The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Wine Without Judgment

Posted on | April 29, 2010 | Written by Tom Powers | No Comments

Last night I was reading Allen Meadows’ article “Why I Love Pinot” in the March edition of Decanter Magazine. I must confess that I too love Pinot above all other grapes. Through my journeys in the wine world I have come to appreciate its spellbinding flavor profile, its alluring aromatics, and its fickle nature. However much I appreciate this grape, I am also acutely aware that there are many different palates.

Meadows’ suggests a link between Pinot and an evolved palate. He observers, “Most Pinot enthusiasts cut their wine drinking teeth on other varieties for the first five to 10 years. By the end of this training, they have become relatively sophisticated in their tastes, understand what they like and generally know their way around a wine store. More prosaically, this is also often the point when young wine lovers can begin to more comfortably afford their evolving tastes.”

Meadows isn’t alone in this observation; many people champion the notion that only the educated palate appreciates Pinot. However, I feel that’s a considerably elitist perspective. And yet, if we take the idea of an educated palate out of the wine equation, we’re left with the questions of how we find that juice we love and why it is we love it. Maybe it’s as simple as personal preference, as individual as an individual, and as idiosyncratic as you or me.

I may be one of the lone wolves in the wine aficionado forest, but I think the primary consideration is to remove the judgmental component from the discussion. Wine has been plagued by snobs who judge others on their levels of appreciation. This judgment then creates distance and exclusivity. I have always felt that wine is an inclusive joy and not an exclusive domain. Therefore, my goal has always been to help people find what they truly love—and not to tell them what they should like or look down on them when they don’t like it.

We all have different tastes. Some will suggest that it is a function of where you grew up and how you grew up that will shape your affinity. However, I have two brothers who also love wine and we have very distinct preferences. So three men that were raised in the same house by the same people in the same era have formed their own individual preferences. I can only conclude that our appreciation is as individual as our DNA—or as distinct and unrepeatable as our experiences.

I suggest that each aficionado continues to taste with an open mind. Curiosity has been infinitely more rewarding to me in my wine experiences than judgment. I can only hope that other people pursue that which makes them happy and have the spirit to want to share that joy with people they love, and maybe even some they don’t.


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