A nice nose
Neuroscientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science think that small amounts of alcohol improve people’s ability to discriminate scents, and connect that with lowered inhibition. (Cite.) Which leads to all sorts of interesting speculation about the choice and manner of drinking.
Recently, Carolyn and I bought a wine to try, we had never tasted. I returned it, because it was corked. The replacement was much better, and we bought some on sale. I suspect those who can’t distinguish “corked” would just figure it wasn’t a good wine. Of course, “good” is quite subjective, and dependent on context. Dwight Furrow defends wine tasters:
What is puzzling about this whole debate about the objectivity of wine critics, however, is why people want objective descriptions of wine. We don’t expect scientific objectivity from art critics, literary critics, or film reviewers.
Maybe there is an illusion that wine, unlike say food or film, is “just chemistry”?
Alcohol is chemistry, and its effects on people is biology. Stanton Peele argues that we should admit that moderate consumption of alcohol is healthy. I’m not as certain as he is, given the complexities of prospective studies. Expect this debate to rage at least another decade.