Can a wine really taste like black pepper? Or rust? I mean, really?


This question reminds me of the classic phrase a stripper will deploy during a lap dance after being asked what his or her name is: “What do you want my name to be?” Any sensual experience is based in the projections and biases the sensual-experience-haver is bringing to the table. Sometimes you want a stripper’s name to be Bobby. Other times you might want something a bit more austere and intellectually-minded, so you choose the company of a Ruth Bader Ginsberg. 

The same goes with wine. Wine isn’t just what’s literally in the bottle. What’s in there is asking for a relationship, and your mouth and brain are the component parts of that relationship. Depending on the state of your tongue, the way your olfactory receptors are attuned, and what you’re eating, a wine could taste pretty much like anything. Sure, Pinot Bianco will be fresh and acidic, but to Bobby it could taste like pears and to Ruth Bader Ginsberg it could taste like the pipe smell of the patriarchy. Trust yourself when you’re tasting a bottle – what’s in your head is what counts.  


Modello’s advice columnist Kathryn Borel is the author of Corked: A Memoir