Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In palate we trust

I splattered oil all over my left hand today, searing some lamb. I look like I have the Big Dipper tatooed on my hand, in big, angry-looking red blotches.

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What is the value of the idea that you should trust your palate preference over anything else? There's this movement going on, spearheaded by Gary Vaynerchuk, that the best wine critic is yourself, and personal taste overrides all.

There's some truth in this, but only to a degree. I fully concur that you should never completely base your purchase and drinking decisions on what the critics say. No two palates are alike, and you should never drink something that you don't enjoy yourself. It is one of the few freedoms we have left - I will not put anything in my mouth that I don't find delicious. I fully support any movement to help people develop their palates, and keeping an open mind about wine. What I don't tolerate is this reverse-snobbiness. There's this prevalent idea that anyone who won't touch mass-market wines (YellowTail, Gallo, etc.) is full of themselves and is not a true wine drinker. Apparently wine drinkers should be willing and happy to drink anything closely resembling wine.

I don't tolerate this. If your palate dictates that you prefer YellowTail over, say, Beaucastel, good for you. I can respect that - I respect people who are sure of their own taste. What's unfortunate is that all too often, people are close-minded. They enjoy YellowTail, and it's the only thing they'll drink - they base their entire palate perception on what YellowTail tastes like. To them, that is what red wine should be. And that is very unfortunate. Give them a glass of say, Nuits-St-Georges, and they turn their nose up. Why is that? Have an open mind, folks.

Trust your own palate, but understand that there's a huge universe of wine, and what you find delicious does not dictate what other people find tasteful. And keep an open mind! There's much more to red wine than Australian shiraz and Californian cabernet!!

I don't mind these debates in wine at all. If you find that a wine I enjoy is not to your taste, let's discuss - we all might learn something new. What's unacceptable is trying to argue that your taste is the right taste.

Gary's doing good work at bringing wine to the masses, but the key, as in all things, is to teach people to understand that wine is too vast to be close-minded.

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