Know Your Palate, Love Your Wine
There’s more ways than one to arrive at your favourite bottle of wine. Your palate might just be most illuminating and fun way to navigate this most vinous journey.
There are many beaten and a few unconventional paths one can traverse towards knowing and loving wine. The simplest would be to put your vinous fate in the hands of the expert or perhaps fall back on that virtual fount of infinite knowledge called Google. Or you could use a personal taste hardened resource you’ve used to feel your way around the new and unfamiliar : your palate. That most unashamed gourmand Oscar Wilde poignantly declared that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. So if you believe that is wine is worth knowing, maybe let your palate deliver you to your favourite wines and a lifetime of discovering more of them. We have always relied on our palate to taste our way through a copious variety and amount of food and drink. And it’s never failed us thus far. Reward it with the pleasant surprise of wines and it might pay you back with the equal kindness of fine taste memories.
Now, if you’re to use your palate to build your personal collection of bottles, it all begins with wine tasting of which tasting the wine is the final step. It all begins with the sight of the wine, smelling the wine and then sip. It is that last part that is the single most trusted education technique in wine’s history. Collect and read all the tomes you can about wine but nothing substitutes actually tasting the wine. So taste away and do it consciously. Pick on three key elements of wine – fruit, acid, alcohol and tannin. The fruit is contained in the flavours, acid gives that tart refreshing sensation, alcohol is the tad bitterness and tannins give that gripping sensation at the back of your tongue as the wine goes down. And as you do this frequently, you start to identify the different expressions of wine. While most wines are made from a finite bunch of grapes, the styles are limitless, depending on the country, type of production, winemaker approach and much more.
It’s what makes wine the fascinating pursuit it is. Sauvignon Blanc for instance is one of the world’s most planted white wine grape and in France, produces lean and dry styles while in New Zealand, it makes a ripe ‘fruit bomb’ bursting with myriad flavours. Similarly other famous grapes like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Pinot Noir yield a number of different expressions. And when your palate wades through a bunch of these styles, your preferences begin to form. The more you taste, the more your preferences start to unconsciously form. The trick here is to get out ahead of this process and connect what you experience on your palate with some leading questions.
For example : I’m picking up peaches and apples and some crisp acidity on this wine. And I’m liking it because these are the fruits I grew up on breakfasting on and there’s nothing quite like some refreshing zing in the wine to beat the summer hear. In other scenario, you’re tasting the scarlet hued red wine that’s very dry and has abrasive tannins and you’re thinking “this is way too big and unapproachable. I’m not getting it. I’m not liking it.” Build up these personal conversations about the wines you taste and not only are you becoming an amateur expert on wine styles, you’re crafting your own personal key to finding the wines that will dazzle your senses. This conversation can be long as your palate’s journey towards finding several bottles you’ll love to drink and share. It’s never too early in the day or life to taste a good wine. Time to uncork!
Wine Recommendations For Different Palates