HOME > Chowhound > Wine >

Discussion

I can't smell or taste a ANY differences ....UGH

Wine isn't supposed to be difficult (BULLLSH*T!)

Ok, so I buy an oaky Chard. and an un-oaked Chard.

They both taste basically the same to me.

This is infuriating.
I REALLLY want to understand this, but this shit all tastes the same to me.

Oh, and the smell? SAME.

Wine is HANDS DOWN, the most complicated science I have EVER tried to grasp and understand.

There is almost ZERO enjoyment here. This is highly stressful and it is serious WORK, when considering the drinking, the time committment, and all the reading I am doing. It is like a part-time job that is seriously impacting my other interests.

I assume this will takes YEARS, perhaps DECADES before I can do things like skillfullly distinguish between an oaky vo non-oaked Chard. This is the most subtle esoteric science I have EVER endeavoured to undertake and master. EVER. It is probably easier to design a more efficient aerofoil.

But I am up for the challenge.

Life is easy.

Wine, on the other hand, is a Rubik's Cube on steriods, in terms of complexity. (Yes, I have solved that as well)

"Wine isn't supposed to be difficult" ??? God, that is the funniest thing I have heard ALL YEAR.

I realize it takes YEARS to get this down. DECADES. If not, I am starting to think this is all a big inside joke.. Perhaps, the entire industry is smoke and mirrors, and a con job to steal money from PT Barnum's victims....just like "modern art" and Wall St. But I will find out for myself.

Anyways....Tonight, I tasted a Tempranillo wine alongside a Merlot and a California Cab. I was able to tell that the Cab was more tannic than the Tempranillo. However, the Merlot and Cab tasted almost exactly the same. My books told me Merlot was a light drinking wine like Pinot. But not my mouth. It was puckered with that nasty sour itch that you get from a Cab

(On that note, tannic wine is supposed to be tasty? BLEH. Why not just eat leather? Honestly, I prefer Nestle Quik. Now THAT is sumptuous nectar for my palette...from the gods themeslves!! I could DIE and go to heaven if I could drink Gatorade and Chocolate milk. There is something that is OBVIOUSLY incredibly tasty. You don't need to talk yourself into liking it. "This is considered expensive and good, so I guess I like it. Otherwise, I am the ass". God, this infuriates me. But only makes me more OBSTINATE. I NEVER LOSE)

Hopefully I will be able to tell the difference within a few years. I am now gaining weight, but I will SUFFER through this hell it takes to undersand the nuances of wine. I have the time and money and endurance to make this happen.

What "more tannic" ultimately means to me, I have ZERO idea. But, I have memorized the fact that a tannic red goes with Steak, even though a Pinor Gris would go just as well, as far as I am concerned.

On that note, my next step is to try some BLATANT mismatched pairings, and see if there is ANY difference. Like Brie w/ Port. Champagne with a Hangar steak. etc. This might reinforce why classic pairings are just that.

The books say Oaky goes with buttery lobster.
Yea, well, the unoaked is basically the exact same damn thing, so BOTH go with lobster. So what's the point of all this subtle minutia distinction???

It's like trying to discern the difference between different bottled waters. I am sure there is a difference, but does it REALLY matter? You drink the damn water after a long day in the sun. At the end of the say, it's all god damn water.

I really want to "get" wine, but am starting to think it's a genetic skill, which means I am barking up the wrong tree. B/c if you have the AUDACITY to say "wine is easy, just enjoy" ONE of us is seriously missing the god damn point. In a HUGE way. Either it hits you in the face, or it NEVER will ??

With the amount of reading I have done already, I can fake this nonsense forever, and no one will be the wiser. But it would really be nice to actually think there is sometihng to this whole "wine" thing besides total bullshit or infintely subtlety that takes YEARS of training to discern.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Do this experiment next...

    Taste a wine. Then eat a grape. Taste the wine again. Notice how much more harsh or strong it becomes. Eat some bread to neutalize your palate. Taste the wine again. Suck on a lemon or lime slice. Taste the wine again. Notice how much more soft it appears.

    Also, rather than do cab v. merlot try cab v. pinot noir, chardonnay v. sauvignon blanc.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Brad Ballinger

      1) What kind of wine do I do this experiment with?
      2) What kind of grape? Green or purple ?

      1. re: 914NYC

        Answer to both questions is "it doesn't matter."

    2. Whoa there darlin'....take a deep breath, wine is supposed to be civil, enjoyable not rage inspiring....maybe you are trying too hard. I have been in the wine business for 11 years and I can assure you that there are no smoke and mirrors, (well, some of those back labels are high on the BS scale) but I fully understand your inclination to think there may be if you are having such a hard time picking up on aromatics and flavors.

      In the short term I would lay off the books while you are tasting wines, they are a guide and a general suggestion but one must not forget that all palates are different, it is not a users manual....you may be getting more confused by reading what you, "should" be getting from the wine.

      Work your sniffer....smell everything, fruit, your spice rack, herbs...really smell them, do you get layers of aromatics from those? If you don't that might be part of the problem as there are a lot of people that just are not as sensitive....you could be one of them.

      Try tasting softer wines, (tannin clearly is NOT your thing at this point) Beaujolais, Chenin Blanc...things like that and, (this is very important) visit a wine shop...do tastings there, get to know a retailer, they can work with you, (personally I would see you as a project and I would love to help...would be fun for me...too bad I am in SoCal) if the store you find is snooty or dismissive, find another one!

      On the bad pairings front...at this point if you are having a hard time picking out subtle flavors, they may not taste bad to you therefore throwing fuel on your fire that there in nothing to this...not true, at least for all of us.

      Final word of advice is to just relax and open your mind, (I fear I may sound like a hippie here) but if you go into it with a negative attitide you are going to have a "bad trip"....

      Good luck and seriously get to a good wine store with people that are cool and willing to teach you.

      8 Replies
      1. re: bubbles4me

        Yes, of course I can smell the differences in SPICES. But when I smell WINE, I smell WINE. Not garlic, cloves, cilantro, or chocolate! Never mind licorice. LOL !!!

        1. re: bubbles4me

          Not sure what the wine store is going to help me with. As stated, there is ZERO difference b/w a "buttery oaky" Chard and a non-oaked Chard. What is buying a bottle of Beaujolais going to do? What do I compare this with? etc. To me, red wine = red wine.

          1. re: 914NYC

            The wine store should be able help you pick out wines that will illustrate the differences - because, there are differences.

            How did you pick the wines you tried?

            1. re: 914NYC

              Try a French Chablis versus say a Kendall Jackson Chardonnay. If you can't tell the difference then I suggest you throw in the towel.

              1. re: Chinon00

                But ask the wine retailer about it first, just to make sure (recently had an unpleasant surprise with a chablis that tasted almost like it could have come from California ... only then did I notice that the label was in English)

                1. re: Chinon00

                  I will def. try this experiment. Thanks !!

                  1. re: Chinon00

                    Great example of "extremes." Even better if the wine shop recommends an austere, flinty Chablis.

                    Hunt

                  2. re: 914NYC

                    I was not implying that you could not tell the difference between garlic and anise....I was asking if those smells are one dimensional to you.....do they have just one smell or are you able to pick up on more layers of the aromas?

                    The wine shop might be able to taste with you, (that is what we do) and point out specific aromas or flavors, walk you through it....

                    I suggested Beaujolais as a softer red, you mentioned that you were not a fan of tannin. Beaujolais is very clean and fresh, low in acid and most don't have a bunch of oak......it was just a suggestion

                2. You can't simply will yourself to understand and appreciate wine. You can't just sit down and really try hard. It doesn't work that way. The first thing you need to do is to decide if you are willing to buy into it. If you have serious doubts about the whole "wine thing" it's a lost cause. Also, you must completely change your expectations. What makes wine interesting isn't conventional like the nestle quik that you mentioned. You must let all that go and accept that wine tastes like wine and discover what makes it appealing. In other words it requires growth.
                  As you've stated it takes work and patience and of course money so take your time. We're all still learning everyday. That's sort of the beauty of it.

                  I had a friend once who told me that she really wanted to like wine, to look cool swirling and sniffing. But she asked "why can't it just taste like fruit punch instead of wine?"

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Chinon00

                    Yes, some people just don't like the taste of wine, though I can't tell if that is the case here.

                    1. re: Chinon00

                      I assume you pointed her in the direction of Central European wines, then, right? ;-)

                      1. re: Chinon00

                        I disagree. This is not a faith based religion.

                        If there is something REAL about wine differences, then I will notice it. (IF I am geneticallly equipped)

                        If I have doubts about getting hit by a 2x4 being painful, the REALITY wil make itself damn apparent when it hits me, REGARDLESS of my notions going in.

                        1. re: 914NYC

                          I think what we're trying to say is that there is something very real indeed about wine differences. I don't think there is any 'if' about it. As a regular (inexpensive) wine drinker, I can tell the differences among different grapes and blends (even if I can't always identify them). And, when I have a good expensive wine, I can usually tell a difference.

                          Maybe you could share which wines you've tried in your tastings that you discuss in your original post - that might shed some light on the subject.

                          1. re: 914NYC

                            "If there is something REAL about wine differences, then I will notice it."

                            I suggest a little hubris. Speaking as one who has made the journey that you wish to take I can tell you that you won't notice many wine differences when you begin. If you can't accept that then you need to give up now. Otherwise you are wasting your time.

                        2. At what price point are you tasting these wines? Some budget wines can all taste quite similar, especially between merlot and cab. I am more surprised between oaked and unoaked chardonnay, but what are you doing between sips? always taste from lightest to heaviest (in case you are not already) so I would taste the unoaked first and then the oaked.

                          Did you like any of the wines you tasted? If you did just play with that wine for a while until you start noticing differences in it. Eventually the wine will come alive, but if you are just learning, you're overwhelming your palate. When i first drank beer, whiskey, vodka or rum, they all initially tasted harsh and unpalatable. It takes a while sometimes, and sometimes you must leave it and then come back to it after a break.

                          1. Wine is not a science (perhaps moreso the making of it, but definitely not the drinking of it). It shouldn't be stressful or feel like work. Matters of taste (with both intended meanings of both "preference" and "flavor") are highly subjective. If you need any evidence, just try reading 2 professional reviews of the same wine. As often as not, you will find few if any specific descriptors that actually match - and these are the "pros."

                            My suggestion - lay off the experiments for a while, and just try to find a wine or two that you actually enjoy. From your comments, it would seem you don't like highly tannic wines and may have a bit of a sweet tooth. Find a good wine shop, let them know this, ask them to make a few recommendations. If you have the opportunity, open a couple side-by-side and see which you like better; or just keep it simple, open one, and see if you like it at all. Once you find something you like, see if your friendly wine retailer can help you identify what it is you like about it, help you find other wines similar to it, and so on.

                            Keep in mind as well that there are undoubtedly different degrees of sophistication both in knowledge and in palate. Some folks may just have more sensitive palates than others. But that shouldn't keep you from finding wines that you like.