Wine & Aging

This blog has been around for almost a decade. Looking into the archives, there are many favorable reviews for wines that today seem like overblown, uber-concentrated caricatures of themselves. No, this post isn't another lamentation on domestic wines and the Twinkiefication of the American palate.  And, yes, climate change has something to do with wines being different than they were 10 years ago, as do style trends. But if there's any truth to the saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then a decade of aging (my aging, that is, not wines') can't be discounted.

As my personal tastes gravitate away from largess and toward wines of distinctive acidity, I've wondered about the impact years of tasting wine have had on my preferences.  Or maybe it's not the continuous consumption of wine, but just the years of walking the earth. This musing lead me to find two pieces, one academic and the other journalistic. 

The first is a 1993 publication from the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health titled 'Changes in taste and flavor in aging'.  It's full of scientific jargon, as you'd expect from any academic paper, but the layman's gist of it is that people lose their ability to detect levels of salt, sweet, and sour as we age. No big surprise. The other is a 2012 article in the New York Times that goes on to suggest that this explains why, as we age, people compensate for the loss of sensation by seeking out foods higher in salt and sugar.  Anyone who has shared a meal with an octogenarian knows that there are no big revelations here, either.

But neither of these shed any light on why one would begin to wince at wines that have more sugar, more obviousness, or more of the flavors our deteriorating taste buds have trouble identifying.  Nor do they help explain why this aversion have been replaced by a proclivity for brilliance and luminescence.

Maybe I've turned into the crotchety old guy at the end of the block who yells at kids driving past, "Turn that music down!" Or the cardigan-wearing sophisticate who condescendingly rambles on about the loveliness of overlooked nuance.

There's got to be a better explanation for this.