Wines are a lot like kids: on any given day they can make a liar out of you. One day they’re perfectly well behaved, and the next day . . . well you get the picture. Johnny is an angel in school but a devil at home. Mary is just the opposite, sweet as pie when Mom and Dad are around, and a fallen angel away from the house. What makes us think that wines are all that different from kids? Well, I realize that wines can’t think, yet I know they have minds of their own. One day a wine shows great and blows the panel and everyone else away, and the next day that same wine just might not have quite the same appeal. Why? So many factors affect how a wine tastes on any given day: storage, serving temperature, weather (particularly barometric pressure) and accompaniments to a wine all have something to do with how a wine is perceived by the majority of tasters. However, the common denominator is probably us. We humans are influenced by our companions, experiences, moods, and most acutely by the foods we consume prior to tasting a particular wine. Our palates get tired, just like the rest of our bodies. Moreover, we all know that certain foods can wreak havoc on our taste buds. Horseradish, Tabasco, raw garlic and onion are just a few of the foods most commonly cited as affecting our taste buds, but almost any food can alter one’s perception of a wine. So, tasters beware! What you had for lunch can affect how a wine shows or is perceived at dinner.
About Don Lahey
Don Lahey's career in the wine industry spans over 30 years as an importer, author, consultant, and educator. He leads the tasting panel that selects our wines each month.