Vlasic was in a pickle. Souring sales forced them to think outside their jar to hold market share.
Research proffered people preferred punchier pickles. Vlasic amped up spices. Their new “zesty” pickles set sales records. Company saved.
Like Big Pickle, Big Wine constantly tracks your tastes, too.
Researchers hover over our five taste receptors: sweet, savory/umami, sour, bitter, salty.
Those five receptors, abetted by aroma receptors in your nose, form your opinion of everything you put in your mouth. How something looks before you put it in your mouth and how it feels in your mouth also play a part. Surprise: the elements of wine tasting notes.
Yellow Tail is a poster child for the taste-tested approach. In 2000, Australian maker Casella Wines developed YT specifically to appeal to American tastes. Three years later, YT was the leading imported wine in the U.S., and the winery expanded 10 fold. Ka-chinggg!
There is another way. French growers in Burgundy famously make wines that reflect their little plot of land. Using centuries-old family techniques, they craft wines that are not for everybody, but are thrilling to people who appreciate the “terroir” of Burgundy’s God-blessed golden slope (Cote d’Or).
There is a place for both—that’s wine’s majestic joy and beauty. Appreciating wine is a journey. Start with approachable, tested Yellow Tail. Somewhere down the road give idiosyncratic makers with sun-leathered skin and purple-stained cuticles a chance, too.
• Black Opal South Eastern Australia Shiraz 2011. Light, delicious, jammy, easy commodity shiraz; plenty of plum, stroke of oak, velvet mouth. $9
• Cenay Blue Tooth Vineyard Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2009. Smooth, velvety, silky mouth; black cherry-blueberry, chocolate, cedar; relaxed tannins. $35
• Stoller Reserve Chardonnay 2011. Very elegant bright, tangy winner; citrus, green apple, slice of pear, lilt of lemon; crisp acidity; nice—what Oregon does so well. $38
• There are no everywhere-available Burgundy wines, but better wine shops will have some in a special corner. Ask. Try.
Last round: The only thing that should come between people and wine is the cork.