Like what you like. That’s what we are so often told, in terms of appreciating wine. It’s fair advice.
When it comes to wine preferences, no one should tell you what to enjoy. You get to choose that.
But so often, this is extended by the statement that all wine appreciation is subjective. Wine preference certainly is. But there’s an objective element to wine assessment, I’d argue. You can get it wrong.
The subjective angle seems to be supported by inter-individual differences in taste and smell. We have the supertaster phenomenon, we have thermal tasters, and we have specific anosmias. This seems to put us all in different taste worlds. It would be easy to jump to the conclusion that anything goes. That taste is a personal thing indeed.
But then we have learning. We have a shared culture of wine appreciation. Learning enhances enjoyment of wine. It alters perception even (prior knowledge can affect the way the brain pre-processes sensory information before we are even aware of it). As we learn more about wine; as we taste it together and discuss it – we develop a culture of wine that has objectivity to it.
Wine becomes an aesthetic system. There is a shared culture of wine that we all join in with. We speak a codified language of wine: the impoverished vocabulary we have for tastes and smells necessitates this. We learn together, despite our innate biological differences.
As a result, we could say that wine appreciation is fully subjective only if we taste in isolation. But it is the process of sharing and learning together that counters this.