In Adelaide: discussing wine science with a taxi driver

So, I rolled into Adelaide airport at 8 pm on Sunday night, after a long flight from London via Dubai. On the plane I alternated between sleeping, working, and listening: of late, I have taken to listening to music on flights. Usually, new planes with decent in flight entertainment have a good selection, and if [...]

Riesling Rendezvous: why analytical data don't tell us much about the taste of Riesling

I’m at the Riesling Rendezvous conference in Seattle, Washington State. Held every three years, it’s an in-depth dive into this most distinctive of white wine grapes. It began on Sunday evening with a grand tasting outdoors at Chateau Ste Michelle in Woodinville, and yesterday and today we’re in Seattle for tastings and seminars.

One topic that [...]

ICCWS: Gary Pickering on managing green flavours in wine

Gary Pickering, of Brock University presented a talk at the ICCWS (International Cool Climate Wine Symposium) on managing green flavours in wine. These are largely (but not exclusively) caused by methoxypyrazines. The two main ones in wine are isopropyl methoxypyrazine (IPMP) and isobutyl methoxypyrazine (IBMP).

There’s a level at which these green flavours can be typical [...]

ICCWS 2016: Alistair Nesbitt's model for identifying suitable vineyard sites in the UK

Alistair Nesbitt, from the University of East Anglia, has created a model that maps spatial climate variability in the UK, showing the suitability of various areas for viticulture in England and Wales. Over the period 1954-2015 there has been a non-linear warming trend for the growing season, and the amount of variability from season to [...]

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 [...]

Accessibility and interest: how we grow to like wines

David Huron, Professor of Music at Ohio State University, has written an absorbing book titled, Sweet anticipation: music and the psychology of expectation. When we listen to music, our relationship with it changes with repeated exposure. We predict what is coming, and then there is a pleasure derived when the music matches our predictions. [...]

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 – [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]