My taste and your taste
We all have our own personal taste. We enjoy different styles of wines, not necessarily the same as our neighbour. Our opinion about a wine is always personal. It is virtually impossible to give a completely neutral, yet meaningful, review of a wine. In fact, to think that there is an objective and neutral way to evaluate wine is a fundamental misunderstanding and illusory.
The discussion about natural wine puts this in a stark spotlight. A wine made with minimal intervention and no sulphur often show flavours that we are not used to and which are not at all typical either for the grape or for the region.
Some consider these wines to be defective while others are attracted by the character. For example, the wines can be oxidized, have a high level of volatile acidity (VA) or remind you of barnyard and “organic fertilizers” in particular. The appearance may be a bit cloudy and sometimes it tastes more like cider than wine.
From a purely technical point of view many people, especially those who have studied winemaking, would consider them to be faulty, although today many consumers like them.
I happened to discuss natural wines with some French wine journalists the other day. Their opinion was that “we as wine experts must teach people that a wine should not taste like this”. (And it is far from only French wine writers who say so.)
Now the debate is heating up. Who determines how a wine should taste? Perhaps the wine producer? Hardly a “wine expert”.
There are, of course, some defects a wine can have that few people appreciate, such as the smell of rotten eggs. However, most of the slightly strange flavours in a natural wine are not defects.
In my opinion.
At home we often get into debates on this, since the two of us quite often have differing opinions about this type of wines, these kinds of flavours. In most cases we have similar opinions of wine, but for this particular opinion it’s often not the case…
It is just flavours that you either like or not.
We all have different degrees of tolerance for acidity, for volatile acidity, for tannin, for brettanomyces, etc.
Is oxidation a defect? Not when it’s a Jura wine or a sherry or an old Burgundy.
Should wine experts or wine journalists teach people how a wine “should” taste? Absolutely not. But on the other hand it is their job to give their opinion about wines.
So, what can we learn from this? Never listen to just one expert.
And above all, taste yourself, without preconceived ideas. Do taste blind, without having the slightest clue what the wine is, at least occasionally.
Perhaps you are a lover of natural wine that has not yet come out of the closet? Or perhaps you actually hate these wines, when they’re not served to you by a star-sommelier in a posh restaurant or in a hipster wine bar.
The more different things you taste the more fun it is.
So – join us on one of our wine tours and you will have plenty of opportunities to taste some outstanding wines. And maybe even some delicious natural wines. More info on the wine tours in the Brief. Book your tour now!
Britt & Per
PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief !
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