Wine Tasters Under Fire – The Red Daily Slosh

5 Sep

Heading to Spain and this puts me in the mood.

Read an article the other day entitled, “The 6 Most Statistically Full of Shit Professions.” Aside from the awkward syntax in the title, it caught my eye. Who were the best professional shitters? Number 6 – Stock Traders. Check. Number 5 – Wine Tasters. What? The article talked about studies done where ‘expert’ wine tasters were fooled, tee-hee, by cheap plonk. And, that’s not the only reference to we bullshitting tasters. If you search bullshit experts (go ahead, I’ll wait), wine-tasting-is-BS articles abound. I’m looking at my wine tasting friends out there when I say, “Oh, the unwashed masses just don’t get it, do they? And stupid is in. #DonaldTrump”

Here’s the thing: of course wine tasters get it wrong a lot of the time. And, they get it right a lot of the time, too (don’t argue the math of that statement – a lot plus a lot equals 100%). Wine is complex, mysterious, and ever changing in the bottle and glass. Why expect wine tasters as they taste a hundred wines in the morning alone to be perfect? The problem isn’t that wine tasters are fallible. It’s our need to have certainty. And folks, certainty with wine is elusive and, frankly, not a lot of fun.

So, read the shelf talkers as directional keys, not gospel and start believing in your own taste. Except in one case. Take everything this taster says as the brilliant truth. Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and gosh darn it people like me.

On to this weekend’s wines.

When I was in Apulia a couple years ago, I started to understand how you can have big, hearty reds in the midst of the heat that they have there. It didn’t make any sense to me from my perch in Ontario but once you feel the whole vibe – cuisine, sea, olive groves, crusty landscape and the people, it just all fits together. It goes to show me that wine can’t be slotted into perfect matching times, places, and foods as easily as some gadget or website might suggest. This week, there’s a wonderful example of this that’s been on and off the shelves for a number of years. The 2006 Schola Sarmenti Roccamora Nardò Negroamaro #379768 $16.95 is a great example of an aged red from the Italian boot heel. It’s full-bodied, rich, fleshy, and still carries some tannin to prevent any notion of flabbiness or over-ripeness. Rustic, substantial. Perfect lamb stew wine. But, in the spirit I’ve waxed on above, I think it would be great with BBQ during the last days of summer.

I seem to be gravitating to wines from the south of France lately. No, not lately, I’ve always gravitated there. They are reasonably priced, tell me a story about where they’re from (oh yeah, if you listen, you can hear them), and they are good value. In typing this, I just realized something. My average price point in the summer is lower than in the colder months. I wonder why that is? Does anyone else have the same experience?Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, south of France. There is a strong, consistent performer this weekend in the 2013 Tessellae Côtes du Roussillon Old Vines Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre #343517 $17.00. Although the Grenache is first in the name, it seems more Syrah to me. Not as ripe as a Grenache, if that makes sense. Quite seamless from the glass to the swallow. Pure is the word that I’d use. I like this a lot. Could be sipped around the last campfire of the year while telling scary stories or singing “Deep and Wide” and “Michael Row The Boat Ashore.” Great wine to put down below for those wintery days ahead as well.

We had a family reunion kind of thing a couple of weeks ago at the cottage. Hadn’t seen each other more than a few times in 30 years. When the subject of wine came up, as it always does with me, my cousin and her husband said that they were kind of stuck on Malbec. That’s not as bad as it might sound to non-wine peep. Malbec does bring a lot to the table. This week, one of my absolute favourites arrives – 2013 Ben Marco Malbec #657601 $18.95. Now, I haven’t had to lecture on that ubiquitous Malbec that starts with an ‘F’ lately because I don’t believe people are drinking it like they used to. But, if you are, step away from the Fuzion. No, I mean it – STEP AWAY. Instead, splurge (if I can use that word when referring to a wine costing $18.95) on this beaut by Susana Balbo at Dominio del Plata. It has a Syrah spiciness, well integrated tannins. What I mean by integrated is that they prop up the wine but you don’t finish your swallow with a pucker. This is good sh*t.

That’s all for this week. Heading to Spain next week for three weeks will try and post on my journey to Priorat but may be limited to Instagram.


2 Responses to “Wine Tasters Under Fire – The Red Daily Slosh”

  1. talkavino September 5, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

    All the BS articles about BS of the wine tasting are missing a simple point – the goal of tasting is not to identify cheap wines versus expensive, but to provide frame of reference which can be used by others. And yes, taste of wine is subjective and can be influenced – and it doesn’t make life of tasters any easier… Besides, this is a free world – if someone doesn’t want to read tasting notes, nobody is forcing them….


  2. Ken September 6, 2015 at 11:07 am #

    Thanks Bill. Will search out the GSM and Malbec on Tuesday. Working today unfortunately. Have a great time overseas!


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