Month: April 2016

Tasting Algos, Spring III: Funky

Going through some of Philip White’s older posts, I came across: “What the funk do they mean?“. What’s a funky wine? Here are some of the associations he comes up with: Tobacco Stinky Naughty Passionate Soulful Pleasing Attractive Swindler Cheater Thief Whereas the text analysis says Cheesy Brett Sweat Stewed Tired Soap Curious Oxidised Muddy Not sure if this answers White’s question or which of the lists is preferable. At any rate, with imagination, they’re not all that far apart.    MK@WineQuant     Advertisements

Tasting Algos, Spring II: Angular

When would you say that a wine is angular? Descriptors used in similar contexts are: attenuated astringent austere disjointed charmless lean compact compressed hollow monolithic For well-reviewed wines, angular often refers to a finely-balanced nervous tension. A JR review of 1996 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut (61% Pinot Noir, 39% Chardonnay) says  “tangy and very vibrant and nervy… very tight… tightly laced like a corset – very nerveux… firm… fine and tight and angular.” Context is everything. Quality wine has angles and edges: a complicated backbone of acidity to keep it standing as the years go by. Great wine fills in and around its polygon structure. Vertices soften and sharp edges fold into each other. Character develops slowly in a delicate balance of hardness and softness, supple flesh on sinewed angles. In a post on Australia’s Fear of Natural Acids, Philip White writes about natural versus added tartaric acids. The natural acids lock “flavours together, and train them to sing in harmony” while corrective tartaric acid “always looks awkward and angular, never really harmonising.” If you think a wine will improve with age, …

Chocolate and Fennel?

This is Models vs. Reality, Part 2. I looked at what our tool has to say about chocolate as a wine descriptor and I was a bit surprised by the result. Top 10 chocolate related descriptors in critic wine notes cocoa coffee pepper tar mocha licorice truffle fennel vanilla espresso I would never have made an association between chocolate and fennel. It turns out that only a few writers make this connection. You can verify this yourself. For example on jancisrobinson.com you find that there are only six tasting notes including fennel and chocolate. Out of these, five are written by Tamlyn Currin and one is by Richard Hemming. None of these notes are in our dataset, so it’s a good test to look at them in a bit more detail. Chocolate and fennel, really? Richard Hemming’s description of an Alvaro Palacios Priorat (65% Carignan) features “leather and fennel aromas” with “chocolate-covered cherry”. Tamlyn Currin describes a “delicious mouthful of sweet red pepper and dried herbs, liquorice and chocolate” followed by a long finish with “a thrill of fennel and aniseed” in a …

Models vs. Reality, Part 1

Wine appreciation requires language. But the way you use language depends on what you consider to be a “good tasting note.” What is good? What’s the norm? …writing is a learned activity, no different in that regard from hitting a golf ball or playing the piano. Yes, some people naturally do it better than others. But apart from a few atypical autodidacts (who exist in all disciplines), there’s no practical way to learn to write, hit a golf ball, or play the piano without guidance on many points, large and small. And everyone, even the autodidact, requires considerable effort and practice in learning the norms. The norms are important even to those who ultimately break them to good effect. Bryan A. Garner, Garner’s Modern American Usage (2009, p. 104) Famous critics and formal tasting systems provide models/norms/reference points. But how good are those norms? What does “green apple, citrus peel, medium+ acidity” mean, exactly? Models are useful, but only if we don’t lose touch with what is actually going on. So let’s calibrate our models to reality. …