Even From One Identical Bottle To the Next?

Nothing Is Identical About Wine
Wine Changes From Bottle to Bottle

Have you ever been to a wine bar or restaurant and decided to try a wine that was available by the glass; a wine you had wanted to experience without committing to a whole bottle? Maybe it was a wine someone recommended. Or, you found a wine you really like–the aroma and taste that was unexpected. Then at a subsequent next trip to your wine shop or Costco you bought the identical vintage produced by the same winery. You get it home, lit the candles, and broke out the same cheese and bread you enjoyed at that memorable tasting, only to be thoroughly disgusted that the aromas and taste of the wine was not what you remembered back at that restaurant or wine bar when that ah-ha moment hit.

About every other week I go to wine country and San Francisco to make sales calls and when possible I visit the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant in the late afternoon to get the feel for what’s new in wines. Because they have a large selection of wines by the glass I get to experiment. Recently I tasted (by the way they are not cheap) a Zinfandel with some cheeses and bread and really enjoyed the flavors of the wine. I was so impressed with the Zin, I bought a bottle of the Zin on the spot, along with the cheese and bread and went back to the hotel to continue with the wonderful tastes. Guess what? It was not to be replicated, even within a few hours. What happened?

To try and figure out what happened I contacted my go to Master of Wine friend. I explained in details of the dilemma I faced relative to my experience in the change of taste of a nice wine in a wine bar (a public venue) versus my hotel room. My question was: What happened to the wonderful experience between the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant and my hotel? It has probably happened to all of us; a nice wine experience at a place and point in time that is not replicable later in a casual home setting. So I will attempt to coalesce what I learned on the subject into some semblance of an orderly explanation.

It appears the taste and pleasant reaction to a wine is affected in 4 ways: psychological, physiological, properties of the wine itself, and environment or settings. There might be iterations of these or even a whole new category but let’s focus on these because these seem to explain why wine taste different when consumed in a public setting versus at home, even with similar/exact accoutrements (cheese, bread, and grapes, etc.). The following denotes the issues in each of the categories that can impact the taste of wine, in various venues, that is identical in vintage, varietal and winery.

Psychological

Physiological

Properties of the wine

Environment/Setting

In attempting to duplicate the same great taste of a wine you experienced at a wine bar versus being at home, the environments are different. The environment is recognized as an important element in the wine experience.

Relative to the two bottles of wine that started this whole discussion; the first one you tried and fell in love with and now the second identical bottle you are expecting to be the same and isn’t. We have discussed a lot of reasons why the second identical bottle is not going to totally give you the same stimulation of taste profiles. But, had you ever given any thought to “music” as a component of a wine experience; in private or in at a wine bar?

It is almost impossible to replicate the taste of wine from one bottle to the next identical bottle, even if the wine is the same vintage, varietal and winery. There are simply too many factors that come into play that can and will impact flavor. The old adage is: you can never recapture exactly what once was.

Cheers!