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Tasting notes, diversity, racism and sexism

The best read post here this year will be the same one that has been best read each of the last dozen years: “Words to describe the beer you are tasting.”

Beyond the obvious fact that people seem to struggle with talking about aroma and flavor, my excuse for pointing this out is Esther Mobley’s story yesterday in the San Francisco Chronicle that asks, “How many people have actually tasted a wet river stone, anyway?”

That amusing poke aside, she examines a more serious issue, stating “it’s becoming clearer than ever that the conventional language used to describe wine isn’t merely intimidating and opaque. It’s also inextricable from racism and sexism, excluding dimensions of flavor that are unfamiliar to the white, Western cultures that dominate the world of fine wine and reinforcing retrograde notions of gender.”

This is something those who write about beer should be aware of as well.

Further reading
– A review of “Discriminating Taste: How Class Anxiety Created the American Food Revolution,” which introduces the concept of “aspirational eating.”
“The Taste of Beer,” an essay by Zak Avery in Brewery History Number 139, a special issue in 2011 that paid tribute to Michael Jackson.

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