Spit Happens #38 – Amplitude


During my time in the wine and food business I have been fortunate to try many 1000’s of wines and had the luxury of time to think about food and wine in a way that most people would not consider. One of my more recent topics that I think about and talk about daily on my wine tours is the concept of amplitude.  A simple definition is the difference between the top of a peak on an oscilloscope and the bottom of the wave , in sound it would be the range of sound in a musical piece from the quietest to the loudest passage. It has an application in wine but I would like to explain it first as it relates to the playback of music. Lets assume you have a Bluetooth speaker connected to your phone and you are listening to it in your car or a small room in your home. Then you go and sit in your backyard or take it to the beach. You will likely have to increase the volume to hear it because the space is much bigger, there is ambient noise and maybe a breeze as well.  I have started to explain to my guests when I take them out that wine behaves in much the same way. If you are in your office or dining room of your home and you are having a nice glass of Burgundy or Beaujolais you can enjoy its subtle characteristics . Take it to the backyard on a breezy afternoon and you might not taste anything at all. Why is that ? The answer is amplitude. More delicate wines can be easily overwhelmed by air movement outside. What happens when you can’t smell ? Taste becomes distorted and muted on the wines. So how does this relate to the average wine drinker ? Well my advice is save the Burgundy for inside and bring out the big guns for the backyard BBQ and camping.  I call these wines big stupid wines for big stupid people and I’m one of them.  Got a big rich Aussie Shiraz from Torbreck or Langmeil ? Bring it on.  Zinfandel from Sonoma or Sierra Nevada foothills ? Outside in the summer is the time for that. Save those pretty wines for the fall or indoor drinking.

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Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food. Cheers
David Lancelot