Thursday, June 02, 2005

Yellow Tail Shiraz versus Coca-Cola
Somewhere out there in cyberspace and the printed media there is a growing belief that the American wine palate is orientated toward sweetness because of the consumption of non-alcoholic carbonated beverages. I’m not sure where this all started but even the noted wine critic Robert Parker has said in an interview for FRANCE Magazine “For Americans, weaned on sweet cola beverages, tannin is practically an alien component on the palate.” Those who support this argument cite the increasing popularity of New World wines dominated by flavors of sweet vanilla oak from places like Australia. Its no secret that a number of Australian-made wines that fit this mold are sold almost exclusively in the USA; although its equally true that many Aussie wines stay at home.

In a recent article this relationship between being “weaned on sweet cola beverages” and the popularity of New World wines was taken a step further by Dara Moskowitz who suggested that one of the most popular Aussie exports, Yellow Tail Shiraz, has, to her palate, a lot in common with Coca-Cola. Now while I have never actually tasted Yellow Tail I am a big fan of Aussie Shiraz. My palate says these wines have very little in common with Coca-Cola. But that’s my Aussie palate. What about an American palate? Let’s see if my American wife, Miranda, knows the difference.

Yesterday I had Miranda leave out a glass of Classic Coca-Cola so it would warm and go flat. When I got home I opened a bottle of 2004 Yellow Tail Shiraz and poured it and the cola into black tasting glasses so that the color of the liquid in the glass was hidden from view. When Miranda got home I asked her to smell each and tell me what they were. It took her, oh about 3 seconds, to identify the first glass as having alcohol and an equal amount of time to identify the other glass as containing cola. Of course actually tasting from the glasses identifies the contents even more quickly.

What might be confusing Dara Moskowitz’s palate? Well my tasting note for the Yellow Tail might help.

Yellow Tail Shiraz 2004: Dense cherry red with red edge. Very open with pronounced sweet vanilla oak. Quite simple but appealing. Medium weight with soft tannins but little holding the wine together. A definite acidic bite upon entry with some sweetness to the finish. Initially unpleasant to drink but your palate does get used to it. 2, 2, 3.5, 8.5 = 16.0/20, 80/100.

The aromatics are very pronounced sweet vanilla oak. I guess at a (really big) stretch that might be confused with Coca-Cola. But my conclusion is simply that Aussie Shiraz might not be Pomerol but it ain't Coca-Cola either!


Anonymous said...

Hi there,

You should try the "João Portugal Ramos - Syrah 2003" from Portugal.
Some say that this wine is even better than the famous "Barca Velha 1966".

Best regards,

João (Jonh)

Norawho said...

In middle school we had a drink called Shiraz and Coke. It was any red wine decanted to a coke bottle, consumed in the boys' upstairs lavatory.

Comment is totally inspired by yellowtail. It tastes like mexican parve coke, get over it.

Michael Pollard said...

The above post does go some way in suggesting that there are some palates that really do believe [yellow tail] Shiraz tastes like Coca Cola. But then if you have spent your youth drinking wine out of coke bottles you probably can be excused for confusing the two.