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Laurie Jervis

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Laurie Jervis: How Diverse Is Your Wine Palate?

By Laurie Jervis, Noozhawk Columnist |

Diverse (adj): "Various, varied, varying, sundry, all means of, different, differing, assorted, mixed, unlike, dissimilar, contrasting, miscellaneous, separate, several, distinct."

During the Sta. Rita Hills Wine Growers' Alliance Wine and Fire seminar earlier this month, wine writer and reviewer Josh Raynolds noted that experienced wine drinkers have "diverse" cellars because, over time, their palates change.

In their cellars, there's a bit of this, a bit of that. Sometimes: Lots of that, and none of this. Other bottles lie in wait, gathering dust, until they return to favor with the cellar master.

Why? Because the palates of prolific wine consumers evolve over time. What we loved back when, we don't necessarily even sip anymore.

Take my cellar: Therein lie about 10 bottles of cabernet sauvignons, zinfandels or red Bordeaux blends. All are more than five years old.

My palate currently tolerates only pinot noir, grenache, rosé or sauvignon blanc, so the heartier red wines — and all the other grape varietals bottled into wine — might as well not even be in my cellars. 

Backstory: More than 30 years ago, a friend introduced me to red wine. Across the board, the reds we consumed were cabernet sauvignon, and most of it hailed from Chile and Napa County.

Today, I couldn't swallow a big cabernet sauvignon, even were it paired with hard cheeses and chocolate, a hearty beef stew, and served before a roaring fire on a snowy night.

Or, as Sommelier Rick Bakas says: A wine drinker morphs from "Boone's Farm to chardonnay to buttery chardonnay, to chardonnay with acid, to Grand Cru chardonnay, and finally, to Champagne. 

Not that buttery chardonnay is a bad thing, mind you, if that's what your palate appreciates.

Because your palate has taught you what to appreciate in a wine, and as long as you continue to taste wines, your palate will continue to say "yes" or "no" with every sip you take.

So trust that palate of yours, and it will never let you down.

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at www.centralcoastwinepress.com, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via [email protected]. The opinions expressed are her own.


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