by Jeff Miller of Artisan Family of Wines (Seven Artisans, Sly Dog Cellars, Red Côte)
I was reading this post recently:
Wine’s Next Big Thing Is…
by 1 Wine Dude
It can be found at: http://www.1winedude.com/wines-next-big-thing-personalization/#more-13713
While the post is somewhat rambling, the thing that stood out for me was its discussion of apps that try to come up with wine recommendations based on personalized preferences.
I have always felt that figuring out what wines somebody should like shouldn’t be rocket science. While there is a certain amount of mystery to it, the mystery element is really rather small. There’s a lot about it that really isn’t very hard to figure out.
Take tannins for example. Do you like wines with alot of grip? Petite Sirah maybe? Or maybe you’re the opposite. Maybe those wines are a total turnoff for you?
Same thing with acid. Do you like a racy wine? Do you gravitate towards a fresh and young Pinot Noir? Or do you instead like a soft, round, wine?
Do you like a lot of oak? Or is something that’s only seen the inside of a stainless steel tank more to your liking?
You can go on and on. Bright fruit? Ripe fruit? High alcohol? Low alcohol? etc. etc. etc.
The fact of the matter is that you probably have a profile, or maybe two, or even three, that hit you the right way. That’s not to say that you won’t occasionally encounter a wine that does not fit your normal parameters that you like nonetheless. But by and large it will be possible for most people to come up with a fairly stock description of those factors in wine that will jive with the wines they like. Not infallible, but more or less correct a very high percentage of the time.
And if you accept that that is true, and I certainly believe it to be, then it shouldn’t be a great leap to determine for each wine how they rate on the factors of oakiness, alcohol, etc. So if you were then to rate a number of wines, pretty soon a pattern (or patterns) would emerge. If, for example, you like wines with a lot of alcohol, a lot of oak, and super ripe fruit, then it shouldn’t be hard to predict that the next wine that comes along with those attributes is going to be one that you’re probably going to like.
It certainly a far better predictor, in my mind, then a one size fits all score from some wine magazine or critic. Of course, each critic has his own tasting profile the same as you or I. So, at least in theory, if you can find that critic whose taste in wine is similar to yours, you can probably trust his recommendations.
But that does seem like a fairly roundabout way to accomplish what should be far easier to accomplish in a more linear way.
I am really not sure how successful these apps are, but even if they aren’t that successful now, it seems to me that if the underlying methodology is sound, it is only a matter of time until they reach success assuming that they have not done so already.
Of course, all of this takes much of the mystery out of wine and reduces it to a few readily and objectively determinable criteria. It is not very romantic, and for that reason I have my doubts that it will catch no matter how accurate it may turn out to be.