Most people are not able to discern expensive wine from cheap and neither can wine sommeliers. That's why various wine festivals rarely agree on wines - a gold medal at one can yield nothing at another. It isn't just subjective, argues a small winery owner, it is almost random.
So Robert Hodgson drew on his background in statistics and approached the organizers of the California State Fair wine competition, the oldest contest of its kind in North America, and proposed an experiment for their annual June tasting sessions.
Each panel of four judges would be presented with their usual "flight" of samples to sniff, sip and slurp. But some wines would be presented to the panel three times, poured from the same bottle each time.
The results would be compiled and analyzed to see whether wine testing really is scientific.
David Derbyshire at The Guardian has the fascinating story behind the junk science that passes as wine judging: Wine-tasting: it's junk science.
H/T Vaughan Bell