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How do wines taste?
October 31, 2008 2:42 PM   Subscribe

How do different wines taste? An interesting visualization tries to answer the question of what is different about a Shiraz vs. a Pinot vs. a Cab, built from scanning keywords on 5,000 tasting notes over a five year period.
posted by mathowie (42 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bacon is in the list but never seems to be referenced. Damnit, I want a nice bacony Pinot Noir!
posted by GuyZero at 2:47 PM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sure, if you are in Oz 'Shiraz' tastes like an oak plank. In the Rhone Valley Syrah does not.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 2:54 PM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mmmm. Light mint green on white. Everyone's favorite.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:57 PM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Upside down low contrast text tastes like weak tea.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:58 PM on October 31, 2008 [5 favorites]


Do I detect overtones of fermented grape juice?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:08 PM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Chardonnay tastes like oak? REALLY??
posted by mcstayinskool at 3:09 PM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oooh I love that! YAY excellent data visualization. It's an instant, vivid sensory snapshot.

Could be a little easier to read, hard to crane my neck to read the upside down descriptors. Might be nice too if it were interactive. Like choose your flavors, what wine do you get?

I can see this being used for lots of things, like perfume. Or even a cookbook for dishes.

This is sort of a wine taste version of the data visualization in that radio site, where you choose music by moods.

There is something fun about the language of describing perfume or wine.
One of my favorite parts in a movie is in Sideways, when Miles describes the wine to Jack.

"Miles: Let me show you how this is done. First thing, hold the glass up and examine the wine against the light. You're looking for color and clarity. Just, get a sense of it. OK? Uhh, thick? Thin? Watery? Syrupy? OK? Alright. Now, tip it. What you're doing here is checking for color density as it thins out towards the rim. Uhh, that's gonna tell you how old it is, among other things. It's usually more important with reds. OK? Now, stick your nose in it. Don't be shy, really get your nose in there. Mmm... a little citrus... maybe some strawberry...
[smacks lips] ... passion fruit...[puts hand up to ear]... and, oh, there's just like the faintest soupçon of like asparagus and just a flutter of a, like a, nutty Edam cheese...

Jack: Wow. Strawberries, yeah! Strawberries. Not the cheese..."
posted by nickyskye at 3:09 PM on October 31, 2008


Should this poster be allowed to ferment for five years?
posted by Dumsnill at 3:11 PM on October 31, 2008


Yeah, sure, if you are in Oz 'Shiraz' tastes like an oak plank. In the Rhone Valley Syrah does not.


Word. Better still, mot.
posted by i_cola at 3:11 PM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Future wine picker.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 3:12 PM on October 31, 2008


Everything is 'oaky'. I fucking knew it.
posted by cortex at 3:24 PM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


What a terrible visualization. A simple table or bar graph would've been a much better presentation. Nice source of data, but the designer should read more Tufte.
posted by jedicus at 3:29 PM on October 31, 2008


Oh, also, I'd like to see a reverse version so that I could more easily determine which wines I should look at in order to find that perfect bacony chocolate wine.
posted by jedicus at 3:32 PM on October 31, 2008


Miles: It tastes like the back of a fucking L.A. school bus. Now they probably didn't de-stem, hoping for some semblance of concentration, crushed it up with leaves and mice, and then wound up with this rancid tar and turpentine bullshit. Fuckin' Raid.

Jack: Tastes pretty good to me.

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:36 PM on October 31, 2008


Well, this visualization is indeed predated by the Wine Aroma Wheel (created by Ann C. Noble at UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology in 1990). Her wheel has become a "useful tool to learn about wines and enhance one’s ability to describe the complexity of wine flavor."
posted by ericb at 3:41 PM on October 31, 2008


The layout is quite weird. Why not group the tastes, if nothing else? Citrus, lime, and lemon should be in the same area. With that, you could also get some better area-based focus (Semillon is often citrusy, a bit of lemon, and a hint of lime). Also, were 1 point given to each reference, or was there some internal ranking (a "hint" of bacon should rank lower than "a metric ton" of tar").

I understand that these words were simply culled from a lot of reviews, but without the context, oil and velvet lose their meaning. What kind of oil? Crude? Olive? Velvet as in fuzzy and pleasant, or velvet as too textured for a liquid?

Interesting venture, but it could be so much more.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:44 PM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Chardonnay tastes like oak? REALLY??

Many Californian Chardonnays do have hints of oak (with a "buttery" component), as they are fermented in oak barrels.
posted by ericb at 3:46 PM on October 31, 2008


Oh, also, I'd like to see a reverse version so that I could more easily determine which wines I should look at in order to find that perfect bacony chocolate wine.

jedicus, your wish is granted.
posted by monosyllabic at 3:47 PM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why not group the tastes, if nothing else? Citrus, lime, and lemon should be in the same area.

As per the UCDavis Wine Aroma Wheel's clusters of similar aromas/flavors.
posted by ericb at 3:54 PM on October 31, 2008


That Bacon label is taunting me
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 4:07 PM on October 31, 2008


Why are wines never grape-y?
posted by empath at 4:10 PM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Using grapes to make wine went out of fashion in the mid 19th century. Most vineyards focus on growing oak trees and bacon these days.
posted by cortex at 4:14 PM on October 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


Many Californian Chardonnays do have hints of oak (with a "buttery" component), as they are fermented in oak barrels.

No, they are fermented in gigantic metal vats and have a bag of oak chips dumped in for a "oakey" flavour.
posted by GuyZero at 4:34 PM on October 31, 2008


I had a painting teacher who spent a lot of time teaching about color luminance and tonal differentiation. Do they not teach anyone about color theory in design these days? Or do old people and the colorblind drink only beer and vodka?
posted by oneirodynia at 4:36 PM on October 31, 2008


Hey, why can't I click on the words in the circle?! OK, this is not a visual for oneirodynias.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:39 PM on October 31, 2008


Metafilter + wine experts = Pedantometers everywhere will shatter in 5, 4, 3, 2...
posted by applemeat at 5:13 PM on October 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


But will they get you drunk?
posted by Citizen Premier at 5:14 PM on October 31, 2008


I don't think this is a good visualization for the data. There seems to be little thought in the arrangement of flavors around the edge of the circle, and if there is, it isn't documented. There isn't any way to bring up multiple wines at the same time (perhaps a method with different colors would work). There isn't any reason for the wine to be on the right side of the circle instead of in the middle, this is not a general graph.
posted by demiurge at 5:21 PM on October 31, 2008


Reading these wine descriptors make my senses come alive.

A large size wine aroma wheel.

This one has some strange and interesting groupings, called a Scent Circle.

White wine Varietal Characters, pdf
posted by nickyskye at 5:23 PM on October 31, 2008


Ooh, just came across this flava flav bunch of flavor wheels for beer, coffee, wine and Halloween Special...Devil's Flavor.

I still like the visual of the OP. Could be tweaked but the gist of a snapshot image is convenient and satisfyingly immediate.
posted by nickyskye at 5:31 PM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


The devil's flavour wheel looks like the cookbook I used a lot in university.
posted by GuyZero at 5:32 PM on October 31, 2008


Why do so many über-hip websites use extremely tiny, light-colored text on a white background?
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:38 PM on October 31, 2008


I don't know why
posted by lukemeister at 5:52 PM on October 31, 2008


Oops, that didn't work.
*slinks into htmly hole*
posted by lukemeister at 5:53 PM on October 31, 2008


Interesting idea, but shithouse rendering

Pale blue on white is not a good way to represent data. This could have been done in some sort of list or tabular representation of the data- but then again, it's a web page, and that might be too difficult.
posted by mattoxic at 6:39 PM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is one of the strangest sites I've seen in some time.
posted by lukemeister at 6:41 PM on October 31, 2008


bad visualization, nothing about method: useless.

on roughly the same topic, recent descriptions of two wines, by two different critics, from a wine merchant:

wine 1: "Raspberry, kirsch and cured meat aromas are complicated by garrigue and hot stones."

wine 2: "A very grippy style, with lots of sweet tapenade, tobacco, hot stone and braised chestnut notes weaving through a core of dark currant and fig fruit."

Hot stones? Is "hot stone" a flavor?

I'm thinking that a dish that contained raspberry, kirsch and cured meat might not taste so good, either.
posted by cogneuro at 7:39 PM on October 31, 2008


This is the kind of vital work I often saw at NYU's ITP program.
posted by Auden at 8:06 PM on October 31, 2008


The more I think about Carl Tashian's idea with this type of aroma wheel, the more likable the idea seems, if he worked on improving aspects of it, making it easier to read, grouping like-aromas and possibly expanding the functions, making it interactive. Seems like it would lend itself to recipes.

It's sort of like a taste insta-map with descriptors of the terrain.

Explored a little about him and he seems to like both technology and food. I think he's onto something with this food map/snapshot image of taste thing. I like some of the things he's examines, like the YouTube tool bar.
posted by nickyskye at 9:57 AM on November 1, 2008


Hot stones? Is "hot stone" a flavor?

That is weird. Maybe they meant "hot stones" as in "sauna" as in "cedar"?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:59 PM on November 1, 2008


This is kind of useless having to hunt and peck the link clicks. I'm going to totally copy this sometime and use a rollover type interface so you can compare two wines.
posted by crapmatic at 5:15 PM on November 1, 2008


Why bother with all this crap? After the third bottle, all wine tastes pretty much the same anyway ...
posted by kcds at 9:43 AM on November 2, 2008


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