It’s only natural that our tastebuds will develop with time and experience.
When I was younger, my parents had to hide vegetables in mashed potato to try and get my sister and I to eat them, and now I’m a vegetarian. Go figure.
As we get older and open ourselves up to trying new things, our tastebuds will also develop that same sense of wonder, wanting to try something new and different.
Over time our taste for wine changes and develops too.
It’s pretty safe to say most people will start drinking sweet, chilled wine, like a Moscato or maybe a sweet Riesling.
When I first started drinking wine, I definitely had my fair share of Champagne Sunrises too.
These varieties are a great introduction for new wine drinkers, however as our palates develop, the sweetness can become too intense, and we begin to crave a wine with a more dry taste. That means you are ready for the next step.
We often then progress to Sauvignon Blanc, or Chardonnay, maybe even a Pinot Gris (or Grigio) – wines that are light and crisp, but not as sweet as your original tastes. These white wines will stay in your repertoire for years, even forever.
Different occasions call for a different wine, perhaps based on food pairing or weather, so these wines will remain with you for good.
There are many different styles and varieties of Rosé, ranging in sweetness and strength. A dry Rosé can be quite a good wine to transition into drinking red wines, as it still has similar characteristics to the light, crisp white wines, but it can help ignite your curiosity for red wine.
Which brings us to dry, rich red wines. People often enjoy these wines without feeling the need to progress further for years.
Smooth, full flavoured Pinot Noir varieties are a great example of this chapter, as is Cabernet Sauvignon.
Although I have grouped these varieties together, they can have a very different characteristics, such as their body and strength.
How do you measure the body of a wine? This refers to the feel of the weight of the wine in your mouth. Typically, a wine that is described as full bodied will have a higher alcohol content such as a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wine Aficionados (who can sometimes be known as wine wankers) have actually thrown around the term “mouth feel”.
“Oh that Cab Sav has a very strong mouth feel!” – I just don’t think I could say that with a straight face!
But that brings us to our final category, dry complex red wines that are often improved with cellar ageing.
Shiraz varieties are often quite complex, and always full flavoured. Spicy undertones can give a Shiraz a welcome bite to the tastebuds, and always make for an interesting tasting.
Merlot varieties are another that can benefit from proper ageing, which will help develop and bring out the smooth, deep flavours and characteristics of the wine.
Now there are obviously many, many more varieties and blends (which we will get to later), and this is in no way a definitive order of taste evolution. This is all based on my personal development and observations.
I encourage you to jump through the list, back and forth if you’d like! Have a different wine based on the meal you’re eating. Have a different wine because the sun is out! Have a different wine just for the fun of trying something new.
The best way to develop your taste is to be open to new things. Don’t be afraid to try something different, even if it has a weird name like Malbec. Experiment with taste. There’s a lot of wine out there just waiting to be tried and it is our responsibility to try it!
Opening yourself up to new taste experiences almost makes wine drinking seem like an adventure, and that’s exactly how it should be!