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How to Develop Your Palate

How to Develop Your Palate


I like to try and describe wine related subjects in parables. Example: Ever go the beach in the morning, and when you get there, it is overcast and chilly?  But since you drove all that way (especially if you live in the Inland Empire) wouldn’t you want to see if the weather gets better as the day progresses?  Then again, some people might turn around and leave to go home or maybe go to breakfast or something like that.  Only to miss out on a beautiful day at the beach. 

Your palate kind of does the same thing.  You open a bottle, pour it into a glass, take a sip and react as though you just took a spoon full of castor oil and spit it out, and dump it down the drain!  That is not the way to enjoy wine at all.  If you’re having those type of reactions even if the wine is not your style, you’re doing yourself a disservice.  Unless it’s completely oxidized or turned into vinegar that is the expectation.  So, just take these following few steps and your wine experience will increase exponentially.

Have just a little patience and use these fundamental techniques.  Once you open your bottle, pour a little into a glass and give it a couple of swirls.  Then put your upper lip to the edge of the glass and give it a sniff.  If you don’t get much off the bouquet (nose) then try a little sip and swish it in your mouth like mouth wash.  Now pay attention to those beginning moments.  If the wine seems plain or not much going on, then wait for about 10-15 minutes, but make sure you add more wine to your glass and let it set on your counter for that duration.  Times up!

Now try the wine the same way, swirl, sniff and taste.  95% of the time the wine will show some notable characteristics, now you can move on and start recognizing your likes and dislikes.  The best advise I would give anyone is to always look for something positive: visual appeals, smells or flavors before you automatically say, “I don’t like it”.   There is usually something that should be somewhat pleasing to you, even if you disliked all the smells and flavor profiles.  Maybe the color of the wine was the only good quality that you may have noticed.  If it didn’t appeal to your sight, smell or taste…I would ask why did you buy that bottle?   I hope this helps anyone that wants to elevate their palate to the next level of enjoyment.

This is written by our Sommelier, Blake Leland

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