Your Life and Your Palate: How The Former Influences The Latter

I googled wine blogs the other day and came across an awesome website called After I researched it I found something really interesting. The guy who started it, Alder Yarrow, had done the same thing in 2004. He typed wine blogs into google and got zero results. Then he typed up the made up word of vinography and had similar luck. It was the beginning of his wine blog, earning him the title “Wine World’s Brightest Star” by San Francisco Magazine. I checked out an article by him called “Personal Terroir: The Individual Language of Taste” and was put a question I’ve never considered.

Imagine you are trying to explain what characteristics are in a Pinot Noir to someone from Malayasia. You’re trying to explain that they are going to be tasting, say, raspberries when they swirl the wine around in their mouths and they give you a blank square and ask “What does a raspberry taste like?” I firmly believe one reason why people say they “don’t know wine” is that they just don’t have the necessary linguistic library to pull from to describe a wine. I know a girl that abhors all things vegetable. She said she used to fake gag when her Mom tried to feed her veggies and now it’s just a basic instinct whenever a vegetable comes within contact with her mouth. She wouldn’t be one to try and explain how a Sauvignon Blanc tastes of fresh, crisp green bell peppers.

Also, the way someone describes a wine often has a direct relation with what kind of life experiences they have had. I love tasting wine with people who have very different tastes. I often find myself considering their responses with fascination. Some people, including myself, sometimes find it easier to describe a wine in terms other than taste.

I often am a teacher’s assistant for some wine tasting classes and frequently find myself thinking of when I’d like to drink this, with what, and with whom. I’ll imagine that this wine would be perfect sitting out in my backyard in California on a summer evening where there is no breeze and the heat of the day is just starting to break but it hasn’t cooled too much yet. I imagine that that would be the most ideal time and location to drink this wine for me. But everyone is different and I love to hear people describe wine in a plethora of ways. Drawing from your past experiences to describe a wine might help you remember it and even get your point across to someone else better. Language is a fascinating subject when paired with the way people use it. However, I might warn against comparing a wine to that colonoscopy you just had…

For the full Alder Yarrow article, check it out here:

Ryan Evans


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