de Gustibus

De Gustibus non est Disputandum.  For those of you who do not read Latin, I will translate into standard, American English:  “I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout wine, but I know what I like.”  Or more commonly, “in matters of taste, there can be no argument.”  I have known what the phrase meant for many years, as it used to be the name of a distributorship based out of Seattle, Washington.  I do not, as a rule, like to use words  which I cannot define, and it seemed rude to denigrate the company of competing sales-persons when you don’t understand whom they are working for, so I looked it up.  “Ahhh, they are arrogant bastards!”


For some reason that Latin phrase, and the company it kept, popped into my mind after reading some disturbing news from land of the mistress of the vine.  It appears that the European Union will make a decision on June 19th, 2009 as to whether European winemakers may add red wine to white and label it rosé.  That is, of course, how most plonk wines -er pink wines – are made in America.  Traditionally, however, true rosés are made from only red grapes, allowing the juice  (which is almost always white or clear) to briefly macerate on the skins, obtaining just enough color to give it its blushing hue.  Rosés are sort of the veal of the wine world – without the torture.  The reason for this decision making is rooted in economics – the French are now drinking more rosé wines than white.  My god they really are pinko-socialists!

It is understandable that one might think this is of no real importance.  It was, after all, only a few years ago that Frederic Brochet was able to fool 57 wine experts into thinking a white wine was actually red wine by coloring it with red and green food coloring.  His report went so far as to study brain patterns while the testers were tasting the faux wines, which makes one wonder how they smuggled the corkscrew into the MRI.

As I was a wine professional at the time of this scandal, and as I did not want the term “so-called” permanently added as a prefix to my title, I decided to test this experiment under my own conditions.  I had a friend add red and a small amount of green food coloring until the glass was a deep garnet wine color.  I put on a blindfold and I had the two glasses placed before me.  I tasted each glass, not knowing which was the pure glass and which adulterated.  We expanded the test.  Three glasses were artificially colored and three were left blanc.  The results were the same – I was able to correctly identify the artificially colored glasses each and every time, even blindfolded!  There could be no mistake, either those Frenchies were no experts, or there was some flaw to the experiment.  What wine did we add the food coloring to?  Oh, it wasn’t wine, it was water.  It seems that food coloring, while having no flavor to speak of, does have texture.  There is no argument for taste.  There is, however, education.

Our visual perception does change how our other senses perceive flavors and aromas.  White wine colored red or pink will taste differently, but a Chardonnay-tinged pink will never taste the way a Grenache or Mourvedre rosé will when artfully prepared in the timeless manner.  And it seems unfair that those artisanal winemakers should have to compete with fakes and counterfeits.  The members of the EU should blush for even considering it.

Published in: on May 25, 2009 at 8:10 am  Leave a Comment