I've often read about how blind tasting is the only way to properly evaluate wine. I'm usually one of those who bring up context in such situations. Wine, like almost everything, is about context for me. It matters where a wine is from, even what it is or is supposed to be. Tasting wine blind ends up more about finding faults, which can be helpful to a winemaker. It can be fun for the wine lover to try. But really, it has little to do with real wine appreciation.
Tonight something else struck me. Just this morning I was reading about how people tend to smell or taste a wine descriptor when someone in the group finds it in their glass. We've all had that experience, in wine or anything else. It's the power of suggestion and it's usually met with eye rolling, as if we're cheating or noticing something that isn't there. Blind tasting must be silent, otherwise you'll get ideas in your head about things that aren't there, further ruining the objective evaluation of a wine.
I'm sorry to say I've always assumed that's right. Then tonight I was struggling with replacing what seemed like a simple part on our water heater. I'll be honest. I'm not really handy. I do, however, read well and I have pretty good comprehension skills. At least I think so. Mechanical diagrams are a blind spot. I stared at the drawings that came with the part and simply couldn't make sense of them. Enter my neighbor, an engineer and embarrassingly handy guy. He looked at the diagram and helped me understand it. Of course, we figured out I'll need a technician type to take care of the job right. But he essentially pointed out details in something I was evaluating, details I hadn't noticed or understood without his help.
Doesn't that happen a lot? I think it's called teaching and learning, and while wine isn't an objective thing like the diagram, what's wrong with noticing or understanding better a descriptive element in a wine after someone suggests it to us? It's not like it's made up. Some times people suggest things and I don't get it. So many other times people suggest things and they strike a true chord with me. That's real.
A few years ago, my dad was on the board of a start up bank and went through an interesting experience when they were working on logo design and shared part of it with me. He asked me if I'd ever seen the FedEx logo. Yes, of course. Had I seen the arrow? Huh? The arrow. Hmm. No, I'd never seen or noticed the arrow. But it's there. Check it out for yourself the next time a truck rolls by. As he often said, I ain't making it up, pally.