Forensic Tasting

Watching the nail biting finale of ‘Line of Duty’ last night as AC12, the police anti-corruption unit, struggled to hunt down a network of bent coppers it struck me how similar the job of the Chief Superintendent was to the average MW student.

Superintendent Hastings was faced with what appeared to be a clear case of insider corruption with all the evidence pointing towards DS Arnott.  Similarly at a superficial glance, the blind wine will instantly give you some information; dark ruby, meaty aromatics, fresh acidity, ripe tannins – it’s got to be shiraz right?  Or has it?

Thankfully Hastings is a fastidious chap and unwilling to take things at face value.  Slowly, by asking the right questions he begins to unravel the intricate web of lies laid by the evil DI Cotton incriminating Arnott for his own highly corrupt actions.

In a glorious flash of (mildly sozzled) insight I saw that this is exactly what the blind taster must do; refuse to take the wine at face value but to look closely at the forensic evidence.  Do the tannins really correspond with Shiraz or might it be a riper vintage/warmer climate for Cabernet Sauvignon which has taken the edge off those notoriously angular tannins?  Does the acidity level really correspond?  Could that meaty complexity be from age rather than grape variety?  Is there in fact a subtle whiff of herbal/cassis fruit that might, just might, suggest it is in fact Cabernet Sauvignon?  Peeling back the layers and questioning the evidence at each turn is as vital a tool in the wine tasters arsenal as it is in the detectives.

In the 2 ½ minutes you have to analyse the wine in exam conditions that is a lot of questions to ask, but not to do so would run the risk of false identification.  Hastings was equally pushed for time as his 24 hours for holding a suspect without charge drew to a close, and that tense, sweaty uncertainty was something I think all of us blind tasters can sympathise with.

Admittedly as blind tasters we are not ridding the world of corrupt and brutal criminals but nonetheless here’s raising a glass to you Supt. Hastings, for your unwitting lesson in the importance of forensic analysis in blind tasting.

  • Alex

Forensic tasting

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