Frame of Reference Part III Summary

August 24, 2010 at 4:28 PM 2 comments

“Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder”, “Perception is Everything”, “If You Were In My Shoes”….

These phrases are all used to describe perception.  Something that wine critics don’t discuss enough, yet it is a very important concept to understand when tasting new wines.  Your frame of reference, environment, whatever you want to call it, can very easily skew your opinion of a wines you are tasting, in a positive or negative way, especially if you are not aware of it. That is why it is important to be as objective as you can when you critique wines for other people.

Let’s keep in mind that in the Brooklyn wine tasting episode, I was outside in the heat, tasting 4 totally different styles of wine from around the world, from a plastic cup, with total strangers, whereas in the comfort of my own home, I tasted 2 very different wines (made from the same grape) in a cool setting, out of very familiar wine glasses, with my friend who happens to love great Pinot Noir.

When I tasted the Hob Nob Pinot Noir for the first time, I had no preconceived notion of the wine, I was surrounded by people who viewed me as the expert, so I gave my opinions as honestly as I could.  And in my opinion, at that time, I thought it was the best value wine of the group we tasted that evening.  However, after trying the same wine again in my own home immediately after tasting the Erath, a better quality Pinot Noir from Oregon, I was stunned that I had such a positive opinion about the Hob Nob!  I am a big fan of Pinot Noir, and when you are able to try different wines all made from the same grapes, you are able to get a true sense of what that grape is “supposed” to taste like.

I believe there are people in the wine world who would prefer the Hob Nob, fruitier, candied style of Pinot, than the more organic style of the Erath, just based on their personal tastes.  It just goes to show you how important your frame of reference can be when giving your opinion about wine.  I will be working hard to give strict facts about the wines I taste before really giving my opinion, because after all, just because I “like” or “dislike” a wine, doesn’t mean you will have the same opinion.  If you know what the style is though, you will have a much better idea of what to expect, and whether you will like it or not.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anthony Caristi  |  August 24, 2010 at 9:21 PM

    Very good point with regard to frame of reference.
    It’s one of the most difficult to master, however when
    you do, it’s so much easier to provide accurate
    descriptions to your friends, clients and customers.

    • 2. notablewine  |  August 24, 2010 at 10:25 PM

      Thanks to your help Tony, I have learned some valuable lessons, and I will continue to work on becoming more objective and better at taking a wine for exactly what it is, regardless of my surroundings, so I will be able to provide the most accurate descriptions…


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