Lessons from the Wine Bloggers Conference: Trust Your Palate.


Recently, I had the pleasure of spending a weekend in Lodi wine country surrounded by other wine lovers at the annual Wine Bloggers Conference. Beyond piles of wine, it was great to be around an array of wine lovers with different views on wine and the best ways to share it.

The most controversial session of the conference was one titled “Live Wine Blogging.” Contrary to my initial belief, it wasn’t a time to write together, but instead speed dating for wines. Over the course of an hour, Lodi winemakers had 5 minutes each to share a single wine with a table of writers, who then swirled, sipped, and live-tweeted their opinions.

I loved this, and not simply because of the sheer volume of wine. For me, this format encouraged making quick judgements of wine based on one thing: Do you like it or not?

Far too often, prestige (real or imagined) clouds the wine drinking experience. While many wines deserve their accolades, the first “rule” of wine is to drink what you like, and live wine blogging encouraged judgement without the smoke and mirrors of fancy marketing materials, or a blindingly gorgeous winery. All we had was wine and five minutes.

Some argue that the speed-dating approach to wine makes thoughtful analysis difficult, but I disagree. There’s plenty of time for thoughtful analysis after the fact, like the type I’m doing right now. Twitter and other social media platforms save our ideas (just like notebooks) so we can always return and re-evaluate.

Every time a wine arrives in my glass, my analysis goes something like this:

  1. What color is it? Does it look normal or is there stuff floating in the glass?
  2. How intense are the aromas? Are they intense in a good way?
  3. Smell it again. Is it the same? Better? Worse?
  4. Taste it! Does it taste the same way it smelled? What does it taste like?
  5. Smell it again. Taste it again. Is it the same?
  6. What’s the aftertaste like? Sour? Bitter? Good? Bad?

It’s that simple. If you’re old enough to drink wine, you’re old enough to decide if you like something. A few sips and swirls is really all it takes, and prestige aside it’s your opinion that matters when opening a fancy bottle or 3 Liter box of wine. Whether you’re a wine maven or newbie, your palate is good and you should trust it.

Trusting Your Palate Uncorked:

Laura Loves: Tasting wine “blind,” or without knowing what it is–if you don’t know what’s in the bottle, only taste matters!

Concannon  white blend for hot summer days.

Jardesca for cleansing your palate after too many good wines.

Fun Facts: Taste buds cover your entire mouth, not just your tongue, that’s wine pros swish wine like it’s Listerine.

There are over 100,000 acres of grapes in Lodi, so there’s something for everyone in this hot Cali region.

Tasting Tricks: Don’t use mouthwash on days you’re tasting wine–the alcohol and intense flavor will ruin your palate for hours.

Never taste on an empty stomach.

Avoid wearing perfume and lipstick which cloud the aromas and flavors of a wine.

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