Two of my three progeny are here under the same roof with 4 of our 5 1/3 grand-children. Billy and NW are here visiting with their fams– a treat indeed! This give us the unprecedented opportunity to taste wines together and discuss our findings. I believe if you take the time to read this, you will learn something about the subjective and objective elements of tasting wine.
We took a Yellow Tail Shiraz 2004 and the Yellow Tail Shiraz 2003 Reserve and tasted them blind then compared notes. I had an immediate conflict with what I was seeing and what I was finding through other sensory evaluations. The first glass had a better color with more intensity which caused me to lean toward identifying this as the reserve. Of course you wouldn’t make a judgement based only one characteristic but that was my snap judgment. The cognitive dissonance arose when I swirled and smelled for now the “better” wine as far as bouquet and nose was concerned was NOT the wine with the better color.
In the mouth the first wine was peppery with huge green pepper flavors or what some call vegetal. (I don’t care for vegetal wines...a point that will explain something later on.)
I said of the first wine, “a hot decent wine that finishes O.K. is fairly unremarkable; it’s just sort of wine to drink with reasonable tannins.” I wrote of the second wine “has a platform of chocolate right off, solid tannins and a finish that is O.K.. Both were a little bitter.
My assessment was the first wine was the ordinary Shiraz and the second was the Reserve based on the fact that although the first one had qualities more consistent with a better quality wine (the Reserve is $11 and the other is $7) I don’t like vegetal wines and view them as being somewhat flawed even. For that reason, the other wine was more enjoyable to me so I picked it as the Reserve. I was wrong and Billy and NW picked the right one.
Now here is the interesting part; NW had essentially the same review notes as me and Billy shared many of the same qualities yet they picked the other wine as the Reserve for the same reasons I picked the other! My assumption was the wine I enjoy more will be the “better” wine. Not true in this case; I selected the less expensive wine as the Reserve wine which cost $7 as compared to the Reserve which cost $11. In other words, I don’t like what they like and they like what I don’t.
Bottom line? There are objective elements to tasting wine but at the end of it all, it comes down to what YOU like. This was fun and I suggest you try the same sort of little “game.” So raise a glass and see what happens!