Memory of Taste: exchanging a Kiddie Cone Moment for a lifetime of Sense(s)

 

Taste Memory

There was (still is?) a little roadside hamburger stand in Wallowa, Oregon where my mother would stop in with a car full of us kids for a post-game treat on our way home from the softball field.  As I begin the telling of this story, the voice of Sauce is in my ear reminding me, “You have told me this story a million times”.  Perhaps I have.  But I will tell it again.

As we age (like a fine wine of course), this repeated story telling in an almost ritualistic fashion assures us that we’ve still got that glimmer of memories past.  That we came from somewhere.  And that we’re possibly even going somewhere.  We see children practice this ritual in a similar fashion.  Our three-year-old son tells us over and over a recounting of his daily events – trivial, complex, pleasant, and disturbing – it is all captured in his mind’s eye.  The most trivial usually being bathroom and bodily function related.  A more complex story covering emotions, questions concerning the universe and it’s existence, and long scenarios beginning with “once upon a time”.  He is comforted in his relationship to his narrative.

Going back to The Little Bear.  There was a vanilla soft serve kiddie cone for dessert.  Their signature touch was a red gummy cinnamon bear on the top.  It looked so appealing in that red-on-white cherry on top of a sundae sort of way.  But it tasted like – FIRE!

A few decades later, the fire has settled down into a warm bed of coals and I find a cinnamon gummy bear to be a sticky sweet nostalgic confection.  So where does this road lead me in terms of my Memory of Taste?  It is but a short side jaunt on the larger supersensory highway of a Lifetime Palate.  Retelling The Little Bear story in my own mind, and out loud just to tickle the Sauce nerves, reminds me that my best and most highly sensitive reception of taste was when I was a little girl, a baby even.  Where something could be so delicious – or so offensive – that it would stick.

So that’s it? We have lost the sharp sensory abilities of our youth?  The best wine quaffing opportunities passed us by when we were but babes on the breast?  Not entirely.   While I have not gone deep enough into the depths of science, I have a lukewarm assumption that as we age our perception of aromas and flavors does dull.  However, if we tune into the world around us, our bank of sensory memories continues to expand which in turn gives us a greater capacity for interpreting the sensory perceptions we receive.  To keep a sharp palate, we exercise beyond the physiology of tasting and smelling to log in to a longer term memory bank what otherwise would be a very short term experience.

And the how…It’s all just a presence of mind.

There are no “5 Easy Ways” or “10 Simple Steps” coming up, but rather suggestions for how your everyday sensory experiences can be heightened just by being present in the moment.  Take yourself on mental field trips.  Go to extremes and then contrast them.  Try a few versions of the following:

  • a hot & dry place and a cold & dry place (think desert vs. tundra)
  • a cool & damp place and a warm & damp place (think Redwood Forest vs. Tropical Rainforest)
  • a very empty space (think Vacant parking lot or warehouse or an open field)
  • a very crowded space (think New York subway/sidewalk, Disneyland at Fireworks, Costco on Saturday, the I-5 any second of any day)
  • a modern place (think Art Museum or Luxury Car Showroom)
  • a rustic place (think Horse Stable, Mountain Lodge, Roadside Hamburger Stand, Tombstone Arizona)
What did it smell like?
What was the intensity level of the aromas?
Now take those observations down in a mental note and return to them on your daily path.  If you shop a farmer’s market tune into the smells of the fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers.  When you step into a coffee shop for a quick chat over an espresso – stop and smell.  When you go for a jog, a ride, a row, a walk with your dog, or whatever is your choice of winding down – breath in.  Taking notice of the scents in your surroundings is building your memory bank for future reference.
Then go and uncork that bottle.  Follow those truly simple “3 Easy Steps”:
swirl, sip, repeat

If the smells and tastes from your glass transport you into your Memory of Taste, then congratulations, you have arrived at your wine destination.

More Places, Smells, & Memories for your reading and viewing pleasure:

Wine For the Ages: Tasting in Emoji

Emoji of Sine Qua Non Rose

Are tasting notes simply a matter of taste?

It seems that the more I read and write tasting notes for wines the deeper I go into experiencing wine on another level.  Captivating prose flows from the bottle to the lips to the page as I fall in love with every nuance of whatever happens to be in the glass.  Of course I make every effort not to sound repetitive, not to be too technical, not to be over the top fantastic in describing fermented grape juice.  After all, we are all short on time and very busy indeed.  So much of our stimulus is visual, quick and simpler to process on the go.  If we want to keep up in today’s market, we have to stay fresh and lively.  So in an Ode to Jimmy Kimmel’s interpretation of current events through Emoji, I give you …

TASTING NOTES IN EMOJI

2012 Walter Hansel Chardonnay, Cahill Lane Vineyard, Russian River Valley, CA

Antonio Galloni calls Walter Hansel “some of the most consumer friendly wines readers will come across ANYWHERE in California”, and we can’t agree more. When tasting this wine blind, I almost always place a higher value on it and then get a pleasant surprise at the true price. But numbers aside, the Cahill Lane shows all of the richness of Russian River Valley Chardonnay through a pure and simple use of the Wente Clone exclusively on this site. Brioche, buttered and topped with a dollop of apricot preserves, comes to mind. – Falling Bright notes

OR

Emoji of Walter Hansel Chardonnay
Chardonnay, Simplified.

2011 Behrens Family Winery “Spare Me” Cabernet, Napa Valley CA

Succulent raspberry and black cherry give way to hints of tobacco, cedar, and violets. The beautiful perfume that Petite Verdot brings to the aromatics is not lost in the mix. -FallingBright Notes

OR

Emoji of Behrens Family Spare Me Cabernet
Cabernet but less Complicated

2012 Booker Sweet

Perfectly ripe tropics – pineapple, mango, passion fruit – an unctuous core finishing on a high note. There is no reason not to enjoy a sip of Sweet with a nibble of cheese – something semi-hard to hard like Pleasant Ridge Reserve or Vella Dry Jack. -Falling Bright Notes

OR

Emoji of Booker Sweet Dessert Wine
Just Desserts

2010 Sine Qua Non “That Type of Rosay”

Ridiculous strawberry, sage and underbrush.  A full-bodied meaty expression of Grenache and Syrah with complexity, depth, and a crisp dry finish. -Falling Bright Notes

OR

Emoji of Sine Qua Non Rose
Delicious in Tiny Pictures

Next time you feel like your tasting notes are getting over the top and under your skin, just check back in with us for the short notes on what we’ve been tasting.  We will be sure and give you the small picture(s) so you can make wise use of your time to focus on the Big Picture.

Enjoy what’s in the glass and send us a note on what you’re tasting – Emoji Style of course!

Related Articles / Blogs

Jimmy Kimmel & Brie Larson Emoji Movie

The Underground Wine Letter – Laughable Wine Descriptions

The Black Label – 10 Most Ridiculous Wine Descriptors

Visit The Shop:  Falling Bright