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On Tasting
Comparing Wine Types and Dog Breeds
Saturday, 1st August, 2009  - David Farmer

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Thousands of years of selective breeding have turned out an amazing array of distinctive breeds that accentuate such unusual features as screwed up faces, short legs, large droopy ears and a myriad of other recessive gene characters. Most of these breeds would not last long in the wild. And all of these dog breeds exist under the one sub-species.

This got me thinking about wine which also displays a myriad of variations all from the one species, and these also emphasise gene characters that would not exist in the wild such as white varieties which are an albino of the wild red coloured variety. Hidden away in your local specialty wine shop is many an oddity.

So difficult is it to keep up with all the mystery of wine that a group of journalist has evolved, mostly quite recently, to keep us informed about all of this interbreeding. Part of their method to inform us about what is going on is to describe, often in great detail, how a particular brand or type of wine tastes. These are referred to as 'wine tasting notes'.

Here are two examples from the first two sites I opened and many a fine effort can be found by delving into the collection of Glug Wine Quotes.

Here is Yak Shaya's description of the Cote Rotie 'La Mouline' 1988 (Guigal)

"Wonderful concentration of red fruit, black pepper and clean earthy aromas, with soft vanilla tones engulfing them. Only partially forward, the nose is so deep and rich, you almost don't need to sniff - it sprouts out of the glass on its own...

"Seductive winey nectar that is loaded with fruit and spices. Semi ripe (fruit) at this point with hints of sweetness. Massive and vigorous yet elegant, this is a mouthfilling wine if there ever was one. Tannic but not overly so, with good acidity for balance. Obviously still very young but deliciously tasty even now."

And another from the Cloudy Bay site for the Cloudy Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008.

"Scented and summery, the 2008 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc has deliciously vibrant aromatics that infuse the tropical fragrance of fresh passionfruit and juicy pineapples with garden-fresh basil and the spiciness of crushed tomato leaves. The palate is long and succulent, combining exotic fruits with ripe, red capsicum and a twist of green olive... beautifully complemented by crisp natural acidity and a hint of lime zest."

We now have a collection of red fruit, pepper, earth, vanilla, fruit, spices, tropical fragrance, passionfruit, pineapples, basil, red capsicum, green olive, tomato leaves, limes, exotic fruits, which combine with sweetness, seductive, mouthfilling, vigorous, summery, vibrant, and being succulent to give most pleasing tastes. This is the modern way of writing tasting notes; relate a wine impression back to vegetables, fruit, flowers and meats and then link these with an emotive term. Does this though help you understand what the wine will taste like? Have we indeed improved upon; 'this is a cheeky little number'? To bolster their opinions the writer adds at the end a most useful device which is a number or score to solidify the tasting note.

I've been thinking that a better way to relate back to the consumer what a wine will be like is to compare it to a dog breed thus providing an easily imagined visual symbol.

You must understand that this new advance is a work in progress and does require fine tuning.

Let us start with the world's most popular breed the Labrador Retriever noted for its overly friendly character, an 'eat anything' appetite, a tendency of leaping around when young and licking people, an ability to never show anger or annoyance and a habit of squatting on your feet. Surely this is a description of a simple, easy drink of no offence that will be enjoyed by all, and has to be those quaffable sauvignon blanc's pouring out of New Zealand. The Golden Retriever is an up market version of sauvignon blanc for posh people and may be from a more distinguished site.

The Australian Kelpie is extroverted, easy going dog, loves being out in the sun, and is frequently seen in the back of a ute or with its head hanging out the car window, good for rounding up sheep and very reliable. Well tell me if that is not a full description of our own version of bottled sunshine, a Riverland chardonnay.

Warming to this theme we can see that a big, warm, ripe Barossa shiraz of the type that is known as a 'Parker wine', in reference to the famous American critic, must be a dog of robust character, extroverted without shame for its antics, but stately with a good pedigree, a guard dog with a frightening growl just in case and with a Germanic ancestry which makes it a German Shepherd.

It is well know that the famous London dog show 'Crufts' is a corruption of 'Crofts' the famous fortified and port house which means that fortifieds relate to that English of all dog breeds, those peculiar dogs such as bulldogs and the like that have trouble breathing, are gruff and sturdy, cannot be pushed or pulled in any direction but are warm and affection. One of these the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is noted for going round and round chasing its tail and this relates back to the passing of the port decanter round and round the table.

This is an area wide open for detailed research and just ask yourself what this description of a Basset Hound relates to; exaggerated features including long drooping ears, an amazing sense of smell and at the same time has no height but does have length - why that has to be a gewürztraminer.

Dog breeds like wine move in and out of fashion and after the famous Disney film 101 Dalmatians' every one purchased one but soon they were off to the pound and think about it; is that not the fate of pinot gris and whatever happened to cold duck, ah the same thing that happened to duck hunting dogs, they fell out of fashion because of animal liberationists.

Rosé, well that is easy as this most ridiculous of all drinks which have no pedigree at all and of which there are 100,000 types relates to all the mongrel dogs the world over. To all the worlds roses I give you a bitza.

And sadly dogs age and pass away. They move from youth, to prime in a flash and then it's a long slow decline and high veterinary bills. Wait too long to open your wines and the same fate awaits them. Expensive stuff poured down the drain.

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ON TASTING ARCHIVE 2013
Broken Glasses, Tasting Cups, Chinese Misadventures and Tailgating

Thursday, 8th August, 2013

A Wine for Richard

Monday, 5th August, 2013

Morrisons - Never Fail Method for Buying Wine

Tuesday, 9th July, 2013

Writing Tasting Notes about Great Wine

Wednesday, 2nd May, 2013

Is a Tasting Note Helpful when Shopping?

Wednesday, 24th April, 2013

Do Tasting Notes Have any Value?

Friday, 22nd March, 2013

The Five Secrets of Stylish Women Applied to Drinking Wine

Tuesday, 12th February, 2013

ON TASTING ARCHIVE 2011
Steps in Becoming a Wine Snob

Saturday, 10th December, 2011

A Morning at the Mount Barker WA Wine Show

Sunday, 20th November, 2011

Natural Flavours from Wine and Beer Yeasts

Friday, 26th August, 2011

Status in St Emilion Raises Issues

Sunday, 24th July, 2011

What Should You Pay for Great Wine?

Sunday, 15th May, 2011

ON TASTING ARCHIVE 2009
The Power of Gold

Wednesday, 25th November, 2009

First Write the Review then Taste the Wine

Wednesday, 25th November, 2009

The Artisans of the Barossa 12th September
Part 2 of the Barossa Tastings

Friday, 30th October, 2009

The Whites do go Better With Fish

Friday, 30th October, 2009

A Parker Tasting Should Make Us Pause

Tuesday, 13th October, 2009

Why You Drink Champagne by the Sea

Thursday, 8th October, 2009

Tasting at Three Barossa Wine Shows
Part 1 - The Small Winemakers Show

Sunday, 4th October, 2009

It's In The Bubbles, Stupid

Friday, 2nd October, 2009

How Good is Your Palate?

Monday, 21st September, 2009

Another Know All Wine Wanker

Monday, 21st September, 2009

Further Thoughts on the Australian Wine Show System

Thursday, 3rd September, 2009

Wine Advice from Craigslist

Thursday, 3rd September, 2009

Comparing Wine Types and Dog Breeds

Saturday, 1st August, 2009

Electronic Experts Give Wine Advice

Monday, 15th June, 2009

In Search of a Holy Grail

Monday, 5th May, 2009

The Gimblett Gravels Travelling Road Show Surprises London

Monday, 20th April, 2009

The Beauty of the Five Point Judging System

Thursday, 26th March, 2009

Ideas for a New Wine Judging Scale

Thursday, 12th March, 2009

The First Growth Gimbletts

Monday, 26th January, 2009

ON TASTING ARCHIVE 2008
The Story of One Lonely Bottle

Friday, 26th December, 2008

The Future of Capital City Wine Shows

Friday, 5th December, 2008

The More You Spend the Better the Taste

Friday, 2nd May, 2008

The Key to Tasting Wines

Friday, 11th April, 2008

Buying Wines That Have a Sense of Place

Friday, 11th April, 2008

What Are We to Make Of Wine Tasting Notes

Monday, 4th February, 2007

ON TASTING ARCHIVE 2007
Study of the Label Alters Our Tastes

Sunday, 9th December, 2007

One in Five Cannot Smell Alpha-ylangene

Monday, 24th September, 2007

Charles Must Love It

Friday, 24th August, 2007

Liking Rough Red

Thursday, 28th June, 2007

The Ultimate Masked Bottle

Firday, 24th May, 2007

Create the Atmosphere for the Tasting Result You Want

Monday, 19th March, 2007

Confessions of Wine Deceit, Other Deceptions and Fooling Yourself

Monday, 29th January, 2007

ON TASTING ARCHIVE 2006
Two Sides of the Wine Coin

Sunday, 12th November, 2006

Wine Labels, Ranking, Ratings, Experts and Wine Prices

Friday, 27th October, 2006

A Story About Verdelho

Wednesday, 4th October, 2006

The Magnetic Appeal of Wine

Sunday, 24th September, 2006

Geology Cannot be Found In Wine

Thursday, 18th September, 2006

More on the Impact of Scoring Wines Out of 100

Thursday, 14th September, 2006

How a Three Star Wine Became a 90 Point Wine

Saturday, 9th September, 2006

High Alcohol - The Debate Rolls On

Tuesday, 5th September, 2006

So You Suffer from Anosmia

Monday, 7th August, 2006

Can’t Tell Your Brett from Oak Flavours

Tuesday, 18th July, 2006

Terroir - Can It Possible Shine Through the Background Noise

Tuesday, 4th July, 2006

A Little Spat Over Chateau Pavie

Thursday, 15th June, 2006

After All This Time - Now They Tell Us

Tuesday, 13th June, 2006

Winemaking and the French Touch

Friday, 9th June, 2006

The Judgement of Paris Part II

Monday, 29th May, 2006

Why Do Chardonnays Seldom Win Trophies?

Friday, 5th May, 2006

The Other French Paradox

Tuesday, 2nd May, 2006

Show Me the Chardonnay Tasting

Sunday, 30th April, 2006

Judging Wine and the View of the American 'Wine Spectator'

Thursday, 6th April, 2006

The World Versus Robert M. Parker, Part Three

Saturday, 18th March, 2006

Halliday v Parker Continues to Attract International Attention

Thursday, 5th January, 2005

ON TASTING ARCHIVE 2005
"Thank You Mr. Evans and Sorry Mr. Parker"

Thursday, 8th December, 2005

The Differences of Opinion Continue: Mount Mary Quintets vs. Robert M. Parker Jr. Part 2

Monday, 5th December, 2005

Sharp Differences of Opinion Over Mount Mary

Monday, 14th November, 2005

The Views of the Economists With a Sense of Humour

Friday, 14th October, 2005

Wine Quality: Does Terroir Matter?

Friday, 14th October, 2005

Thoughts on Wine Judging

Thursday, 13th October, 2005

What You See Affects What You Smell and Taste

Tuesday, 13th September, 2005

The New Taste of Wine

Friday, 2nd September, 2005

Consumers Disagree with Wine Experts

Saturday, 27th August, 2005

Drinking From Special Wine Glasses

Thursday, 4th August, 2005

Now, This Wine Drinks Well, Night After Night

Monday, 18th April, 2005

Corks, Stelvin Caps and Oxygen

Wednesday, 6th April 2005

A Peep Behind the Wine Show Door

Thursday, 17 March 2005

ON TASTING ARCHIVE 2004
Going To Your Second Wine Tasting

Saturday, 11th December, 2004

What You Bring to Your First Wine Tasting

Saturday, 4th December, 2004

What Do Show Medals Mean - Part 2

Tuesday, 7th December, 2004

What Do Show Medals Mean - Part 1

Friday, 3rd September, 2004



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