“Oh, I don’t drink white wines”

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Image: Heidi Butzine

A lot of people like to stick with only the wines that they know.  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying what you like, but in order to more fully appreciate wines and discover their hidden qualities, step out and try something new.

Things change

Think back when you were a kid and you just couldn’t stand those green beans or beets your parents tried to make you eat (yuck).  Now, flash forward (some number of years).  You decide to try out those veggies you worked so hard to stay away from only to find that you actually quite like them.

What do I do now?  Well, besides calling mom and telling her that you actually liked the Borscht you just tried (for the first time since you were nine) and didn’t die! (Seriously? Who likes beet soup?) – you now know that you and your tastes, likes and dislikes evolve which means your brain can be open to all sorts of great wine discoveries.

So what happens with people and wines?

The fact is that your palate changes over time.  That white Zinfandel you LOOOVVVED so much in the 80s, you may no longer be able to tolerate and now have evolved to liking Malbecs.

But we all can get stuck in a rut.  We often find something we like and tend to stick with it until we choose to have or stumble upon a new experience.  Our minds (and taste buds) are then open to something new.  Keeping an open mind is the key to truly enjoying wines and having fun learning about yourself and what you like.

Cast aside stereotypes

Red and white wines have all been typecast.  Some people get hung up on what they’ve heard… “white wines are only meant for the summertime…good red wines are expensive…Pinot Grigio is a ‘girl’s wine’…red wines only go with red meat…white wines don’t pair well with food.”  Because of these stereotypes, some people may never try new wines at all.

Chardonnay is a good example for me.  It was not that long ago, that I thought I was done with Chardonnay.  I used to drink it, but eventually turned my back on white wines completely and stuck to drinking only reds. Well through my own wine discoveries, I finally decided to give Chardonnay another chance.  Getting my mouth ready for that teeth-gnashing oakiness, I swallowed that sip and realized (wow!) things were different…better this time.  My ghost of palate’s past was really holding me back from enjoying some great white wines and even Chardonnays!  I found that many popular Chardonnays were no longer like drinking a glass of chewy butter, but had less of the oak flavor and were more delicate and balanced now.  They changed!  (Or maybe I did.)

This opened up the door to enjoying many other white wines again like Riesling, Austrian Gruner Veltliners, and Sauvignon Blanc and certainly not giving up my search to find those that I like.

Mixing it up

Food is another way to take wine to a whole new level and allow the food and wine to enhance each other.  Don’t let the stereotypes ring in your ears and try to mix it up.  Next time you’re having fish, try a light red wine.  With any food pairing you’re going to want to match weight of the wine with the food, so if the fish is light, the wine should be light bodied.  If you have a heavy bodied red wine high in tannins, this will cause the fish to taste more “fishy” and the wine to be very tannic.  Dishes that are very heavy in cheese or eggs are good territory for a red wine.

Also, just because it comes from the land, doesn’t mean that the meal has to go with a red wine.  Sure, a nice steak will be great with a full bodied red, but for roast pork or ham, try a white wine such as a Viognier.

You can go with what you know, but understand that your palate changes, wines change with every vintage, so by being open to something new you can get the most out of enjoying wine of all kinds.

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