Wine Talk

Snooth User: MarioRobles

Scoring Wines by Smokers - Ups!

Posted by MarioRobles, Jan 28, 2009.

Hi all,

I must disclose this first, I am a non-smoker and I have been told to have a good palate, by some good winemakers so there must be some truth in it but that's no t the point.

It is a fact that smoking affects your ability to taste 100%, I am just wondering how many Wine Writers, Wine "Connoseours", ect. smoke and how they feel about smoking all the time and score a wine say " 89 Points" when the flavours to a certain extent are slightly different to what a ' non-smoker' can sense...

An Open question "Has any "Professional Wine Writer/Judge been open about smoking and scoring wines?"


Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 28, 2009.

Well lwet me just begin by saying as a former smoker I am not convinced by the statement that it is a fact that smoking affects one's ability to taste 100%. What does that mean anyway? Smokers become used to the punishment they inflict on their palates and are able to interpret wines quite consistently and easily. Many professional wine writers and buyers for retail stores are smokers. It's neither a secret nor deemed particularly important. What is important is whether your palate correlates with the writer in question.

Having said that, several writers who attend multi-day wine events like to end the day with a cigar and strong spirits. The next day or even two their palates are shot. These people are not critics per se but writers so it's less important for them to be able to taste but they still have very low cridibility with me. They tend to be members of the old guard and are slowly being replaced with a more serious generation of writers.

Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Jan 28, 2009.

100% is a bit much. However, I used to work for someone who was a smoker and we often had very different views on wines, favorite vintages, and their readiness to drink. I've found that smokers tend to favor more tannic and powerful reds that non-smokers would call too harsh or tough.

Getting to your question re: smoking, I must question your underlying premise.
Who cares whether a wine writer or judge smokes or not?
It is much more important that you figure out which writers and critics are most similar to you, your palate, your tastes, etc. and which ones are not.

Personally, I find that I don't like a lot of what Robert Parker raves about. I find that my palate is closer to that of, say Stephen Tanzer and Jancis Robinson, and interpret these 3 writers' notes and scores accordingly. I don't know if any of them smoke (I doubt it since they are all serious critics) and that knowledge really doesn't make a difference to me.

Reply by MarioRobles, Jan 29, 2009.

Let me rephrase the 100% part... I meant "It is a fact that smoking affects your ability to taste at a 100%"
Rboulanger, I agree with everything you said, I have no underlying premise here, and I am not criticising anyone in particular... I am convinced that smokers [as you said] have different preferences and find some wines generally different to non-smokers...
Parker, Tazner and Robinson are internationally known wine critics but for every Tazner, there are 10,000 more wine judges and writers that also have influence though local but they do!

Reply by Philip James, Jan 30, 2009.

I think its fair to say that smoking has some effect on the palate, but I think there are other larger factors - like personal preference. And while its not too hard to figure out which major critic has the most similar preferences to your own, its impossible, as Fibo says, to do it on the other 10,000 critics - most of whom i know 0 about...

I'm not sure there's an easy solution - you'd need to standardize their scores against a benchmark to really be able to understand their biases

Reply by Mark Angelillo, Jan 30, 2009.

I agree it's a matter of taste, but also a matter of training. Since I started tasting wines seriously and making notes I started using my nose more for other things, and realized that like everything else it takes practice and can be refined and worked on. Fortunately it's fun to put in the time on this one!

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