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Old 24th February 2011, 11:13 PM   #1
Carlp is offline Carlp  United States
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Default Snake oil or not?

So, for starters, I'm someone who generally can't hear the difference between interconnects and speaker cables, much less power cords. I do realize that there may be specific gear for which I might notice a difference, but so far I'm a skeptic.

But here's the rub. My wife and I are sipping some red wine...a Cab Franc from France...and we've been hearing about the difference wine glasses can make in the taste of a wine. With my skeptical nature, I've been reluctant to even bother with a taste test as it seems like snake oil. I have tried the test, though, on a few occasions and haven't noticed any difference.

But tonight, we tried it with this cab franc. I'm using a typical Bordeaux glass (crystal, on the left in the photo), my wife is using a basic white wine made of low grade glass. The Cab Franc grape is used in the Bordeaux region for wines that can fetch upwards of $600 per bottle, though it's used in small quantities.

DSCN0657-2 - My Photo Gallery

So I figured the Bordeaux glass would be the best choice for this wine. In short, the Chinon tastes quite different in the two glasses. Oddly, it's much better in the plain glass.

Oh, and this was done with our first sips, so fuzzy-headedness isn't a factor.

All this has led me to think that different people are more or less sensitive to different stimuli, and thus some people may perceive a difference where others don't. I may not be able to hear a difference between a $25 RCA cable vs a $1000 cable, but I sure can taste the difference between these two wine glasses with this particular wine.

Go figure.
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Old 24th February 2011, 11:20 PM   #2
tomchr is offline tomchr  United States
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For cables -- speaker cables included -- I find that it's the RLC parameters that matter. The better cables come from manufacturers that specify these cables. The cable forms a voltage divider with the speaker impedance. It's fairly easy to show that different cables have different frequency characteristics. But 99.99 % of cable designs seem to be based on snake oil and deep pockets of the people buying them.

It looks like the regular wine glass on the right will allow the wine to breathe better - i.e. oxidize faster. Depending on how you treated the wine before you poured it, that could explain some of the difference.

~Tom
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Old 24th February 2011, 11:32 PM   #3
SY is offline SY  United States
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Some of the wine glass stuff IS snake oil- the idea propagated by Riedl about controlling the flow of the wine over certain regions of the tongue is dubious. But the aromatics ARE certainly different from glass to glass, and there's actually sensory data on that. It's not mysterious, it has to do with wine surface area and how closed in the opening is compared to the width of the bowl.

That said, there's not much consistency, IME, from taster to taster on glass shape preferences- we all can agree that they're different, but (for example), many feel that the Vinum Burgundy is better for Cote-Rotie than the Vinum Syrah, while others prefer the Sommelier Bordeaux.
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Old 24th February 2011, 11:32 PM   #4
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Until you do these tests 'double blind' you cannot possibly say that it isn't just simple psychology that accounts for these differences.

I would bet a large amount of money that almost all perceived differences between cables and wine glasses are psychological. You perceive what you expect to perceive - I have experienced this myself on numerous occasions - or from day to day your mood changes or your ears recover from listening fatigue etc.

I am currently experiencing disappointment in my perception of a particular sound source, but I am fully prepared to accept that it may be psychological if only I can devise the experiment to show it.
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Old 24th February 2011, 11:54 PM   #5
Carlp is offline Carlp  United States
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Yep, the wine didn't breath at all before pouring, so the more open cheapo wine glass may have allowed the wine to open more than the Bordeaux glass. As for the Reidl claim of directing the wine to different parts of the tongue, it's certainly plausible (though I do remain skeptical of that claim), and I do find dramatic differences with taste of a variety of foods depending on how I hold my tongue... And there is the smell factor. If I hold my nose, I don't taste. Open it and I get all manner of subtlety, particularly with wine. Still, I was surprised by the magnitude of the difference.

As for the idea of psychological effects, my expectation was that the Bordeaux glass would be the better IF there was any difference at all, which I didn't expect. So no, it wasn't double-blind (not even blind for that matter), and I wouldn't bet my house on it, but given that all of the results were different from what I expected, it is intriguing to me to say the least.

It may even open my eyes to the possibility of differences among cables.
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Old 25th February 2011, 12:40 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlp View Post
As for the idea of psychological effects, my expectation was that the Bordeaux glass would be the better IF there was any difference at all, which I didn't expect. So no, it wasn't double-blind (not even blind for that matter), and I wouldn't bet my house on it, but given that all of the results were different from what I expected, it is intriguing to me to say the least.
OK, it's maybe not just what you expect, but also what you (deep down) would like to be true!
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Old 25th February 2011, 12:43 AM   #7
6L6 is online now 6L6  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SY View Post
But the aromatics ARE certainly different from glass to glass, and there's actually sensory data on that. It's not mysterious, it has to do with wine surface area and how closed in the opening is compared to the width of the bowl.
I was going to say the same thing, but SY has said it first and better than I would have.
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Old 25th February 2011, 01:34 AM   #8
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I find that, regardless of the shape of the glass, the wine improves as I approach the bottom of the bottle...
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Old 25th February 2011, 02:04 AM   #9
Carlp is offline Carlp  United States
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Yep. Getting there now... And dang, it's getting better!
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Old 25th February 2011, 03:37 AM   #10
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Not that I should intrude, got some lovely Czech, Irish, Baccarat, Christoffle and American glass at this end...I can say without hesitation that a VO Manhattan, or a Martini with any decent gin is just magnificent when served straight-up in a high quality glass.

Forgot -- also got some nice glass in Gdansk in 2007.
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