Wine How To: Avoid Palate Fatigue

Gwendolyn Alley IS Murphy-Goode!  Please vote here: I applied for the “dream job” as Caretaker of the Great Barrier Reef I discovered a whole community of fellow applicants–warm, interesting people who share my interests. Same thing around this time as an applicant for the Murphy-Goode’s Wine Country Lifestyle Correspondent.

One of the cool people is Andy over at Andy’s Goode Life Blog where she’s hosting a blog carnival by asking us to respond to these three questions:

  1. When I drink red wine, I often get the dreaded “red wine teeth,” which is an embarrassing condition to have at a party when I intend on talking, smiling, or otherwise showing my newly wine-stained chompers. And is there any way to reduce this affliction without hampering my enjoyment of red?
  2. What are your tips to avoid “palate fatigue” when tasting so many wines in a session?
  3. Why smell the cork?

Since I discovered I had several stories I wanted to share, I chose to answer all three questions but in different posts since it was getting so long! So here’s my answer to #2. And please head over to Andy’s place and vote for one of my blog posts! Good practice for voting for me over at Murphy-Goode…

2. How do I avoid palate fatigue? I smile at this question, thinking back to the Delicious Wine Tasting in Santa Monica earlier this month. I brought three friends with me, Helen and her partner Grant who both work in the hospitality industry and influence wine selection at the high end restaurants, and my friend David who I’ve learned to rely on for good notes, a delicate palate, and a willingness to drive f I don’t do enough spitting.

Helen does a local TV show called “Tidbits” and we were shooting a segment, so we had a camera and mic. We were interviewing and tasting. It was exhausting, partly because most of the people we were talking with were French and we’re not. Plus our French is awful but our curiousity great. The food had run out early on, right after we’d had something after our nearly 90 minute drive; I’d even heard an organizer make a snide remark about one of my friends “making a meal out of a bread bar.”  So another 90 minutes later, when more bread and cheese arrived, we filled the tiny plates, chose different wines to see what happened with the food, and settled into some couches outside the room to compare notes and take a break.

This is where I answer the question, by the way. Take a break. Take advantage of the crackers or bread. Take a break. Find a place to sit down and go over your notes or add to them. Talk with other people and get their notes. Wine is THE social lubricant, right? Take advantage of it and make new friends.

Drinking water can actually harm your palate, but drinking water is super important, so do it anyway, then have some bread or a cracker.

Talk to the winemaker or the rep, the person pouring the wine. Chances are they are fascinating people who love what they do. They’re standing around not just to pour the wine but to tell you about it if you care to listen.

And yes, spit. And dump. It pains me to waste a good wine–that’s not how I was raised! But if I can’t taste the one around the corner, what’s the point? We’ve all been well-trained that it’s not polite to spit in public. Bring your own cup. Carry it around. You won;t be the only one. Join me in trying to get over that stigma of spitting and wasting and relish the opportunity to just experience an abundance of wines.


And remember, Gwendolyn Alley IS Murphy-Goode!

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