How to Taste Wine: Your Senses and Your Reality

Last week I tried to explain a bit about how Autism can affect the senses.

This week I want to teach You, using your own senses, how to appreciate someone else's perceptions.

To do this I am going to use wine. Mr Hammie and I used to work in the wine industry. I was a very good rep', I could talk the talk, I was a kick arse salesman and I knew how to communicate with the best in the industry. But Mr Hammie had the real gift of the palate. He could actually taste all the things that wine writers write about in their tasting notes. I used to read the notes and try to put it into my own words; Mr Hammie used to taste and describe them himself.

The picture above is a breakdown of how wine can taste. This is based on MY perception of what each flavour "looks like" and my ability to mix colors, but you get the picture.
On the right is how Mr Hammie tastes Chardonnay. To make it easy I am suggesting you go out and buy a nice bottle of Aussie Chardonnay. Off you go...............

Take a sip of the Aussie wine, and swoosh it around in your mouth a bit. Think about what it reminds you of. This is what Mr Hammie would say:

You might also be getting burnt or buttered toast if you got an oaked chardonnay and a hint of caramel. Lovely. Good choice.

Now, this is how I taste wine. To make the comparison easy I suggest you pick up a bottle of Mid-priced French wine from the same grape - Chardonnay, such as Chablis or Burgundy. Even a Macon will do. (off you go, we will wait here)

Then take a sip. What does it taste like?

That's right. WINE.

The combination of the region, the history, The soil or "Terroir" and the fact that the grapes in that area have been grown in the same way and made into wine in the same way for years and years; means that it is a far more homogeneous flavour that goes into the glass. Give it to Mr Hammie and he will pick up some red and green apple, bit of fresh buttery cream, maybe even a hint of freshly cut grass, some minerally characters.
But to me it fundamentally tastes like wine. Ahhhh.

I can taste an Aussie chard' and with prompts, pick up on the butterscotch, tinned peaches and maybe green apple on the finish.

But to me it just tastes like Work. That is why I prefer Burgundy.

In the mid-nineties, with the introduction of Australian wines into the European market, ordinary people got a chance understand what they liked about what they were tasting, because the wines were much simpler, and lets face it; cleaner and more approachable.
That, and the fact that the labels described exactly what was in the bottle led people to understand what they liked and why they liked it.
Instead of Terroir, Appellations, First Cru, Villages and Negociants. There was just the variety, the blend and the vineyard. All spelt out on a simple label.
Kind of like a Task Analysis where the steps to recognising what you liked and why you like it; in Simple Steps.

And then, when people had learned what they liked and why, they could expand on that interest. The thirst (he he) for knowledge could lead them back to the sophisticated old world wines that had bamboozled them with their sophistication and snobbery;
and start to appreciate their subtlety.

And that, ladies and gentlemens, is Sensory Integration.



Anonymous said…
The wine talk is way over my head, but the science behind it, I love.

And stop by today at 5:15 - we'll see if we can find those Abercrombie models again. ;)
drwende said…

Regarding your possible book and whether anyone would read it, many posts down -- write it. We've become a society that treats every messy bit of child development as a problem to be cured through some combo of drugs and perfected helicopter parenting.

While autism is an extreme situation, extreme situations are where you get the drama that causes people to LISTEN UP. Tell a good story and make people think.
Elizabeth said…
Wine is just so complicated! :)
Lisamaree said…
Thanks Doc and Sis. Enc and Sal, I was trying to make an analogy to show how we all sense things differently, and I worked on this peice for a whole day! I got "blog" eye from it. Guess I failed, or maybe we all drink a lot more in Ireland? Hmmmmmmm
Maybe I need to do a clothes version using color and design......
Thanks for the feedback all of you!
Anonymous said…
genius hammie

Loved the pics think i'll have to try the wine tasting bit ... hmmm where to start maybe , aussie, maybe fench, r italian r whatever ... hey we could just try em all together LOL

:D on with the show so!!! and i'll second drwende write the book!!!!
Shaz - Mullingar
Anonymous said…
Hi Hammie
What an absolute joy to read!!! You have explained sensory issues in a language I can understand sooo well....must dash. I'm off to my local!
P.S maybe they should include wine tasting in the dianostic criteria for ASD????
Lisamaree said…
Shaz, thankyou for noticing the pics. They were a pleasure to mix up, the scanning another story! Aussie is your gateway drug in this case, nice and fresh and well labeled, although those annoying South Americans are doing a great job now at an excellent price. Red or White Hon?
FrancesJ; Thankyou! The whold day spent painting, scanning, typing and editing was worth it: when I read your comment. As they said in Spanglish "she gets me"
Seeker said…
My dear what a great work you've done with this post.
The writing, the drawings....
When it comes to wine I think people must have some sensibility...
Wine isn't just wine, there's a lot of sensities behind a good wine that you may not acomplish with another...

I read in a comment something about a book.
Darling you should work for it!!!!

so delicious. I want to eat your picture!