Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 26, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

WINE TASTING....Professor Bainbridge likes to write about wine. Recently he described one particular wine as "Medium-bodied warm and rich dark fruits. A slight eucalyptus note typical of Heitz." Of another he said, "The flavor profile is toasted almonds, caramel, rising bread, strawberries, and a very pinot noir-ish note of black cherries."

I myself have the taste buds of a five-year-old, so my interest in this is strictly intellectual. However, last night I had dinner with one of Marian's cousins, who has recently started up a boutique winery in Arcata (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah, in case this stuff means anything to you), and I asked him about this style of wine description. If you had two or three experts taste the same wine, would they all agree on what the various flavor components were? Or would one of them claim it tasted of peanut butter and elderberries while the other detected hints of shoe polish and rainbow trout?

Assuming I understood correctly not a sure thing he said that different people would detect different flavors. Fine. But if that's the case, why bother describing wines this way? It's not very helpful to tell me about the caramel and rising bread if I'm going to taste something entirely different, is it?

Anyway, the point of this is to throw this question open to the crowd, and especially to Prof Bainbridge the next time he wanders by. Is my cousin-in-law right? And if he is right, then what's the point?

Just curious.

UPDATE: The professor answers here.

Kevin Drum 3:32 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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