I recently came across an article by Matt Kramer, of Wine Spectator, entitled “Palate Perfection” (to download the entire article, click here) . According to the article…
“At first glance, you’d think that the idea of “perfecting your palate” involved acquiring greater tasting acuity…”
However, in this case, perfecting your palate is about “living” with a particular wine, learning everything you can about it, and buying as much of that wine as you can. You might even visit where the grapes, which are made into the wine, are grown to get a sense of the place if you’re really into it (one of the benefits of being a wine lover is traveling in wine country. I find it to be so beautiful and serene. Voila – vacation/getaway plans taken care of!)
According to Kramer…
“Why is a process like this so essential? Because it’s only when you live with a wine over a reasonably long span of time that you begin to grasp not just its subtleties, but its possibilities. You acquire, sip by sip, week after week, an intimacy. This is something that you cannot achieve any other way.”
In Kramer’s case, he is doing it by having a glass of Tokaji nightly after dinner. In my case, I’ve been doing it by drinking at least one bottle of sparkling wines on a weekly basis after my wife suggested it to me. I’ve been doing this for the last 5 months, or so, and blogging about it (for the most recent blog in the “T.G.I.F Champagne…and the like” series click here)
Initially, the idea of “living with a particular wine” seemed counter-intuitive to me because I’m a “promiscuous” wine consumer. I enjoy trying new wines all the time. But now that I’ve been “faithful” to sparkling wine for a while, and in the process, have been “perfecting” my palate for sparkling wine, I can tell you the idea has merit.
My palate for sparkling wines is greatly improved. I’m able to feel the difference in the creaminess of a sparkling wine’s mousse from wine to wine. I can more readily discern, the size of the bubbles, and how long the bubbles last. And not only am I learning which regions produce sparklers I prefer, I’m also learning what I prefer in a sparkler. For example, I’m finding that I generally prefer Pinot Noir dominant sparklers to Chardonnay dominant sparklers, and Rose sparklers to non-Rose sparklers. These are all things I couldn’t have discerned by drinking a handful of sparklers on an annual basis, as I used to. And all I’ve had to do is pop, pour and pay attention on a regular basis!
I’ve enjoyed the pursuit of perfecting my palate for sparklers and look forward to perfecting my palate with other wines too. Given my affinity for food friendly wines, perfecting my palate for Beaujolais, or Santa Lucia Highland Pinots comes to mind, or maybe even better since I live in the Bay Area, Sonoma Coast, or Santa Cruz Mountains Pinots. I encourage you to give it a try!