Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Wine >
Jun 25, 2013 03:47 AM

Wine-tasting: it's junk science

Not entirely accurate, but it makes a lot of good points

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The article is fascinating. There are two points in it which I think are worth addressing. First, nowhere in the article does it assert that experts confused "plonk" (really cheap jug wine) with the expensive stuff. In fact, that might be true, but it does not appear that such an experiment was run.

    Instead, the experimenter talked about taking a fairly narrow range of good wine (88 to 94) and getting inconsistent results from the same wine tasters. So the real message of the story is that wine experts are not as good at close discrimination as we (and they) thought they were.

    The article asserts, "A few points may not sound much, but it is enough to swing the contest . . ." but that is all. The article is not saying that experts can't tell the difference between plonk and the good stuff.

    The second point is that if you put less expensive wine in expensive bottles or vice versa, it affects tasters' perception of the wine. But this is not really a new finding and is the reason most wine tasting competitions require that the wine be tasted blind.

    The implication of the article is that anything goes and you might as well buy two buck chuck as Opus 1, but I don't think the article supports that experts (or even the rest of us) have that inability to discriminate.

    1. The fact is that wine tasting is NOT "junk science." The fact is that wine tasting is not science, PERIOD.

      1 Reply
      1. re: zin1953

        Totally agree on your second statement

      2. Not accurate for the most part, especially IRT Hodgson, taste physiology/perception, and the studies cited.

        1. Interesting that the Texas Viognier thread got 50+ replies, but only 3 for this article.

          I'm a scientist, so I'm naturally skeptical of most wine competitions/reviews/scores, and think most of it is BS, but obviously most wine lovers are not.

          12 Replies
          1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

            Flavor perception can be quite close to science in one way. Hear me out.

            Wine-tasting is the perception of a molecule, a flavor or aroma molecule. The molecule is perceived by olfactory neurons and the brain's flavor processing center. A great taster can perceive a multitude of molecules, a great many more than those perceived by most people.

            Where it gets interesting is that this perception of molecules can be confirmed -- so we know the taster is not making it up -- by laboratory analysis, usually chromatography/HPLC.

            The best and most entertaining illustration of this -- perception of flavor molecules -- I know of came from the human tasters involved in the large UC-Davis 2010 Report on the adulteration of olive oil from major brands from both the US and Italy.

            In the first round of tasting, the human experts detected oxidation (negative sensory effects) in some olive oils. Since good olive oil is always fresh olive oil, olive oil tasters are keen to perceive decaying aromas and flavors -- all of which are molecules. C18-1 (oleic acid) is one; fatty acids like DAGs (diacylglycerols), pyros (PPP), and K232, are others.

            But there was a problem. The first round of chromatographic analysis said no, these molecules of decay/oxidation that the tasters thought they perceived weren't there. So the tests were run again, this time on the extremely sensitive German and Australian chromatographic HPLC equipment. Only then were the perceptions of the olive oil experts confirmed. The human tasters were exquisitely sensitive to flavors and aromas in their given field, as good as the best machines in the world.

            As are certain wine tasters. Good physiology helps, but most great wine tasters have learned how to be great tasters, with practice and by learning from other great tasters.

            Where that exquisite sense of sensory perception of wine comes into play strikingly is when a winemaking flaw first presents -- usually at a very low ppm/ppb/ppt. The winemaker perceives the flaw -- in this case truly a molecule/bacterium, then orders a few labs to confirm his/her suspicions. He/She gets a level on that molecule/bacterium, and takes corrective action, hopefully soon enough. But the perception of the molecule at extremely low levels is what keeps the wine on track, keeps it viable, keeps it marketable/$$$.

            All flavor perception comes down to the perception of molecules, and that perception -- with olive oil, with wine -- detected first by humans can be confirmed by laboratory analysis.

            1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

              That one thread got more replies than another isn't at all surprising . . . one (this) is not only something that's been discussed here before, but most "knowledgable" people know -- as I said above -- it's not scientific to begin with; the other was self-promoting and bordering on spam, and that's something many regulars here aren't fond of . . .

              I'm not sure what being a scientist has to do with being "naturally skeptical of most wine competitions/reviews/scores," unless it has to do with being skeptical about ALL things generally. Nor do I understand what is BS about one person's opinion . . . but perhaps that's the subject for another thread.

              Or not.

              1. re: zin1953

                Is the charge of BS leveled at wine-tasters, at its root, based on:
                Since I cannot perceive those flavors, they cannot exist?

                No doubt there are among us those with extremely perceptive sensory skills in their field.

                For example, when my concert violinist friend plays a single note on his violin, I hear one note, but he hears five notes simultaneously within that one note.

                My childhood friend's wife is a parfumier (a "nose") who can detect infinitesimal subtleties in smells that most of cannot perceive. While most folks smell a perfume and perceive one smell, she smells **components** of that smell, sometimes fifteen smells within what most perceive as one single smell.

                The same is true for wine. While a wine might taste like Cabernet, to a wine-taster with good perception skills, there are 20-30 components that make up that overall flavor of Cabernet. Great wine-tasting is not only perception, but identification and articulation of the aromas/flavors.

                What surprises me is that the perception of harmonics and overtones within a single note is common among musicians, but musicians are not accused of BS by those who cannot hear them.

                Nor is the parfumier accused of BS in his/her perceptions of smells and aromas.

                But it seems that BS is hurled at those with skilled palates for food or wine.

                And yet, nearly everyone can get far better at perceiving and articulating the aromas and flavors in wine. You just need someone to show you the ropes. It's a skill that's acquired, like most skills. It's not like one needs to be born with great physiology to become a perceptive taster of food or wine.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  there's been threads talking about how supertasters don't really exist; it's only primadonnas milking their egos (supertasters have been proven to exist scientifically)

                  Other threads talking about whiners who don't like cilantro (yep, that's been proven, too)

                  Wine tasting was bound to end up in the crosshairs eventually.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    Thanks. What is known is that some people have Hypergeusia (hypertasting) skills, and that these people have sensitivities to certain types of compounds or families of flavor. People can also have Hypogeusia, or a taste insensitivity, to certain compounds or flavors. Likewise for smells, there's Hyperosmia or Hyposmia.

                    But the word "Supertaster" is never used legitimately -- the prefix is always "hyper-". Supertaster was a word coined as a joke in psychologist Linda Bartoshuk's office to describe her workmates who had lots of taste buds, but her science was pure junk. There was fMRI imaging to show that Bartoshuk's taste bud/supertaster theory was incorrect (she also infamously said "Umami is just marketing"), but she chose to ignore it when she embarked on her PR blitz. Much like the press articles now on Hodgson's junk "studies."

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      I used "supertaster" just because that's the most commonly-used term in the popular press (and it appears regularly on these boards)

                      And yes, there was a discussion here about how umami is just b.s. not too long ago, too.

                      Seems to be so many sour grapes amongst those who can't detect the tartness of the grapes.

                      I don't claim to be a super- or hypertaster....but I liken it to my ability to taste a dish and all but write the recipe, right down to the herbs and spices, and can usually reproduce it with a pretty good degree of accuracy. I wasn't born with that ability...I learned what the characteristics of the herbs are (just like you and Zin learned the characteristics of wines...)

                      I will never forget the day that the lights went on about aromas in wine. We were in the Touraine region, and when I smelled the wine, I had a mental vision of walking through the woods on an autumn day -- the aroma of leaves was palpable, and it changed my impression of wine forever.

                      My perceptions of those aromas aren't science...but the creation of the conditions and chemistry that resulted in those aromas most assuredly IS science.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        << I used "supertaster" just because that's the most commonly-used term in the popular press (and it appears regularly on these boards)>>

                        Yes, I knew that. :-)

                        1. re: maria lorraine

                          just clarifying for other readers -- I figured you picked up on it...

                        2. re: sunshine842

                          Forgot to say earlier, sunshine842, that I liked these passages:

                          <<my ability to taste a dish and all but write the recipe, right down to the herbs and spices, and can usually reproduce it with a pretty good degree of accuracy. I wasn't born with that ability...I learned what the characteristics of the herbs are (just like you and Zin learned the characteristics of wines...)>>

                          Yes. And:

                          <<I will never forget the day that the lights went on about aromas in wine. We were in the Touraine region, and when I smelled the wine, I had a mental vision of walking through the woods on an autumn day -- the aroma of leaves was palpable, and it changed my impression of wine forever. >>

                          Nice picture you painted. Evocative. Thanks.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            My wife, and I, love to taste a dish, then dissect that, with the ingredients. Often, we will ask the server for clarification. Often, we get it 100%, but too often, we miss something very important, and feel bad. Still, it's fun for us.


                      2. re: maria lorraine

                        Sort of like ML's musician, I can usually pick apart many aspects of a given wine.

                        I am blessed in that I get invited to do several "barrel tasting' a year, with various winemakers. I often pick up, and articulate on aspects, that even they might have missed.

                        What I cannot do, however, is project how time, barrel-aging, etc., will impact that wine, over the years. I can only comment on what I smell and taste at that moment.

                        Now, I can often link those impressions to something from my past - an aroma, a flavor, and then recall in my mind, when I encountered such. Unfortunately, those recollections are personal, and not universal, so what might take me back in time, may well only register with another with less personal experiences. Not that either is wrong, just different. If a Pinot Noir reminds one taster of the blueberry compote that they had on that morning's pancakes, but I recall a cup of blueberry tea in my my grandmother's kitchen in Meridian, MS in about 1959, that does not make either of us wrong. We just have different memories, and those are triggered differently, but by the same wine.

                        "Supertaster?" I have no idea. A person, who has a great memory for aromas, and tastes, well then I am guilty, as charged.


                  2. Hi, PBBYOB:

                    With the possible exception of the "taster" serving as a living gas chromatograph (and only then as a winemaker's tool, and only *then* if there's something to be done), there's really no science to it. There are scientific *explanations* of how wine is perceived and with what acuity, and there are systems and protocols which are *designed* to make tasting/judging more consistent, uniform, repeatable, exclusionary of non-wine factors, etc. But judging wine is non-scientific.

                    Hodgson applies science to wine tasting, and his results don't sit well with those who are heavily (especially those who are professionally) invested in bestowing points or medals and exploiting markets, or in self-congratulation over their tasting abilities.


                    13 Replies
                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      Well, that and the fact that Hodgson's science is faulty . . .

                      Kaleo, I have discussed this at length WITH Hodgson as a member of the Advisory Board to the California State Fair's Commercial Wine Competition -- I was in on the planning of his study, and I told him it was flawed from the start. That didn't stop the Advisory Board as a whole from giving him their blessing to do the research, from giving him access to loads of raw data, and so on and so on, and he STILL f****d it up, just like I thought . . .

                      Not that you directed your last paragraph at me directly, but in the FWIW Dept., Kaleo, I have retired from the wine trade, and as such, have NO direct investment in bestowing points (I don't, and haven't since 1979, IIRC) or medals (not longer being in the trade means. personally, I could care less if Wine X receives a Gold, or Wine Y receives a Silver).

                      1. re: zin1953

                        If you wouldn't mind summarizing your views: in what way[s] is Hodgson's science faulty?

                        (that's a real question, btw, and not intended as rhetorical or baiting)

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          Jason has a very thought-out response, and has written lengthily about this before, on Chowhound and elsewhere, as have I. He will weigh in with his usual insight.

                          Rather than repeat all that I've written before, let me just say -- to cut to the chase -- that Hodgson "cooked" the data in the first competitions "study," leaving out massive amounts of data (actually 90% of the data) that would have swayed his conclusions in the opposite direction. Many people, including me, analyzed the huge amount of raw data, and noticed that Hodgson cleverly used only a small portion of it, the portion that would support his theory.

                          In the judges "study," the design of the entire experiment was flawed. The questions were framed to force a result (that suited Hodgson's theory), and as a result the data were dirty, and the test itself was flawed as was its conclusion.

                          The "studies" and their deception appear borne out of Hodgson's disappointment that his own wine didn't win more awards. That disappointment manifested itself in attacks on the competitions and on the judges themselves, with "studies" designed to insinuate incompetence.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            I'm not trying to create a mutual-admireation society, but I think ML has explained it most clearly from a *scientific* point-of-view. She's already explained that . . .

                            / / / / /

                            Hodgson's study of wine competitions was borne out of sour grapes: Hodgson was disappointed his own wine did not win more than one gold medal in all the competitions he entered. This fueled a study based on bad data. Hodgson found little correlation of awards across competitions, which proved judges were inept at evaluating wines.

                            But Hodgson's study was rebuked by those who analyzed the 13+ years of awards given by the major wine competitions in the US. What was revealed (I analyzed the data myself) was that Hodgson used only a small amount of data out of the massive amount of data available, and most telling, used only the data that supported his assertion.

                            Meaning, Hodgson cherry-picked data to "prove" there was not a correlation among medals or judges, when actually there was. What the entirety of data over all the years showed was that there a was a great deal of statistical consistency of medals across competitions, refuting Hodgson's assertion.

                            To put it simply, when one wine was entered in several competitions, if it won a medal in one competition, it nearly always won a medal in another competition also. Hodgson's data was faulty; his conclusion was faulty.

                            / / / / /

                            ML has also posted more, but this gets to the heart of it (IMHO). As well, take a look at what I wrote here:

                            I hope that explains it, but I'm happy to elaborate if need be.

                              1. re: zin1953


                                Hodgson's study was published here:


                                If you have published different results, it would be interesting to see them. If you haven't, you should publish a rebuttal in the same journal, or in another journal, which is how scientific debates occur. Otherwise, all we have are your unsubstantiated allegations. There are many legitimate reasons why one set of data might be used over another, but the devil is in the details (which he hopefully made clear in his paper).

                                I am sure you are convinced that what you say is true. But if we are talking science, it is impossible for the rest of us to be convinced without actually seeing the evidence.

                                Old lab joke: If an experiment was done, and it wasn't recorded (or published), was it actually done?

                                1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                  Everybody needs (IMHO) to take what's written here with how many ever grains of salt they deem appropriate. Some people may think more grains of salt are needed; others less. With that in mind, let me attempt to answer your post. You may or may not like my response, but it's all I got.

                                  You are always entitled to your opinions, and while I may (or may not) disagree, I'll never say your *opinion* is wrong.

                                  I am not a scientist, and have no interest in "publishing results." That isn't going to happen, so if that's the "proof" you seek, I'm sorry to disappoint you, and you can feel free to ignore whatever I say from here on out. I'm just someone who started learning and tasting wine in 1963, entering the wine trade in 1969. I have worked in virtually every facet of the wine trade (production, importation, wholesale, retail, restaurant, marketing, tourism, consultant, and more), as well as serving as a professional wine judge, Chief Judge (i.e.: I organized and ran the competition), and as a wine writer/journalist for magazines, newspapers, radio and TV.

                                  My opinions are my own, based upon my experience, and as always, YMMV. So with that in mind . . .

                                  / / / / /

                                  The point(s) you seem to be missing:

                                  -- the published study was flawed due to selective editing, omitting data that didn't fit the initial supposition, and was built out of personal bias to begin with!

                                  -- wine tasting is not a science.

                                  / / / / /

                                  May I ask you a serious question? Have you ever judged wine professionally before? I'm asking not to be able to say to you, "Well I have," but rather to know if you are familiar with, and have first hand experience as to how it is done.

                                  / / / / /

                                  Each and every year, there are always wines which receive one single Gold Medal at a particular competition and nothing else at any other competition. There are also wines which receive multiple medals at multiple competitions -- what makes the difference? Well, it *could* be that the winery entered their wine in only competition; or it could be that it was entered in (e.g.) eight competitions, but only received one medal . . . even if that medal was Gold.

                                  Which is the better wine: the wine with one Gold Medal, or the wine with eight medals?

                                  / / / / /

                                  As I've already said, I was a part of Hodgon's study, in that I was a judge. I was also in "on the ground floor," when he first proposed his study to the California State Fair's Commercial Wine Competition Advisory Board (hereinafter referred to as "AB") and Fair officials. I have already admitted on this site that I was opposed to his study, as were others in the trade, and that the AB was overruled (not that we have any power to begin with; we are an *advisory* group only). At the meeting of the AB, I told him what his conclusions would be, and it seems I was right. Am I clairvoyant? No, just experienced.

                                  Maria Lorraine has already written extensively on the problems with this study from a scientific point-of-view. (Again, I'm not a scientist.) I have had limited access to the raw data, as it was presented by Hodgson to the AB at our annual meeting(s). In the course of those meetings, a number of people (not just myself) pointed out flaws in the study *and* in his preliminary conclusions. (Yes, you are ONLY going to have my word for it, as I do not possess tape recordings of the discussion; sorry, but none were made, unless Rosemary Woods was hiding in the closet.)

                                  Anything else I can say will a) fail to satisfy you, if you will only accept a published, peer-reviewd rebuttal to Hodgson, and b) merely be repetitive and, thus, a waste of people's time and bandwidth.

                                  All I can say in conclusion is that wine tasting is NOT objective science. It is subjective human perception. And to answer my own question above, if I knew nothing whatsoever about two bottles of wine, other than this one got a Gold Medal at the world's most prestigious competition*, and that one received eight medals of various kinds (heck, even 8 Bronze) at competitions across the country/world, I'd grad the one with eight Bronzes every time . . . .


                            1. re: zin1953

                              Hi, Jason:

                              It sounds like you dissented from whatever the Advisory Board decided. Isn't that the same as saying the AB disagreed with you about the plan? You were right insofar as I directed nothing at you. I respect you greatly, and especially for the easy grace with which you admit wine tasting is not scientific--not only true, but also doesn't detract from anyone or anything.

                              It is easy to see that there can be many different axes to grind when it comes to these things. Perhaps Hodgson is, as maria lorraine claims, merely flailing in disppointment over not winning more medals. But he certainly has more scientific and statistical bona fides than do most other winemakers or judges, so I'm not buying her take that it's all sour grapes.

                              It's also easy to see the hackles raised when an apostate points out a crack in a beloved edifice, or questions the priesthood. This happens all the time in real science, too, where things sometimes get taken personally.

                              Do you have a link to your analysis of Hodgson's work? I'd be interested in reading it.


                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                >>> It sounds like you dissented from whatever the Advisory Board decided. Isn't that the same as saying the AB disagreed with you about the plan? <<<

                                Uh, no.

                                The Advisory Board (AB) is a voluntary group of people who "advise." The powers that be listen to our advice. Then *they* decide to take it or not. The AB is comprised of two groups: the majority are wine professionals drawn from all facets of the trade; *and* there is a handful of Sacramento area business people OUTSIDE the wine business -- think Chamber of Commerce types.

                                In this particular case, the non-wine people on the Board thought that a scientific study would result in additional "credibility" to the Fair and EXTRA tourist dollars to Sacramento. The wine people kept saying, in essence, "it ain't scientific." It is true the Board was split, but it was split along experiential lines: those in the trade who taste and/or judge wines opposed; those not in the trade for.

                                The (not-in-the-trade) Fair officials agreed to do it.

                                >>> Perhaps Hodgson is, as maria lorraine claims, merely flailing in disppointment over not winning more medals. But he certainly has more scientific and statistical bona fides than do most other winemakers or judges, so I'm not buying her take that it's all sour grapes. <<<

                                As I've said previously, both the (now former) Chief Judge of the CSF and Hodgson himself introduced the proposal for the study by saying "Bob is (I am) concerned that his (my) wines don't wine more medals . . . "

                                I'm not sure how the motivation can be any more clear.

                                1. re: zin1953

                                  Hi, Jason:

                                  Well, frankly, I think allowing the studies HAS upped the credibility of the Fair. And it sounds from what you've just written that the "wine people" could just as easily be said to have pre-judged the issue, as Hodgson is claimed here to have done.

                                  *Sometimes* when a participant in a competition is suspicious about something, there's really something to be suspicious about. I don't know Hodgson or his wines, but I can imagine that he tastes and compares his own and others' wines. Widely disparate scores of the same wines by the same judges *are* suspect. So I applaud efforts to identify the problem(s). IMO, merely being a contestant doesn't disqualify one from raising questions or presenting evidence.

                                  Have you already analyzed Hodgson's June 2013 work referenced by The Guardian? Is it equally faulty, IYO?


                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                    The Hodgson "study" in the Guardian article is the State Fair judges debacle Jason/zin1953 is talking about.

                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                      Kaleo, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and no one can disagree with that. Scientific fact is one thing (e.g.: gravity is more than merely a good idea, it's the Law), but scientific theory (e.g.: string theory) can and is debated. I find, however, that it's another thing when someone "cooks the books," so to speak.

                                      I don't want to sound self-serving, but as you wrote above, "I respect you greatly, and especially for the easy grace with which you admit wine tasting is not scientific--not only true, but also doesn't detract from anyone or anything." To a certain extent, Hodgson is attempting to make wine tasting scientific. Everyone in the wine business knows that it isn't. Wine MAKING, yes; wine TASTING, no.

                                      I am sure you are familiar with "T-tests," but simply defined, you have three wine glasses in front of you, two of which have the exact same wine in them, while the third has a similar but different wine (e.g.: three Cabernets, two are the 2017 Cache Phloe Cellars Napa Cab, while the third is the 2017 Jean Deaux Vineyards Sonoma Cab). Object of the exercise: pick the "odd glass out." The average person cannot do it with any greater accuracy than statistical chance.

                                      Winemakers generally schedule blending trials and the like around 10:00 am, when their palates are sharpest. They may come back after lunch to verify the results before ordering the cellar crew to start pumping, but the trials are done in the morning.

                                      Again, everyone in the trade knows that it isn't just a cold that may affect one's taste/palate. What you had for lunch, how much sleep you had the night before, even your mood can affect your palate. Distractions such as noise, extraneous scents (like perfume), even lighting can affect it. (UC Davis did experiments with environment in tasting.)

                                      Everyone in the trade knows that, even if you taste only 10-12 wines (in one flight) in the morning, then go have lunch and taste the same wines (albeit in a different order), your results/rankings may and will (probably) be different.

                                      This is not some "hidden" or "evil" secret that people in the trade keep to themselves. However, it is true -- in fact, for the same reason that the 100-point scale resonates so well with the American public -- that many "lay-people" may not know it. (Bear with me here.)

                                      Wine competitions are NOT track-and-field events or swim meets, and yet they are "scored" like them -- Gold, Silver, Bronze. And there are people (consumers) who *still* express surprise and confusion the first time they realize there is more than one Gold Medal winner.

                                      That doesn't happen in the Olympics 100-meter dash, where Usain Bolt wins more often than not -- and when he doesn't, it makes headlines. Or when Michael Phelps swims, he, too, wins more often than not.

                                      In each case, it doesn't matter where the track or the swimming pool is located -- the environment is the same, the pool is the same (Phelps isn't swimming through water one day, olive oil the next.) But in each of these cases, they are competing against a scientifically known constant: Time. This is why -- all things being equal (i.e.: no artificial, pharmaceutical enhancements) -- Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps win more often than not. They are better, faster, stronger . . . whatever it takes to win that particular event.

                                      But wine is NOT competing against the clock, and the judges are not scientific constants. They are human beings. Their judgements are SUBjective. Their palates are not scientific constants, but are affected by all sorts of various factors, PLUS the set of judges at Fair A and *not* the same as the set of judges evaluating the wines at Competition B.

                                      (And Hodgson expects the same wines to win all the time???)

                                      1. re: zin1953

                                        When pursuing grant money, whether from government or non-governmental organizations, there are a few basic rules.

                                        1. Know what your client expects the data to show.

                                        2. First draw the line, then plot the points.

                                        3. Any data points that do not support the line are anomalies.

                                        If you do not follow the above rules, plus many others, you will get a bad reputation in the trade and will not be awarded any further grants.

                                        I consider the appreciation of wine a skill attainable by many, (Sketching) and an art by a very few (Monet). I will never appreciate the difference between an 89 and a 91 rating. But I sure enjoy wine. And am continuing to try new ones. A torrontes varietal from Argentina, 2009, is in order tonight.

                                        But to help out those unsure of themselves, there is now 10 feet of shelf dedicated to ratings of 90 or better under $20. And another shelf greater than $20. Without regard to grape, year, or place of origin. And this in a store that has knowledgeable people. All you have to do is ask for help.

                                        Trying to quantify something as subjective as wine is like trying to say which is better. A DaVinci, a Picasso, or your 4 year olds' first self portrait.