Thursday, November 12, 2009


Have you heard that every palate is a snowflake?

What a lovely sentiment; its meaning is, of course, that we have individual and unique palates.

Now aren’t we special.

Presumably, the snowflake concept tells us that wine is subjective and that what one person finds tasteful another may not. But it says even more than that. If no snowflake is alike, then the millions of wine consumers in this world account for millions of palates, and not one is like another therefore, talking about what you taste in a wine is akin to talking to yourself.

The problem with this snowflake concept is that many who say such things happen to also be people who make a living telling the rest of us what individual wines taste like or they are people who tell us what the wines they want to sell to us taste like. Really now, if every palate is a snowflake, then how can someone else's wine description possibly benefit the rest of us?

Maybe those who tell us what to taste in a wine do so because they are endowed with a universal snowflake decoder. Or maybe at birth they were given the gift of a snowflake that represents the entire blizzard. Or maybe the snowflake sentiment is disingenuous drivel.

My suggestion to wine reviewers: please, dispense with the metaphors. If we are the individual arbiters of our own taste, through our own palates, then it seems that you have some explaining to do concerning the benefit of your wine review.

On the other hand, if you truly believe that yours is the accurate and superior snowflake—just say so. That way, we’ll know that we should disregard our own sensory information and go by yours.

If you choose this route, would you consider shedding the number ratings and just get on with the lecture?

Snowflake or no snowflake, some of us are math as well as palate impaired.

If you are reading this entry anywhere other than on the vinofictions blog, be aware that it has been lifted without my permission (and without recompense), and that’s a copyright infringement, no matter that the copyright information appears with it.

Copyright Thomas Pellechia
November 2009. All rights reserved.

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