Expanding and Refining the Palate - Page 4 - Cigar Discussion Forums
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post #31 of 35 Old 01-28-2015, 10:45 AM
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Re: Expanding and Refining the Palate

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Originally Posted by wabashcr View Post
I think forcing things, or going in search of specific tasting notes, can often lead to the mind tricking you into thinking you taste or experience things that may not truly exist.
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Originally Posted by Single_Malt View Post
Sometimes I read reviews before I try a cigar for the first time. I'm amused when I taste the same things, but never disappointed when I don't.
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Originally Posted by Herf N Turf View Post
And, there's a variable there, as well. "So much" can mean so many different things to so many people. That's why I find it's always best to use The Newb as my target audience, at least most of the time. I mean, if I'm smoking something I KNOW can't be appreciated by someone who's just started enjoying cigars, I'll try and say so, without sounding a dork.
This reminds me of a time doing a wine tasting at a local winery (Sokol Blosser). Tasting a chardonay I kept getting butterscotch and my wife concurred after I mentioned it. On the description nothing remotely close to butterscotch was listed. I said I must be wrong as it's nothing close to what was described, but the woman helping us responded with something that changed my view on tasting wine (and subsequently everything else). She said that what we taste is what we can compile from past experiences. I taste butterscotch simply because that's what I perceive the flavor to be; the person who wrote the description interpreted it differently. She mentioned she spent a year in Asia and doing a wine tasting there, people don't respond with "cherry cola", but you get responses like "fermented rice" or "soy sauce". We take a flavor and our brain processes it; you have a sweet flavor and one expert will call it caramel and another will call it toffee. She went on to say that it takes a lot of effort to train your palate and there's a lot of skill and natural talent that goes into tasting a wine and didn't want to discredit the work involved, but at the end of the day the only difference is having the confidence to write down what you're tasting.

A few things come to mind. The power of suggestion as my wife would never of tasted butterscotch until I mentioned it and I also find when I read a review I spend most of my time trying to replicate what is written. When I taste a wine or coffee, I spend the first half blind then I'll read the description and see how I did. The second thing is how much is real flavor and how much is perception. I'll refer back to coffee that when you have a really bright cup it is so often perceived as citrus simply because of the acidity, but really it's a prune flavored cup. On the flip side I've had some really bright flavored lemon but zero acidity even though your mind thinks it's acidic simply because of the lemon flavor

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post #32 of 35 Old 01-28-2015, 10:58 AM
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Re: Expanding and Refining the Palate

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Originally Posted by NWSmoke View Post
This reminds me of a time doing a wine tasting at a local winery (Sokol Blosser). Tasting a chardonay I kept getting butterscotch and my wife concurred after I mentioned it. On the description nothing remotely close to butterscotch was listed. I said I must be wrong as it's nothing close to what was described, but the woman helping us responded with something that changed my view on tasting wine (and subsequently everything else). She said that what we taste is what we can compile from past experiences. I taste butterscotch simply because that's what I perceive the flavor to be; the person who wrote the description interpreted it differently. She mentioned she spent a year in Asia and doing a wine tasting there, people don't respond with "cherry cola", but you get responses like "fermented rice" or "soy sauce". We take a flavor and our brain processes it; you have a sweet flavor and one expert will call it caramel and another will call it toffee. She went on to say that it takes a lot of effort to train your palate and there's a lot of skill and natural talent that goes into tasting a wine and didn't want to discredit the work involved, but at the end of the day the only difference is having the confidence to write down what you're tasting.
We were at a relatively new, local winery a few years ago and while we were tasting the owner told us a funny story. They were recently at a competition when someone brought her a glass of wine to taste. She thought it was really good and asked what it was. They told her it was one of the wines she brought and she didn't believe them. She didn't think their wine was nearly that good and made them show her the bottle to confirm.
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post #33 of 35 Old 01-28-2015, 11:10 AM
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Re: Expanding and Refining the Palate

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We were at a relatively new, local winery a few years ago and while we were tasting the owner told us a funny story. They were recently at a competition when someone brought her a glass of wine to taste. She thought it was really good and asked what it was. They told her it was one of the wines she brought and she didn't believe them. She didn't think their wine was nearly that good and made them show her the bottle to confirm.
LOL, that's a great story :laugh:

We're so often our own worst critics. I happen to be a perfectionist with EXTREMELY imperfect abilities; you have no idea how frustrating that is lol

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post #34 of 35 Old 01-28-2015, 11:11 AM
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Re: Expanding and Refining the Palate

I've had more wine tasting experience than I have with cigars, so I can't help making some comparisons. I have to give kudos to the cigar world for at least occasionally using the word "tobacco" in reviews. I lost count of the number of wine tasting rooms we visited, and not once, EVER, did I see the word "grape" used in tasting notes provided. I always got a kick out of that. Some of the descriptions can be pretty entertaining.

Side note: cigar and wine enthusiasts alike, I think both should check out the movie Somm. It will blow you away with the tasting grid and skill those guys learn. If nothing else, you'll come away from it with a new appreciation for what sommeliers do. But there is a bunch of good stuff in that movie.

One other thing I learned exploring wine is that your palate can have some pretty radical swings from one day to the next. Meals, drinks, time of day, mood, weather, etc...the list is nearly endless of things that can affect the palate. So along these lines, I've been trying not to form too firm of an opinion based on 1 smoke only. I think to give a fair assessment, 2 or more seems like a decent starting point, and this maybe applied to a negative experience more than a positive one. Of course there are those 1 and done sticks, but if there's a hint of potential...I'll give it another chance.
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post #35 of 35 Old 01-28-2015, 11:16 AM
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Re: Expanding and Refining the Palate

Excellent info Mark and I'll check out Somm.

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Originally Posted by mb1 View Post
One other thing I learned exploring wine is that your palate can have some pretty radical swings from one day to the next. Meals, drinks, time of day, mood, weather, etc...the list is nearly endless of things that can affect the palate. So along these lines, I've been trying not to form too firm of an opinion based on 1 smoke only. I think to give a fair assessment, 2 or more seems like a decent starting point, and this maybe applied to a negative experience more than a positive one. Of course there are those 1 and done sticks, but if there's a hint of potential...I'll give it another chance.
I'm not even close to confident in my cigar tasting abilities but from what I've tasted so far and pulling from coffee and wine tasting, not only can we have swings from day to day, not every sip will taste the same. This certainly holds true for me with espresso; chocolate chocolate chocolate and then BOOM! burst of orange comes through.

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