Thursday, September 5, 2013
The UC Davis wine price challenge
Dr. Hildegard Heymann of UC Davis' Viticulture and Enology Department told me that every year, she asks students to taste six wines blind and link them with their actual retail prices.
The prices are distinctly different, such as $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 and $200. There's a bottle of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild waiting for the student who gets them all right.
Fortunately Lafite-Rothschild improves with age, because no student has won it yet, in nearly a decade of trying. Heymann said the best anyone has ever done was to correctly choose the cheapest and most expensive wines.
These not consumers or wine bloggers; these are students who have been intensely studying wine for four years and are about to go out and become leaders of the industry. They know all the tricks and traps of sensory evaluation. Yet they blow it anyway.
"The mistake most of them make is in ranking by their personal taste," Heymann said.
How hard can this be? I want to take a shot at it. I believe I can tell the price category by the quality and intensity of the oak flavor, especially in the top-end wines. But I guess I'm just setting myself up for failure.
Do any readers remember being humbled by this or a similar blind-tasting challenge?
Posted by W. Blake Gray at 6:00 AM