Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Wine >
Jan 2, 2009 12:33 PM

Sorry, but this $7 Chile Cabernet tastes the same as any other Cabernet I have ever tried.


Drinking Walnut Crest 2006 Cabernet.

Yea, it's a bit tannic.
Just like every other Cab.

"Bouquet: Complex, with cherry and currant aromas.
Taste: Rich, silky, with black-cherry flavors and vanilla notes."

LOL. Sorry, I don't smell a darn thing, except a generic "red wine-ish" smell.

I am so glad I can see through all the bullsh*t,
and not be connned by all this snake oil.

If I am wrong, what do I need to spend to actually taste something significantly different ?

  1. You seem to have a really odd and antagonistic attitude towards wine. If you don't expect to find anything in it and close yourself off to the experience, well you probably won't see much in wine.

    To get a really good cabernet sauvignon -- the kind that will change the way you think about it - you'd need to spend around $30. Go to a reputable wine store and ask for a good value, entry-level left-bank bordeaux.

    If you don't want to spend that much, drink other less pricey grapes. For around $15, you can get a really nice Chinon (Cabernet Franc), or a Ribera del Duero (Tempranillo) which you'll probably enjoy.

    And dial down the whole "snake oil" thing. No one's trying to cheat you.

    23 Replies
    1. re: oolah

      I do not smell ANY of these supposed aromas.

      Will I notice a difference between a $15 and $30 Bordeaux?
      I do not care what the cost is, I just want to discern there is a true difference.

      1. re: 914NYC

        You might, or then you might not. Some folk just do not smell that well to begin with. There are many physiological reasons that could account for this.

        Some others have just never explored their world with their nose, or just never thought about what they experienced.

        Only experimentation will tell.

        How do you do, when you open the vials in your spice cabinet, or drawer?

        If you were blindfolded, and led into an Italian market, would you have a clue, as to where you were? If so, then you might. If not, there is not a chance, that you could tell a US$7 Chilean Cab from '70 Latour.

        My wife has less a sense of smell, than do I. I also have spent a good deal of time trying to put words to what I have smelled. I can be transported to events in my youth, with just a simple aroma. Have you read much Faulkner? Did any of the olfactory references make sense to you, or did you wonder what the heck he was writing about?

        Maybe address the issues of sense of smell first, as it could be that wines will just never be the experience that you are seeking.

        Good luck,


        1. re: Bill Hunt

          Well, I do not deal with Italian spices so it's all Greek to me.
          I have average sense of smell, I'd guess.
          I can smell STINKY French cheeses.
          I love the smell of quality chocolate... Blatant !
          I can certainly tell when someone has farted in the room, etc.

          Yea, everyone can smell popcorn or dung and be transported.
          There's nothing that that eroteric in that.
          I can smell blatant smells, like sticking my face in chocolate.
          But I will NEVER smell chocolate in wine.

          I think those wine people are just tring a little too hard. I think it's all a sham. B/c if they did smell that, they would be unable to FUNCTION in real life, when smell is not so delicate/subtle. (Like the fart, or traffic fumes, etc)

          1. re: 914NYC

            Then, were I you, I would simply give up and leave it.


              1. re: zin1953

                Good point. However any beer, ale, stout, Porter, etc. worth its price is also about aromas. Now, a Coors Light, served at 33F might be OK.


                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Actually, I was thinking Corona Light . . .

              2. re: Bill Hunt

                To clarify, I bought 2 wine aroma kits. I practiced daily for 2 months. I can identify almost all the scents now. (One or two are just TOO subtle, and smell like "air" Hawthorn)

                However, these aroma bottles are blatantly SUPER contentrated. I can smell them in the aroma kit, but I do not smell ANYTHING resembling these smells in wine.

                Can it be b/c I have never spent over $20 on a bottle??

                Yet even the $15 bottles CLAIM to have 'XYZ scent" Do you pros smell aromas on cheaper bottles? If so, why spend more, if those smells are genuinely present. The other theory could be the CHEAP bottles are all BS, and do not have any of the scents the labels CLAIM. Like they're disguised tp have the properties of $30+ bottles. Imposters?

                1. re: 914NYC

                  Almost all wines, that are not too chilled offer up aromas for me. Sometimes, it's a one-trick pony. One smell and it does not change. Other times (more often with "better" wines, but not necessarily so), the aromas will be like peeling an onion - layer, upon layer. These can also change with time in the glass.

                  I have no possible explanation for why/how you can pick up most of the aromas in a "tasting kit," but not from any wine. Maybe ask of your otolaryngologist. Perhaps he/she can help you out.

                  Good luck,


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    > I have no possible explanation for why/how you can pick up most of the aromas in a "tasting kit," but not from any wine.

                    1) I am drinking too cheap wine.
                    2) It's all bullsh*t
                    3) Both 1 & 2

                    1. re: 914NYC

                      4) you are just not there yet, why the rush?

                2. re: Bill Hunt

                  Here is what I can correctly identify from my "Le Nez Du Vin" kit.

                  Lemon & Grapefruit (I do mix them up)
                  Pineapple (sweeter than Lemon & Grapefruit)
                  Lychee (Sweet)
                  Muscat (Sweet)
                  Pear (VERY subtle, very faint smell)
                  Hawthorn (I do not smell ANYTHING, so now, I know it's Hawthorn)
                  Blackcurrant (Cat Piss)
                  Butter & Toast (I do mix them up)
                  Roasted Hazelnut

                  I just do not smell ANY of these in my $10-$15 wines.
                  Let's see what happens when I kick it up to $30+

                  1. re: 914NYC

                    >>> Blackcurrant (Cat Piss) <<<

                    Cat pee = gooseberry or boxwood and is commonly associated with Sauvignon Blanc, especially from New Zealand.

                    Black currant is a characteristic commonly associated with Cabernet Sauvignon.

                    The two are VERY different.

                3. re: 914NYC

                  "I think those wine people are just tring a little too hard."

                  The thing is, we don't have to try much at all. Some people smell better than others. You may not.

                  "I think it's all a sham."

                  That's going a little far. Just because it's something you can't experience yourself doesn't negate the legitimacy. There are so, so many different scents in wine.

                  "...if they did smell that, they would be unable to FUNCTION in real life...".

                  A small amount of a concentrated scent in a glass that someone is focusing on smelling is much different than the other smells in everyday life. I assure you, I function just fine.

                  P.S. I think you're waiting for some miraculous experience where everything becomes crystal clear. That's just not how it works. Most of wine's differing scents are delicate and subjective. It takes most people a LOT of tasting before they can recognize such things. You either need to be very patient and taste, taste taste! or switch to another beverage of choice.

                  1. re: 914NYC

                    Actually, for some of us, horrible smells on a daily basis can make functioning difficult at times, ie when you have to have a regular meeting with someone with questionable mouth and pit deodorizing habits or the gas fumes from the leaf sweepers make one choke. We keep grapefruit oil in the car for when passing through polluted zones (another friend keeps dryer sheets in his car for the same reason).

                    Stinky cheese--chevre? hunter's cheddar? Stilton? Gorgonzola? --do they all smell exactly the same to you? I've been to wine tastings where a friend alternated between "men's locker room" and "dirty socks" as his descriptions (translated to musty, grassy, fermenting fruit, etc.).

                    Just start drinking wine more regularly, if you actually like the taste, and you'll eventually notice subtle differences. Ditto with apples, pears, chocolates...

                    1. re: Caralien

                      I can pick on smells of cheeses.
                      I recall a "Herve Deux" which smelled rancid.
                      I drowned it in honey, and actually liked it.

                      I also currently have a "Hooligan" from CT which is also stinky !!

                4. re: 914NYC

                  Not all $30 wines are better than all $15 wines, but let's just assume for a second that price always directly correlates to quality. So in the $30 wine, you'd be getting grapes from a better vineyard situated in a place more amenable to growing grapes. You'd be getting wine made from grapes from older vines. You'd be getting better quality grapes from the harvest. You'd be getting wine from a more experienced or more talented wine maker. So is there a "true" difference? Yes, whether or not you perceive it.

                  Do you have any personal friends who like wine? Maybe you could share a bottle with one of them -- it might help you identify some flavors if you share the experience with someone who does perceive the difference.

                  1. re: 914NYC

                    >>> I do not care what the cost is, I just want to discern there is a true difference. <<<

                    STOP! Just STOP!!!

                    You have posted several times about wines and not finding them to your liking, about various prices v. quality, etc., etc. See the following:

                    . . . and the list goes on.

                    Stop trying to do this on your own. You're in Westchester County, or close enough to Manhattan, anyway, that you can take wine classes with Mary Ewing-Mulligan at the International Wine Center -- see -- or at any number of legitimate places in NYC.

                    Let the professionals SHOW you . . . to ask US (on Chowhound) what THIS is like, or THAT . . . without sitting down with you, and tasting the Chilean Cabernet WITH you, and tasting a Napa Valley Cabernet WITH you, and tasting a French Bordeaux WITH you -- all side-by-side, and hearing your comments on each wine, and my/our comments on each wine . . . you will never learn (and neither will I/we) what we mean (or you mean) when a wine is described as full, rich, light, appley, smokey, oaky, minerally, dense, rustic, plummy, sweet cream, etc. Honest.

                    It's nothing against you. It's the circumstance. I cannot taste with you via the internet. (Technology hasn't fixed that problem yet.) And so I cannot know precisely what you mean when you describe __________, and you cannot know what I mean. But if you take a class from Mary, or someone equally qualified, or even join/create a tasting group with your friends . . . you will learn LOTS!

                    1. re: zin1953

                      I agree with Jason.

                      You need a guide to help you learn how to pick out flavors and smells in wine. I'd recommend a Wine Flavor and Aroma Identification class. Some resources are below that can help you find one.

                      I have an acute sense of smell. I believe I was, in part, born that way, but I also developed my sense of smell as I became a good cook and got more involved in wine.

                      I've had remarkable teachers that have helped me become even better, and I've tasted with others whose sense of smell was also acute and who were able to articulate the specific smell they were tasting. Examples: the difference between bell pepper and pimento, in wine. The difference between anise and fennel, in wine: one is lighter and greener.

                      Please dispense with the BS and "snake oil" lines. That mindset will close you off to what sensory experiences are right under your nose.

                      Call the places in the threads below and ask who teaches a
                      Flavor and Aroma Identification Class:

                      "Wine classes in NYC. Where? "

                      "looking for wine classes/tastings "-- Manhattan Board

                      Wine tasting class in manhattan?

                      "Best Wine-Tasting Class in NYC"

                      I can also recommend the same teacher as Jason: Mary-Ewing Mulligan. She is the co-author, with her husband Ed McCarthy, of several of the Wine for Dummies books, and is mentioned in several of the threads above. She's extra sharp -- but she does not suffer fools gladly or tolerate those with attitude!

                      1. re: zin1953

                        Thanks. I have taken about a dozen "classes" in NYC. They ranged from total bullsh*t to mediocre. Many had $10 bottles, most in the $15 range. All focused on the same beginner BS. I have read 5 wine books, so those classes are a waste now. If cheap wines have no complexity, then this is the problem. ie: Not ME, but simply I am drinking the wrong wine. (Assumption is that cheap wines do not have these tases and smells, and are just generic)

                        To see the difference, I believe my next step is to drink HIGH PRICED wines at home. (More economical, and I have control over what I drink) B/c I have tasted too few $20+ wines. I think this is precisely of the problem. I am going to a high end store and buying a few $50+bottles.

                        1. re: 914NYC

                          To clarify, were you my student, with that attitude, I'd fail you. Every time.

                          Your attitude is the problem, not the price of the wine. I *rarely* spend more than $20-25 on a bottle on wine (excluding sparkling and fortified wines), and I drink some great stuff. I also drink some very good stuff (that is, not every bottle is great, but nothing sucks). You don't have to spend $50+ to get a great bottle. Indeed, in your case, I think spending $50+ would be about $35-40 too much, based upon your comments.

                          A $50 bottle is NOT some magical elixir that causes the heavens to part and the angels to sing . . . the differences between a $20 and a $50 bottle are far more subtle, far more nuanced than than that.

                          There is a HUGE difference between a wine labeled "Cabernet Sauvignon" with a "California" appellation, and a price tag under $10, and a wine labeled "Cabernet Sauvignon" with a "Napa Valley" appellation and a price tag of $20-25. But between a Napa Valley Cabernet at $20-25 and a Napa Valley Cabernet at $50-60? Subtle differences . . .

                          Then again, it's your money -- you're naturally free to spend it on whatever you want. But I wouldn't waste it if I were you . . . .

                          1. re: zin1953

                            Agreed. But the point is the same. I have been in the $15 and under range. I am done with that and will be moving up to the $20-35 range. The damn cloud better part and I better notice something, otherwise, I will stick to fruit juice if I want to smell anything, and laugh at all the morons wasting their money spending hours desperately trying to find any smell in their BS snake oil wine.

                          2. re: 914NYC

                            You seem to be reaching for an advanced class, but cannot complete the work necessary in the beginning level. My advice would be to open you mind a bit and not worry a bit about the price of the wine.

                            I still take interesting "beginner" classes and usually learn something from the experience. With wine, as with most of life, I am a student and always try to approach things as a student. If I can learn just one thing each day, I declare it a success, pull out the Cubans and some good wine to celebrate!

                            If one cannot pick up the nuances in a US$10 btl. of Cab, they are probably going to be just as hampered with a US$70 btl, just out the extera $60.


                    2. What type of glasses are you using, how full do you pour, and what temperature is the wine when you start drinking it? Do you taste and smell it over the course of an hour, or pretty quickly after opening the bottle?

                      You don't need hand-blown Reidells, but I have trouble getting much nuance out of a wine if it's in a tumbler.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: SteveG

                        I use large bowled wine glasses, not fake BS ones.
                        I know how to swirl and swish.
                        I serve the wine chilled.
                        I even decant buy using a large pan.

                        1. re: 914NYC

                          How chilled? How big are the wine glasses? (Inches across) What is fake BS to you?

                          1. re: SteveG

                            15 min. in the fridge.
                            I use large bowled Reidel glasses.
                            Anything besides Reidel is "fake BS" to me.
                            I refuse to drink wine in small glasses.
                            Can't swirl. (Smell is moot since I don't smell a damn thing)
                            But, I MUST swirl before drinking.
                            It is habit now.

                            1. re: 914NYC

                              You're chilling the cabernet? That could be part of the problem, as chilling prevents the full scent from being released (hence foods served chilled are made with more concentrated flavours).

                              1. re: Caralien

                                Wait, I thought red wine should be chilled for 15 mins.
                                Is this only certain reds???

                                1. re: 914NYC

                                  As george2 stated below, 65F (room temperature) is better for many reds. Unless your apartment is hot, which it might be (our NY place was about 90F+ during the winter unless we kept the windows open), doing a chill in a 40F refrigerator is probably not necessary.

                                  The only reds I can think of chilling would be very sweet varietals, which cabernet is not.

                      2. This "wine thing" is not for everyone. Many of us don't have even average "tasters" so we don't taste even relatively large differences in wine much less subtle nuances. Red wine is best at around 65 and white around 55. Any more chill than that flattens out the taste and aromas quite a bit.

                        With all due respect, if you're really giving wine tasting a fair shake (and it sounds like you are trying hard) it's probably not worth it for you to spend a lot on wine.

                        Buy what you like and enjoy. If it's frustrating, it's simply not worth it.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: george2

                          I use the following rule of thumb:
                          Red: Chill for 15 mins.
                          White: Remove from fridge. Let it warm for 15 mins.

                        2. The original comment has been removed
                          1. Not everyone will get the same enjoyment from wine, or from chicken tikkha or parkour or hiking in the woods. Everyone has different tastes, likes and dislikes.

                            Its most likely best that you seek some professional help like Jason, Maria and the others suggest.