Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby SFJoe » Mon May 22, 2006 11:41 am

Thomas prefers a catchall definition of "dry" that can encompass wines with lots of rs if they are also tannic or acidic for net balance, and that can also encompass the usage of random punters in his tasting room. Rahsaan, you and I prefer tighter circles in our Venn diagrams. Semantics all, and we each have our preferences.
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Isaac » Mon May 22, 2006 11:54 am

Bob Ross wrote:Isaac, Jancis is working on page proofs of the third edition. I'll drop her a line and see what she is planning for the definition there. Regards, Bob
That should be interesting, Bob. thanks.
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Isaac » Mon May 22, 2006 12:05 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
What makes strong brewed black tea seem dry?


Um, the fact that it is dry?

You wouldn't put sugar in your tea would you?

Then there's the astringency thing mentioned by Joe..

Anyway, it seems like you guys understand each other, but are just using different definitions..
Yes, that seems to be the case. There is no accepted definition, agreed upon by all, and so the wordcan be misleading. If I say a wine is dry, I mean one thing. If Thomas says it, he means something completely different. Someone who doesn't know our definitions would have no idea what either of us meant.

I'm reminded of my first wine tasting. I tasted a wine, and said, "Wow, that's really dry." The person running the tasting replied, "No, what you're tasting is astringency. It makes your mouth feel dry, but that's not what dryness means when talking about wine." And that's why tea tastes dry. But if we use dry when we mean astringent, once again we're muddying the waters instead of making things more clear, and people will misunderstand, and wine becomes more confusing. I think that's a bad thing.
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Ed Draves » Mon May 22, 2006 12:15 pm

in my personal opinion, the perception on dryness is what I concern myself with. In the glass does it really matter what the % of RS is? Or does what you taste matter above all?
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Bob Ross » Mon May 22, 2006 12:23 pm

Isaac, I posted her reply up above. Regards, Bob
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Paulo in Philly » Mon May 22, 2006 12:25 pm

Ed Draves wrote:in my personal opinion, the perception on dryness is what I concern myself with. In the glass does it really matter what the % of RS is? Or does what you taste matter above all?


Bravo, Ed!!!
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Robin Garr » Mon May 22, 2006 12:34 pm

Rahsaan wrote:Anyway, it seems like you guys understand each other, but are just using different definitions..


I think it goes beyond mere "different definitions," Rahsaan, and this may be why a seemingly technical issue is raising an unusual level of, er, enthusiasm on both sides. I think it goes to a more philosophical difference in approaches to wine tasting, and to differing approaches that many of us hold deeply.

It strikes me as an issue of whether wine analysis can (or should) be quantified, and if so to what extent. Some of us want a rigorous, scientific definition of "dry." Others of us (and, frankly, I join Thomas and Jancis on this side) feel that it's the taste in the mouth that counts, and RS is only one among several inter-related variables. Can a wine with above-threshold RS be defined as "dry" if its overall flavor impression is not one of sweetness? That's the litmus test, and for me, the answer is yes.
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Bob Ross » Mon May 22, 2006 12:56 pm

This is a bit off the point, really, but I like the history of the word in the OED, and the first recorded English usage:

Of wines, etc.: Free from sweetness and fruity flavour.

a1700 B. E. Dict. Cant. Crew, Dry-wine, a little rough upon, but very grateful to the Palate.


I suppose this usage is in the Robinson/Thomas camp, but I like the usage itself -- a very pretty tasting note.

What other foods or drinks are covered by the "etc." in the OED definition? I'm having trouble thinking of one.

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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Thomas » Mon May 22, 2006 12:58 pm

If anything, this thread should lead thinking individuals to understand that the word "dry," as it applies to wine, has no technical definition. Unfortunately, it seems to enjoy a widely held belief, and when it comes to widely held beliefs...
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Suzie Q » Mon May 22, 2006 1:06 pm

I have been following this debate for several days and have long since lost track of which side is which. I do however think that both sides have merit.

I think the problem lies in the communication of ones preferences. If a customer comes to me and says they want a dry wine I have to be able to ascertain whether they want a wine that is technically dry, or one that they perceive to be dry. The only way I know of (short of opening a bunch of bottles, which may not be a bad thing) is to find out what they have tasted previously and how they percieve these wines.

My $.02
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Paulo in Philly » Mon May 22, 2006 1:13 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Rahsaan wrote:Anyway, it seems like you guys understand each other, but are just using different definitions..


I think it goes beyond mere "different definitions," Rahsaan, and this may be why a seemingly technical issue is raising an unusual level of, er, enthusiasm on both sides. I think it goes to a more philosophical difference in approaches to wine tasting, and to differing approaches that many of us hold deeply.

It strikes me as an issue of whether wine analysis can (or should) be quantified, and if so to what extent. Some of us want a rigorous, scientific definition of "dry." Others of us (and, frankly, I join Thomas and Jancis on this side) feel that it's the taste in the mouth that counts, and RS is only one among several inter-related variables. Can a wine with above-threshold RS be defined as "dry" if its overall flavor impression is not one of sweetness? That's the litmus test, and for me, the answer is yes.


And let us not forget the situation presented in the article of a layman misusing a term. Kudos to the sommelier for asking "can you give me an example of the last wine you enjoyed" or something like that, to find out exactly that person's preference: an oaked chardonnay - not necessarily a "dry" chardonnay. Problem solved.

As someone who has been teaching private voice lessons for 20 years and someone with a degree in Vocal Pedagogy and Performance, I have found that people learn to sing much better when they learn to sense and feel their own voice, and learn to describe it as they perceive it; my task as a pedagogue is to get into that person's head and present new options. First I have to truly listen to them, not only vocally, but listen to how they perceive their voice. People are more open to learning that way instead of me arrogantly saying that they suck. LOL. It is belittling and patronizing. I connect this to wine - you can either help a person make a better wine choice by helping them describe the wines they like or you can be arrogant and patronize them. Arrogance comes in many shapes and sizes, including within laymen wine drinkers and people with a lot of wine experience.
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Dale Williams » Mon May 22, 2006 1:18 pm

Put me in the camp of using dryness to mean an absence of residual sugar. I certainly recognize that acidity can mask sugar. For instance, while there are exact figures under EU wine law for degrees of dryness, acidity can "stretch" the definition. "Trocken" is 0 to 4 grams per litre (= 0.4%) of residual sugar, "halbtrocken" is 4 to 12 (0.4 to 1.2% RS). But there are exceptions that apply: Trocken" can stretch up to 9 g/l, provided the acidity is not more than 0.2 g/l lower than RS - which is generally not a problem with German or Austrian Riesling

But I strongly disagree with using "dry" as substitute for "tannic" or "astringent".

And more to the initial point, I also strongly disagree with the sommeliers who smirked because a customer said he wanted dry and then mentioned a "butterball" as a wine he liked. Sure, if it was the KJ Vintners Reserve it probably has measurable sugar. But there ARE plenty of buttery Chardonnays that I bet come in at negligable sugar levels- bone dry. And even if they have low acids that means they are dry by my definition.

I also might use "sweet" if reference to a fruit profile in a red Bordeaux -that wine is still dry.

And lastly, I am a male wine drinker and probably AM a jerk.
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Thomas » Mon May 22, 2006 1:49 pm

Dale Williams wrote:Put me in the camp of using dryness to mean an absence of residual sugar. I certainly recognize that acidity can mask sugar. For instance, while there are exact figures under EU wine law for degrees of dryness, acidity can "stretch" the definition. "Trocken" is 0 to 4 grams per litre (= 0.4%) of residual sugar, "halbtrocken" is 4 to 12 (0.4 to 1.2% RS). But there are exceptions that apply: Trocken" can stretch up to 9 g/l, provided the acidity is not more than 0.2 g/l lower than RS - which is generally not a problem with German or Austrian Riesling

But I strongly disagree with using "dry" as substitute for "tannic" or "astringent".

And more to the initial point, I also strongly disagree with the sommeliers who smirked because a customer said he wanted dry and then mentioned a "butterball" as a wine he liked. Sure, if it was the KJ Vintners Reserve it probably has measurable sugar. But there ARE plenty of buttery Chardonnays that I bet come in at negligable sugar levels- bone dry. And even if they have low acids that means they are dry by my definition.

I also might use "sweet" if reference to a fruit profile in a red Bordeaux -that wine is still dry.

And lastly, I am a male wine drinker and probably AM a jerk.


Well Dale, as this thread proves, you've gotten the last sentence completely correct--I believe all but one voice has been male...

As to much of what you posted, with the exception of true German stats, I of course do not agree fully. I recognize that the German wine industry seems to measure everything in terms of sugar. I like to think the other way around--that it is sugar that masks acidity--mainly because, to my palate, a wine without acidity (as opposed to buttery) is rather lacking in backbone. Incidentally, buttery wines can seem sweeter because of their reduced fruit acidity and their lactic acid profile, plus what ml does to mouthfeel, but I won't bore anyone with facts.

Oh, in my wine classes I teach that there is a perceptive difference between "fruit" and "sweet."

Hope you weren't thinking that I replace the words "astringent" and "tannic" with the word "dry." In fact, instead of calling a wine dry, I would refer to its astringency, tannin, and/or acidity. Tannin is one of the components that makes the palate seem dry--but again, I'll refrain from the boring facts.

My definition of "dry" is how my palate feels, not how the wine feels--that somehow always feels wet to me...

And to the sommelier who started this mess: I admit that it is not always a rewarding experience to attempt to throw information at a belief system, but anyone in the service business who looks down on a customer or tries to belittle a customer is the real jerk.
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Rahsaan » Mon May 22, 2006 6:29 pm

philosophical difference in approaches to wine tasting, and to differing approaches that many of us hold deeply...Can a wine with above-threshold RS be defined as "dry" if its overall flavor impression is not one of sweetness? That's the litmus test, and for me, the answer is yes.


Yes, I suppose it does get into issues of being. For me, if it feels "dry" I would be more likely to say it is "perceived as dry, despite the presence of residual sugar", which I suppose puts me in the camp of saying that things (in this case wine) have inner essence that can be isolated above and beyond their perception.

Although I also think I am more nuanced than that, as I also allow for the importance of different perceptions, but I like to put that word perception up front and clear.

Same way I might describe the taste of some of these wacky tofu seitan products by saying "they taste like chicken/beef/etc" but I would never say they are chicken/beef/etc.

Same thing for the wine. For me.
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Robin Garr » Mon May 22, 2006 6:34 pm

Rahsaan wrote:Same way I might describe the taste of some of these wacky tofu seitan products by saying "they taste like chicken/beef/etc" but I would never say they are chicken/beef/etc.


Touché!
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Victorwine » Mon May 22, 2006 10:40 pm

Hi Thomas,
Doesn’t the serving temperature of the wine also influence how one perceives it?

Salute
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Thomas » Tue May 23, 2006 8:52 am

Victor,

Certainly.
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby SFJoe » Tue May 23, 2006 2:10 pm

Not to thrash this topic further, but I would also note that if you are reducing a wine in cooking, it will be the analytic rs that determines how sweet your sauce.
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Bob Ross » Tue May 23, 2006 3:01 pm

One of Jancis Robinson's subscribers chimes in:

Patricia, London:

Well done on the sweetness issue! In fact although most winemakers would like to define dry as ‘less than 2g/l residual sugar’ because they are usually pentoses and cannot be fermented out, even the dreaded EU wine commissioners have a sliding scale for their official definition of dryness to take account of the high acid levels in grapes such as Riesling and Chenin! Very technical and is linked to the relationship between acidity in g/l tartaric and sugar in g/l. If anyone is interested...study for MW!


Regards, Bob
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Thomas » Tue May 23, 2006 3:41 pm

Bob,

I tried throughout the conversation to get that message across, but it didn't work--must have something to do with thing about a prophet not being accepted in his own neighborhood..
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Bob Ross » Wed May 24, 2006 11:41 pm

Thomas, others -- here's a further update from Jancis's site on this topic.

Steve Dutton, Germany:

For several years now, Zind Humbrecht indicate by means of a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = driest, 5 = sweetest) on the label the perceived level of sweetness in a wine. This being totally subjective, it would probably not be allowed in Germany, and of course like any other idea, would be open to abuse by less scrupulous producers, but it still seems like a good idea, as it ignores things such as extract, alcohol, RS, acidity, etc etc, and concentrates on the one thing that does matter: how it tastes!

me [Jancis Robinson]:

An excellent idea, surely, and much needed for Alsace wines in general.

Julia Harding MW:

When I am buying wine to drink, rather than taste or analyse, I would much rather know how sweet or dry the wine tastes (ie perceived sweetness) than the technical information about the residual sugar level. But a conversation with a friend last week made me realise how confusing the term ‘dry’ is to most drinkers – and that the term is often used to describe a wine that has noticeable tannins rather than simply absence of sugar.


Regards, Bob
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Bob Ross » Thu May 25, 2006 4:23 pm

Yet another view on "dry" and sugar from Jancis's discussion:

David Churchill, Toronto:

To weigh in here, in Ontario, our wines (for commercial wines, not fine wines) use a scale of 0 for extra dry, 1 for dry, 2 for off-dry, etc right up to 24 for icewine. Now this has always been a frustrating system. Technically correct, because the numbers supposedly relate to residual sugar as determined in our laboratory (with '0' actually meaning 0 to 0.5, etc), but mostly useless. In my other life of working as a Product Consultant in the store system, customers would ask for a recommendation. I would think, ah, a nice Riesling would work perfectly, recommend it and the consumer would then squint at the little number on the tag, see a '2' and say "oh, I don't drink sweet wines". After hearing this over time, in frustration I would then ask "do you like California or Australian wines?" They would then say, "oh yes!" to which I would then say, "you do like sweet wines". I would then laboriously explain why a German Riesling with a '2' will taste drier than a '0' Chardonnay from California. So, I am definitely in the 'how sweetness is perceived by the palate' camp and not something a laboratory tells us. In our fine wine division, Vintages, we use XD, D, MD, M, MS and S. These are not based on any science, just what our mouth tells us while trying wines on the submissions panel.

me:

Very interesting. Always good to hear how things actually work on the ground.


Regards, Bob
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Re: Are male wine drinkers... uh.... jerks?

Postby Richard Atkinson » Mon May 29, 2006 5:23 pm

Your statement..."The point is that all chardonnays ARE indeed dry"..?

Hmmmm....apparently you've never a had a Texas Chardonnay. Count yourself lucky. It s not a pleasant experience.

LOL,

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