Monday, August 19, 2013

Fermented grapes.

$233,000 for a bottle of wine: it has something to to do with Descartes.

The world’s most expensive wine sold out of a winery, was the Penfolds “2004 Block 42 Kalimna”. It was sold for A$168,000. The company produced only 12 of these wines and one of their very first customer was a Chinese restaurateur in Hong Kong - Mr Wong Wing Chee.

The world's most expensive bottle of wine ever sold at an auction was Châteaux Lafite-Rothschild bought by another Hong Kong Chinese for $232,692. Chateaux Latfite Rothschild has sold a few thousand bottles into China to-date.

Châteaux Lafite-Rothschild
Chateaux Lafite-Rothschild
There are no records of wine collections sold privately. I am sure somewhere a Chinese might have paid more than the prices fetched by auctioneers or wineries.

But what do they taste like?

Penfold’s chief wine maker: “There is something magical about this wine, it has an ethereal dimension and a saturated blackness on the palate and it’s extraordinarily perfumed with layer upon layer of flavor.”

I struggle with understanding what saturated blackness tastes like especially when it comes in various layers. Imagine trying to translate this into the Chinese language. Perhaps the wine maker is just trying to tell us what he thinks it tastes like.

Numerous research have proven that there is little if not no correlation between taste and price.

The experience (taste) of wine is merely an interpretation of our senses by our brain. This interpretation is at best highly subjective. If we think or told that the wine is good – it must taste good. The problem here is neither with the wine, nor the marketing machinery but with our expectation that our tongue and sense of smell can be used to define objective pleasure. We expect that taste can be quantified on a 100 point scale.

We've somehow manage to turn the most romantic of drinks into a commodity worthy of Consumer Reports and price levels.

In other words, we have been fooled or our tongues have been fooled by our brains. "I think therefore I am" - Rene' Descartes. Perhaps Descartes himself may have even helped the French wine industry by convincing the world to think that French wines are the best wines.

So for the rest of us normal folks, who may not have a spare few hundred thousand dollars to spend on Penfolds Block 42 or Châteaux Lafite-Rothschild, I am sure we can imagine the taste to be layer upon layer of flavorsome black fermented grapes.

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