Monday, 27 January 2014

Personal preference

At a recent Cave de Tain l’Hermitage vertical tasting, there were two wines, Hermitage Classic 1996 and 1993 (100% Syrah), that caused a bit of debate and demonstrated how subjective wine tasting can be.

We first tasted the 1996, which I found had an appealing nose of savoury characters of dried seafood and tea leaves. However, to me, it was let down by the palate as it was a bit flat and the length on the short side. The 1993, on the other hand, had a similar bouquet but the palate was more lifted and consistent with the nose. My neighbour shared the same view.

When at the end Jean-Benoît Kelagopian, the Commercial Export Director of Cave de Tain who led the tasting, asked our opinion, all of us except two preferred 1993. The surprising thing was that those who preferred the 1996, including Jean-Benoît, reckoned it was still too young to drink, totally opposite to what I thought.

I later discussed this with Jean-Benoît. He agreed with me that the aftertaste of the 1996 was shorter but said the tannin was still fairly dominant and would need a few years before the wine could shine. In contrast, the 1993 is drinking well now, hence most of us preferred it.

This confirmed, yet again, that wine tasting is highly subjective and there are often spilt opinions in the room. One man's meat is another man's poison, but then this is exactly why wine is so interesting. No one, including wine experts, is in a position to adjudicate on who’s right or wrong. We all have our own palate and preferences.

I would like to urge all wine lovers who don’t dare to disagree with others, or who only drink what the majority drink, to be more relaxed and follow their heart. After all, the world will be too boring if we always have the same view as everybody else’s.

Cave de Tain is available from Amber Wines. Try the 1993 and 1996 yourself and see which one you prefer.

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