Wine Writers Will Have to Up Their Game

open aiIf you’ve been paying attention to the education or writing business recently you’ve probably heard of ChatGPT. This is open access (i.e. free) artificial intelligence software developed by the research lab Open AI that can write a reasonably accurate, albeit superficial, essay on just about any topic that doesn’t require too much insight.

While preparing for my upcoming semester, I’m trying to figure out how to assign written work, since many of my students write reasonably accurate but superficial essays without much insight. Getting a bot to write your paper will be so much easy than laboriously cutting and pasting off the Internet and much harder to detect.

Anyway, Oliver Styles at Wine Searcher speculated about the effect of ChatGPT on wine writing and it isn’t pretty.

Styles asked ChatGPT for a tasting note for the 2022 Lafite. ChatGPT declined since that wine hasn’t been released. Smart machine.

But then he asked the machine to guess what such a note would look like. Here it is:

“A hypothetical tasting note for the 2022 vintage of Château Lafite Rothschild would likely mention its deep, dark color and rich bouquet of black fruit, such as blackberries and cassis, with undertones of cedar and tobacco,” said the bot. “On the palate, the wine would have a full-bodied, complex structure with firm tannins and a long finish. The wine would likely have good acidity and a subtle hint of oak, with a well-balanced overall feel.”

I feel relatively confident that, in about four months’ time, this will be remarkably accurate.

Indeed. Which really just points out how generic some tasting notes are.

If wine writing is to have credibility it’s going to have to strive for originality and individuality. That will upset some readers who dislike tasting notes with expressive descriptive language and metaphor.  But that is the only way to stay one step ahead of the robots.

If you want some theoretical tips on how to do so, I wrote a whole book about it.

But perhaps adding some poetry to wine writing will keep us only one step ahead. Can ChatGPT write poetry?

Probably not yet. Here is one such attempt.

Out of the wounded vanity of a merely human poet, I asked ChatGPT to “write me a poem about kabbalah in the style of Rodger Kamenetz.”

Here are the first four lines:

Kabbalah, the ancient wisdom of the Jews

Enshrined in symbols, stories, and the Tree Of Life,

a map to guide us through our dues

And find the spark of divinity within

Eh. That isn’t poetry. Not even close. The best wine writers are safe for now.

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