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Friday, June 23, 2006 

Developing Your Wine Palate

It can be embarrassing, frustrating and annoying to be tasting wine with others, and while they go on about black cherry, or currant or gooseberry or honeysuckle tones in the wine, while you struggle to find any comparisions that you can use to describe what you're tasting.

Len Napolitano tells us that developing your palate is a process that can take years.

He offers some suggestions about what you can do to develop your tasting skills.

Learning to appreciate fine wines starts with identifying the prominent flavors and components in a wine, whether they are individual fruit flavors, or degrees of sweetness, acidity or tannin. Evaluating how they all balance out overall on your palate is part of this step. Over time, you begin to know what to expect from a cabernet sauvignon versus a pinot noir, for example.

He adds:

The process of identifying fruit flavors and components can be enhanced by also thinking about the wine's personality and style. Consider the wine's power from alcohol, its texture on your palate, how quickly, or not, the flavors present themselves and how long they linger afterward.

Store these impressions into your wine memory bank. The next time you taste a cabernet sauvignon, think back to your impressions of previous tastings of cabernets. Ask yourself if your general impression of the wine is better, worse or the same as most other cabernets that you've tasted.