Warning to winemakers: Drinking your own wine on a regular basis may be hazardous to your objectivity.
That subject came up last week during my visit with Ric Forman. He had set up a mini-vertical of his Cabernets and offered that he didn’t taste his wines very often, part of which I understood. Drinking one’s own wine time and again, no matter how good, would be tedious for most people.
But then Forman offered a further explanation. He recalled that while he was a student at UC Davis, the late professor Maynard Amerine—he authored Wines: Their Sensory Evaluation, among many other scholarly works—advised winemakers and aspiring winemakers not to drink their own wines for the simple reason that they would get used to their own style. That in turn would affect how they evaluated other wines. Some call this a house palate or kennel vision.
"I don’t drink my wines often because I don’t want to get too used to the flavors," Forman said. Using one's own wines as the reference point of excellence and comparison is dangerous, since it blurs one's objectivity. Ditto for blind tasting.
In Amerine's book, he warned of pitfalls for consumers (and critics) who don't taste blind. It's far too easy to be fooled by "Madison Avenue hucksters" and their claims of "superlative quality" wines, Amerine wrote. Take the label and price out of the wine assessment equation, Amerine insisted, and be careful of falling in love with your own wine. That can lead to heartbreak.
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