Greg Fodor forwarded me this interesting article:
The Subjectivity of Wine by Jonah Lehrer.
In 2001, Frederic Brochet, of the University of Bordeaux, conducted two separate and very mischievous experiments. In the first test, Brochet invited 57 wine experts and asked them to give their impressions of what looked like two glasses of red and white wine. The wines were actually the same white wine, one of which had been tinted red with food coloring. But that didn’t stop the experts from describing the “red” wine in language typically used to describe red wines. One expert praised its “jamminess,” while another enjoyed its “crushed red fruit.” Not a single one noticed it was actually a white wine.
The second test Brochet conducted was even more damning. He took a middling Bordeaux and served it in two different bottles. One bottle was a fancy grand-cru. The other bottle was an ordinary vin du table. Despite the fact that they were actually being served the exact same wine, the experts gave the differently labeled bottles nearly opposite ratings. The grand cru was “agreeable, woody, complex, balanced and rounded,” while the vin du table was “weak, short, light, flat and faulty”. Forty experts said the wine with the fancy label was worth drinking, while only 12 said the cheap wine was.
Brochet’s data is not based on a serious study. I would ignore it. There are more serious studies you can point to if you’d like to demonstrate how subjective wine tasting is.
His paper, which is accessible at http://www.academie-amorim.com/us/laureat_2001/brochet.pdf , hasn’t, to my knowledge, been published in any reputable academic journal. In fact, Brochet’s research was apparently conducted *in pursuit* of a PhD in Oenology, so it’s kind of misleading for Lehrer to write “Frederic Brochet, of the University of Bordeaux…”
A friend of mine (who is now a winemaker in Chablis) studied under Frederic Brochet in Bordeaux. Not sure what one’s credentials need to be to teach, but I’m thinkin’ the man may know a thing or two. Besides, I had his 1997 ‘Le Brochet’ (a Vin de Pays) and it was freaking delicious. Scientific enough?