Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Holiday Table: The annual wine-pairing dilemma.


September 25, 2012

Time once again to peruse the inane and predictable holiday wine and food pairing articles. Conventional wisdom recommends using some sort of formula to pair a selection of wines to complement a menu that might include everything from Aunt Edna’s green beans to friend Jerry’s tofu turkey. Napa-Valley based Master of Wine Tim Hanni, an internationally renowned guru on the subject of wine with food and professionally trained chef,  suggests that instead of offering wines based on what’s on the table, hosts at upcoming holiday meals should choose wines based on who is gathering around it.  

Hanni has distilled years of experience and research into a seemingly revolutionary approach to wine drinking, based on a simple premise: people really do perceive things differently, and they should be able to discover and enjoy the wines they prefer, including sweet wines, without apology. Conversely, those who prefer intense red wines will need no coaxing to savor a glass of their favorite wine style.. Hanni dismisses the conventional rules of “matching” wine and food as simple metaphors combined with the overly vivid imagination of the wine experts. “You do need to know that the sweetness in a lot of the food will make whatever wine you are drinking more intense, acidic and tannic, and that a little squeeze of lemon or lime with a tiny bit of salt on the food will restore the balance of whatever wine you choose, “ says Hanni.
According to Hanni, wine drinkers fall into four categories, or Vinotypes. Derived from both physiological and psychological elements in an individual’s make-up, the four basic Vinotypes range from people who naturally prefer sweet wines to those who relish the bigger, more robust (tannic?) wines — and what tastes delicious to one person may easily leave another grimacing with distaste.  You remember this from your childhood dinner table. Discover your Vinotype, and that of your guests, Hanni says, and, “you will learn how to consistently find the wines you will love the most and how to get the most pleasure from wine on your terms.”

Hanni  was a pioneer in the art of food and wine pairings at Napa Valley's Beringer Winery in the 1980s. His experiences there sent him on a three-decade investigation of why people like what they like. “I’d create what I thought were magical pairings,” Hanni said. “And while some people loved them, others could hardly tolerate them. I went from thinking, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ to ‘What’s going on here?'” Hanni began work with. Virginia Utermohlen, M.D., from Cornell University, who shared a deep interest in the subject. Based on their research, Hanni said, “it’s clear that the range and intensity of sensations we experience varies, often dramatically, from one person to the next; and these individual difference play an important role in determining individual wine preferences. Some people have as few as 500 taste buds while others have over 11,000; this greatly influences our personal wine preferences - not good or bad, just different.”

A series of questions Hanni has developed — How do you take your coffee? What do you think of artificial sweeteners?— are guideposts that help people identify their Vinotype: Sweet, Hypersensitive, Sensitive or Tolerant. At one end of the spectrum are the Sweet Vinotypes, people who experience a sensory overload from stimuli: light, sound, taste and smell. In wines they who crave sweetness to mask what they perceive as intolerable bitterness. These are  people who started drinking wine with white zinfandel and ones fueling the explosive popularity of Moscato. They are also the ones who have often been made to feel apologetic about their tastes. “They and their well-meaning friends suffer from the collective delusion that, as their palate mature they will be able to appreciate what’s perceived as more sophisticated wines, the big reds, the over-oaked chardonnays,” Hanni says. “But it’s not true. If a person likes White Zinfandel or Moscato with their steak, turkey or seafood, that’s what they should have.”

At the other end of the taste spectrum are the Tolerant Vinotypes. “Tolerant Vinotypes don’t understand what all of the fuss is about with more sensitive Vinotypes – those wimps!” Hanni explains. They take their coffee black and the most likely to enjoy Scotch. “Big, red wines are their favorites and damn the torpedoes, Hanni says. “Intensity is the name of the game and the bigger the better.” The Tolerant Vinotypes are the ones who want the thermostat set colder and the volume on the TV turned up while the Sweet and Hypersensitive demand the opposite.

In between these two extremes lie the types Hanni terms Hypersensitive and Sensitive Vinotypes. Hypersensitive Vinotypes are quite sensitive to all sorts of things and, like the Sweet Vinotypes, they have many pet peeves, he says. They are often artistic and adamant that they know what they like. “Hypersensitive Vinotypes are very similar in sensitivity to the Sweet Vinotypes but  tend to prefer dry, or just off-dry, wines on an everyday basis.,” he says. “Their favorite wines tend to be more delicate and very, very smooth while also being lower in alcohol. They may even like intense red wines but not with a lot of oak or heavy tannins smooth and rich.www.timhanni.com

 “The Hypersensitive Vinotype is a bit more likely to ‘talk dry and drink sweet’ looking for those wines that have a slight bit of residual sugar,” he adds.

The Sensitive Vinotype is the most flexible of wine drinkers. “Sensitive Vinotypes go with the flow,” Hanni says. “Maybe they take their coffee with cream or a touch of sweetness at one point in the day, but they’ll enjoy black coffee if the wind is right. They are open to trying new things, and variety is truly the spice of their lives.” Sensitive Vinotypes love a wide range of mostly dry white and red wines, along with ros├ęs and sparkling wines, Hanni says. “They are among the most adventurous wine lovers and open to all sorts of flavors and wine styles from delicate to robust.” They do have more limitations on bitterness and tannins than Tolerant Vinotypes, Hanni notes. “They are not typically looking for the oaky monsters but really impeccably balanced, smooth and the word ‘complex’ is usually important as a wine description."

"Discovering people’s Vinotype helps explain a lot of things people disagree on in life, from the temperature in the room, to the use of cilantro in a recipe, to the volume of the television, to the sheets that you sleep on,” Hanni says.

“People should be able to like what they like, and this includes sweet wines,” he concludes, and offering wines matched to the different Vinotypes who all come together at holiday dining table just might be your own holiday gift to wine lovers.   

To discover your more about the research and philosophies visit Hanni’s website,  www.timhanni.com. To find out your Vinotype go to www.myvinotype.com.

Here is a list of Holiday Wine Recommendations for the Vintoypes at your table or party. These wines were Platinum or Gold award winners at the Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi, a unique evaluation event where hundreds of everyday consumers, are grouped into Vinotype panels to taste and recommend their favorites from hundreds of wine entered into the competition.

Sweet Vinotypes are usually found sipping their favorite White Zinfandel or Moscato so try one of these:
  • Hagafen Cellars Riesling, Napa Valley $24 
  • Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi  Muscat, California  $12.00

Hypersensitive Vinotype

Pinot Grigio or silky Pinot Noir are very often the wine of choice and the will love one of the following:
·         flipflop wines Sauvignon Blanc, Left Coast, ,Chile $7.00
·         Loredona Pinot Grigio, Monterey, California $10.99
·         Rutherford Vintners Pinot Noir, Napa Valley, California $12.99 

Sensitive Vinotype

If you are limited on number of wines to serve the good news is that the Sensitive Vinotype will probably like whatever you select for the Hypersensitive or Tolerant but these will be specially loved:
  • Picket Fence Chardonnay 2009 Russian River Valley, California16.99
  •  LuLu B., Malbec, Chile $7.00
  • Cupcake Vineyards, Red Velvet, Zinfandel, Merlot Blend $13.99
Tolerant Vinotype

Big, bold and intense (and you know who it is that will love these) is the ticket and here are some that will rock their world :

  • Cycles Gladiator, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lodi, California $12.00
  • Klinker Brick Winery Syrah Farrah, Lodi, California $20.00

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

June Webinar Dates for New Wine Fundamentals & Flavor Balancing

The first two New Wine Fundamentals Webinars were a great success. Participants from all around the globe, including Istanbul and China, joined in making these a truly international phenomenon.

Due to the amount of information covered the wine and food component, “Flavor Balancing, the UN-pairing of Wine and Food” will be offered as a separate series with a full two hours devoted to the topic. It is recommended that the New Wine Fundamentals is taken as a prerequisite to the Flavor Balancing Webinar.

“I think this was fabulous training. First of all, his new wine fundamentals are exactly in line with the way we feel about how people should get their arms around wine in general. Second, if I had this training beforehand, it would have dramatically (and will) altered the way I worked with some of our new hires. In fact, I intend to adopt his Vinotyping ideas as I taste with people. His (Tim’s) approach is iconoclastic and appropriate. He is not asking us to throw out the rules. He is challenging us to examine why those rules exist and align our "rules" to the reality of our customers. If we are successful, we can create a whole new cadre of wine-drinkers who are fearless to drink wine they like, unashamed of why they like the wine, and take every and appropriate advantage of the critical reviews our wines receive.” 

The New Wine Fundamentals Webinar is a 2 hour “train the trainer” session that includes the Vinotype and sensory insights components of my New Wine Fundamentals program. You can sign up for yourself, or have any employees, associates or friends join as well, by signing up for one of the Webinars (link below). Let me know if you have any questions and love to have you jump on board to help change the thinking of the wine industry! My wine and food principles now replace ‘wine and food matching/pairing’ as part of the curriculum for the Wine & Spirits Education Trust. Here is a link to a brief video on the program: http://www.timhanni.com/New-Wine-Fundamentals.html


New Wine Fundamentals Webinars: two dates and times to choose from:
· Tuesday, June 19, 2012 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM PDT
· Saturday, June 23, 2012 from 9:00 to 11:00 AM PDT
REGISTRATION LINK: http://www.shop.napaseasoning.com/category.sc?categoryId=8 for more information and to book your participation.
2 hour Webinar, $60.00 USD - Introduction to sensations, improved wine communications and Vinotypes: learn about the physical and psychological factors that influence wine preferences and wine consumer behaviors

    
Flavor Balancing: two dates and times to choose from:
·         Tuesday, June 26, 2012 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM PDT
·         Saturday, June 30, 2012 from 9:00 to 11:00 AM PDT
REGISTRATION LINK: http://www.shop.napaseasoning.com/category.sc?categoryId=8 for more information and to book your participation.
2 hour Webinar, $60.00 USD – the “Cause & Effect” of primary wine flavor interactions, wine and food myth busting plus how to incorporate Flavor Balancing in tastings, hospitality events and wine & food dinners. COMPLETION OF NEW WINE FUNDAMENTALS WEBINAR OR SEMINAR IS RECOMMENDED PREREQUISITE

My hope is that I can use the Webinars to train and empower a legion of people dedicated to a wine industry that focuses on the CONSUMER in a new and inviting way. Hope you can join us and please feel free to forward this e-mail to anyone and everyone you think may be interested in joining the mission!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Learn About Vinotypes and Flavor Balancing via Online Webinars

I am launching a new education initiative for anyone who wants to participate in a 2 hour “train the trainer” session that includes the Vinotype, sensory insights and also the Flavor Balancing (wine and food UN-matching) components of my New Wine Fundamentals program. You can sign up for yourself, or have any employees, associates or friends join as well, by signing up for the Webinars (link below). Let me know if you have any questions and love to have you jump on board to help change the thinking of the wine industry! My wine and food principles now replace ‘wine and food matching/pairing’ as part of the curriculum for the Wine & Spirits Education Trust. Here is a link to a brief video on the program: http://www.timhanni.com/New-Wine-Fundamentals.html

Webinar - New Wine Fundamentals Intro May 15, 2012 2:00 PM PDT

Webinar - New Wine Fundamentals Intro May 19, 2012 9:00 AM PDT


REGISTRATION LINK: http://www.shop.napaseasoning.com/category.sc?categoryId=8 for more information and to book your participation.

2 hour Webinar, $60.00 USD - Introduction to sensations, improved wine communications and Vinotypes: learn about the physical and psychological factors that influence wine preferences and wine consumer behaviors

My hope is that I can use the Webinars to train and empower a legion of people dedicated to a wine industry that focuses on the CONSUMER in a new and inviting way. Hope you can join us and please feel free to forward this e-mail to anyone and everyone you think may be interested in joining the mission!

Monday, January 23, 2012

2012 Consumer Wine Awards Open for Submissions

Consumer evaluators will assess hundreds of wines from around the world
Lodi, CA (January 23, 2012) -- Wines from all producing countries are now being accepted by the 5th Annual Consumer Wine Awards here, with the competition closing February 24 and winners announced in March.

The 5th annual Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi, open to wines from every region, grape variety, type and style in the world, will take place here March 17-18, 2012. Wines entered in this unique competition are evaluated by panels of everyday wine consumers in multiple categories of wine types, styles and price ranges. The unique event celebrates both the diversity of wines and of wine consumer preferences. Last year’s Platinum winners included an amazing range of wines from inexpensive table wines to high-end Napa Cabernets, wines from many states across the US and other countries, representing a full spectrum of wine flavors and styles. The competition is sponsored by the Lodi Tokay Rotary club and benefits local and international charities.



"The Consumer Wine Awards recognizes and celebrates the fact every person has unique physiological and sensory differences that profoundly affect wine and food preferences,” said co-director Tim Hanni MW.  "The people evaluating each wine category will be the very consumers who are most inclined to buy and enjoy those wines, and this creates a new way for other consumers, who share similar tastes, to confidently explore wines recommended by their peers."

Awards are given in a variety of formats identified on the website, www.consumerwineawards.com, and will also include a special George M. Taber value wine award celebrating his upcoming book, “A Toast to Bargain Wines”.

This year the Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi will create "Best of Country" Awards for wines from around the globe; e.g., the highest scoring wines from Argentina, Australia, France, Italy, etc., will be given the opportunity to be tasted in their own sub-category by country, by consumers who favor traditional wines with regional character, or can be included in the traditional varietal categories at the discretion of the producer or importer. 

The top scoring wine from each country would be awarded "Best of (Country/Region)". "This is a great way for producers everywhere to see how their wines rate with their own countries' wines or, at their discretion, against U.S. and international competition," Hanni said.

G. M. "Pooch" Pucilowski, co-director, said that the competition is growing in popularity, reaching almost 1000 wines last year.  He said, "Wineries should participate in the 2012 awards to tap into what we estimate to be in excess of 40% or more of the total wine market.  We reach out to the overwhelmed, intimidated and disenfranchised core wine consumers who do not seem to respond to the language, values and conventional wisdom of the traditional wine community.  We believe the wine industry can benefit from a completely new direction and strategy that can only come from critically rethinking the consumer opportunity." 

Several research programs are accompanying the competition, helping participants identify consumer palatal preferences.  "With over 100,000 wines in the market, these consumer-generated preference awards provide new guidelines for the industry," Pucilowski said.

Distributors, retailers, restaurateurs and hoteliers are using the prize winners in their own wine programs, said Hanni.  "It's a win-win, with winning wineries working with the trade to show the consumers that their tastes are being factored into wine programs."  The competition is sponsored by the Lodi Tokay Rotary Club and proceeds fund local and international charitable projects.

Key Dates:

•        January 4, 2012 - First Day for receiving entry applications and wines (or labels)

•        February 24, 2012 - Last Day for accepting entry applications and wines (or labels)

•        March 17-18, 2012 - Competition to be held at Hutchins Street Square  in Lodi, California

Contacts for questions and information:

Harvey Posert Public Relations, hposertpr@comcast.com, (707) 963-2685 Tim Hanni MW, tim@timhanni.com, (707) 337-0327 (tasting methodology, consumer research) G.M. "Pooch" Pucilowski, gmpooch@pacbell.net, (209) 369-2020 (wine submissions) Mike Bennett, (209) 642-2391 mbennett41@sbcglobal.net (Rotary PR contact, Lodi-related information and details)

Consumer Wine Awards is looking for Consumer Wine Evaluators (people NOT in wine bisiness): https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CWAL2012_Consumer_Evaluator_Application to apply

Sunday, November 6, 2011

CONSUMER WINE AWARDS COMPETITION SET FOR 2012

Consumer Preferences Can Surprise, Validate Experts

November 4, 2011, Lodi, CA -- The 5th annual Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi, open to wines from every region, grape variety, type and style in the world, will take place here March 17-18, 2012. Wines entered in this unique competition are evaluated by panels of everyday wine consumers in multiple categories of wine types, styles and price ranges. The unique evnt celebrates both the diversity of wines and of wine consumer preferences. Last year’s Platinum winners included an amazing range of wines from inexpensive table wines to high-end Napa Cabernets, wines from many states across the US and other countries, representing a full spectrum of wine flavors and styles.

Consumer Evaluators in Actions
"The Consumer Wine Awards recognizes and celebrates the fact every person has unique physiological and sensory differences that profoundly affect wine and food preferences,” said co-director Tim Hanni MW.  "The people evaluating each wine category will be the very consumers who are most inclined to buy and enjoy those wines and this creates a new way for other consumers, who share similar tastes, to confidently explore wines recommended by their peers."  Awards are given in a variety of formats identified on the website, www.consumerwineawards.com and will also include a special George Taber value wine award celebrating his upcoming book, A Toast to Bargain Wines.

This year the Consumer Wine Awards will create "Best of Country" Awards for wines from around the globe; e.g., the highest scoring wines from Argentina, Australia, France, Italy, etc.,will be be given the opportunity to be tasted in their own sub-category by country, by consumers who favor traditional wines with regional character, or can be included in the traditional varietal categories at the discretion of the producer or importer.  The top scoring wine from each country would be awarded "Best of (Country/Region)". "This is a great way for producers everywhere to see how their wines rate with their own countries' wines or, at their discretion, against U.S. and international competition," Hanni said.


G. M. "Pooch" Pucilowski, co-director, said that the competition is growing in popularity, reaching almost 1000 wines last year.  He said, "Wineries should participate in the 2012 awards to tap into what we estimate to be in excess of 40% or more of the total wine market.  We reach out to the overwhelmed, intimidated and disenfranchised core wine consumers who do not seem to respond to the language, values and conventional wisdom of the traditional wine community.  We believe the wine industry can benefit from a completely new direction and strategy that can only come from critically rethinking the consumer opportunity."  Several research programs are accompanying the competition, helping participants identify consumer palatal preferences.  "With over 100,000 wines in the market, these consumer preference awards are guidelines for the industry," Pucilowski said.

Distributors, retailers, restaurateurs and hoteliers are using the prize winners in their own wine programs, said Hanni  "It's a win-win, with winning wineries working with the trade to show the consumers that their tastes are being factored into wine programs."  The competition is sponsored by the Lodi Tokay Rotary Club and proceeds fund local and international charitable projects.

Key Dates:
·         January 4, 2012 - First Day for receiving entry applications and wines (or labels) 
·         February 24, 2012 - Last Day for accepting entry applications and wines (or labels)
·         March 17-18, 2012 - Competition to be held at Hutchins Street Square  in Lodi, California

Contacts for questions and information:

Harvey Posert Public Relations, hposertpr@comcast.com, (707) 963-2685
Tim Hanni MW, tim@timhanni.com, (707) 337-0327 (tasting methodology, consumer research)
G.M. "Pooch" Pucilowski, gmpooch@pacbell.net, (209) 369-2020 (wine submissions)
Mike Bennett, (209) 642-2391 mbennett41@sbcglobal.net (Rotary PR contact, Lodi-related information and details)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Imaginary Wine and Food Disasters

Delicate sauteed halibut, salmon and
grilled asparagus served with Moscato,
White Zin and Cab (1985 Beringer
Chabot vineyard!). All yummy.
Have you even tried it?

Almost all wine and food matching occurs in the fertile imagination of usually well-meaning and earnest wine and food enthusiasts and professionals. There is also some specter of "wine and food disasters" looming that can befall the poor, unsuspecting consumer if they make the mistake of ordering or serving the wrong wine with the wrong food: see Dan Berger's piece on wine pairing disasters - http://napavalleyregister.com/lifestyles/food-and-cooking/wine/columnists/dan-berger/article_cbc1dd26-6acc-11e0-9fd6-001cc4c03286.html

Here are recommendations for Peking Duck on a recent expert thread (spelling is from posts):
  • Reisling, a Sauvignon Blanc or Chateau Neuf-du-Pape, Oregon Pinot Noir, 100% Pinot Meunier Champagne, Alsace blends, a big ol' Pride Cabernet, Dolcetto and ripe vintages of rosso di montalcino, Sangiovese, Australian Sparkling Cabernet, Gewurztraminer, Grenache, Dry rose (esp. ones based upon Rhone red varieties like Grenache, and Syrah or Italian varieties like Barbera and Sangiovese), a good portuguese wine from Douro.
Holy moly.  Basically everyone just conjures up the dish, conjures up the metaphorical match and then goes to the mental rolodex of wines they love in their heads and comes up with a  match. The process is not based on any reality - just our fertile imagination and personal wine favorites. Note there is nothing wrong with this - just what the hell is a poor consumer supposed to do with this information???? You can bet that all contributors would defend their choices AND you can bet that if it is a wine you love it will be great with the Peking Duck AND if it is not a great match a dash of soy sauce (which is erroneously referred to as a wine enemy) and a tiny squeeze of lemon (for those who are more highly sensitive to bitterness) will set the dish right with any of the wines recommended.

Now take the information to your retailer, "I went online and looking for a big, delicate, fruity and spicy late harvest sparkling nouveau white cabernet-pinot noir-grenache-sangiovese rose from Portugal made by an Australian winemaker with lots of not-oak owned by an Italian family to go with Peking Duck..."

When people come to my house for lunch or dinner and I get the cursory, "What wine should I bring?" question I disclose the meal I plan and ask them to bring a wine that will NOT go with the dish. The wine should be something they like but would be considered a 'disaster' with the food. Most often I love to serve a delicate fish dish, like sole or halibut (red snapper or flounder when I am in Florida) and the wines that are selected are the intense reds that are so de riguer these days. Not sorta red, big and red.

The typical dishes I prepare are filet of sole a la bonne femme (paupiettes of sole - rolled up - poached in white wine and fish fumet with tarragon and mushrooms. The wines selected range from intense Lodi Petite Sirah to Napa Cabernet. I will invite some who have had this experience weigh in in the comments.

The results? Yummy food, wonderful wine. The sole is delicious. The wine does not overpower the food nor does the food do anything other than make the wine more rich and delectable. The wine and food 'disaster' is all in our heads. Not one of the hundreds of people I cook for over the years has EVER tried a delicate piece of fish a la meuniere with and intense red wine. EVER!

Same goes for steak and Riesling or lamb and Pinot Grigio. If the food is green and vegetal the imagination goes to Sauvignon Blanc. Oysters and Syrah? Ask winemaker Ken Brown - we spent an afternoon at Edna Valley Winery many years ago with a whole group of people slurping down fresh oyster and sucking down Syrah, Cabernet - anything close at hand that was supposed to 'not go with' oysters. If a slight metallic or bitter edge arose the tiniest bit of fresh lemon juice brought the wine back into wonderful balance. There were a lot of quizzical looks - turns out not one person in the very large group of very expert wine people had even tried the combination.

There is no natural affinity between Pinot Noir and salmon - salmon is just metaphorically more similar to Pinot: salmon is big and red as far as fish go (not as big and not as red as a cow) and Pinot is not as 'big' and red as a Cabernet. it is an imaginary match - and if you love Pinot Noir and love salmon chances are you will be very passionate that this IS a perfect match!

A couple of caveats

1. The wine must be in the realm of a wine you would enjoy - if you hate high alcohol Zinfandel, White Zinfandel, Pinot Grigio or whatever, it WILL suck with your food (or without).

2. The more emotionally you are tied to wine and food matching the more likely it is the imaginary wine and food matches you conjure up will work together. This is a psychological phenomenon and self-fulfilling prophecy of wine and food matching, not an experiential reality.

3. The more 'Hypersensitive' you are the more likely you are to get a bitter reaction from strong wines (high extract, higher alcohol) with foods with lots of umami - a tiny addition of lemon and salt will cure most negative reactions but you don't tend to favor huge reds or oaky whites in the first place and stick to the wines you love the most.

4. The more 'Tolerant' you are the more you will love big, extracted reds with whatever the hell you are eating and less likely you are to get any bitter reactions - you just want big, red wines and you know who you are! A delicate Riesling with sushi is not in the cards for you.

5. If you love the metaphorical matching of heavy wines with heavy foods, searching for that orgasmic synergy when the wine and food elevate the experience to a whole new level, compliment and contrast the flavors and textures - keep on doing that. Just understand that the experience is personal, subjective and mostly all in your head!

It is time that to radically address the role of enjoying wine and food together - things are completely out of control and the misinformation, false premises and misunderstandings are at an all-time high. Go ahead - spend a week diligently trying the WRONG wine with your food, or vice-versa. You will be surprised at the success you will have finding delicious matches you never imagined.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wine & Spirits Education Trust Adopts Consumer-friendly Hanni Approach


I am very proud to formally announce that the Wine & Spirits Education Trust will be adopting my principles and approach to the enjoyment of wine with food for their Advanced Course curriculum. Their key textbook, Exploring the World of Wines and Spirits, is currently being revised, translated and reprinted with the new chapter and is scheduled for distribution this fall.


You can download a reprint of the new chapter, with the permission of the WSET, at http://www.timhanni.com/Wine_with_Food_WSET.pdf. I would be delighted to answer any questions and interested in comments on the material. I was in London earlier this month and was able to conduct a Master Class with the WSET team and it was very well received with some lingering doubts and resistance clearly evident from a few attendees.

I know that a lot of my assertions may at first seem extreme but I am very careful with my research and invite others to participate in helping to bring about positive change to an area that has become increasingly confusing and contradictory. My transition from staunch traditionalist to “disruptive innovator” in the wine and food arena did not come about either quickly or easily.

I am more convinced than ever that the way to globally expand wine sales and promote a greater diversity of wine styles will come from the wine community learning to celebrate the diversity of wine consumer tastes and deepen our understanding of individual consumer preferences. Combining this consumer-centric approach with a new and more accurate understanding of the dynamics of wine and food interactions with much-needed revisions to inaccurate wine and food principles could be the key for stimulating wine consumption from consumers who love wine but are off put by the unnecessary, confusing rituals and false promises of wine and food pairing. My mission is to expand wine enjoyment and by introducing a much greater rigor into a community that operates on a lot of half-truths and myths.

Join in with your comments and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

CONSUMER WINE AWARDS AT LODI FULFILLS PROMISE TO CELEBRATE DIVERSITY

An army of 120 wine consumers supported by a legion of over 100 local Rotarians convened in Lodi, California, to participate as Consumer Evaluators for the 2011 Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi. They sipped, spat and voted their favorites from nearly 700 wines submitted and the results covered a spectrum of wines that were as diverse as the spectrum of consumers who evaluated them. Platinum Awards went to twenty-one wines including an intense Lodi Zinfandel, two delicate Pinot Grigios, a high-end Napa Valley Bordeaux blend, a Chardonnay from Pennsylvania, a Chardonnay from Virginia and even a generic, boxed “Rhine” wine from California.

What makes this event so unique is that panels of consumers, not wine critics or experts, are selected to evaluate categories of wines that they love. This means that the awards are given by the very people who most frequently select the types of wines they are asked to evaluate. "We recognized that some wines which get a shrug from the experts are getting kudos from the everyday consumers who buy and drink them," says Competition Co-Director "Pooch" Pucilowski.

Christine Carroll, from Crossing Vineyards, Crossing, PA and Platinum Award winner for 2008 Viognier, wrote the organizers saying, “These awards mean so much more to us than the political, wine-snob-driven competitions we often enter. You have no idea how tough it is to prove that world class wine can be produced in Pennsylvania! Your recognition encourages us to go quietly about the process of making good, affordably priced wines every day. We will keep fighting the good fight.”

Master of Wine Tim Hanni, who is responsible for the unique focus and methodology employed for the event, points out, “Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi encompasses all of the things we value and are working to bring to the wine community. We are exploring a better understanding of consumer preferences and values to develop peer-to-peer wine recommendations as an alternative, not replacement, to expert or wine critic recommendations. The wine industry is missing the mark and spending too much time trying to tell consumers what they like instead of listening and finding out what they want. The Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi is part of a bigger movement to end “the tyranny of the minority” of a handful of critics, who tend to focus on a very narrow range of wines, and expose more people to the phenomenal wines from around America and beyond. We are thrilled that so many lesser-known wines performed so magnificently.”

A full listing of results and information on the 2012 Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi can be found at http://www.consumerwineawards.com/.

Contact: Tim Hanni MW, tim@timhanni.com

Sunday, April 10, 2011

How (Or If) You Wear Underwear May Provide Insights to Wine Preferences

Individual sensory sensitivity manifested in strange ways.

My research colleague, Dr. Virginia Utermohlen MD, and I are proposing that the range and intensity of sensations we experience varies, often dramatically, from one person to the next and these individual differences play an important role in determining individual wine preferences. It is well known that people often argue about the characteristics and qualities they perceive in a wine—it's as if they were not tasting or smelling the same thing. This disagreement is known to occur among experts, even when they are sharing from the exact same bottle. We propose that these differences in perception often stem from sensitivity variables. Furthermore these variables are evident in a spectrum of individual attitudes and behaviors and may even influence the development of our personality traits.

Someone who is extremely sensitive to touch is usually more sensitive to other sensory stimuli: light, sound, taste, and smell. This insight helps explain a lot of things people disagree on in life, from the temperature in the room, to the use of cilantro in a recipe, to the volume of the television, to the sheets that you sleep on.

Virginia and I were recently reviewing data collected from wine consumers and discussing how heightened taste sensitivity is manifested in many other behaviors related to sensory sensitivity—ranging from finding the right thermostat settings to the need to cut tags out of clothing because it is so irritating. She inquired, “Have you ever asked people if they wear their underwear inside out?”

“Dear god”, I asked, “what on earth for?” Virginia went on to explain that a common behavior of ultra-sensitive people, who tend to prefer sweet or very light dry wines, is to invert their undies due to the irritation from the seams against their skin. Or, she said, they oftentimes just abandon wearing undergarments altogether. Inquiring minds want to know, so I have begun asking this question at events and wine tastings where I conduct our Taste Sensitivity Quotient (TasteSQ) interview.

During a TasteSQ interview at a recent wine tasting in San Francisco, I tried the question for the first time with a gentleman who hit all of the other questions for a Sweet (ultrasensitive) taster dead-on: can’t stand coffee (too bitter), loves salt (a sign of more taste buds, not less), and experiences a horrible, bitter and metallic taste from artificial sweeteners. And yes, he loved sweet wines and could not stand the horrible taste of dry wines. I proceeded to make assertion after assertion on things like his need to cut tags out of his clothes, how loud restaurants completely ruin even the most delicious food, and that his Mother experienced severe morning sickness with him. He was amazed. Feeling this was the perfect chance I asked, “Do you ever wear your underwear inside out?” He almost fell over. It was evident, and he later confirmed the answer, saying “Yep – how the h*** did you know THAT?” His friends were quite amused.

It was a simple deductive process. People who love sweet or delicate wines are typically what we call Sweet or Hypersensitive tasters. They share common traits such as hypersensitivity to light, sound, smell and, in this case, touch. In fact, they live in a vivid cacophony of sensations that other people cannot even imagine. This means they tend to seek out wines that are sweet or delicate, and they require the wines to be low in alcohol and ultra-smooth tasting.

A common behavior of these ultrasensitive individuals is to turn their undies inside out or to abandon wearing them at all. With my insatiable curiosity fired up I am delving deeper into this phenomenon and finding people who abandon undies altogether are reticent to share the information, but their stuttering and blushing give away their secret. Another connection to the term “blush wine”? Kidding.

Sweet and Hypersensitive tasters, who have the most taste buds and share an aversion to bitterness, high alcohol, and tannin will seek out wines that are often sweet, such as Moscato or White Zinfandel, or delicate dry wines, like dry Riesling or Pinot Grigio. They seek out and enjoy the very wines abandoned by the wine critics and wine community in general. Light, delicate, smooth and fragrant.

Boy, this assertion is going to get my detractors’ panties in a wad. That is, if they are wearing any.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New Hope for Mothers of Picky Eaters

Research shows picky eaters are the most sensitive tasters, provides new hope to frustrated mothers everywhere.
March 14, 2011, Napa, CA: Children who are picky eaters often have highly sensitive palates with heightened perception of bitterness. As a result they will typically avoid healthy vegetables while gravitating to salty and fatty foods thus developing a host of life-long, unhealthy eating habits that may result in higher risks of disease, obesity, and cancer. They may also be more likely to end up with diminished confidence and low self-esteem, according to Dr. Virginia Utermohlen.

The solution for preparing kid-friendly foods lies in a technique called "flavor balancing" developed by her research partner, Master of Wine and chef Tim Hanni. Says Utermohlen, "I am a highly sensitive taster myself; I was, and still am, a very picky eater and never have been able to eat green beans or many other vegetables. When I tried some fresh green beans prepared with Tim's flavor balancing technique I polished off a whole plate full!"

Utermohlen is a pediatrician, researcher and recently retired professor in the Cornell University Division of Nutritional Sciences, who studies how taste and smell sensitivity are related to personality, food choice, eating attitudes and behavior, and choice of profession. Tim Hanni MW is the founder of the Napa Seasoning Company, a trained chef and Master of Wine who studies how sensory sensitivity variables affect consumer wine and food preferences. Utermohlen and Hanni teamed up two years ago to conduct deeper research on the role of sensory physiology in shaping human food and beverage preferences, behaviors and even personality traits. Their research not only shows that picky eaters crave salt, love sweets and avoid bitter foods and beverages, but that these picky eaters grow up feeling embarrassed about their preferences and often alienated or even punished at the table. Says Hanni, “It is time we learned to better understand and cultivate, not punish, young palates.”

Contact: Tim Hanni MW tim@napaseasoning.com or 707-337-0327