The endeavour of mankind's obsolescence in matters of ... taste.

I need to vent. It's been said and repeated for many years. Something like a believer and non-believer religious-like act. Today the BBC news confirmed. There is no emotion, no culture, no personality, ... in taste. Only perceptions which can be decomposed and recomposed, expressed, in cold math. Algorithms and artificial intelligence. And who's done it?

We've seen the decomposing and recomposing of food exercised as a holy grail quest.

Molecular cuisine ascended into elitist fashion of excellence.

Industrial administration of flavours, textures and structures convince us in our “healthy” supermarket groceries.

We've seen neurology decompose in fine grained detail how the said villains of our brain's dependence on fat, salt, sugar is responsible for modern society's marketed disorders.

And let's not forget, thanks to medical advancement we can now feed ourselves, permanently, without taste. Direct injection of all containing cocktails into our intestines, which Pharma commerce allows us to buy in the supermarket as shakes or pills. No authenticity, individuality, or taste here.

This is about commerce. It's been an interesting rush, coming to an end. Meet the mirage of artificial intelligence.

L'aile ou la cuisse ... the return

Commerce's tension rich relationship saved France, not only its wine scene, from oblivion. An excellent film is Louis de Funes in l'aile ou la cuisse which really should be watched in French.

Commerce has defined taste for the longest time, but this is not a history review of the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Greek, Romans, ... Don't be fooled about France's claimed long-standing history and tradition, which there is not.

The only possible long-standing tradition there could be in Europe and wine is how non traditional wine producing countries have defined the taste of wine through commerce.

The wine world is an industry where the place of taste is secondary to commerce. But who do I fool, it wouldn't be an industry if commerce were not front and centre, would it?

Other countries are just as dependent on the commerce of taste fashion. What sets France apart is that it is the hardest place to have things evolve in the right way. All in the name of a mirage concept of “tradition”.

Let's not attribute wine commerce excellence to the French. Without England, no French wine commerce as we know it.

Need examples? Beaujolais with its Nouveau, Languedoc's cyclical hero-to-zero (or is it zero-to-hero), Bordeaux real-estate investment speculation fuelled wine scene, Champagne's literal bubble for which the champenois themselves started to seek solutions across the channel, in archenemy territory, some 30 year ago, ...

Of all people, it is the traditional French. Those who have been advocating for half a century claiming to be the alpha and omega of wine, of terroir, of individuality, of discerned taste, ... have now under pressure of plummeting commerce sought shelter in a modernism quest to justify their existence. Thanks to ChatGPT, there is a reason to return to the 1977 movie, and have a comic laugh at the dramatic character of the situation.

In the name of pleasure

Yet I can't stress enough the pleasure I had 10 days ago around a simple bottle. (Mind you, it wasn't French wine.) An obscure unknown producer who's growing grapes others thumb their noses at. And in addition, having the audacity to blend them together. Brilliant!

It was not perfection I was looking for, nor analytical dissecting in quest for “aha, mistake”. Mistakes it had plenty. So why did I enjoy it?

Pour a glass and see how every sniff gives you a different expectation of the sip to come. And then the sip comes, astonishing you with unexpectedness. Complement that with a constantly evolving expression in nose and mouth... The excitement of never knowing what you're going to get. Like a child faced with a gift-wrapped present.

That is what wine should be. Not a pre-defined algorithm respecting presumed standard, where whiff and sip are constant and as expected from opening to finishing the bottle.

I want to pour a glass, and 6 to 8 hours later still be sniffing at my glass, having received every time a new tantalising experience going from astonishment into awe. How texture and flavour changes with every long lingering delicate sip, and never gives away its secret from the evolving whiff.

I want that raw waw of a moment, and if you try to get it back, touch luck, for it is different already. The essence of life, of taste, in a glass.

Let's have some fun. I challenge chatgpt and any artificial intelligence to try to predict or define my tastebuds. There'll be lots of Kasparov versus computer type fun.

But for the influenceable masses who don't care about their identity, their taste, who wish to take part in the herd, ... France better embrace AI.

Parting notes

I was but 20 when I organised a tasting. I took wine experts by their noses, transferring cheap wine in fancy bottles, and vice versa. Other wines I had them taste blind, side-by-side. The good old days of the annual winebug BBQ ensued, until I met my castrator.

Whether they liked it or not, and I assure you many did not like it, those taking part in the adventure left knowing they did not know about taste. No one knows about taste. We just know what we personally like, and at best afford ourselves a means to stand by it.

As professionals we learn through the decision making commerce to appreciate certain pre-defined profiles. I remember blind tastings where for the fun of it I put how many wine spectator and Parker points the wines would have. All correct. You learned to know what taste marketers were chasing, for it meant money.

There is no terroir, tradition, excellence in that. It is pure boredom. Nothing to discover other then the ugliness of human nature.

The first matrix movie has a section on taste near the end, how it is virtual and defined by a computer algorithm. At the same time, in France, researchers were searching how they could reproduce wine flavours at home from a computer connected device. In the name of commerce, that's the direction where we've been and keep heading into. Have we gotten to the tipping point, yet?

Algorithms do not set us free in taste, they do channel us into believing freedom and diversity is found in standards. Not my cup of tea, happy I left the industry to be stay-at-home dad.

Tags: #fesip

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