Wine 101 on Evolving Tastes: Do Our Palates Develop Over Time?

I wrote an article a couple of years ago, The Young Wine, to illustrate that a fresh-faced 21-year old nowadays has far more choices then we did a couple of decades ago, IMO (in my opinion), in alcoholic beverage choices. (But yet those choices don’t automatically translate to a developed palate.)

Wine Etiquette For Everyone by Eve Bushman Available Now on Amazon.comIn my youth I personally preferred sweet cocktails (mine was Myers Dark Rum and OJ) and cheap wine (Blue Nun and Mateus comes to mind) over a dry martini or an expensive first growth Bordeaux.

And then my palate, with age and “further testing” graduated to different libations. (My budget also increased.) That is the crux of this article, to understand the development of your own preferences. And if they have failed to change IMO you are either 1. Happy enough in your rut and/or 2. Not open to new tasting experiences.

Case in point: White Zinfandel. I’ve written about this before too, crediting this particular wine with causing a huge growth for the wine industry as so many liked it, even those new to wine or those that hadn’t dug wine before. It’s a fruity wine, served chilled, even over ice or with chunks of fruit. People that didn’t care for wine in general gave White Zin a try, and it at least got them into wine. However, some stopped there.

Now, before you think I’m poo pooing White Zin drinkers, I’ll also add into the mix people that still drink rum and OJ. When you are young you may have eaten your fair share of candy, right? Do you eat that much candy now – or the same kinds? I’m betting not. Your palate graduated with age.

So why do some people stick to the same drinks decade after decade? My bet is that they aren’t really thinking about it the way I want them to.

I once wrote, “…Those that spend more time contemplating the aromas and flavors of their wine, often take the time to be in the moment, translation: Seeing the world around them instead of barreling through it and missing key aspects.  I recommend that you take the time to study things – before they, like alcohol, evaporate.” (Read more from What We Love About Wine)

So what does all this rambling mean? Step it up. Think about what you are putting into your mouth. Take a moment to think about the aromas before chugging, how it feels rolling over your tongue, is the actual taste pleasing to you and finally, does it leave you wanting more of the same?

I’m not saying this will make you suddenly give up on old favorites, I’m only suggesting that you make room for new ones via some new discoveries. At least you’ll have tried.

Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years.  She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a guest judge for the L.A. International Wine Competition.  You can email to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via