If I asked you if you thought your wine tastes could change over time, you’d probably think that was a silly question. Of course tastes in wine change! Yet, if you look at the wines you turn to over and over again as favorites, do you find yourself sticking with just a handful of tried and true varietals?
If you can name a food that you absolutely hated as a child, yet like very much today, you get a sense of changing tastes. At some point you re-tasted the detested food and were surprised to find that you actually liked it!
A number of factors affect our changing wine preferences, such as our ability to purchase finer wines, enjoy them in more varied settings, and pair them with a greater variety of foods.
There’s also some science behind this. The ability to taste, like any sensory organ’s ability, changes throughout our lives. As infants, we are turned off to bitter tastes and attracted to sweet tastes, as our “reptilian” brains equate bitter with dangerous poisons. Mothers’ milk is quite sweet. Pregnant women are also notoriously sensitive to changing flavors and smells, mostly due to fluctuating hormone levels. Also, one’s sense of smell is intricately linked to one’s ability to discern flavors, so things like loss of smell or a head cold can greatly affect the ability to enjoy flavors.
It is well known that all cells regenerate, but they do so much more slowly as we age. When we’re young, our taste buds are located not only on the tongue, but also on the roof (palate) of our mouths. Taste buds on the roof of the mouth are the first to die off, leaving the tongue bearing the brunt of the tasting work. The tongue unfortunately also bears the brunt of eating accidents: burning, scalding, accidental biting. These factors can affect the tongue’s ability to taste over time.
In light of the highly likely possibility that our tastes are changing, I encourage you to periodically try wines you’ve sworn off. A friend of mine who had sworn off Chardonnays was surprised to find that her favorite wine in a blind tasting was … a Chardonnay!
A blind tasting is the absolute best way to get an unbiased, unprejudiced chance to see if your wine tastes have changed. Enjoy a blind tasting in your favorite setting to enhance your experience and be surprised at what you discover about your new wine tastes! If you would like me to lead a blind tasting for you, I’d be happy to do that. Just let me know.