It tastes different!

A friend of mine enthused about a wine he’d recently enjoyed. He wanted to buy a case but couldn’t find it. With the help of Wine-Searcher I managed to find a case for him.

“It’s not the same” he complained.

“Where did you first taste it”, I enquired.

“I enjoyed it with my wife on a South Pacific cruise. I clearly remember the wine. We sipped it as the sun set. It was fabulous.”

Location can influence taste perception. Experience tells me that when I am relaxed and happy wine tastes better than when I am stressed and exhausted. For that reason, I try to review wines in my office using the same glasses between the hours of 9 am and 11 am each day preceded by a few meditation exercises to make me calmer and more focused. I regulate the temperature to create a level playing field. A few degrees make a difference. As wine warms up, the alcohol becomes more obvious while acidity and the astringent effect of tannins lessen.

I recently attended Pinot Noir 2017 in Wellington where wine writer and sonic artist Jo Burzynska lectured on how sound can shape our impression of wine quality by changing the way we perceive it to taste. Sadly, I was unable to attend Jo’s lecture but discussed it with several people who did attend. They were all impressed by the impact that music had when they tasted a pinot noir with sound on and off. I suggested that if each person tasted the wine in silence and then tasted it again after sticking a pin in their arm, the wine would taste different. In fact, I tried it that evening.

The wine tasted fruitier and more mellow when I wasn’t in pain. They say there is a fine line between pleasure and pain but in this case, pain certainly reduced the pleasure involved in enjoying a good pinot noir.

Disclosure: I am a director of Wine-Searcher.

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