Here’s an infographic that should help anyone who loves getting drunk drinking wine, but can’t tell a pinot from a merlot from 7-Eleven’s new cab sav.
For his class, Visualizing the Five Senses, NYU grad student Carl Tashian amassed the descriptive words used in over 5,000 wine reviews, published in one Australian wine magazine in the course of five years. Then he split those according to the wine variety–whites, reds, and variations thereof–and then charted what words pop up most often for each one. What results is a pretty nifty set of graphs displaying the typical flavor profiles of various wines. So cab savs, as you can see above, are pretty heavy on the oak. Pinot noirs, by contrast, tend to be a bit fruitier and more flavorful–which explains their booming popularity. Obviously, any wine nerd will know all this stuff already–but it’s a pretty great tool for neophytes.
That said, there are a few gripes–it’s a shame that the data isn’t a tiny bit cleaner. For example, Tashian could have gotten a much more precise set of flavor profiles by relying on the writing of one single wine critic. (Robert Parker, the legendary publisher of Wine Advocate being the obvious choice.) That would be about as close to scientific as wine tasting gets.
It’s also a pity that graphic isn’t interactive. These types of charts actually scream for interactivity–you can check out one brilliant example here, which visualizes who attacked whom in the presidential primary debates of 2008.