Wine Talk

Snooth User: chaser68

A Matter of Taste

Posted by chaser68, Mar 4, 2009.

Ok please don't shoot me. I am Canadian. :-) This is an observation that I have made. I read a lot about wines in different magazines, TV shows, podcasts or whatever media I can get my hands on. I am in no way stereotyping. But now that I have waived my white on..if you dare.

It seems lately I have been reading more about the debate of “taste” and how its established. Some believe its something you develop. Others think its what you are exposed to. Or is it genetics. Regardless, each side has its merits I think.

The first wine I can remember trying was a Mouton Cadet white Bordeaux. In hindsight that was probably a bold one to begin with. I can remember thinking it was a bit tart, almost sour tasting. Which now, using my “expanded wine vocabulary”, would today say was citrusy. But I didn’t stop there.

In the development side of things, I cannot say I have been exposed to a lot of different wines. In the early days starting with whites, experimenting with light reds and moving up in the scale to bold Shiraz etc. was typically what everyone did. Is that palette development? Another influence on taste could be that my wine mentors were somewhat limited in their exposure to different wines too. They usually drank mid priced wines, mostly Australian. French or American wines were not the rage then. They were so metro. Another point, my family does not drink wine so influences from what I grew up with is out of the equation. I was however, raised in the country surrounded by gardens, farms, earth. Maybe I associate that smell with home and comfort. Its definitely where my palette has gone. Oaky, earthy wines with ripe berries. Interesting thoughts.

A hotly debated subject today seems to be about the so-called “American palette” and how they typically like fruit forward wines. Or an “international” style. Some of the smaller producers feel that the larger ones are selling out to produce wine for the masses. This debate even goes so far as saying the French and Italians are moving in that direction too! This would mean losing their terroire. Sacre bleu! Losing terroire! In a nutshell that means wine producers are fudging their wines to make them more palatable to the largest market in the world, the United States. So if you pick up a bottle of Bordeaux and it tastes like a cherry cola, you know what happened!! On the question of terroire, how about this, perhaps that the process of wine making has become SO refined, that all of the “flaws’ in certain wines have been eradicated? The characteristics that made a Bordeaux are flushed out. Gone because the process is so developed. Therefore its more appealing to the mass market. Its not losing terroire at all, is it? Now, I love my oaky, dirt and violets of Chianti Classico and that probably won't change anytime soon. I shudder to think that Chianti Classico could taste like Boones Snowberry someday.

In my humble opinion, there is nothing wrong with appealing to the largest market in the world. It’s a business, like any other. You move to what the market dictates. I know the purists think that the wines are suffering. But who’s to say who is wrong and who is right? Buy and drink what you like. Don’t be afraid to experiment. It is a matter of taste, and that is something that is as individual as a finger print.


Reply by John Andrews, Mar 4, 2009.

Great post ... first off ... I am Canadian too but I'm stuck in the heart of California Wine Country. Okay, stuck is not really true ... I want to be here but you get what I mean.

Now back to the post ... the wine industry is just like any commercial product industry. It needs consumers to survive. Mass producers have to follow what the main market wants whereas niche players can serve the niche markets. What wineries need to figure out is where they want to play.

As consumers we have to make a choice too. Do we want quality and price. Sometimes you get both but most of the time you get one or the other. In the case where you get both, it is hard to get. Being California I am lucky as I have a ton of choices. If you are in Ontario you really don't have that many choices as the LCBO makes them for you.

As for the purists, well, don't buy the mainstream brands ... hunt down the smaller producers and pay the money for them.

I do agree with you ... experiment ... look for something new and try it.

Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Mar 4, 2009.

Great post!

I think there's ample evidence that the "American" or "International" styles are starting to break down. If you introduced a brand like Yellowtail de novo now, I am not so sure that it would take off. The classic California oaky Chardonnay is almost out of fashion.

Moreover, the more wine lovers discover, the more they are looking for authentic and interesting wines from all over the world. While there will always be a market for mass-market wines, the overlapping terroir, innovative, organic, biodynamic, and esoteric sides of the market are growing faster than ever!

Reply by chaser68, Mar 5, 2009.

Oh HondaJohn if I were only in Ontario. I am on the east coast so our choices are even less. NBLC has been trying but we are so limited. Our one saving grace is a top knotch Wine and Food Expo held every November. So there are a few more selections, but still mostly from the larger producers. I shall not give up!!! I am going to taste my way through the world! HA!

Reply by Degrandcru, Mar 5, 2009.

I would not worry too much about the "standardization" of wine. It is true that the big mass producers have to go for the internationalized taste of the masses, but for the small producers the local market is still what counts because thats where there business is.

I am originally from the south of Germany (state of Baden-Wuerttemberg). Wines there are very light and fresh (red wines almost seems like rosé wines). The most common grapes used are Trollinger / Lemberger for reds and Mueller Thurgau for whites. Surely nothing out of the world and not at all suitable for exports. But people of the area love it and it goes good with the local food. As this is the market of the local producers the style won´t change.

I take my mother as an example, as long as I can remember she has her glass of Trollinger at night and if you serve her a bold Cabernet she hates it. So for the local producers what counts is the local taste and the local demand.

I admit its not always easy to get those wines everywhere, but even here in Mexico City I met a German importer who offered me wines from south Germany. So if you try hard, you will find...

Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Mar 5, 2009.

Degrandcru - Where in the Schwabische weinlands are you from?

I visited my girlfriend's family in Esslingen and drank so much Trollinger Schillerwein that it's not funny. All across the world you'll find these wonderful great little self-contained wine cultures who don't care about Cabernet, the Wine Spectator and the International Style.

Reply by Degrandcru, Mar 5, 2009.

I am from the outskirts of Stuttgart, short walk to the vineyards of the Neckar Valley. I have some family in Esslingen as well, beautiful town. And as you have been there you know what I am talking about, the Trollinger would never be able to compete internationally, but its the perfect wine for a long summer evening in southern Germany. And swabians would not change it for the best Bordeaux.

Back to Categories

Top Contributors This Month

125836 Snooth User: dmcker
71 posts
1498622 Snooth User: Really Big Al
1498622Really Big Al
61 posts
127503 Snooth User: rckr1951
36 posts


View All

Snooth Media Network