Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stop. Do not pass palate.

Well, there you have it. I have officially opened a bottle of wine I simply could not swallow. It happened recently. The bottle was in my cellar. I went down in the late afternoon and brought it up to the kitchen.

I cut the capsule. I put in the corkscrew and outed the cork. I smelled the wet end of the cork (why do we do this? force of habit, but it only ever tells you so much). I was planning to let the wine breathe for the two hours or so before we would pour it for dinner.

I gave a splash in a glass.

I swirled. I sniffed. Hm, pretty nice nose, there. Fruits, spice. Not bad!

And I put it in my mouth. I sucked in air and chomped a bit. I swallowed, god love you. And that sealed my fate. Suddenly, I had evolving in my mouth the most awful tastes imaginable. The wine wasn't flawed; it wasn't cooked or corked or oxidized. It was just purely disgusting to my palate.

Astonished, I left glass and bottle on the kitchen counter and repaired to my computer. I searched the Internet for reviews and remarks. And what I discovered in page after gory page was that everyone loved this foul, tangy brew. They noted some of the flavor characteristics I did - aside from one glaring awfulness, which they downplayed into something similar but less gross - yet they found the wine a delicious thing of joy!

Well, I will call this a learning experience. I will recognize limits to my broad-mindedness (I - as someone who "hates" vin jaune - having attended two Percée du Vin Jaune festivals with gusto and an oft-emptied glass).

I will pretend this is a good thing.

Or else a whole lot of people have really, really screwy taste.


Henri Vasnier said...

So, what the heck was it? At least what category, if you prefer not to name the specific wine?

Your disliking vin jaune suggests that perhaps you can't abide wines that are intentionally oxidized to one degree or another, e.g., manzanilla, most savagnin? I adore such wines but have good friends with otherwise high quality palates who avoid them like the plague. Personal preference, I'd say.

Sharon said...

I will have to take its identity with me to the grave (though I did pass off the rest of the bottle to a friend the next day, who fortunately confirmed I was not insane).

It was a red wine, for what it's worth - and though I'm not a huge fan of vin jaune, I love a touch of oxidation, in everything from Hervé Villemade's delicious white Chevernys to, of course, Selosse champagne...

Joe said...

Very interesting puzzle. Oxidized red wine that everyone praises on the Internet. Lopez de Heredia?

j.m. said...

Reminds me so much to a weird experience I've had with a '98 Crozes Hermitage.

Sharon said...

Joe, oxidation was not involved! The vin jaune comment was an example of a wine I don't really like but have learned to enjoy. This wine was not in any way likeable. It was not in any way oxidative, either. Hot, disjointed, etc. - but not oxidative in the least.

han said...

Sharon, please tell me what it was. I múst know! Tell me in private... (Lips sealed, do do I solemnly etc.)

han said...

Sharon, please tell me what it was. I múst know! Tell me in private. Lips sealed, so do I solemnly etc...

han sjakes said...

(stop saying things twice, Han.)


Rajiv said...

This has happened to me a few times. There's a particular profile of plums and black pepper, if too hot w/o enough acid, makes me want to throw up. I've been learning to appreciate the black pepper/roast meat/dark fruit profile, but so far I don't really like it.

The slightest hint of oxidation makes me very scared to drink the wine, since once when I did, every wine after tasted oxidized. Horrors!

Jesse said...

This might be 1) a really late comment for this entry, and 2) a little less extreme than what you are talking. But I run into this problem with Viognier. I really really want to love it, but I just can't. It's strange. It offends my palate. I think it is akin to how some people can stand the sound of fingernails on a blackboard and others can't. It's a frequency thing, and I can't stand the frequency of Viognier as hard as I try (Condrieu not included).

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