Our palates are a curious thing. When it comes to food we trust it enough to opine. Almost all of us are able to sit and discuss new restaurants and old. Our favorite meals and least favorite. We can go to work on Monday and tell our friends/co-workers about the fabulous meal we had at a critically acclaimed restaurant: “I started with the citrus salad that was topped poppy seed and crème fraiche dressing that was refreshing and delicious! We then shared the panko-crusted cod fritters and lemon aioli. They were a little salty but still good and the main course was braised short ribs with horseradish mashed potatoes. Oh my God they were SO good!”
Talk amongst yourselves
These kinds of conversations are not uncommon among people — they’re probably frequent if you are excited by food and food trends.
Now, allow me part of a conversation I had with man I know after he found out about my wine background. “Really, you were a wine maker? I had no idea,” he said, adding, “I’ve been into wine for 15 years. Have you had…” You see where this is going. After a couple minutes of discussing wines we have had that were unique/good recently, he then says, “I just got three bottles of the 2007 Bryant Family Cabernet that Parker gave 97+ points. It is an awesome wine.” (This is a wine that sells for about $500 a bottle so it had better be awesome.)
“But”, I asked him, “Have you tasted the wine?” and the guy say “no.”
“How do you know it is awesome if you have not had it?” I asked.
The guy tilted his head a little and said “I know it will be delicious because Robert Parker gave it 97+ points.”
“What the hell man, you need to trust your palate!”
Like the wine that you like
I have helped make or made wines that Parker gave 95 and 98 points to, and while I think they are good wines I would rather drink something I really love. Just because a critic gives a wine a huge score doesn’t make it an awesome wine.
“Hold on a sec and let me explain,” I said to my friend, “I really respect the winemaking in Australia and I fully accept that Robert Parker loves these wines and gives them 95, 96, 97 points regularly because he trusts his palate. I also accept that these wines are really, really well made but here’s the thing: I don’t like American oak.”
As example, the 2005 Two Hands “My Hands” Shiraz that Parker gave 97-100 points to was aged for 38 months in new American wood. This, according to the Wine Advocate is a potentially perfect wine. But what if you’re someone who doesn’t like eggplant in any way shape or form and a food critic tells you that the best eggplant dish they have ever had is at restaurant X, you would never know because you don’t like eggplant.
So, this Two Hands shiraz might be the best shiraz that Parker has ever had but frankly, I would rather have a Foster’s Lager because I don’t like American oak!
This guy says to me “Yeah, I hear you but I know that Bryant Family will be awesome.”