Last week, we watched the movie Blood Into Wine, about Maynard James Keenan’s foray into the world of winemaking…in ARIZONA. There was this fascinating segment about taste and smell and I had a total epiphany, an epiphany that every snotty-in-your-face-I-know-everything-about-wine-and-you’re-an-idiot-wine-spaz has never successfully explained to me:
When people taste wine, they are intimidated sometimes, because they’ll be sitting there at a wine tasting and somebody will swirl that glass and take a whiff and they’ll say “what lovely aromas and characteristics of cassis and chocolate and tobacco and forest floor and mushroom.” All these words are descriptors that may be applicable to that wine at that moment.
Wine definitely does not contain strawberries or black cherries. But when you try to describe something, you have to use terms that you’re familiar with and that everybody can kind of understand. You want to smell flavors that are fruity and aromatic. You don’t want to smell things like bleu cheese, and you don’t want to smell things like wet dog and barnyard. I mean, these are things that are also descriptors of wine, but maybe something that went wrong in the winemaking process that created those flavors and smells.
90% of the process of tasting wine is smelling wine. So you’re really not tasting chocolate in the wine. It’s more like your tongue and your nose come together, and the effect of that flavor comes across to your brain as slightly chocolaty. My wife had a great line a while ago. She said one of the wines was like Kissing Elizabeth Taylor.
Because we’re such a visually oriented and stimulated culture, our vocabulary and our senses that have to do with taste and smell are really underdeveloped. It’s not that they’re not there, we just don’t have an intellectual kind of connection and our mind doesn’t connect to our vocabulary and our ability to describe those things. And furthermore, because we don’t have that we tend not to pay attention to those things as much.
With regards to our senses, I really kind of think we have an obligation to educate ourselves about these things, because there’s this whole world out there that most of us aren’t even paying attention to that is huge.
When you really get into wine, wine just coaxes you to develop your sense of smell. 10, 15 years ago I would walk into a room and I wouldn’t notice that this guy used Irish Spring and this woman is wearing perfume or I wouldn’t notice the different shampoos in the room. I wouldn’t notice (unless it was really extreme) that this person was exercising right beforehand. And now, if somebody walks into the room – even if I don’t hear them, I can tell if somebody’s in the room. And to me that’s a whole world that didn’t even exist before. And I can’t imagine living a life without that extra sense. It would be like all of a sudden losing my eyesight now.
Which brings me to tonight.We went out for dinner on the patio at Porcupine Grill with some lovely and fun friends (who were totally game to wait for a table on the patio AND wait out a thunderstorm once we finally scored said patio table) and had a couple of $2 Tuesday beers. Which tasted, well, like beer. Then we went back to Ty and Kellie’s to watch the sunset over the valley from their patio (fabulous), check out their composting setup (very cool) and their new fire pit (sweet), and, of course, to drink more beer. After all, this is the home of the host and hostess of FeBREWary, the most fabulous winter party of the year. (Get it? FeBREWary? Brew? Beer? I know, clever right?)
Anyhoo, Ty and Kellie always have great beer around and tonight we were presented with some of Uinta Brewery’s WYLD to try. And suddenly it ALL came together. I could sound all pompous and wind-baggy and say that this beer tasted “earthy” and “crisp” with “strong pine notes” or something like that. But that doesn’t really do it justice. So I’ll say this – it was wonderful. It was delicious. And it tasted like Christmas. Right there in my mouth. Crisp, Cold, Delicious Wonderful Christmas in a bottle.
I can’t wait to see what else I’ve been missing.