Articulating your palate

When we started this blog, we sent out a brief email to some of our most trusted friends and colleagues in the wine industry.

Our email to the group was quite simple. It read:

On our new website, we’re having a page titled: “Wine 101.” We want to give some basic pointers on how to taste and enjoy wine like a champion. If you could add your two cents, what would you write (this could be for a person who’s never tasted before or it could be geared toward a veteran oenophile)? The audience doesn’t matter; it’s the message and intent that is important.

We received a myriad of responses, but the one that resonated with us the most went something like this:

“Wine should be simple, easy to drink, inexpensive and drunk in moderation. A healthful beverage that God gave us for better life, health and happiness.” -John Parducci

As far as my two cents go: An uneducated palate is a place to start, not necessarily a place to be content with, or to end. I like to pay attention to what I like about a wine and see if I can begin to find descriptors to identify what that is. Reading tasting notes is a good place to look for language, but one must still associate a taste or smell with a word. Your spice rack in your kitchen is also a good place to practice with your palate. Simply smell a spice and remember its name.

Fresh herbs in the garden are also a wonderful place to educate yourself about smells and tastes. Rub your favorite herb between your hands and take a good smell; then, when it’s still fresh, taste it. Remember the names of the herbs and spices and then, when you taste or smell something similar in your wine, voilà, you have a descriptor word for it. Taste often and, above all, have fun. 

We could not agree more.  Familiarizing yourself with the smells and tastes of the culinary world is a fantastic place to start defining your palate.  All it takes are a few baby steps…and maybe a cultivated sense of adventure.  But the end result is the same: a defined track record of likes and dislikes.  It really is as simple as that.

As for the author of these words?  None other than Strada’s father.  I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, eh?

(A free bottle of wine to whomever makes the first – and best – Canadian joke. Ready, set, go!)

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