Five Ways to Better Understand Your Palate
Five Ways to Better Understand Your Palate

So, you’ve decided to stop messing around with other drinks, and started giving some more serious thought to wine. Great! You’re about to open a door to a whole world of sensory delight, to fall down a rabbit hole that’s going to take you to some fascinating places.

With a good glass of wine, you can travel the world and also get to know your home country a little better. You can explore historic cultures, ancient landscapes and ultra-modern, cutting edge technology all at the same time. Getting into wine can be a kaleidoscopic, eye-opening, mind expanding experience and (we believe) drinking it can be about as much fun as you can have, while still fully clothed.

Here’s the crunch, though: there’s a hell of a lot of wine out there, and figuring out which kinds are right for you is a fairly vital first step. After all, kicking off your wine adventure with a really mismatched bottle would be a bit like deciding to start dating again, only to end up on a first date with… well, we’ll let your imaginations finish that metaphor for you. The point is, you don’t want to start things on the wrong foot and risk being put off - that would be disastrous.

So how do you figure out what your palate likes? Wines vary massively in flavour, aroma and character (and that’s a big part of why we like the stuff so much), and if you’re fairly inexperienced, it might seem a little tricky to know what you love and what really isn’t right for you.

With this in mind, let’s ask ourselves a few questions, look at some of your other preferences, and try and work it out from there.

Deep and complex, or light and airy?

Are you the kind of person who likes to tuck into food and drink which offers layer upon layer of flavour, and has depth and guts - the kind of food you’re still tasting hours after you’ve left the table? Or do you perhaps prize those with a lightness of touch and delicate nature, with plenty of freshness and zest? Is the ideal lunch for you one which leaves you snoozing at one end of the table, full and sated, or one which you could conceivably play a game of tennis and have a swim shortly after finishing? Wine, like food, has body and weight, depth and lightness - consider this before you make your choice!

Complementary or contrasting?

How do you feel about harmony when it comes to flavours? Are the one who’ll happily bring together interesting ingredients in your kitchen, or who’ll stumble upon cool and memorable taste combinations (my current favourite: strawberries and good quality black pepper - try it!). Or do you prefer things to be straightforward and simple, with dominant flavours that clean rather than clutter your palate? If you’re the former, look out for interesting blends and aged wines with plenty to say. The latter? You’re going to prefer more direct single varietal wines, which express particular types of grape perfectly.

Safe or risky?

When you’re travelling, are you the first to volunteer yourself for trying the strangest things on the local menu? Are you the kind of person who likes to live life on the edge, take advantage of opportunities as they arise, and seek out new sensations? Or perhaps you’re more the sort of person who likes to stick with what you know and like, and hone that preference to a fine art, a connoisseurship and expertise. Wine is full of both the familiar and the way, way out there - and there’s absolutely room for both of these palate types!

Savoury or sweet?

Here’s a slightly more straightforward question for you. At the end of a meal, do you reach for the dessert menu and feel yourself shivering with anticipation over the sugar confections on offer? Or do you prefer to lose yourself in the glory of a well-curated cheeseboard? Do you take your coffee with an assortment of syrups, whipped cream and sprinkles… or is it all about the deep, savoury hit of a good espresso? Most of us know how sweet our tooth is… so apply this to wine, and you’re halfway there.

Down to earth, or polished and refined?

This question probably wouldn’t have had much significance a decade or so ago, but the meteoric rise in natural, organic and biodynamic wines has brought a new wine characteristic to the fore. If you’re the sort of person who likes the authentic, yeasty tang of sourdough bread, leaves the skins of their potatoes on, goes for sirloin over fillet and likes life without the rough edges smoothed away, then maybe the ever-widening range of natural, unfiltered, unrefined wines is going to be perfect for you.

Still can't wrap your head around what your palate really likes? We've got you covered.

Start with our fun palate profile quiz here and we’ll recommend three bottles that we think you'll love according to your results!

Do you know your wine personality? If your answer is no, take our quiz to find out which wines to pick up next and build your box!

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