A fine palate

I just noticed in the Rudy topic that he was described by his lawyer as having “one of the finest palates in the world”.
In general how and by who is it decided that someone has a fine palate.

Obviously it’s the lawyers who decide.

I’ve often wondered that myself.

In general, the more someone can afford to pay for a wine, the finer his palate.

Especially if he starts calling bottles of wine “lumber.”


Who didn’t let the gorilla into the ballet?

The bassoon.

c’mon guys

We had a great 3 page philosophical discussion in my Romanee Conti tasting post.

Can’t we do it again?

Do I have to post this on the Parker BB?

As far as I’m concerned, if you can tell the difference between TBC and DRC, you’ve got a fine palate. [cheers.gif]

Then no one will read it. :slight_smile:

Seriously - how do others determine that someone has a fine palate? Because they say fancy things about a wine? Do they take a test, all double blind? Because Rudy, or anybody else, can say 'this is most definitely a ‘47 Lafite, I’ve had it many times’, that gives them a fine palate?

Only the person WITH the palate can know how ‘fine’ it is, and even that is entirely subjective, as it is purely interpretation of sensory input, based on that individual’s sensitivities.

For some, and this contributed to Rudy’s reputation, it is about guessing wines blind.

Isn’t that odd, however, that the wines he was guessing were likely fakes? Makes so little sense.

There is no such thing as a “fine palate”. That is a term used to compliment somebody who mostly holds the same opinions of wines as YOU do, because YOU think your views of wine are right and important. Conversely, the insecure and inexperienced may bestow the title upon those who are more secure in their views and more widely experienced. What is real is taste memory. If anyone with a undamaged palate tastes anything often enough, he or she will be able to identify it blind most of the time. Close your eyes, focus intensely and try to recall the taste of the following: an Oreo; Campbell’s Tomato Soup; Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner; Coke, Pepsi and why you like one better than the other (or hate both). Congratulations, you are possessed of taste memory! Now go drink the same wines over and over again as often as you have eaten Oreos and, voila, you can identify them blind most of the time and people will think that you have a “fine palate”. It is about sufficient repeated access to the wines, pure and simple. And it has nothing to do with the expense or perceived quality of the wine. Drink two cases of 1991 Beringer Private Reserve Cab and you will be able to pick it out of a Cab lineup blind. Some are impressed with those who have repeated access to $10,000 bottles of wine. But look what happens absent that access: Parker, Robinson and Broadbent made to look foolish by Rodenstock, Meadows made to look foolish by Rudy. Also, I am guessing that Parker refuses to taste blind because tasting 10,000 wines a year blurs taste memory, rather than developing it (not to mention the brain cells constantly being destroyed over the years!). (Read a page of 30 Richard Jennings Pinot tasting notes, which are generally the same note written 30 times, and you will understand my point.) This accounts for the phenomenon of MWs who have no taste in fine wine…taste memory, but no ability to make useful quality judgments so that they might be accused of having fine palates. Finally, in Rudy’s case, he tasted the wines that he was making over and over again while making them, building taste memory for the phony 47 Cheval Blanc so that he could pick it out blind and impress the foolish, self-important rich guys he was about to fleece. Remember also that Rudy blew a fortune on real old and rare wines and made a great show of his generosity in order to suck in his marks. He no doubt developed taste memory for those, too, especially since the same bottles turned up over and over again. It is not for nothing that he was dubbed Dr. Conti…

P.S. My first draft of this post was a lot funnier and better written. A 60-pound dog barreled into my IPad just before I hit the send button, and it disappeared!

Bill, if you haven’t disabled the function, you can shake your iPad to undo the last command, in your case, deleting text. Too, late now, but maybe useful in the future.

I feel like your personal iOS trainer. :slight_smile:

Brady, is that really true, or are you just yanking my chain? SHAKING it? Isn’t that what the dog did?

It’s actually really easy to determine who has a fine palate. It can generally be summed up as “someone who agrees with me and someone I usually agree with”.
This is slightly tongue in cheek, but in any group of tasters, you will find yourself aligning with some with regards to your likes and dislikes with some consistency. As soon as you think of yourself highly enough, you will find yourself describing those people as “good tasters”.

It’s pretty much as basic as that.

To be a little more generous, I do think that some wine commentary around a tasting can be of more pertinence than some of the noise, and I do think that there can be such a thing as expertise (that all too rare combination of ability, experience and brains). A fine palate is a pompous term for it, but if a meaning were given to it, then it would be someone who in their tasting commentary/criticism brings a genuine level of expertise.

It could and no doubt will be argued that Rudy possessed a certain degree of expertise in his field…

Well said, Jeremy. And, at least in the U.S., you get an extra boost to your fine palate for being able to afford the big names and bandying them about. The fineness associated with a 1990 La Tache (sorry, not enough Dujac drinking experience to pull the right example!) or a 1961 Haut-Brion would seem to me to belong to the wine, not to its tasters. Anyone who likes wine will instantly understand the greatness of those wines. A fine palate is not required. However, drinking and extolling the virtues of such wines is usually the admission ticket to the world of fine palates. I much prefer the expertise angle in those I drink with. Drinking experience, yes, but also a lot of reading which provides context vis a vis other vintages of the same wine and similar wines, knowledge of the winemaking techniques employed and their impact, winemaker philosophy, etc.

I can understand “experienced” palate.

I like the definition of “someone who agrees with me” :slight_smile:

Paraphrasing Bill, the fineness of one’s palate is directly correlated with the ability to afford the rarest, most collectible wines. The most dense concentrations of fine palates are observed at uber-tastings where dozens of bottles of properly aged Burgundy, Bordeaux and/or CA cult wines are tasted in rapid succession. In such cases, a near critical density is reached such that a sort of event horizon forms at the boundary of where the tasting takes place. Theoretically, Parker and Suckling tasting tasting a vertical of Cheval Blanc in the same room would create a fine palate black hole that would create a singularity thus collapsing the wine universe.