Saturday, November 17, 2007

On Taste - Wine & Marijuana

Okay, so first, Tom Christensen's quirky, entertaining blog linked this week to Jonah Lehrer's post describing some experiments with wine experts being given blind taste tests, with amusing results, quoted below. (Don't take them too seriously, though, unless you track down the original research, links for which are given in the many comments on Lehrer's blog.)

In 2001, Frederic Brochet, of the University of Bordeaux, conducted two separate and very mischievous experiments. In the first test, Brochet invited 57 wine experts and asked them to give their impressions of what looked like two glasses of red and white wine. The wines were actually the same white wine, one of which had been tinted red with food coloring. But that didn’t stop the experts from describing the “red” wine in language typically used to describe red wines. One expert praised its “jamminess,” while another enjoyed its “crushed red fruit.” Not a single one noticed it was actually a white wine.

The second test Brochet conducted was even more damning. He took a middling Bordeaux and served it in two different bottles. One bottle was a fancy grand-cru. The other bottle was an ordinary vin du table. Despite the fact that they were actually being served the exact same wine, the experts gave the differently labeled bottles nearly opposite ratings. The grand cru was “agreeable, woody, complex, balanced and rounded,” while the vin du table was “weak, short, light, flat and faulty”. Forty experts said the wine with the fancy label was worth drinking, while only 12 said the cheap wine was.

I'm no wine expert -- don't really care for it, unless it's sweet, which puts my wine-loving friends into paroxyms -- so I always find the language used to describe wines both un-illuminating and amusing. (Probably the same way others feel when I talk about what makes one piece of writing better than another.) Imagine, however, how ludicrous it would be if a cadre of critics applied such language not to wine, but to marijuana?

Well, much to my surprise, you don't have to imagine: such critics evidently exist. Recently, on the "new books" shelf at my library, my wife noticed The Big Book of Buds, Volume 3, which turned out to be a coffee table book about ... pot. And not just any pot, but serious, genetically- modified pot that's nothing like your daddy's pot. It looks like ... well, pot on steroids. (I work in the field of adolescent treatment, as it happens, so I'm under no illusions that "you can't get addicted to pot," or that kids who use it aren't smoking several cigar-sized blunts a day and drinking as well, but I also believe in free speech, so the appearance of this volume at the local library gave me an ethical headache.) Here's how the "Sour Cream" strain was reviewed:
Sour Cream descends from two powerful North American lines. The New England "diesels" are non-haze sativas that push marijuana's citrus-like pungency into the realm of fuel. Sour Cream's mother is the near-pure sativa Sour Diesel, a clone-only strain derived from Chem crossed with Mass Super Skunk. This version of Sour Diesel is known for her sour Kush-like smell and her stand-out sour candy taste. The father, G-13 Haze, is a cream of the crop male that shows his true colors in this cross, but with improved yield. Sour Cream brings these two North American strains together for a complex, unusually calming stone.

--From p. 142 of the Big Book of Buds, Volume 3: More Marijuana Varieties from the World's Great Seed Breeders.

I only understood about a tenth of this, but my theory is that if you substituted the word "varietal" for "sativa," the word "wine" for "marijuana," and "glass" for "stone," you could post this on a wine-lover's blog and get at least 10 people writing in complaining that their local wine shop doesn't carry "Sour Cream" or -- better yet -- "Mass Super Skunk."

Stumble Upon Toolbar


peterheins said...

The article shown here is vrey intresting and mind blowing,the experiments done by Tom are confusing to his friends.

peterheins said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.