Hello bonjour and welcome to your new Bonner Private Wines video. Today I want to answer a question a friend of mine was asking me the other day that I found quite interesting to answer. And continuing on what we discussed in last week's video, explaining how bottles of the same wine can be tasted very differently from one another. And I ran a little research online and found that actually a lot of people experience this curious phenomenon, specifically how wine can appear very different when you taste it at a restaurant compared to any other environment.

You go out for dinner, order a bottle of vino, enjoy it through the evening, and find it very pleasing. You track the wine on the internet the next day, order it online, get it delivered, taste it again at home and it's not just as good. It's just not as good today. Why is that? What's going on here? Let's try and untangle the truth from the myths right here on this topic. Let's go.


The Serving Conditions

As we discussed last week, and you can watch the video right here if you've missed it, for all the details, two bottles of the exact same vino from the same winery in the same vintage are generally identical to start with, but they may have some bottle variation, as we explained, due to the storage conditions and the cork in particular.

What we didn't talk about in our previous video is the importance of the serving conditions. Good restaurants will pay extra attention to the temperature of the wine in particular. A variation by just a few degrees in a wine serving temp can make a dramatic difference to how the wine smells and tastes. It's absolutely crucial. The second factor that has a huge impact on how you experience the wine is the glassware.

Again, good restaurants will have good wine tasting glasses, or at least different designs than those you have at home, depending on how wide the opening of the bowl is, how large the glass is, etc.. Well, the same wine may taste dramatically different. It's actually easy to experience this for yourself at home. Pour the exact same vino into two different wine glasses, different types of wine glasses, and taste them really carefully, exactly side by side. It may appear that you are, in fact, tasting two different vinos. Try it. If you haven't, it's very obvious. 


Your Attention is Key

The atmosphere of the restaurant versus the one you have at home can also play a major role in your perception during a tasting. If the restaurant was really noisy, for example, if you had a huge, smoky atmosphere smelling like grilled meats, grilled sausages or whatnot in the dining room, well, while at home you taste the same wine quietly in your kitchen, well, no wonder it'll feel different. 

On the contrary, if you were in a very quiet, classy French restaurant, for example, where you had all the time in the world to taste the wine, really carefully while waiting for your food, as opposed to being at home, sipping the exact same vino, but outdoors with friends and eating peanuts. Well, this wine will respond very differently under those very different conditions.

This tells us, obviously, that the type of food pairing you apply amplifies also any discrepancy of flavors that you may perceive. Now, the key I want to point out here, the paramount variable is your level of attention. How much emphasis do you put put into tasting the wine for just itself without food in your mouth? Obviously any food around without interference from the environment, your degree of focus, any interfering from the ambiance in which you’re tasting will inevitably impact how aromas and flavors come through to your senses. Your surroundings, how your other senses are impacted by the environment, completely transforms the subtle perception that you have of a wine.


The Price

It is certainly well known and documented that knowing the price of a barrel influences considerably how you perceive a wine. It's been demonstrated by thousands and thousands of studies that we perceive, we appreciate a bottle better if the price tag is higher. That's just how our brain works, how subjective our psyche is. I personally think that a lot of it is actually due to the attention we put into tasting a wine.

As we discussed a minute ago, if you know that you're tasting something really rare and expensive, you will enjoy your wine glass more, you pay extra attention and therefore you perceive more things. A way around this, I find, is either not knowing how expensive the wine is if you can, or else focus on the vino just as well.

Regardless of its price, you will find that some affordable wines can be surprisingly pleasing if you do that. While you may have disregarded it thinking, Oh, that's just a cheap wine, I'll just drink it and not worry about it. At a restaurant you generally pay a lot more than you would for the same bottle of wine at home, so it makes you believe that it's better wine.

You paid $80 for from a Michelin starred wine list. It will cost you $25 at home. So inevitably you will embellish the experience, the perception of the experience you had at a restaurant. Unlike you are conscious. You consciously know that you have your own biased or biases. 



And I guess what I wanted to illustrate here with last week's videos and today's angle into pretty much the same topic is how subjective wine tasting is subjective because different subjects, different people, two people will taste very differently, even the same wine, but also because, yet, the exact same wine tasted in two different environments can appear very dissimilar.

The same wine tasted two different moments, even with lunch or with dinner, for example, just a few hours apart will express themselves in a different way because you have your own fatigue, your own tiredness, you have your own perception, your senses are more open or not. And this adds to the bottle variation as we discussed it last week.

This is why us wine professionals will generally taste in a quiet and neutral environment using glassware that we know are very well suited. Ideally, the best time in a day for consistent tasting day after day and a fairly objective perception of it is just before lunch when your last meal is just a few hours behind you.

So your digestion has gone through. Also, when you're hungry, your senses tend to really open up. You've probably noticed that you smell food a lot better when you're hungry. The same applies with wine. You are simply more accurately aware. Under these specific conditions, we can approach a tasting assessment that is fairly objective as objective as possible. But admittedly it is not very, very pleasing to taste wine at 11 in the morning. It's a job: someone has to do it. 

On this final note, I'll leave it here for today. Thanks for watching. I hope you enjoyed the video and I will see you soon. In the wonderful world of wine.


Bonner Private Wine Partnership