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Old May 10th, 2013, 07:55 PM
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Default Wine Tasting is Bull***t

http://io9.com/wine-tasting-is-bulls...-why-496098276

This is a very telling article about wine tasters in particular that I think is hilarious. First of all, even though I am a "critic" of sorts, I do try to stay away from forcing my own personal taste on other people. When I write a "review" I do try to to stick to factual details as much as possible.

And - I have always been honest to say that I am NOT an oenphile - that I have a hard time remembering the nuances of wine. Also, I never find any one wine to be reliable - I may try a wine and love it only to find the next day that it was not all I thought it was.

But even more important - it says a lot about critics. How honest are they? How much do they really know - and how much of what they say is based on something else like possibly:

1) what they think they are expected to say (more expensive = better, for example)

2) a personal stake in having a certain opinion (to boost a certain advertiser, for example)
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Old May 10th, 2013, 08:16 PM
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You can usually identify those on a cruise who attended one of the wine tasting seminars. They are the ones who are swirling their glasses and solemnly sticking their noses in the glass before every sip. Frankly I prefer tasting beers since it is easier to identify if they are hoppy or malty, or chocolatey for stouts. Plus beer drinkers are generally less pretentious than wine snobs.
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Old May 10th, 2013, 09:42 PM
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I am sure there are people who can tell every nuance of evey wine, after one wine tasting, and, it would be my luck to be seated next to them at dinner, pinkys in the air and swirling tongues.

For me, I would enjoy a wine tasting without airs. This way I could get to sip all kinds of wine, without paying per bottle, and finding a new selection.I get stuck in a rut..Right now I like Moscato, but would be eager to try others.

When drink Beringers white zin onboard, they almost quadruple the cost of a bottle at the local packie...
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Old May 10th, 2013, 09:56 PM
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I know what you mean Trip, about the Beringers, that is one of my favorites and I almost faint when I see what they want for a bottle onboard, YIKES!
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Old May 10th, 2013, 11:39 PM
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I think we have all seen the " connoisseurs " of wine on cruises and in restaurants. And no doubt, there are people who are expert enough in the field to tell the difference between fine wines, etc.
However, on the average cruise ship and the average passenger who orders a bottle of wine at dinner and goes through the motion of swirling, sniffing, tasting and then always giving the nod that it's ok, I think most of these folks are " experts " in their own mind. I don't believe I can really remember seeing anyone actually send a bottle back after going through the motions.
You can watch a person go through the ritual and observe how they do it to see if they are halfway qualified to know whether or not it's a good wine--the glass should be left on the table--with the fingers on the flat part of the stem, swirled slightly, then lifted by the stem to run the nose into the glass,aka sniffing -- then when it's tasted and or consumed, the fingers should not hold the glass, but the stem, as the warmth from the hand around the glass can alter the taste---according to the experts !
No, I'm not a connoisseur of wine-- I believe in the old saying-- you drink what you like--if you are having fish and you like red wine, and you're paying, who's to say it's not ok?? Personally, I like water with lemon--that way I don't have to swirl, sniff, taste, nod my head it's ok and then hold the glass by the very bottom so as to not warm my ice water !
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Old May 11th, 2013, 12:48 AM
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Alls I knows about wine is:

The aspartame in my soda goes sour if consumed after the expiry date.
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Old May 12th, 2013, 12:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Beers View Post
You can usually identify those on a cruise who attended one of the wine tasting seminars. They are the ones who are swirling their glasses and solemnly sticking their noses in the glass before every sip. Frankly I prefer tasting beers since it is easier to identify if they are hoppy or malty, or chocolatey for stouts. Plus beer drinkers are generally less pretentious than wine snobs.
People who like wine might go to a wine tasting on a cruise just to find out what's being offered. And for those of us who are in top tiers of the frequent cruiser clubs, they're free anyway, so why not go? Believe it or not, some of us have actually understood the basics of wine for decades; we know what swirling the wine accomplishes and doesn't accomplish; we're not snobs, we don't stick our noses in the air. Most of all, we don't care what you think about us, nor do we care that you like beer, and we don't engage in value judgments about you because you do.
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Old May 12th, 2013, 03:12 AM
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The point of the article is that some of the most acknowledged and recognized "experts" in the field were inconsistent in the way they rated the exact same wines.

Also that they could easily be fooled by labels, and even by coloring - food coloring made a wine taste "drastically" different to them (when in fact it was just food coloring).

Now - they weren't complete foils - they just showed that it wasn't nearly the exact science most of them would want you to believe.

As far as the "tasting ritual" goes, I know how to do it and I do it, because it is expected when you have a sommelier - but I have never personally turned down a wine even when to my palate it was awful. I admit I do the "cork sniffing" fully for show.

But by the same token, I honestly do not believe myself to be enough of an expert to turn down a wine even if I hated it (and was paying for it) because it could be a $100 bottle that they then have to give to the staff.

I mean after all - can you really judge a red wine that has not had time to breath anyway?

I am also not a complete rube - I can tell when I really like a wine, and it usually ends up not being cheap. But I still stand by what I said (and the article also points out) that labels often mean very little - all that really counts is the vintage - and even that can vary. It really boils down to the actual wine in the bottle. That is where these experts get tripped up, they tend to get tricked by other things (brand, label, color, etc).
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Old May 12th, 2013, 01:32 PM
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I went through a time in business where I had to entertain a number of executive level clients so I went through an intensive wine course and even went on a wine tour with a local expert. I learned a lot about wine during that time and the complex processes that go into wine making. I also learned about pairing and appreciating wine.

In the end I realized the old adage was true: "Drink what you like and like what your drink.". If you like an expensive Petrus then drink Petrus. If you like Ernest and Juillo then drink Ernest and Jullio. If you want to drink a Reisling with steak then drink Reisling with steak. Just don't limit yourself to not trying different types or how pairing different wines with different foods really makes for an enjoyable meal. If you like it great if you don't then don't bother with it again.

Just like there are food snobs there are wine snobs and most of them just eat and drink what they "think" is good.

Allow yourself the pleasure of trying new wines and foods but don't deny yourself the pleasure of eating or drinking what "you" enjoy. If someone looks down their nose at it then that's their problem. Eat, drink, and be merry!

Take care,
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Old May 12th, 2013, 01:48 PM
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While we do enjoy a good wine every now and then, I have come to learn it's all relative. It's like anything else; what one person loves, another will hate. And while some have 'trained' palettes when it comes to the complex nature of good wines, everyone's tastes are different. If everyone liked the same things and hated the same things, it would be a very boring world.

But for me, give me a nice shot of really good tequila! I'll even settle for a great single-malt scotch. Or even a top shelf whiskey. But the same thing applies to spirits and beers as it does to wine; everyone's likes are different - that's why there are so many varieties.

As the French say, "Vive la différence." Or in English, "Long live the difference."

So, whatever you like, enjoy it! And the hell with what others think!!

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Old May 12th, 2013, 01:59 PM
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The point of the article is that some of the most acknowledged and recognized "experts" in the field were inconsistent in the way they rated the exact same wines.

Also that they could easily be fooled by labels, and even by coloring - food coloring made a wine taste "drastically" different to them (when in fact it was just food coloring).

Now - they weren't complete foils - they just showed that it wasn't nearly the exact science most of them would want you to believe.

As far as the "tasting ritual" goes, I know how to do it and I do it, because it is expected when you have a sommelier - but I have never personally turned down a wine even when to my palate it was awful. I admit I do the "cork sniffing" fully for show.

But by the same token, I honestly do not believe myself to be enough of an expert to turn down a wine even if I hated it (and was paying for it) because it could be a $100 bottle that they then have to give to the staff.

I mean after all - can you really judge a red wine that has not had time to breath anyway?

I am also not a complete rube - I can tell when I really like a wine, and it usually ends up not being cheap. But I still stand by what I said (and the article also points out) that labels often mean very little - all that really counts is the vintage - and even that can vary. It really boils down to the actual wine in the bottle. That is where these experts get tripped up, they tend to get tricked by other things (brand, label, color, etc).
So, Paul, the question boils down to: "What's it to you?" You start by titling a thread "Wine tasting is EXPLETIVE," then go on to slam the "experts" who you say are inconsistent. Of course they're inconsistent, because the whole business of wine is completely subjective.

These wine experts are like movie, drama and book critics. Any two of them with "credentials" can and do come to completely different conclusions on a regular basis. So what?

Turns out that you didn't mean that wine tasting is expletive, even though that's what you titled the thread. After all, that would be like saying that moviegoing is expletive because two film critics disagree. What you really meant is that the critics are expletive because they don't agree. But even that's open to argument.

Staying with the movie analogy, what do sensible film fans do in the face of differing critical viewpoints? One choice is to ignore the critics completely, go to films that intrigue you and make up your own mind. When you like a film maybe you'll go see it again or buy the DVD. Pretty reasonable. Another approach might be to ascertain which critic or critics you tend to agree with most often, and let them--and only them--influence what you go to see. Again, reasonable. And both approaches, when applied to wine evaluation by "experts," are just as reasonable.

But to turn the whole thing into some sort of class warfare, lowbrow vs. highbrow, snob-bashing exercise as some have done here is just ridiculous. Lots of people enjoy wine in their own way and for their own reasons and according to their own tastes.

Leave them alone.
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Old May 12th, 2013, 02:38 PM
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AR,

I was trying to be humorous about the subject, hence the little at the end of my post. My note about beer tasters was meant to show that they can be equally as pretentious as those who go through the wine rituals.
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Old May 12th, 2013, 07:59 PM
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Well all one can really check is to see if the wine is "off" or "corked" & it can still be corked if it is screw top or maybe draft wine..it's a fungus. A myth of course is you are trying it to see if you like it...nope.. you ordered it if you don't like it tough!
My wine story is.. my wife didn't like wine, we were at a restaurant & she was asked by one of our table why not...she said she just didn't like wine...well one of our party was a wine expert who asked her questions about tastes & flavours she liked, ordered a bottle of wine & my wife loved it!!
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Old May 12th, 2013, 08:00 PM
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This is how I do it. ( no bull )....

I take a sip,,,, if it tastes good I drink it. This system has worked for me for several decades and in many different countries.

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Old May 12th, 2013, 08:29 PM
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Yes Manuel...but if there is nothing wrong with it but just tastes awful.. what then? Some wines do taste awful to me!!
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Old May 12th, 2013, 11:06 PM
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I think it's comical that grape juice and malt, hops and yeast can ruffle feathers to such an extent !!
I know not what others may drink, but as for me, give me my un-swirled, un-sniffed, un-tasted water ! (with lemon )
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Old May 12th, 2013, 11:36 PM
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A fact that you may find interesting is the amount of wine sold on cruise ships.
For the past 20 consecutive years we have failed to sell an average 1 bottle of wine per passenger per cruise, world-wide.

Of course there are other factors at play here:
A certain percentage of cruise passengers are not old enough to purchase wine on most cruise ships.
A certain percentage of cruise passengers drink wine if it is free, but not if they must pay.
Some cruises are very short; others are very long. (Average cruise is 7 days)
Some people do not drink wine - but they do purchase beer and spirits onboard.
Some cruisers have religious or medical reasons for not drinking wine.
A growing number of cruisers today simply cannot afford to buy wine on a cruise.
On some cruise lines, flexible policies result in many pax bringing large quantities of their own wine onboard.
Profit margins on wine sales are far lower than profit margins on beer and spirits; some companies discourage wine sales and concentrate on more profitable beer and spirits sales.

But when you remove the underage passengers from the numbers, we are still not even close to selling an average 1 bottle of wine per passenger per cruise.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 12:25 AM
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Well all one can really check is to see if the wine is "off" or "corked" & it can still be corked if it is screw top or maybe draft wine..it's a fungus. A myth of course is you are trying it to see if you like it...nope.. you ordered it if you don't like it tough!
My wine story is.. my wife didn't like wine, we were at a restaurant & she was asked by one of our table why not...she said she just didn't like wine...well one of our party was a wine expert who asked her questions about tastes & flavours she liked, ordered a bottle of wine & my wife loved it!!
Many, many years ago I was young 24 or 25 year old IT tech and I was out to fix some system issues that Citibank of New York was having. Our head of client services was also with me. She was there to smooth some feathers and make the client happy. I was there to fix the problem. Happily, I did fix the problem within a few hours.

That evening our client services rep decided she would take the Senior VP and VP out for dinner at a very nice restaurant. I cannot remember the name but at that stage of my life it was the nicest restaurant I had ever been to. The client services rep ordered wines for all but she made sure everyone knew that she was a wine expert and would choose the perfect wines for dinner. The sommelier brought the first bottle and she went through the routine: Swirl, Sniff, Taste. She then proclaimed that the wine was not up to standard and asked for a different bottle. She did this about four or five time. At the end of the meal she received the check and the look on her face was "interesting" to say the least. She excused herself from the table and then came back about ten minutes later and had looked as mad as a hornet. She did graciously end the evening with the Citibank folks and then we proceeded back to our hotel. I asked why she looked so mad. She responded: "Those a**- hol** charged me for every bottle of wine I sent back because they tasted them and they were fine. So she was charged for the wine we drank plus the rejected wine. The total bill was over $1,500 for four people. This was around 1980. Her biggest concern was that the expense would be denied on her expense report and, sure enough, it was. She had to eat half of the charge.

A number of years later when I became a bit more worldly I realized that she didn't know brix from bricks or a Bordeaux from a Beaujolais. However, I don't think she ever sent wine back again.

Take care,
Mike
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Old May 13th, 2013, 06:13 AM
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EXACTLY Mike..people think if they don't like it they can send it back.....bad idea, they can send it back if it is "off" but not if they just don't like it. Served her right!
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Old May 13th, 2013, 10:04 AM
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A growing number of cruisers today simply cannot afford to buy wine on a cruise.
This whole post is very interesting, but your bullet point above is really fascinating, especially your saying that this number is "growing."

It would seem to imply that an increasing number of people are taking cruises on shoestring budgets. It's completely off topic for this string, and perhaps it would be interesting to start another one, but if it is true (and I assume it is) it certainly helps to account for the increasing number of non-included charges (known here generally as "nickel and diming") that the lines are constantly being bashed for instituting. If more and more people are scraping nickels together to take cruises, the marketing goal, more now than ever, must be to keep base fares as low as possible, and to continue to make as many things as possible "extras."

To be clear, I know very well that on popularly-priced lines wine has never been included in the cruise fare. But I'm looking at the overall picture here, and pointing out the probable significance of the increase in those for whom "extras" are not possible.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 11:29 AM
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Yes Manuel...but if there is nothing wrong with it but just tastes awful.. what then? Some wines do taste awful to me!!
Never had that problem. On a cruise I look carfully at the wine list and I order something that have tasted before.
I usually stick with European wines and I have plenty of experience in picking them out.

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Old May 13th, 2013, 11:35 AM
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Many, many years ago I was young 24 or 25 year old. . .
A number of years later when I became a bit more worldly I realized that she didn't know brix from bricks or a Bordeaux from a Beaujolais. However, I don't think she ever sent wine back again.

Take care,
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Hahahaha.

When I was about the same age Terry and I were taken to dinner in Geneva by my boss's boss's boss. Had to be on good behavior. All the way to the restaurant he was raving about the quality of the place, "best in Geneva," and on and on.

When we got there, naturally he ordered the wine, but then informed me that he couldn't drink any because of a medical condition, but his extensive expertise and background assured us the "bottle of a lifetime." So when it came, it fell to me to taste it. It was, charitably, horse p*ss. I had two problems: one, I wasn't sure whether it had gone bad or was just awful to begin with, and two, under the circumstances it would not have been wise to criticize it in any way.

Sooo. . .I smiled and nodded. When Terry tasted it, she started kicking me under the table. But the boss was happy.

Oh, and the food was lousy too. Over the years I returned any number of times to Geneva and found better food and wine everywhere.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 11:42 AM
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Of course as a journalist on press trips I am often invited to dinners where wine is included, and I do have to thank Seabourn for coming up with a VERY special wine for my wife and myself for our anniversary when we were onboard. As it turned out my wife couldn't drink any due to a medical condition, and I didn't want to drink the whole bottle alone, so we ended up giving most of it to the staff at the restaurant including the sommelier who was quite happy to receive it.

But if cruisers who enjoy wine were smart they would buy it by the bottle because it ends up being cheaper than by the glass, when you consider an average glass of wine costs about $8 to $10 now, it really adds up.

Americans are not really a "wine culture," we were not raised to have wine with dinner like they are in France, because it isn't grown & sold locally.

Wine in this country is associated with special occasions, not a "must have" part of every meal. Plus, it often leaves a nasty hangover. Also, beer has evolved so much in the last 20 years. In my youth the average beer was a budweiser, then Heineken and Corona dominated the "import market.

NOW you get so many delicious beers from Belgium and small, local breweries that for me beer is the new wine in America - unless you happen to live in Sonoma.

The thing Celebrity is doing in Michael's Clubs with the vast beer selection is really very interesting and I believe it is proving to be very popular. I also think the "bring your own bottle" rule has cut into wine sales on ships a lot.

But I also think ships would sell more wine if they tried to make the profit on volume rather than higher margins, it seems to me you can hardly buy a bottle of wine on a cruise ship for less that about $30 at the very least. When people are used to buying decent wine for $15, (and acceptable wine for less) that seems like a lot of money.

I have to say though, that if wine tasting was a "real" thing (where people did refuse bottles of wine based on taste alone) I would probably pass on half of the wines I am presented - usually too acidic.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 11:46 AM
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For those of us who are Diamond Members of the Crown and Anchor on Royal Caribbean ships or Elite Members of the Captain's Club on Celebrity. we have a lounge to go to, where beverages are complimentary. Then we can sample the wines and order the ones that we like for dinner.

The only negative that I find about wine is that I'm not that young and my drinking years won't last very long.

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Old May 13th, 2013, 11:54 AM
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Also - I have noticed that some cruise lines are rather parsimonious with their wine servings. Celebrity & Royal Caribbean will barely pour you two fingers.

I do like the fact that Carnival measures every wine portion in a small glass beaker before pouring it into the glass, and that is usually comes out to almost four fingers.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 12:12 PM
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In the UK we have basically three measures for wines, 125 ml very small & uncommon, 175 ml..normal/medium & 250 ml..large, in fact one third of a bottle. We find wine by the glass on Celebrity leaning towards the 125 ml size.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 06:19 PM
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The other reason to get bottles over glasses of wine is that on every ship I've ever been on, if you don't finish the bottle they'll mark it and put it away for you to drink another day. This holds true even if you're in a different restaurant when you want to "retrieve" your wine.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 06:39 PM
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Mike's story about sending wine back reminds me of a parallel situation that has nothing to do with wine, but makes a similar point. . .

Some of you know that I was in the film production business. One fine day many decades ago I found myself in the timers' projection room at a major Hollywood film lab. I was there to screen the answer print (first print) of a film I'd made. The timer sat beside me to evaluate the print. In film, timers have nothing to do with clocks. They're the people who do (well, did) the scene-to-scene color and density corrections before the film was printed. If there were further corrections needed after the first print was made, they'd go back and tweak things.

OK, so the picture ran, he made notes on his data cards, and I took notes on a yellow pad. When the lights came up, we compared notes, and it turned out (as usual) that we had each caught most of the same things, which were pretty minor. As he was putting his paperwork back in the folder, we both noticed that our coffee cups were not yet empty, so we started chatting. He mentioned that his next screening wouldn't be so pleasant, because Nutty Nancy was due in about 20 minutes. He told me that Nutty Nancy was in charge of approving air prints for the various TV series made by a major Hollywood studio which will remain nameless (Universal). Back in those days all the episodic dramatic TV shows were shot on film, and the nameless studio (Universal) did shows like Columbo, McMillan and Wife, etc.

My timer friend said that Nutty Nancy never varied in her routine. She'd come in, sit down, the film would start, and five minutes later she'd jump up, put her hands on her hips, announce loudly "When you have something worth watching, give me a call," and storm out of the screening room. At first, the timers would diligently go back and check all the work, which is largely objective, but certainly has some elements of subjective analysis. They'd scratch their heads, maybe add a point or two of yellow here, cyan there, whatever. Hardly noticeable. Then they'd pull a new print and call Nutty Nancy back. The second time she'd watch the print all the way through, and announce, "That's more like it!"

This went on for awhile until the timing staff finally figured out what was going on. When Nancy stormed out of the room, they'd simply put the print on the shelf for 72 hours, call her back, and run it again. And always the response was, "That's more like it!"

There are poseurs and incompetents in every racket, whether it's wine, movies, or anything else.
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Old May 14th, 2013, 01:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
Of course as a journalist on press trips I am often invited to dinners where wine is included, and I do have to thank Seabourn for coming up with a VERY special wine for my wife and myself for our anniversary when we were onboard.
"as a journalist" wouldn't accepting such gifts affect your "objectivity"?
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Old May 14th, 2013, 10:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ship2shore View Post
"as a journalist" wouldn't accepting such gifts affect your "objectivity"?
The free stuff allways tastes the best.

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