Changing palate

Happily, enjoying wine is a journey that just gets better.

For many, the journey starts with simple, cheap, easy to find.

Moscato is current introductory big thing. Myx Moscato clearly targets wine newbies: six-ounce, screw top bottles priced around $4, three flavors (Original Moscato, Coconut & Moscato, and Peach & Moscato), all promoted by Nicki Minaj’s bodaciously pumped-up body and personality.

Other fruit-flavored wines, white zinfandel, sweeter wines, eagerly accommodate palates spooked by big and bold.

Oddly, big and bold is the other entry-level standard, particularly when sweetened by high alcohol, big fruit, and generous oak. Those beginners find comfort in the flagrant flavors in big reds or oaky, buttery chardonnays. When such pours rumble in glass and mouth, you know you are drinking wine, by God.

As palates evolve, there comes a time when big-red lovers discover delicately delicious qualities of riesling, chablis, chenin blanc, grüner veltliner, sauvignon blanc—not to mention sparkling wines and rosés. Similarly, there comes a time when sweet white-and-light lovers journey into more challenging regions of serious reds.

Palate evolution presents an intriguing reveal into wine. Science tells us we start loosing taste buds and smell receptors as early as our 20s, giving us progressively less physical equipment to taste and smell wine. Yet most people’s ability to discern and enjoy subtle wine nuances (and a larger wine palette on our palate) increases as we grow older.

Reason: the ability to enjoy wine evolves not through brute force of physical tools, but the ever-evolving ways our mind processes information. The true magic of wine is your brain. Celebrate your cerebral journey. Boldly go where you have not gone before.

Tasting notes:

• XY Zin Old Vine Zinfandel 2012. Fruit-driven zin win; cherry, plum, pepper; creamy-smooth, nice acidity, spice; lusty value-for-price. $12

• Les Quinze Arpents Vouvray Sparkling NV. Wonderful fruity, clean; vivid expression of chenin blanc; French bubbly at less than half the price of Champagne. $16

• Foley Estate Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills 2010. Smooth, supple, ripe fruit—blackberry, raspberry; toasty oak, soft tannin, delicious winner. $36

Last round: To me, drinking wine responsibly means you don’t spill it.