Wine education has become a necessity in the wine industry, not only for people entering the industry but for casual wine consumers as well who want to learn more about what they’re drinking and need help navigating the remarkable complexity of the wine world. This is of course a good thing. Knowledge about regions, varietals and methods opens our senses to subtleties in a wine that might go unheeded if we didn’t know what we’re looking for.
But there is a danger lurking in all that education.
Through education we can become so invested in wine-cultural codes, clichés and conventional interpretations that we are no longer truly tasting wine—we’re tasting what we think we should be tasting,not what’s in the glass. Wine tasting is cognitively penetrable—our beliefs about a wine can influence what we taste. Too much top down processing can lead us to reject wines that don’t fit conventional categories.
As wine lovers we should be trying to render taste-able what has been covered up by convention. This is in part what makes natural wines exciting. They don’t conform to the rules, at least until they become the new orthodoxy.