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Science of Taste

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  • 'Frederic Brochet ,,, fooled 57 French wine experts by serving them two identical wines, one in an expensive Grand Cru bottle, the other in a cheap Vin de Table bottle?  Although both bottles contained the same wine -- a mid-range Bordeaux -- Brochet's subjects preferred the wine from the Grand Cru bottle by a dramatic margin.  They used positive terms like "excellent," "good," "complex," and "long" more than twice as often when describing the supposed Grand Cru as they did when describing the supposed Vin de Table, and, conversely, used negative terms like "unbalanced," "short," "flat," and "simple" more than twice as much when describing the supposed Vin de Table.'   (The Wine Trials, p12)
  • 'Another of Brochet's experiments showed that, like price, the color of wine can affect subjects' reported experiences.  When 54 subjects tasted a white wine under normal conditions, they tended to use typical white wine descriptors (e.g. "fresh," "lemon," "apricot," and "honey") to describe their experience.  But when they tasted the same white wine when it had been colored with a flavorless dye to look like red wine, the tasters switched to typical red-wine descriptors (e.g. "red currant," "cherry," "raspberry," and "spice").  The influence of the wine's color on their taste experience, or at least their judgement, was profound.'  (Ibid)
  • Knowledge of price does not just affect our judgement of wine, it affects the taste, in every meaning of the word.  Subjects in fMRI tests revealed that blood flow to the left medial orbitofrontal cortex, the area commonly associated with pleasure, increased when subjects were (mis)led to believe the wine was expensive (The Wine Trials, p14)

  • 'Simply removing the cork to allow the wine to "breathe" has no effect whatsoever.  APPLICATION: The waiter, sommelier, or "expert" is wasting your time by simply removing the cork without decanting the bottle. It has been scientifically proven2 that the narrow space of the bottle neck where the wine can contact air is inadequate to produce any change within a period of even 24 hours, let alone a few minutes.' WinePros
  • You can't re-cork a half empty bottle of wine and keep it good for a week - "It’s a chemical fact that wine, when trapped in a bottle with a significant quantity of air above it, reacts quickly with the oxygen, and the wine’s sensory properties change in a matter of hours. The size of the effect depends on the proportion of wine to air in the bottle (if only a glass’s worth of wine has been poured out of the bottle, the reaction is slower; if there’s only a glass left in the bottle, the reaction is faster).  I am generally a contrarian with respect to people’s (even critics’) abilities to identify the characteristics of wine in blind tastings, but the difference between a newly opened wine and the same wine after a week is a really easy one for most people to pick up."  (BlindTaste.com 5/25/2009)
  • "The solution: you pour the unused portion of the wine, as soon as possible after opening the bottle, into one (or more) smaller containers, and close it (or them) up as quickly as possible with very little oxygen inside the bottle. This can be done after you’ve had the wine open for a bit, but it’s best done immediately after opening. You can transfer wine into a 375mL split (half-bottle), a 187mL half-split (usually used for Champagne or sparkling wine), or even a plastic water bottle."  (Ibid)
  • "No scientific blind-tasting study of wine experts has ever shown expensive wines to do consistently well, or cheap wines to do consistently poorly....  In a year-long series of blind tastings that I conducted with wine experts and non-experts from the US, France, and other countries, my colleagues and I poured more than 6,000 glasses of wine from brown-bagged bottles that cost from $1.50 to $150. On the whole, our tasters actually preferred the cheaper wines to the more expensive wines—by a statistically significant margin. Even among the wine experts alone, there was only a weakly positive correlation between price and preference—one that didn’t rise to the level of statistical significance."  ( thewinetrials.com )
  • Domaine Ste. Michelle Cuvée Brut - $12 Washington state sparkling wine that beat Dom Pérignon in blind taste tests 2:1  ( The Wine Trials )
  • Shape of the glass makes no difference in beer taste (BI pg.165)
  • "In compiling this list we omit adjectives that are broadly understood by all to have a common meaning: thus we do not include in the list colors (deep red, purple, golden yellow, etc.), duration of finish (long-lasting) or certain taste descriptions (e.g., acidic)." -- On Wine Bullshit




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