Updated 2009-02-27 15:07:54 ID=326:0

© 2009 The Romantic Table
©2009 The Romantic Table 2009-02-17 09:52:55:123
©2009 The Romantic Table

Larry McGourty writes about wine and food

The End of Wine Notes?


I do not advocate abolishing "wine notes", I believe that they do serve a useful purpose. They are a good source of information about wines, but consider the source.

The End of Wine Notes?

Eric Asimov, the chief wine critic for the New York Times recently gave a talk at the professional wine writers conference on the fear and trembling of wine tasting that could have been lifted from my recent blog Wrapped up in Wine Tasting. Now I wasn't personally there, like the late great Groucho Marx, I wouldn't want to belong to any organization that would accept me as a member (not to mention the fact that after this column I probably just shot my chances of ever being asked to hell). Reportedly Mr. Asimov made the assertion (to the hoots and hollers of the audience) that maybe it is time to end "wine note publishing." Apparently the audience did not take his suggestion kindly --after all, for the most part they are the high priests of the Wine Neo-Gnostics, the folks who can divine all kinds of hidden meaning and secrete knowledge in a glass of wine.

I believe that Asimov's point was perhaps tasting notes are less clarifying than obfuscating to the general wine public, and maybe even putting people off about drinking wine(...we are not worthy...we are not worthy...). Also, maybe there was a lingering feeling that a personal bias or just a quirk of the day might unjustly elevate one wine to the detriment of another totally fine wine. After all, in the end, a tasting note is just someone's personal opinion on that particular day. And surely we all differ on personal preferences anyway!

As I mentioned before, I rarely drink wine solo --I like wine with food. If I am looking for a suggestion or wine recommendations for food pairings, I will ask friends who are either chefs, or come from a culinary background. Not because I am uncertain of what I like and what to choose, but occasionally for fun I like to try something different that I may have overlooked before. My friends each have a personal style and bias. I know in advance what kind of style of wine I am likely to get as recommendation from a particular person. But, I trust these friends to know when a wine has a nice balance of attributes that makes a wine pair well with a particular recipe. This is especially true if the recipe flavor is rather "opinionated" and not so easy to pair up a wine with.

I am less interested in a dissertation on the obscure aromas buried in the wine. Now my German Shepherd has a fine nose --he is constantly sniffing at anything or person that crosses his path. I think he could actually detect all the aromas in Ann Nobles "wine aroma wheel." But so what? I don't think he actually likes wine --at least when no one is looking he's not trying steal a quick quaff of wine off the table. No, he is a real meat and potatoes kind of guy, he heads straight for the roast. Despite his fine nose, he's no Wine Neo-Gnostic. He probably has no opinion one way or the other about wine.

I do not advocate abolishing "wine notes", I believe that they do serve a useful purpose. They are a good source of information about wines, especially those less well known that we might otherwise overlook. But consider the source, know something about their personal style, then most importantly, make your own judgment and do not be too embarrassed if you do not agree with the review. After all, it is a matter of personal taste.

By the way, to dog lovers everywhere, of course I do not mean to compare my dog with wine people who write wine notes --including yours truly. I would not want to insult him that way, I am sure he is lot more trust worthy that we are ...except maybe when the roast is on the table and no one is looking.




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A tip from Sue!

No cheese on seafood please!

When serving an Italian seafood dish, unless the recipe specifically calls for cheese, grated Parmesan cheese on top is not a good idea!

The pungent taste of Parmesan is usually too strong for the delicate fish flavors.