Friday, June 20, 2008

Enjoyment, not bloviation

Substitute the wine-words with beer-words, and you might think that the LA Times piece below was about beer, not wine.

When wine drinkers tell me they taste notes of cherries, tobacco and rose petals, usually all I can detect is a whole lot of jackass. The language of sommeliers, winemakers, sellers and writers has devolved into nothing besides a long list of obscure smells that tells me nothing. I get a lot of cherry and cassis from Manischewitz too, but it would help a lot more if you told me it was cough-syrup-goopy sugar-water.

I miss the days when we made fun of wine snobs for saying that a wine was "ingratiating without being obsequious." Now wine snobs are too boring to make fun of. Ever since UC Davis professor Ann Noble created the Wine Aroma Wheel more than 20 years ago, people have become obsessed with seeing how many memories they can inhale out of a glass. <...>

So from now on, wine drinkers, you get to mention three things you smell in a wine, max. Then you have to tell me something more interesting. If that seems too hard, I suggest drinking more wine until it isn't.

The language of wine snobbery

Joel Stein
LA Times
June 13, 2008

There's similar silliness in the beer world, whether it's beer styles or beer reviewing.

And as with better wine reviewing, better beer reviewing begins with homework.
a clever 'un-pompous' beer review
Learn to identify the 5 basic tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami), the aroma of hops (floral, grassy, citrusy), the aroma of lager fermentation (sulfury), the aroma of ale fermentation (green apple), the taste of malt (bready, toasty, caramel, coffee), and gasp, yes, the off-aromas of beer.

Be precise.

A bartender said to me yesterday, "I don't like it. It has an aftertaste." I thought in response, "I hope so!"

What he meant to say was that he didn't care for that particular aftertaste. But I disagreed, silently, as I took another sip of the Sierra Nevada Summerfest.

Drink to enjoy, not to impress. It's more rewarding.

I was alerted to the LA Times column by Kevin Erskine's Scotch Blog, on which there's this hilarious comment:
Hmm I'd say it's the pretentious twit who reads the original notes and says "Ah yes, I also identified the 'wet dish towel' and '1970 Chevy Malibu interior' notes.

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