All of us at one time or another have witnessed the sub-species of wine conniseurs lovingly called "the wine snob." These individuals know how to judge a wine expertly, determining every subtle flavor and educating everyone within hearing distance. They are quick to share their expertise and, all-too-often, to expose one's pitiful lack of wine knowledge.
Well, a couple of French researchers claim that they have proven that the so-called wine experts know "no more than the rest of us," according to a report in The Times
of London. This award-winning French study exposes the fact that for all of us, perhaps even more so for these "experts," personal views on wine are based "...as much on color and labels as upon a wine's bouquet and flavor." I say "even more so" because the study saw that the more "profound" a person's experience with wine, the more that person became blind to what they were tasting and more susceptible to what they thought they should be tasting.
Here's what I mean. The study had two parts. In the first, the researcher invited 54 of Bordeaux's eminent wine experts to sample different bottles of wine. One of these was a white wine to which the researcher had added a flavorless substance giving it a red color. Not one of the experts noticed that the wine they were drinking was actually a disguised white!
In the second part of the study, 57 experts tasted the same bottle of a very average wine twice. The first time, the wine was labeled as a "high-prestige grand cru" and the second time it was labeled as a "cheap vin de table." When the experts thought it was a grand cru, they described it as "agreeable, woody, complex, balanced, and rounded." Whey they tasted the bottle labeled as a simple table wine, they replied that it was "weak, short, light, flat, faulty and with a sting."
What does this mean for us? Well, if you're like me, you know what wine you like. And you like it for very personal reasons. Sometimes the reason is as simple as the fact that you like the label or you remember visiting that winery last summer or any of a hundred other perfectly good reasons for liking a wine. Likewise, you probably don't like specific wines for equally appropriate reasons. Whatever these reasons are, they are perfect for you and your wine selecting criteria.
So, the next time you witness the antics of that wine snob looking down his nose at your selection, just smile and pick out any darn wine you want.