Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Founded by the late Daniel Rogov, focusing primarily on wines that are either kosher or Israeli.

Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby Craig Winchell » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:08 pm

The other day, Gabe was telling me he looked a the other forum, and was amazed at how much richer the descriptions of the wines than those on our forum- even Rogov's descriptions. Do you think someone who has only had kosher wine in their life has the same palate calibration and perceptions of what is a good, balanced wine, as compared to someone who drinks or has drunk both? But more: since I mentioned Rogov (who obviously has tasting experience with both kosher and nonkosher), the question is not only breadth and depth of experience with wine tasting, but also whether kosher wine tasters are stunted in their descriptions due to dealing with fewer other knowledgeable tasters, and or whether the wines profiled are very similar and therefore do no spawn the richness of description. Although Rogov had tasting experience, he might also have been limited in his descriptions due to tasting with and describing wine to a relatively few very sophisticated (winewise) individuals.
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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby Menachem S » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:29 pm

I don't (on either question). I think we mostly come from one school, the Rogov School, and while he was descriptive and flowery in his comments, he was not as over the top as some others
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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby ChaimShraga » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:31 pm

Well, to start off with, Rogov kind of belonged to the "grocery list" school of tasting note writing. So if he's (one of) your biggest feed, then you're going to think of wine in terms of lists of flavors and aromas. It's a pitfall of tasting so many wines - the tasting notes describe the wine, or attempt to, they rarely place the wine in context, they rarely describe the experience of tasting the wine.

If you take a look at some of the interesting posters on the other side, they focus a lot on context and experience, which is how things should be. We're social animals, not just consumers.

Craig, to the extent that your questions are meant to "lead the witness", I totally agree with you. To be quite blunt, you guys are in a sort of kosher wine ghetto.
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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby Yehoshua Werth » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:33 pm

Dont agree as well
+

Tasted many a great Non-Kosher Wines before Becoming Religous and only drinking kosher now.
The lingo here is more Palettable to the Mass VS. The Wine Expert...

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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby Mike_F » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:45 pm

Craig Winchell wrote:Do you think someone who has only had kosher wine in their life has the same palate calibration and perceptions of what is a good, balanced wine, as compared to someone who drinks or has drunk both?


No, simply not possible. You might have a theoretically reasonable sample of the diversity in Cabernet/Merlot blends in kosher wines, but for all others what you can get kosher is a drop from an ocean.

Craig Winchell wrote: But more: since I mentioned Rogov (who obviously has tasting experience with both kosher and nonkosher), the question is not only breadth and depth of experience with wine tasting, but also whether kosher wine tasters are stunted in their descriptions due to dealing with fewer other knowledgeable tasters, and or whether the wines profiled are very similar and therefore do no spawn the richness of description. Although Rogov had tasting experience, he might also have been limited in his descriptions due to tasting with and describing wine to a relatively few very sophisticated (winewise) individuals.


Rogov tasted for a living, going through dozens of wines a day, and his tasting notes were written is a personal shorthand, and then transcribed later to the relatively concise formats you know. As Chaim notes, this is very different from a wine lover who takes the time to maximize the experience. I think if you compare the length and style of Rogov's notes to those of other pro's, you will see similar constraints. Seems to be the unavoidable price for defining tasting as work, rather than play...
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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby ChaimShraga » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:50 pm

David Schildknecht is kind of wordy....
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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby David Raccah » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:50 pm

Ok, these are notes from David M. Bueker - nice note - very grocery listed still.

Happy New Year! Crab Imperial and Champagne - what could be better? The 1988 Salon was beautiful, though it needed an hour+ of air to show its best. With air there was all sorts of stuff going on - flowers, citrus, apples, stone, cinnamon, what toast, etc. Just an amazing level of complexity, and then there was the length. Get the sun dial if you want to know how long this wine was. Amazing stuff.

If you mean the feeling ones have for the wine, many of us do add those in, especially when warranted, like super rich and grabbing with layers of fruit and mounds of loamy dirt. If you mean notes like Kermit Lynch - well that is a horse of a very different color.

I and many of us are happy to learn and as always Craig and Chaim, you guys cannot help but add in your backhanded or in your face love, and for that I say thanks :D

Always interested in learning,
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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby ChaimShraga » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:58 pm

David, I don't know if I can avoid sounding condescending, because I tend to be a bit of a snob about the things I love, so I apologize in advance.

David's Bueker's note has about 4-5 "grocery list" descriptors, used mostly I think to convey Champagne-ness of the wine, then kind of deflates the whole thing by the use of "etc". And they're not the focus of the note, anyway. The focus of the note is the joy of drinking Champagne.
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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby ChaimShraga » Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:01 pm

Another thing is, I think a long list of descriptors is fine when you get the sense that the wine was so interesting it pulled the writer in to dig them up. Your notes give that impression, David. With Rogov, it was a bit more of a routine.
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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby David Raccah » Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:18 pm

Here are some lovely notes "from Michael Malinoski on the other side":
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=42490

1975 Chateau Le Gay Pomerol. This is certainly an older wine, judging by the faded color upon pouring. Aromas of old books, bridle leather, tea leaves, mushrooms, cigar ash, pressed flowers and dried red fruit contend with a little bit of musty, dusty character that does sort of blow off after awhile. In the mouth, aged flavors of baked cherries, tea leaves, rusty minerality and dark earth are nice, but like a lot of 1975s, an aggressive and drying acidity becomes more and more of a factor the longer one stays with it. The texture is actually kind of smooth and slippery, but that omnipresent dryness makes this a tough haul when all is said and done. Although this was better than a more stewed and volatile bottle some of us drank earlier in the year, I feel fairly confident in saying this wine ought to be drunk up.

2009 DeBiase Pinot Noir Russian River Valley. Right away, this seems like a California Pinot Noir to me, with its very pretty bouquet of sweet blue and purple berries, vanilla bean, pale oak, and offsetting bits of leafiness and autumnal spice aromas. In the mouth, it is rather lusciously-textured and full of glycerin character, while showing solid depth of flavor and a certain showy flamboyance. For all that, it seems like the acidity level is just right for the wine and I find myself liking it and considering it well done within this style.

1997 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve Napa Valley. Here was my Wine of the Night. It just smells absolutely dead-on classical Napa Valley Cabernet to me, and had me guessing things like 1999 Laurel Glen or 1996 Montelena or something. It opens right up with beautiful aromas of black currant, leather, charcoal, asphalt, dark chocolate and menthol riding atop a smoldering core of sweeter cassis fruit. There’s all sorts of complexity here and it’s just right in my personal preference zone. In the mouth, it follows through on the compelling nose with a beautiful palate presence—juicy, intense, driven and dense. It shows great life and great depth all around and wonderful structure to go along with the classical black fruit and savory earth flavors. There’s still a bit of chewy youthfulness to it, but I could drink a whole lot of this beauty.

These are nice notes and not your run of the mill - but I have not seen this level in a short survey of the many threads there. Again, short survey, but I believe it has NOTHING to do with palate! It has to do with understanding the English and being to articulate that! Otherwise, the rest of the content is still fruit and grocery basket based.

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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby Pinchas L » Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:31 pm

David,

Before I address the points Craig raises, I would like to respond to your two posts, but only after commenting that we ought to be careful about using posts made by others as examples, potentially bringing upon their authors praise, scrutiny and scorn they might not want, without asking for their permission in advance.

David Bueker's description works for me because one doesn't lose himself in the list of flavors, finding the important attributes he wants to convey: the Champagne's complexity and length. The second and longer example you make of Michael Malinoski's post, warrants a more detailed discussion about the reasons it grabbed your attention. You correctly single out his elegant prose and nice use of language, but more importantly it his ability to do so while getting his points across, keeping our attention focused on the details he is telling us and his subjective evaluation of the wine, all the while moving along at a pace that doesn't bore us. His description of the Pomerol starts out by highlighting the age that is apparent in the wine, continues to list the various attributes of the wine: flavors, texture and structure, telling us how they interact, and concludes with a comparison between this bottle and others he's had. He moves along at a crisp pace, is not repetitive, and delivers objective descriptions and subjective judgement.

But even those who prefer to present notes with detailed lists of the flavors they experience, should be careful not to be repetitive. If the nose, mid-palate and finish are similar there is no need to repeat the list of descriptors when discussing the various phases. It is sufficient to highlight the differences. After describing the nose, one can continue stating that the palate followed from the nose, mentioning in detail only those attributes that were added or absent from the palate. Same for the finish. After all if you were to list 5 flavors of berries that you picked up on the mid-palate but only list 4 in your description of the finish, do you think your readers will notice, and even if they do what conclusion can they make?

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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby Pinchas L » Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:04 pm

Craig,

You baited me!

Chaim and Mike have already made some of the points I am about to make, but I'll say them in my own words. First of all, I agree that those restricted to kosher wines have a limited wine experience, disqualifying them from heaping outlandish praise upon the wines they drink, but that in no way directly restricts their ability to write about their experience. Granted, it is difficult for me to envision someone discussing minerality in kosher wines, since it is almost non existent. It would be like expecting a blind person to describe color. However, I assume that you are complaining about stunted descriptions even when the attempt is to describe attributes such as flavor, texture and structure, the building blocks of any wine. In my opinion, the root cause is the tendency to copy Rogov's style, although suited for a critic tasting a huge number of wines trying to give an air of objectivity, is unsuited for a discussion meant to convey the experience one has drinking a wine. Rogov's style revolved around a template that was long on concrete descriptors, short on subjective statements, and almost allergic to referential comparisons. It is the subjective statements and the referential comparisons that liven up a writeup.

One more comment, the ability to discuss wine colorfully, is not solely a product of a rich wine experience, but more importantly of a rich cultural experience. Do you think that has anything to do with drinking kosher only?

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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:08 am

I don't want to get into a fire-walking contest here, but I enjoy reading the wine notes on all the forums, and I would never seek to judge one against another.

I do have a great deal of respect for those who choose to keep kosher, and personally would not feel comfortable judging either the wines or the notes thereon as being second-rate. After all, isn't wine really about enjoyment, and sharing?

I'm not trying to be preachy here, only to suggest some perspective. If I'm happy with my wine and you're happy with yours; and if it is assumed that if we met over dinner we would happily sit down together and enjoy each other's company, than what else matters?

I don't know for certain and wouldn't presume to guess, but I would like to think that Rogov would have said this.

Meanwhile, of course, everyone is entirely welcome in both forums, and there's certainly no requirement that notes posted in either place follow any required format.

Peace to all ...
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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby Pinchas L » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:06 am

Adding to my previous posts, I would like to say that a wine tasting note that grabs my attention is one that describes the various aspects of the wine succinctly. One that I enjoy, brings into relief that which sets this particular wine apart from others, or defines what one likes and dislikes in a particular one without resorting to direct comparisons other than to provide context. One that I ignore, attempts primarily to rank the wine in question, losing context along the way. Describing a wine can be done by listing the dominant flavors that map to each of the aspects. Telling me that you sensed blueberry, indicates that forest fruit dominate; mentioning smoke, hints at the flavors imparted by the oak; listing dates, says the wine is overripe. Another way would be to choose a description that captures several aspects at once. Say, if one says that a chardonnay's fruit profile is tropical, I conclude that it is a warm climate chardonnay not showcasisng apples and pears and probably long in alcohol and short in acidity. Of course, one can also choose to describe the various aspects of a wine in a more direct manner. However, providing a long laundry list of attributes is more like a run-on sentence, becoming difficult to follow, often blurring the distinction between primary and secondary characteristics. Succeeding at this is more about organizing one's thoughts, making the effort to translate the abstract into concrete words, than it is about the breadth of wine experience one has. On the other hand, rating wines is another ballgame, requiring vast knowledge and breadth of experience. My participation in the forum is for the former not the latter.

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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby Craig Winchell » Fri Jan 06, 2012 3:29 am

Truly, Pichas, I wasn't baiting anyone. Someone privately suggested I bring up one of the topics listed, because he was interested in the responses generated. I added to it, based upon discussions I had had with others, since the topics seemd to be related. The whole point was to elicit discussion that maybe could improve the group. Discussion and participation themselves improve the group. Getting together for local group blind tastings and discussion our notes together, to create a common language would improve the group. And yes, discussing our feelings, our state of mind when we are tasting, and the emotions we feel about the wines we are tasting would improve the group. And actually posting our tasting notes rather than directing people to our blogs would improve the group. There is a thread about maintaining relevance. I don't think this group is particularly relevant, because it has lost its sense of community since Rogov's passing. It can redevelop that sense.
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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby Isaac Chavel » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:20 am

I don't think this group is particularly relevant, because it has lost its sense of community since Rogov's passing. It can redevelop that sense.


i think that is a bit over the top. it seems to me that a number of people are pulling together to fill the vacuum left by rogov's passing. if one feels they are not yet up to the task, no problem --- they will find their stride, strengths and weaknesses will show through, and a "communal character" (to coin a phrase) will emerge. if it becomes a place where people who enjoy wine --- albeit of more limited possibilities --- come to talk and share, etc., what's to complain?

as to people referring to their palates educated by, and experiences from, an earlier lifestyle --- sorry. i just aint interested. see b. Yoma 86b.
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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby Pinchas L » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:21 am

Craig,

I'm doing my part, offering my opinions, insecurities and tasting notes in as honest a manner as I know.

As to restoring relevance to this forum, that will not happen by attempting to replicate Rogov. Members should feel comfortable expressing themselves, experimenting with their modes of expression as often and as freely as they want. If they find it necessary and helpful they should be permitted to post under multiple login names, offering them the luxury of anonymity, assuming that too many of their friends know the person behind their login, causing them apprehension.

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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby Pinchas L » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:30 am

Isaac Chavel wrote:as to people referring to their palates educated by, and experiences from, an earlier lifestyle --- sorry. i just aint interested. see b. Yoma 86b.


Isaac,

Don't read those posts that are of no interest to you, but never be condescending towards anyone else. Hiding behind rabbinical quotes won't do and has no place on this forum, as it is not bound by the bylaws of any religious authority. Besides, I am interested in anything others are willing to share with me of their life experiences that may be relevant to the purpose of this forum. Don't be so presumptuous as to think that they are writing just for you. With one statement you've undone years of efforts that were made trying to make this forum as inclusive as possible.

Sincerely Yours,
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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby Craig Winchell » Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:19 pm

I started this thread at the behest of someone else, and I really don't know his motivations for suggesting I do it. But I agreed to do it because it could illustrate limitations and opportunities. For Instance, I don't know how many here do formal, blind tasting with a group that meets regularly. I live in Los Angeles, and I 'd be happy to get together with others here and help establish a group with such a mandate. Perhaps on a monthly rather than weekly basis, because there probably are not enough kosher wines available to make a weekly group appropriate.
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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby David Raccah » Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:23 pm

Man - this thread has gone to the dogs. I will not add to this thread other than to say thanks for the heads up on your opinion and input and like Robin said:

"Meanwhile, of course, everyone is entirely welcome in both forums, and there's certainly no requirement that notes posted in either place follow any required format. "

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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby Yehoshua Werth » Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:48 pm

As a religous Jew and a person sooo Searching for Peace..
Agree Thowing Rabbinical Comments or making one find this information to clear a path in a forum seems just STRANGE???
First why?
Second please respect other peoples journeys as we can learn from each other and find our path thur all the garbage and greatness with respect!

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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby Craig Winchell » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:36 pm

David, I don't think the thread has gone to the dogs. The initial postulate was controversial, meant to elicit strong emotions and impact people viscerally, so that there would be broad discussion. Bringing it back on track, I never gave my own answers to the questions I posed. Personally, I feel that people are largely hard-wired into what they feel are balance in flavors and "tasty" as far as overall viewpoint (like across cultures, there is a pretty common steriotypical idea of what constitutes a good looking woman in terms of facial features). Therefore, I don't feel they are ultimately handicapped in tasting wines in the first place. On the other hand, we don't have very many people with a wealth of tasting experience with whom to communicate, and I don't think that communicating with people who have diverse and unrelated experience really yields that much real information. Aside from balance and hedonic like and dislike, I am not sure people are hardwired to the extent that "intense blackberry" to one person would mean the exact same flavor, the exact same intensity to the person with whom he communicates, unless they have a common experience to know what each means, mre than just the experience of eating blackberries, or even of having tasted the same wine at different times. and having a broad common palette of terminology to use with the wine on one's palate helps to distinguish and communicate the differences of the wines in boxes stacked on the pallet (sorry, couldn't help myself there).
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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby Yossie Horwitz » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:05 pm

Ignoring the unnecessary vitriol and hissiness spread throughout, this thread raised a number of interesting questions with respect to wine drinkers/tasters who sole wine experience is with kosher wine that I think are worth addressing. I will state at the onset that I only drink/taste kosher wines so am somewhat biased but, contrary to what some folks seem to think, I don't think that prevents one from having a carefully thought out point of view on the topic, merely that it’s somewhat less than 100% objective (as if anyone responding here is doing so on a fully objective basis). While much was said in the thread, I believe the main points raised can be boiled down as follows:

(i) Are such drinkers limited in their palate calibration and ability to discern a good and/or balanced wine?
(ii) Are such drinkers stunted in their ability to provide rich descriptions of the wines they taste?
(iii) Are such drinkers limited in their cultural experiences?

My answer to all three of these questions is an unequivocal no and here is why:

(i) Obviously anyone with a limited palate is going to have less breadth of experience than those with more diversified palates. Someone with extensive experience with the wines of Burgundy will understand, likely appreciate and certainly be able to provide more information with respect to such wines that someone whose Burgundy experience is limited. However, that does not mean that someone cannot have an opinion on those limited wines of Burgundy he has tasted, a wealth of knowledge on the subject derived from books, blogs, interviews, touring the region and discussions Burgundian winemakers and other people in the know. Additionally, this should in no way prevent him from being able to provide a “good” (more on what that may mean in (ii) below) description of those limited Burgundy wines he has tasted (so long as they are reflective of the genre). Kosher is neither a region nor a wine making style. While those who only taste kosher wines are obviously self-limited to a much smaller world of wines than those who don't operate within those restrictions, this is no more a meaningful restriction in this regard that folks limited by geographic, financial (only tasting affordable wines) or accessibility (financial wherewithal asides, not many folks get to taste 50 year old Bordeaux unless they are in the business or are "close to it") limitations.

As evidenced by the fact that kosher quality wine being produced in regions around the world is garnering more and more attention from respected international critics the likes of Jancis Robinson, Hugh Johnson, Mark Squires and others who obviously taste non-kosher wines, kosher wine obviously no longer sucks and those who are limited to it, can develop good palates and both an understanding and appreciation of quality wines from around the world without ever tasting non-kosher wines. Are they missing something in their oenophilic experience - yes. Can they produce wine without non-kosher experience – possibly, but it’s obviously more substantially an issue in this regard). But I fail to see why people think that such drinkers are deemed less able to have a developed palate or ability to discern good balanced wine or even to detect minerality.

(ii) Writing is writing, regardless of whether it is a book, a screen play, a wine tasting note or a restaurant review. While each has its different objective that dictate the writing style, some people are better writers than others and wine tasting notes are no different than any other prose. While one relevant issue is the purpose of the tasting note (i.e. is it to express who you experience the wine, to promote the wine, to provide others with a useful note on the wine for their own drinking purposes, etc.), ones ability to provide a rich description of any wine you taste is ultimately based on your writing ability, creativity and ability to express yourself in a rich manner and has nothing to do with how extensive a tasting experience you have. On the contrary, sometimes a one-time, rich cultural experience yields substantially more enthusiasm and exuberance than may be elicited from a non-newbie who may have a more jaded view of the experience which will be reflected in the relevant note (even a more “professional” view will lead to a less rich note). This has nothing to do with kosher or religious observance, but rather how you view and live life and your writing abilities.

A big part of this issue is for whom are you writing. If you are writing notes for others who will be making wine buying choices based on your tasting notes, I believe it is your obligation to keep the subjective (which includes the context and personal experience) to a minimum. While obviously ones enjoyment of any particular wine is massively influenced by the context, environment, company and surrounding experience, these are not factors that will be replicated by anyone else, almost making such a TN misleading if (and it’s a big if), the TN is for others to use. While the note then becomes less enjoyable reading material, it is usable by others. As was noted, Rogov was a pro who professed to taste 40-100 wines a day, for whom extended verbiage would obviously not have been possible. That said, I think the grocery list type of TN can be helpful, is definitely appropriate and is just another style of writing. As with any critic, you try to find one whose palate is more or less calibrated with yours and whose writing style you like.

(iii) I'm not sure I understand the genesis of this point. Obviously keeping kosher has nothing to do with a limited cultural experience – why would it? People who keep kosher can be just as intellectual, appreciate art, history, music, philosophy and everything else the world has to offer just as much as the next one. Yes, they can’t enjoy bacon or mussels. Gastronomically unfortunate – perhaps, but culturally limiting – no (other than to the extent they have a limited option of dining experiences). If the point was that a percentage of kosher observant people are also ultra-orthodox people who believe that they are prohibited from enjoying much the cultural world has to offer, this would still have nothing to do with kosher.
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Re: Philosophical Tasting Survey Question

Postby Pinchas L » Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:37 pm

I was debating whether to post this as a new thread or as an addition to this one, opting for the latter because the point I'm trying to make is related to this thread. I am providing a specific example of how the limited choice available to the kosher consumer inhibits their ability to evaluate a wine in context.

On the other forum, Bob Parsons posted a link to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle by Jon Bonne':
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=%2Fc%2Fa%2F2012%2F01%2F06%2FFD0Q1MKP3B.DTL

The article covers the Languedoc, what Jon calls France's lab for a new wine wave, where Carignan is the most dominant grape. Her excitement for some of the wines produced their is quite evident, and she lists twelve wines with their descriptions. Seven of the wines rely heavily on Carignan in their blend, and the remaining five are based on blends of Rhone varieties: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault. I contrast her list with what I consider the Israeli equivalent: the two Recanati wines: The Wild Carignan and the Syrah/Viognier, both from the 2009 vintage. The hype surrounding this duo of Recanati's wines are blown out of proportion primarily because the kosher consumer does not know of, and does not have access to, similar wines that are comparable or possibly better, often at a small fraction of the cost. But besides the difference in cost, Jon describes a diversity of wines, even within quite a narrow segment of the market, that simply does not exist in the kosher market, hence the inability of the kosher consumer to relate to that and to temper their excitement when something as positive as the Recanati duo comes onto the local wine scene. The lack of reference points inhibits their ability to grasp the range of flavors and styles possible, and to place the Recanati wines in their proper place along that spectrum.

Let it be clear that I am not knocking the Recanati wines in question, but am discussing their reception by the kosher consumers. And I am also aware that Chaim likes them, too :lol: .

Best,
-> Pinchas
Pinchas L
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