Kate, Dan & Alex
Can an average wine drinker tell the difference between red and white wine when the wine is served at the same temperature and in the same glass?
In my last blog post I noted that my grandfather once participated in a similar experiment. I don’t know what wines they used in that experiment, but I imagine the choices were more scientific than mine. In his experiment, a portion of the participants could not tell the difference between the red and white wine choices, which was a big surprise to them, especially because many of them were fairly experienced wine drinkers.
I hypothesized that I would get a similar result in my tasting.
I didn’t tell Dan and Kate what the experiment consisted of until after they participated. I wanted them to focus on the wine in general and not just whether it was red or white. Alex knew but wanted to participate anyway.
Kate: Actual wine: RED
Kate knew immediately the wine was red and thought it was most likely a Cabernet Sauvignon. She commented that it was dry, woody and acidic. She noted that she is picky with red wines and prefers white.
Dan: Actual wine: WHITE
Dan guessed that this was a red wine, perhaps a Merlot. He noted that it was not dry. *incorrect
Alex: Actual wine:WHITE
Alex thought his glass was a white wine, probably a Chardonnay. He called it fruity and dry.
Kate: Actual wine: WHITE
Kate was sure this was a white wine and guessed that it might be a Sauvignon Blanc. She tasted pear and floral notes.
Dan: Actual wine: RED
Dan guessed this one correctly as a red Cabernet Sauvignon and noted that it was dry.
Alex: Actual wine: RED
Alex thought this was a red, a Cabernet Sauvignon. He said it was sweet with a bitter aftertaste.
Concannon Selected Vineyards 2010 Chardonnay (How neat are these linked tasting notes? Makes things so easy for me!)
With three people and two glasses each, a total of 6 tastings, only one was incorrectly identified as red instead of white (and that was by Dan, who admittedly isn’t a huge wine drinker).
What Did We Learn?
I think the biggest lesson in this experiment is different from what the lesson was in the original one my grandpa partook in. (My guess for that one would be that certain wines -and I would assume we’re talking good wines here- can taste like red when they’re white or white when they’re red, especially when the “tells” of color, glass size and temperature are removed.) The lesson I took from my (rather poorly constructed) experiment is that one’s ability to taste nuances in wine is a skill that is developed over time. An inexperienced wine drinker takes clues from external factors (like temperature, price, glass type, etc.) because they have not developed their palate to be able to identify things a more experienced wine drinker can. This might seem obvious, but is an important point. Practice makes perfect, even when it comes to how you taste.
I wonder… what if I had served chilled red and room temperature white. Would the results have been the same? What do you think?