He has invented a fictitious restaurant to prove his theories, and last year he achieved an important award with his wine list
The North American journalist and blogger Robin Goldstein has visited FENAVIN in order to wager on the blind tasting session as the only honest way to evaluate and review a wine, avoiding what in his words seems to be habitual: "we taste a wine, but we are also tasting what we know about the wine".
Goldstein, who studied Neurology at Harvard and who is also a Law Graduate by the University of Yale, assured us that his investigations in the world of wine have led him back to the field of neurology in order to study what he calls the "placebo effect or the taste of money". This means that we consider a wine to be better or worse depending on the characteristics that we previously know about the wine, such as the price, vintage year, grape variety or the terroir, amongst others. "Unless the session is a blind tasting session, it is practically impossible to know exactly which is the flavor of the wine and which is the flavor of the money", he concludes.
The name of Goldstein became globally known in the world of wine after he won the "Award of Excellence" in the year 2008, which represents a recognition that the prestigious magazine Wine Spectator grants to the best wine lists in restaurants. Goldstein registered in the competition with 'The List of Reserva Wines' of the Milan based restaurant 'Osteria L'Intrepido'. Said list was mainly composed by Italian wines that in the last few years had obtained rather low scores in the Wine Spectator.
As he specifies: "The really interesting thing is not so much that the list itself apparently attracted very little attention, but that the restaurant did not actually exist. There is no restaurant in Milan called 'Osteria L'Intrepido'". The conclusion is devastating: "It is highly improbable that this has been the first Wine List that has been presented to the award that does not exactly reflect the content of a restaurant's wine cellar".
Robin Goldstein points out that he is not against wine critics or even expensive wines, as some of the media has simplistically asserted, but in fact he is against those criticizing wines with labels in view that only perceive money or publicity. This way of acting is in detriment of good wines with modest denominations of origin, while in turn it awards mediocre wines with denominations of origin that are more highly known, he assures.
The double-blind tasting session, "is a unique and exclusive method to evaluate a wine correctly"
All these reasons have led Goldstein to propose a new way of evaluating wines; the 'Honest Wine Movement', which preaches the double-blind tasting session as a unique and exclusive method for correct evaluation. A methodology that implies that the taster will have no prior information whatsoever (not even its origin or vintage year) so that the resulting score will be honest and so that a fair market price can be determined. This system has been conceived, according to Goldstein, to avoid the consumer from being vulnerable and defenseless and to avoid the prices of wine from not reflecting the reality of the market.
Goldstein has carried out in-depth research in various countries that proves that during blind tasting sessions, experts do not necessarily evaluate expensive wines better than cheaper wines. In addition, he assures that there is scientific evidence that indicates the fact that the perception of both the experts and the novel taster is unwillingly altered by the expectation that the bottle of wine they are going to try contains an expensive wine.