In my previous article I briefly covered the significance of deciding what information is useful in helping to make an informed decision. Having an intimate understanding of your personal tastes and preferences is critical to this process.
Unfortunately, not all information has equal value, and some is downright irrelevant and deceptive. When confronted with an abundance of material most people will suffer from paralysis by analysis – an inability to make a choice brought on by information overload. Therefore, it is equally important to be aware of what is useless so that you are not led astray.
On The Label
Our analysis begins with the label. Indicators such as the varietal, region and vintage are a goldmine of information to the discerning eye and will tell you more than the price tag ever will.
Then you have the ambiguous red herrings – take the use of the word “Reserve” or “Classic” on many labels today. In most cases there is no legally binding definition as to what it signifies, and there is no overt deception, but most consumers would see that word on the label, think “premium” and blindly pay a premium on this wine.
These terms do have legitimate origins – the usage of the terms “Riserva” and “Classico” are protected within Italy, for example, and producers are compelled to follow strict guidelines to ensure their wines meet a certain standard, from the time spent in oak and bottle before release to it’s protected designation of origin.
A recent article made me wonder how much we focus on minutiae that doesn’t necessarily contribute positively to the wine experience.
While a certain understanding of sources and methods would help you understand differences in wine styles, some other questions can be left unasked and unanswered.
1. On average, how many taste buds are there on the human tongue?
2. The olfactory bulb is part of which area of the brain?
A. Limbic system
B. Frontal cortex
E. Pituitary gland
4. Which of the following class of volatile compounds could be responsible for an aroma of soap?
A. Fusel oils
B. Short-chain esters
C. Long-chain esters
Source – The Drinks Business
Does anyone really need to know how many taste buds per inch are on the average tongue? Is it necessary to have an intimate understanding of where the olfactory lobe is located in the brain? Will knowing any of this increase my enjoyment of the wine?
“A vast sector of modern advertising… does not appeal to reason but to emotion; like any other kind of hypnoid suggestion, it tries to impress its objects emotionally and then make them submit intellectually.”
With our lives so saturated with advertising materials, sometimes you have to wonder if you are making a rational decision or an emotional one. A recent article on Facebook’s experiments in emotional manipulation shows how effective such methods can be.
We can protest that these companies have no right to influence us with such methods, but the fact is that businesses exist to make a profit, and the prevailing attitude is that the ends justify the means. These practices have gone on for a long time and are unlikely to change any time soon.
In this case there needs to be a greater emphasis on developing self-awareness and educating yourself on what exactly it is that you are after. After being exposed to all the sales and marketing and seductive imagery, you have to decide if the final product will add value to your life.
There is a reason why I chose to name this blog “Rational Wine” rather than “Emotional Wine” or “Hysterical Wine”. Even though I advocate for a rational and pragmatic approach, I embrace wine’s potential to bring people together and act as a social lubricant – just don’t let the romantic imagery prevent you from making a buying decision that will best suit you.
Learn From Experience
“Who taught you all this , Doctor”
the reply came promptly,
– Albert Camus in his novel: the Plague
There are two ways to learn to distinguish between useless and useful information.
- Suffer through and learn from personal experiences
- Get advice from someone who’s been there before
While most people would consider me to be a wine industry professional, I am first and foremost a wine consumer. I know how difficult it can be to make a proper decision as to what wine is right for me. That’s why I now offer Personal Wine Consultations to help you develop a more intimate understanding of your tastes and preferences.
Wine doesn’t have to be mysterious and forbidding. By gaining awareness of the most important factors in wine selection, you will learn to make proper selections with confidence without being misguided by useless information. Finally you will be able to take pleasure in your wine experiences.
Read more: Quality and Moderation