. Vite Vinifera De Vino's Blog: My Dumb Period

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

My Dumb Period

A while ago Eric Asimov wrote an article about the dumb period in wine, a particular time window in the course of a wine's life where the flavors disappear, hiding under an umbrella of tannins and tartaric acid.
It's a funny thing... every few years, that happens to my palate as well - a three or four-day period where everything seems to taste bitter and metallic.
Last night, a customer and I were having a chat about specific wines and how many times you have to drink a bottle to really understand it. He told me that in some cases, the wine will taste different almost every time, and though the food they were eating might have played a role, he was convinced that the inconsistency had to be deeper than that. As a matter of fact, there most certainly is; smell is the most corruptible of the senses, especially when talking about wine. The brain processes the information altering the interpretation based on experience or external influences.
I read an article a little while ago in an Italian newspaper that showed proof that the brain can exert influence over taste, i.e. your brain can make you taste things differently. Other senses can also interfere, e.g. certain colors and shape might induce us to think about bitter and sweet flavors.
In reality, even one's mood can affect taste, as well as certain medicines (antibiotics are deadly for the palate). Personal experience showed me that if I'm upset about something, things tend to taste more metallic; when distracted things are duller and acidic; and when I'm tired, they are sour and bitter. A good friend with a very fine palate once told me that tasting is an art and a gift that not everybody has. He made an analogy with a runner saying that most of us are able to run for 1oo yards, but very few of us can do it under 10 seconds, and considering how many years it took me to achieve a sufficient palate, I can relate. I guess a good taster is not just the one that can spot a flavor but is somebody that can filter all the interference that the information finds during the trip from the nose to the brain.
Buona Bevuta a Tutti

1 comment:

Eddie H. said...

Very interesting post. As a novice wine drinker, I have figured out that some days I "have game" where I can discern a lot of the flavors/aromas in the wine I am tasting. Other days, I have no game and might as well be drinking Two Buck Chuck. I'm sure part of this is just due to my untrained palate and/or some wines being much more subtle than others, but it's comforting to know that even the experts can be off of there games, too.

PS I enjoy your blog a lot and can't wait to make a visit to your shop in the near future.