Drinking Only One Type Of Wine Is Bad For Your Palate

It can happen to the best of us. That moment when we take the first sip of a new wine and find ourselves writing it off without a second thought or taste, pushing away the glass dismissively. For those who review wines for a living, we make a conscious effort not to do this. As recreational­ wine drinkers, it’s equally important to keep an open mind, as it can be too easy to pass on a wine outside of your comfort zone.

“Cellar palate” is a phrase used to describe a condition that can afflict winemakers when they become too accustomed to their own wines and the wines of their regions, rarely tasting bottlings from outside their orbits. The lack of broad tasting and expansive exposure to the greater wine world—the good, the bad and everything in between—can even limit their potential to produce the best wines possible.

But cellar palate doesn’t just plague winemakers. It can infect all of us, from those employed in the wine industry to those who simply enjoy the pleasures of the fermented grape. If we drink the same kinds of wines continuously, whether from one variety, region or winemaking style, aren’t we closing our minds and palates to the beautiful breadth and depth that the wine world has to offer?

As someone who was, for many years, deeply entrenched in the natural wine world, where most of the wines I tasted were made with native yeast and virtually no oak, sulfur or other additions (not to mention, in some cases, a fair amount of “funk”), I unconsciously closed off my palate to the rest of the wine spectrum, becoming afflicted with a unique case of cellar palate.

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