Palate Practice

Last night I decided to order a Cabernet Franc with my meal at a restaurant.  It’s a new kind of wine for me, but I have been trying to expand the types of wine I drink and develop a more educated palate.

Unfortunately, my palate education right now is about at kindergarten level.  I know what I like and I drink it, then I’m ready to go color a picture of a cat and play with blocks.  I’m pretty tongue-tied, too, when it comes to describing what I’ve imbibed.  Once you get beyond “full-bodied” or “light” or “too sweet” I’m sunk.

Last night, though, I concentrated hard on the Cab Franc and its taste.  It had what I would consider a flavor that was more at the tart end of the spectrum — although “flavor” and “tart” probably aren’t wine-appropriate words.  (Part of the problem with the wine world in my book is the snootiness of the wine sophisticates and the stylized language they expect any knowledgeable wine drinker to employ.)  Still, I view recognizing a wine as more tart is a step in the right direction.

How do you develop a more educated palate?  One website suggests six steps — slow down; look and smell, then taste; visualize and isolate flavors: identify flavors; note texture and body; and develop a wine memory.  Steps one and two I can handle, but at three I come a cropper.  Will I ever be able to detect a hint of grapefruit in a wine?  Maybe I should just go back to guzzling.

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