all due respect to our Head Silverback, Stephen, the recent posting on the Wine Club gave way too much credence to this grape drink than it ever deserves. Your story bristled up so many silver hairs on my back that I found a need to start thumping my chest because of what I’ve been going through my entire wine drinking life which now measures almost half a century.
For so many of those years, I have been in an ongoing battle with the self-described “wine connoisseurs” who feel they can determine a good or bad wine by swirling it in a glass, sticking their nose in it for a sniff, putting just the right amount into their mouths, sucking it back and forth between their teeth, inhaling a slight bit of air (but not too much) and then, for those who “know how to read it,” spitting it out because … God Forbid! … it can’t be swallowed after all that regurgitation!
They then, of course, pontificate on the wonderful tastes of oak, the maturity, mellowness, texture, appearance, aroma, structure, firmness, softness, earthiness, how long it is on the palate, what minerals you taste … sigh!… whether it’s nervous, smooth, tense, vigorous, woody, bitter, sweet, fruity, light-bodied, full-bodied, delicate, elegant, crisp, thin, dry, bright, zesty, airy, racy, zippy, austere, brilliant, aromatic, opaque, clear … double sigh … flavorsome, tangy, sapid, flavorless, tasteless, bland, flat, insipid, round, aged, young, bump, slippery, grainy, bristly, intense, dull … Good Lord! … has magnificent legs, consistency, backbone, complexity, elegance, liveliness, richness, and on and on and on. And finally, is it (the Good Lord hopes) … balanced … and does it have a wonderful finish. I was finished a long time ago!
After putting up with all of this pomposity, it’s time for a good and forceful slap across their pretentious and arrogant faces! If I hear one more “Sommelier” tell me a specific bottle of wine is exquisite, well … they may find their little tin cup shoved down their big gaping throat!!
This all forces me to move into into my diatribe as to why this is all such a crock, and here’s why … it boils down to one simple undeniable statement — No person can determine what another person tastes!
One person may enjoy the taste of something, while another may hate it. I then ask the person who is disgusted with my lack of wine respect, what food have they always disliked and will not eat. The answers inevitably come back to things like Brussel sprouts, liver, fish, venison, etc. I then choose one of these foods that I, or someone else, absolutely loves the taste of, and ask how that can possibly be? One person adores the taste of fish and another wouldn’t be able to stomach it?
The taste of one food makes one gag, regurgitate, make all kind of obnoxious sounds and finally spit it out and say “That’s terrible!!” And yet, another will continue to eat it with gusto and determine it one of the finest tastes they have ever had!
I then pose another undeniable statement …
Why doesn’t that same principle apply to wine?
The pompous one looks down his nose, gives me a “Harrumpf” and says “you don’t know good wine…” Well … no … to me it could taste like sewer water, but the taste of nicely-cooked piece of liver just sends me to Nirvana. Most snobs are caught flat-footed on this one and are aghast that I would even question an “expert” of a fine wine, yet … they have no answer…
Our taste of wine is determined by not only our tongue but also the upper roof of our mouths. No one as of yet, has the ability to enter another person’s body and experience how something tastes on that person’s palate. The taste of anything is strictly personal.
Although we all might like to think that the processed juice from one lowly fruit has the ability to transform into a universally accepted exquisitely perfect tasting wine, let’s all remember what a bunch of hooey that is, and if a sommelier starts heading toward your table, stand up straight and tell him to go get a real job!