What do you taste?

I recently completed the WSET Level II Wine & Spirits course and while I learned a tremendous amount about wine, one of the most important things the class did was solidify ‘why I like, what I like’. I’ve always just liked certain wines and spirits without ever thinking about the why behind the what, this class taught me to stop and think about just that.

  • I’ve always been an avid sauvignon blanc, tequila, and sparkling wine fan.
  • I love margaritas, the more jalapeño the better. And, guacamole heavy in lime and cilantro is the perfect pairing for me.
  • In my twenties, gin & tonic was my go-to drink.
  • I’ve gone completely plant-based and my daily diet is chalk full of leafy green veggies, brussel sprouts, asparagus, and bell pepper – which it turns out I love.

What do some of these foods and drinks have in common? Nothing yet everything.

Apparently, my palate lives and dies for acidity. The more citrusy the better – turns out that’s what sauvignon blanc and margaritas have in common, loads of citrus flavors that refresh the palate and stimulate salivation. Same goes for sparkling wines, they tend to be extremely high in acid with lots of citrus flavors.

Vegetal characteristics, while often frowned upon in the wine world because it can signal under-ripe grapes, seem to be my thing. Flavors like grass, bell pepper, jalapeno, and asparagus are all words that should make you conjure up tastes of sauvignon blanc and tequila (or my morning juice concoction) since these have super strong vegetal components.

My taste buds really do believe bitter is better. Tonic has an extremely bitter flavor as does the pith of citrus fruits and uncooked vegetables — guess it’s not totally surprising that I might like a mixer such as tonic. Plus, gin is known for its herbaciousness and citrus peel flavors. Probably why I prefer a G&T to a V&T.

Add in a little earth: we eat some variety of mushroom almost every day — and, it’s fair to say that Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Franc have appealed to me more than once over the years.

Enjoy a dash more pungency: just about everything we eat contains onion and garlic — these are easily identifiable aromas and flavors and I appreciate easily identifiable flavors in the wines and spirits I consume too.

I feel a little silly, after all of these years in the business, that I’m just realizing how the flavors of the foods I enjoy translate to the flavors I prefer to drink. But, now I at least have a road map to other wine varietals/regions as well as spirits to try.

What flavors do you prefer in foods? What wines and spirits to you prefer? See any similarities?