Recently my eloquent colleague Matt Kramer noted that two of the nation’s coffee giants had introduced and promoted light roasts, and that this portends a shift toward more refined tastes by Americans. He argued passionately that this notion extended to wine and a turn toward more delicate, refined styles.
He might be right, but I see a very different picture.
It is worth casting a skeptical eye on received wisdom about wine. So much of what we think we know turns out to be wrong. Early in my gastronomic career I grabbed the wrong glass and inadvertently took a sip of red wine with my grilled salmon, only to find that it made better music in my mouth than the white wine next to it.
Received wisdom takes a beating in Taste Buds and Molecules by François Chartier (Wiley, $37). An English-language translation is set to be released March 5.
As I composed a tasting note the other day, I called a particularly acidic wine “screechy.” For another wine, rich in dark chocolate character, I referred to those elements as “bass notes.” We tasters often describe wines as “harmonious” and individual flavors as “notes.” This may not be as fanciful as it seems. A paper by two scientists in England confirms that the various smells associated with wine evoke strikingly similar musical associations in test subjects, according to an article in The Economist.
Although I don’t usually write about nutrition issues, the announcement last week that researchers associated with the University of San Francisco were going on the warpath against sugar got my hackles up. I have no problem with their findings—that Americans consume way too much sugar for our own good—what irritates me is how little these scientists consider quantity.