Wine tasting descriptions, whether by wine pros or the supercilious jerk next to you in the wine bar, are a fertile field for bloviating blather. Truth is, there is hard evidence we all taste things differently. God made us that way.
For starters, the number of papillae (taste buds) varies from tongue to tongue. Some researchers assert, in broad terms, there are four types of tasters: sweet tasters, hypersensitives (sometimes called “supertasters”), sensitive tasters, and tolerant tasters.
Just to keep it confusing, within those broad silos, there are differences. Among some sweet tasters a genetic mutation causes capsaicin found in peppers to register as extra hot. They perceive high alcohol wines as heat. They experience sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon as unpleasantly bitter. Not all sweet tasters have this issue, but most lean toward sweeter wine.
Hypersensitives tend to prefer the complexity of pinot noir. They perceive flavors and layers others do not. Maybe 25 percent of people are hypersensitive, with women more likely to have the trait. There is, however, a downside. Bitter is bad for them. They often are picky eaters. They may spurn broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turnips, and spinach. They do not enjoy high-fat or high-sugar foods. They tend to add too much salt to food, engendering health issues.
Sensitive tasters may miss the hyper nuances enjoyed by pinot supertasters, but they get a lot of it. Plus, they tend to be less picky eaters and more tolerant of bitter flavors.
Tolerant tasters, likely the largest cohort, can be baffled by the pretentious preening of hypersensitive wine snobs with their preponderance of papillae. Tolerant tasters are fine with whatever is in the glass you poured for them. They don’t really have strong likes or dislikes, but they do tend to prefer red wine and comfort food.
Whichever type of taster you are, the wine you enjoy is good wine for you. Ignore the bad taste of the pour poser patronizing you.
• Alois Lageder Terra Alpina Pinot Grigio Vigneti Delle Dolomiti IGT 2019: Delightful easy drinker with plenty of refreshing acidity and fruit. $15-17 Link to my review
• Domaine de Cala Coteaux Varois en Provence 2020: Liltingly delightful—more a frivolous fling than a meaningful experience. We can’t be serious all the time. $18-22 Link to my review
• Banshee Mordecai Proprietary Red 2018: Big, ripe red and black fruit coating your palate with parade of rich flavors. $19-25 Link to my review
Last round: Life hack: “On a regular basis, stop and smell the rosés.
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