I saw a wine critic tricked into giving different reviews for the same wine. What's your take?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I saw a show where professional wine tasters were given five glasses of the same wine to review. Not one said, "These all taste similar." What's your take?

—Jerry, Minneapolis, Minn.

Dear Jerry,

There are plenty of ways to play a trick on a wine lover. I’ve heard about the ones where cheap wines are served from expensive bottles (or vice-versa), or red food coloring added to white wines. And yes, the old “same wine in multiple glasses” deception is another "classic."

In addition to being mean-spirited, I’m not really sure what the point of these deceptions is. I don’t think wine tasting should be treated as a parlor game, and wine tasters don't claim to be infallible machines.

I admire professional wine tasters for applying their years of experience and tasting through tens of thousands of wines to give some context to what’s in the glass in front of them. I think Wine Spectator’s method of blind tasting is particularly useful, since it eliminates price- and prestige-based biases. While drinking wine should be fun, there’s a lot of concentration and work that goes into reviewing wine, assessing and describing dozens at a time. It can be a very humbling experience. When I have five wines in front of me, I assume they are different, and do my best to describe them individually. I might fall for the same trick, but I don’t think that takes away from my passion for wine or my skill for describing it.

—Dr. Vinny

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