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August 22, 2006

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Obviously the best way to decide whether we like a wine is to taste it and decide for ourselves, but with thousands of choices out there it's nice to have some kind of filter to narrow those choices down. I feel that this is the role that a critic can fill. The problem can be finding a critic whose tastes jibe with your own. I have been successful doing this for movies, but haven't had much luck yet in the wine world.

Richard,

Nice post, but you got one fact wrong. We aren't all born with the same number of taste buds in our mouth.

Yale PhD Linda Bartoshuk has shown that some people are non tasters, some are normal, and some are supertasters. The differentiating characteristic between the groups is the number of fungiform papillae that tasters have on their tongues, and these papillae are the home to our taste buds.

Whether or not this makes you a lesser or better taster of wine is debatable. Check out my post (http://www.pinotblogger.com/2006/08/16/how-to-tell-if-you-are-a-wine-supertaster/) if you’d like to find out if your tongue deserves a cape or not.

Thanks Josh. I am aware of the Yale research and although I don't think its the final word on the subject, I think its quite ironic that women were over twice as likely to be more sensitive to taste than men. Also, many studies have shown that people loose almost half of their taste buds by the time they reach 60 years of age. Maybe time to listen to the younger generation?
I do think that Matt Kramer summed up the Yale research the best by stating, "suggesting a linkage of taste buds to wine judgment is like confusing eyesight with insight. Otherwise, Ted Williams — with his legendary 20-10 vision — would be renowned today as an art critic."

I think I'd have to agree with Kramer as well. I think we all have the ability to experience a good wine in a positive and meaningful way, no matter how many taste buds we have.

What I think is interesting though is the idea that certain tasters would probably be best served reading reviews from critics that share their "taste profile" since being a non taster is kind of like being color blind to certain bitter flavors.

The reason this idea is so powerful to me is that it gives even more credence to the idea that democratizing wine reviews via blogs like Lenndevours will have a very positive effect on wine appreciation. We definitely should be listening to the younger generation, and every generation. The more voices the better.

Again, great post.

I think the more we see articles questioning the validity and usage of various 100-point scales, the better. My take is that the real problem lies in the recycling of scroes for sales' sake. Numbers enable marketers and sellers at every turn to use numbers apart from their descriptions. I sense a lot more shrugging off of ratings among frequent, intelligent wine drinkers, but the dominance of 100-point-scale ratings will continue until (lazy) retailers stop regurgitating scores just to sell goods that they should be selling on merits besides simple numbers.

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