Are you a supertaster?
Having been a wine tour guide, plus doing wine writing gigs for over twenty years, I have observed literally thousands of people tasting thousands of wines.
And I have noticed that they do fall into two general categories. So, here is my own take on why people like certain wines. And why people don’t like other wines. The Phil Parker Theory of Wine Palate goes something like this: Some (not many) people have a Sensitive Palate. And conversely, most other people have a Robust Palate. No shame about being in either group. It’s not a competition. It’s like having brown eyes or green eyes. Get over it. Thus, my completely unproven theory divides you into two groups.
Quite possibly the sensitive palate folk are supertasters i.e. they have many more taste buds than others. This means that they react strongly to sweet, bitter, salt and sour.
May not like: Brussels sprouts, broad beans, strong blue cheeses, mustard, bitter dark chocolate, horseradish, wasabi, salt & vinegar chips, strong black coffee, hot chili sauce, vinegary pickles, sauvignon blanc, acidic riesling, cabernet sauvignon and other very tannic (dry) red wines such as barolo, cabernet or shiraz. Also in general, hates very hoppy and bitter craft beers, and sweet wines – especially dessert wines.
Probably likes: pinot gris, fruity soft chardonnay, soft and silky pinot noir, ripe and soft syrah and merlot.
May not like: soft fruity chardonnay, pinot gris, gewürztraminer, pinot noir or merlot.
Probably likes: dark chocolate, hot spicy foods, strong coffee, vinegary foods, Brussels sprouts, salt & vinegar chips, salty foods, mineral chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling, big butterychardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, malbec, zinfandel and other very tannic dry reds. Also loves bitter hoppy IPA beers and whiskey. Also, may enjoy a cigarette or a good cigar.
Unfortunately for me, I am of the Sensitive Palate whanau. To me, sauvignon blanc tastes like battery acid and a hoppy IPA can wipe out my sense of taste for about 3 hours. But, as a wine writer I have to know a good sav when I see one, so I don’t skew my reviews toward my personal palate.
Anyway, here are some recent tastings.
Richmond Plains Blanc de Noir Nelson 2018 $NZ 23.40
I discovered this fab wine on a winter trip to the south this July. Certified organic and biodynamic, vegetarian and made from 100% Pinot Noir. Crisp, fresh and fruity. Flavours of baked pear, nectarine and apple. Availability: organicwines.co.nz
Tohu Pinot Blanc Whenua Awa Marlborough 2018 $NZ 29.00 Pinot blanc, along with pinot gris is a cousin of pinot noir. This is a crisp refreshing wine, ideal slightly chilled. In the mouth, it’s fresh and fruity with flavours of mandarin, nectarine and hint of riesling-like bees’ wax. Great match for seafood. Availability: Glengarry
Tohu Albariño Whenua Matua Nelson 2018 $NZ 29.00
This Spanish grape variety (pronounced Al-Ba-Reenyo). produces crisp white wines with stone fruit flavours not unlike Viognier. In Portugal it is known as Alvarinho. To me – ripe pear, mandarin and minerality with a crisp finish. Availability: Glengarry
Rockburn The Chosen Central Otago Pinot Noir 2018 $NZ 65
Inviting aromas of ripe, juicy black cherries and Christmas plum cake. A rich, soft generous and silky palate of red and black berry compote with a hint of mixed spices, and a soft tannic lengthy finish. Another knockout Pinot Noir from Rockburn. Availability: Glengarry,
Outback Jack Brenton Vineyard Australin Cabernet Merlot 2017 $NZ 8.99
Not a typo. This is a very drinkable, fruit forward with plums and fruitcake, with not too much tannin. A total bargain Aus red. Availability: vineonline.co.nz
Little x Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014 $NZ 14.99
Again. Total bargain. Honestly – one of the best Hawkes bay syrahs that I have tasted from the memorable 2014 vintage. Soft spicy and seamless. With black pepper, stewed plum, black currant and plum pudding.
Originally published September 2019