Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Robbie’s Rule of Thumb

I can’t believe I am actually writing this article! Most of you will think it is stupid, especially those with more than some basic wine knowledge. Oh well, I am the Wine AMATEUR after all! I think it is about time to show how amateur I really am.

My brother-in –law, Rob (aka ‘Robbie’, aka ‘Girlie Man’, wine buddy and keen golfer) has evolved a simple, but quite elegant theory. We call it Robbie’s Rule of Thumb. I have to admit that, as stupid as it sounds, there is a little (I really mean LITTLE) merit in it and it becomes seductive in and by itself. So if you don’t want to change the way you appraise wines at the store, go no further. Take one of the links to the right and flee, as fast as you can.

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So you have decided to read on – poor fool! Just remember you have been warned, and once tainted there is no going back!

Robbie postulated the theory that there was a significant and measurable positive correlation (within a 95% confidence level – ie a 5% risk of overstatement – is that an alpha error or beta error, I can’t recall?) between the depth of a bottle’s punt and the quality of the wine.

He first posed the null hypothesis back in around 1999 and every time you either go wine shopping, or drink wine, with him it gets another run. It is so seductive that you find yourself at the store glancing around to see if anyone is noticing you placing your thumb inside the punt of the bottle you just picked up. It is almost Hopoate-esk! (those Rugby League followers from the Eastern States who know who John Hopoate is will know what I am talking about).

That is bad enough, but the worst thing to happen is when Rob notices you doing it. It is all over then because he knows he has another one.

In all seriousness though, I guess there can be a correlation between the quality of the wine and the depth of the punt. It is good only as a generalization. The reason for this, I am told (by persons far more expert than I), is that the bottles with the deeper punt are actually a fair bit more expensive than the other bottles. Therefore, it makes sense that a wine maker, when choosing a vessel for a quality wine will choose a quality bottle. The reverse would also generally be true, that a producer when choosing a bottle for a wine that will be priced at the ‘guzzler’ end of the market will choose a cheaper bottle.

It must be remembered that this is only a GENERALISATION and it will not work all the time. For example I have a number of bottles of Tyrrell’s Vat 9 Shiraz and the bottle does not have much of a punt, yet the wine could hardly be called a guzzler or not a quality wine.

So next time you are at the store and wondering if you should try the wine you have just picked up, take a quick glance around to make sure no-one is watching and then insert your thumb into the punt. If Robbie’s Rule of Thumb leads you astray..................... blame Rob!





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