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Come on - is the Whole Wine Tasting Thing Fake?

 

is wine tasting fake, wine tasting phony, faking wine knowledge

One of the most memorable conversations I had when working in Napa in a winery tasting room was with a pair of couples from Iowa. They were having a nice time, but at some point one of them leaned over the bar and asked, "Come on - is the whole wine tasting thing a fake?" What he was struggling with was does a Zinfandel really taste different from a Cabernet Sauvignon, and is all the fuss over detailing all the little flavors and smells of a wine just a facade to seem sophisticated? I made the analogy that wine was simply as complex of lots of other things - the Iowa analogy might be that different grape varieties were like different varieties of cow or corn. Each has different qualities and features that make them suitable for some things but not for others. This was like a giant light bulb going off for them, because they worked in the agricultural industry and were very familiar with the complexities of that world in a way they'd just never translated to something like wine.

And the fact of the matter is - lots of things really are more complex than we give them credit for. We may not come into contact with these complexities in our own lives but it doesn't mean it's not there. Food scientists can describe samples of milk or hot peppers with as much detail and flair as you'll find in a wine tasting magazine. When you think of a tomato you might picture a standard beefsteak or Roma, but head over to a great farmer's market and you'll find lots more varieties. Never seen a purple tomato? It exists - and it's quite delicious and tastes VERY different from that beefsteak. Adding to this complexity with wine, is that it's fermented and then aged - both of which bring on complicated chemical changes that greatly change how it tastes.

Ultimately, wine tasting is not a put on, by any means. But you can have a lot of fun drinking wine - whether you want to dive into learning all its inticracies or you want to enjoy it at face value without all the hullaballoo.


 
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