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No accounting for taste
Food and drink opinion

No accounting for taste

When we taste what are considered to be the world's finest wines, if we don't like something, or find it underwhelming, we assume that we, rather than they, have fallen short in some way

Andrew J. Linn

Malaga

Friday, 31 May 2024, 15:13

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Although Henry Kissinger was not known for a love of wine, some past events reveal he might have had the stuff wine critics are made of. Speaking of life in general he once commented, 'The nice thing about being a celebrity is that, if you bore people, they think it's their fault.'

There's sometimes an element of this at stake when we taste what are considered to be the world's finest wines. If we don't like something, or find it underwhelming, we assume that we, rather than they, have fallen short in some way.

WINE OF THE WEEK

  • La Clave 2020

    This well-priced red wine from Spain's up-and-coming El Bierzo region, is made by Raúl Pérez, a young winemaker whose name is becoming synonymous with modern enology
    Not a 'light' wine, but not heavy either and certainly not to be missed. Around 14 euros (El Corte Inglés).

MW Tim Aitkin tells a charming story of the great sommelier Gérard Basset. A couple who came to Chewton Glen for their silver wedding anniversary ordered a bottle of 1961 Château Lafite. Basset was called away momentarily to another table so a younger colleague served the wine. He had left a small sample glass which Basset tried 20 minutes later. Egregiously corked! He approached the couple's table, prepared to grovel, but first he asked them if they were enjoying the meal. They were indeed. And before he could mention the TCA-blighted Lafite, they enthused about the wine. It was the best thing they had ever drunk!

I don't blame the couple for not noticing the taint, or Gérard for not wanting to spoil their evening, but my guess is that their critical faculties had been suspended to a degree and unconsciously. We expect, even feel obliged, to like things that come with vaunted reputations. The classic example is a group tasting where everyone nods appreciatively – whatever they are really thinking.

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