Framing and wine tasting: how words can get in the way of experience

Framing is a social science term which refers to a set of concepts and perspectives that then form the background that influences how we think on certain issues. In this sense, framing is part of the narrative structure with which we see the world. American academic and author George Lakoff has popularized the term in [...]

Spoiling pleasure: why we should be angry about the UK Chief Medical Officers Alcohol Guidelines Review

Today, the UK government has controversially published revised guidelines on safe drinking levels which see the recommended limits for men fall to 14 units a week, down from 21. The recommendations for women stay at 14. [You can access the report here.]

As wine lovers, we should be angry about this. Not because it’s telling us [...]

The Barry Smith interview: what is the nature of wine perception, and is wine flavour objective?

Professor Barry Smith (above) is an academic philosopher with a particular interest in flavour. A keen wine geek, he organized the first symposium on wine and philosophy back in 2004, and then published the first book on the topic in 2007 (Questions of Taste). More recently, he was founder and is co-director of CenSes – [...]

Researching my new book

At the moment, I’m spending a good portion of my waking moments in research activity. It’s a lovely aspect of what I do: dealing with new ideas. There’s something thrilling about discovering fresh things, and grappling with areas of academic endeavour where you have to face unfamiliar concepts and see through the jargon.

The thing that really [...]

On Champagne bubbles

I was reminded last night about how bubbles aren’t really a property of a Champagne (or sparkling wine). I poured the same Champagne into two different glasses. In one, the bubbles were fine – a steady stream. In the other, they were big and clumsy looking. The same wine.

It’s common to hear wine professionals comment [...]

'Eating sugar': why old sweet wines often taste drier

There’s a well known phenomenon in the world of wine that so far has been unexplained. It’s the way that as sweet wines age, they taste less sweet. If you get a 30 year old Sauternes, it isn’t nearly as sweet tasting as a younger wine, even if both started out with the same level [...]

Randall's grand plan: 10 000 new grape varieties

Randall Grahm is at it again. The Willy Wonka of the wine world has a new plan. No, it’s not global domination. Rather, it’s the creation of 10 000 new vine varieties as his legacy to the wine world. To this end, he has today launched an indiegogo crowd-funding initiative to raise some cash.

The idea [...]

Artificial intelligence, perception and wine

Part of the wine list, RN74, Seattle

I’m on the road again. This time visiting Washington State wineries. Did you know that Washington State is the USA’s second largest wine state, with 20 000 hectares of vines, about double the size of Oregon, and one-fifth the vineyard area of South Africa? I shall be looking [...]

On raw tasting ability: is there a Messi of wine tasting?

As a Manchester City fan, it was a little uncomfortable watching last night’s game against Barcelona. The Catalans were much the better team, and had it not been for the heroics of Joe Hart, the City goalkeeper, the scoreline could have been a lot worse than the 1-0 it ended up as. Lionel Messi, one [...]

The perfect wine critic, and assigning confidence to scores

Yesterday I tasted 62 different Brunellos from the 2010 vintage. I wrote short tasting notes, and gave each wine a score.

But it’s quite a task tasting 62 wines like this together in a short space of time. Do I think I got all the wines right? And how much confidence do I have in my [...]