Wineries and Tastebuds

I am not a wine connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination. in fact, I only know a red from a white because I am not color blind.  I wouldn’t know a Blush from a Bordeaux if you pointed it out, and sweet wines are generally not sweet to me, only less dark and bitter.
Arrington VineyardsI was at an event a few weeks ago at Arrington Vineyard, and naturally we participated in a wine tasting.  As the sommelier (of course I Googled the right word) described each of the wines we tested, I was enthralled by the idea that maybe with this sip I too would identify the aromatic notes of wild strawberry and black tea….  Nope.  Nothing.  Why is my palate so unrefined?!  I found myself envious of some of the people in our group who were thoroughly enjoying themselves, reveling in the buttery undertones and the hints of oak from the aged French barrels.  Darn my sub-par olfactory senses!
As I pretended to know what I was doing, it got me thinking – when it comes to the sensory examination and evaluation of wine, is it an acquired talent, or do you have to be born with a certain density of taste receptors?
One of my colleagues said to me, “It’s more than just taste.  You’re using all your senses. It begins at the sound of the popping cork.”  He was right.  I had to realize that taste is more than just my neuro-sensors on my tongue.  Whether we know it or not, how something tastes is structured long before the item hits our lips. We use smell and sight to determine taste as well.  In fact, much of our ability to taste is part of our ability to smell.
I suppose it does seem fair to require a fair amount of practice to ably decipher the complex nature of wines.  Having an open mind and being willing to try different things is a good place to start.  As you practice distinguishing one wine from another, your confidence builds.  Who doesn’t like something more and more as they get better at it?  For most people, I think it’s just about the experimentation and finding flavors that you like.  For others, it is simply the social aspect of the experience (I certainly fall into that category).  But for the talented few Supertasters with your intense sensitivity to taste, I envy you!
I learned a few things that day at Arrington Vineyards thanks to my colleagues and the sommelier.  I didn’t leave with any wine that day, but I did walk away with knowledge of wine temperature, tannins and the idea that I should keep tasting and testing wines because our tastes change.  So I encourage you to taste more and taste often!
Here are some websites of the local wineries in Middle Tennessee. Enjoy!