A wine expert’s “acute sense of taste” may mean that expert ratings and recommendations are irrelevant to wine consumers who were not born with the ability to discern small differences in a broad range of tastes, according to a team of international researchers.
"What we found is that the fundamental taste ability of an expert is different," said John Hayes, assistant professor, food science, and director of Penn State’s sensory evaluation center. "And, if an expert’s ability to taste is different from the rest of us, should we be listening to their recommendations?"
In a taste test, wine experts showed more sensitivity to tastes than average wine consumers.
"Just like people can be color blind, they can also be taste blind," said Hayes.
The researchers also found that people who were more adventurous in trying new foods were also more willing to drink new types of wines and alcoholic beverages, but this food adventurousness did not necessarily predict wine expertise. While wine experts were more likely to try new wines and alcoholic beverages, Hayes said they were not more likely to try new foods.
Also according to Hayes, average wine consumers probably cannot discern subtle differences between wines. While prior experience matters, biology seems to play an important role.
A couple of things I’d like to point out here…
Firstly, I really hope they didn’t invest a huge amount of time and money in this research, as I could have given them this information for free!
Secondly, I think very few people are “born with an acute sense of taste”; enough for it to give them a sizeable edge over other wine drinkers, and make them a “better” wine critic.
Thirdly, I’d like to offer a rebuttal and state that whilst I don’t disagree with the conclusion of this research, I don’t want to disparage the opinion of anyone when it comes to who you listen to for your wine purchasing decisions.
Let’s take a look at the screenshot below from Snooth.com…
I simply did a search for “Chocovine”, and these are the results that appeared. As you can see, the scores (from “everyday wine drinkers”) go all the way up-to 4.5 out of 5. I would say that’s a pretty solid wine rating, wouldn’t you? Now, does that mean the vast majority of people are going to enjoy this “fine red wine” and chocolaty-goodness blend! Well, I’ll let you be the judge on that one…