Not all Cabernet Sauvignons taste the same. If they did, they would only be available in milk cartons. I drink wine to experience the complexities of flavors, textures, and aromas each varietal delivers. The question is, how do you tune into the many differences? Your palate; we all have one. This is your personal guide to palate training:
Olfaction – Your sense of smell. Did you know that your sensory and memory areas of your brain are closely related? We’ve all had an experience when a scent reminded us of another time and place. Personally, the aroma of a freshly cut pine tree instantly creates the aura of Christmas. Your sense of smell can bring forward a variety experiences that help to identify specific scents.
Taste – There are four areas on your tongue that help identify the many different tastes you experience. These sweet, sour, salty and bitter identifier taste buds are enhanced by supertasters in each region. Your palate detects a vast amount of textures and this is known as mouth feel. Mouth feel is very crucial to tasting different varietals of wine. Tannins in wine can produce a multitude of textures: Chalky, astringent, soft, layered. It is all part of the overall impression.
Visual – The color and clarity of wine is important. The color, red or white, and the clarity help our brains to determine if the wine is going to be worth a try.
Descriptors – This term is used in the wine world often. It captures the words used to describe a wine’s aromas, tastes, textures, and colors. Although wine is made of grapes, very rarely do you taste the “grape” in a glass of wine. Tasty descriptors for reds include cherries, blueberries, licorice, mint, and even leather. For white wines, peaches, apples, nectarines, honeysuckle, and jasmine are among the most delicious descriptors. This is only the tip of the descriptor iceberg. There are thousands!
Of course, to optimize the preservation and flavors of your wine, be it reds or whites, proper storage is critical. U-Line’s Wine Captain® Models are designed and engineered for precise preservation.
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The 1000 Series Wine Captain® Model features mechanically controlled triple temperature zones which allow you to store red, white, and sparkling wines in the same unit. The digitally controlled convection cooling systems of the 2000 Series Wine Captain® Model offer a greater degree of temperature management for optimal preservation settings. The Modular 3000 Series Wine Captain® Model, featuring the U-Select® Control, maintains a temperature to within 1°F of the set point for maximum preservation. The U-Select® Control makes it quick and easy to establish cellar-like conditions with three distinct modes for preserving your wines: red, white, and sparkling. You can learn more about the Modular 3000 Wine Captain® Model and the U-Select® Control by clicking here.
Palate training is simple. Be aware of all the senses you experience. Now, open a bottle of wine and pour yourself a glass.
If it’s a white wine,
is it clear or cloudy?
If it’s red,
how deep is the color?
Spend some time gently swirling the wine in the glass, smell, swirl, smell. Close your eyes and let the aroma identify itself to you.
Now, taste. Let the wine settle on your tongue a moment. Swish it around before you swallow. Again, let the taste identify itself.
The more you take the time to break down the aromas and tastes of each wine, the better trained your palate becomes. Try this exercise with a few friends and exchange ideas on your wine impressions.
There are many other sophisticated ways of palate training, but the goal is not to impress party crowds with flowery interpretations of what a wine should be. You’re simply looking to enjoy the wine you drink.
Most importantly, enjoy your palate training!
I once tasted with a superb winemaker who described a particular Cabernet as “cow pie with a cherry on top”. I couldn’t wait to taste it! It was hideous! She made good on her claim and it was all part of my palate training.
Stasi is a third generation farmer-born and raised in a vineyard. She has worked for the world’s largest wine & spirits company and has collaborated with some of the best winegrowers in California. She has traveled the world over, learning what makes each country, region, winery and wine unique. Her extensive training and specialized wine-related education, includes a WSET Level 2 diploma. Additionally, she is currently teaching a course in which students learn to unlock the mysteries of wine, entitled, “Wine Savvy 101.” Stasi’s class will empower you with the tools to confidently and successfully create great wine experiences. You can expect expert guidance on everything from the basics to advanced wine knowledge. Here are just a few highlights.
- How to pronounce wine varietals and understand their origins.
- How to evaluate the many complexities of wine’s flavors, textures and aromas.
- How to correctly describe and fully enjoy different varietals of wine.
- How to follow tasting etiquette.
- How to evaluate wine quality.
- How to impress your friends and astutely select wines from a menu.
- How to understand vintage and the winemaking process.
- How to confidently navigate through the thousands of wines on the market and make a great choice when shopping.
To learn more about Stasi and Unlock Wine, visit unlockwine.com