Are our wine decisions being made by right people and for the right reasons? History may tell us.
Who gets to judge our wines? And why them?
What qualifies James Suckling or Michel Bettane or Jancis Robinson or Antonio Galloni or Monica Larner to rate our wines? Why do they get the gavel, the robes and the wig? Sure, they have great palates, but if technical tasting ability was the foremost requirement, then surely we’d call on winemakers themselves? Or would we? Would we not be better with professional parfumiers or food scientists?
In my mind, my perfect taster is a sitcom duo combination of a jaded, late middle-aged parfumier (called Maurice) for the aroma/bouquet descriptors, and a perambulating, robotic spitoon on caterpillar tracks – a cross between R2-D2 and a dentist’s spit-bowl – into whose receptacle our parfumier pours his wine sample once he’s finished nosing it.
The robot (its name is YQ-U3M) then prints out an objective rating of tannin, acid, alcohol, dry extract and so on. They compare notes and synthesize their thoughts later that evening, at the bar of the hotel Ibis. They’re an incredible team but Maurice and YQ argue into the night about the scores they’ll give for particular wines.
Maurice’s marriage is failing and he’s worried his wife is having an affair with a martial arts instructor. YQ’s suffering from an irreparably degrading internal alcohol probe and has started over-compensating on the print-outs. It dreads California Zinfandel, Puglia…
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