There has been quite a bit of discussion surrounding (and bashing) wine experts. There is a feeling of hostility towards the experts, and I am sure there is a suspicion that these experts are being bought off by wineries, especially the more expensive ones.
I am neutral when it comes to this issue. Maybe it is because I am new to the wine industry and a touch naive. Or maybe it is that I am not put off by an “expert” of any kind. In my humble opinion, there has to be an expert on basically everything. Someone who has spent a majority of their time living, breathing, researching and learning about a specific subject or item. Right?
I came across an article by Tyler Colman, author of Dr. Vino’s Wine Blog. In his article, he references an article done by Matt Swayne which basically states that the wine experts are “super tasters,” making them just a little bit better than the rest of us. I like Tyler Colman’s view on all of the chatter surrounding wine experts:
So, yes, there may be biological differences in tasting ability. But in this nature-versus-nurture discussion, I vote for nurture as being more influential: it’s the catalogue of knowledge and tasting references, the experiences with wines in the glass, that make most of the great tasters I know really good. Also, many wine experts are self-styled and have varying capabilities, so I am skeptical there’s a genetic explanation for superior wine tasting ability.
So why should I care about all this? Because if it is more of a nurture-vs-nature thing, then maybe, just maybe, I can be an expert too. And while I may never be a world-renowned, much sought after expert, I can at least been an expert in my circle and be able to recommend a good bottle of wine every now and then. There is hope for the rest of us.