Know Your Wine Palate

Know Your Wine Palate

First of all, let’s get the correct use of the word straightened out.

According to the words and their definitions are as follows:

“Palate: if you touch your tongue to the top of your mouth, what your touching is your palate.  Palate is often used when discussing a broader sense, as in: chocolate cake is pleasing to the palate.  A person with an expensive palate likes only high priced culinary treats.  Someone who tastes slight nuances in food is said to have a well developed palate, and to have a sophisticated palate.  In reality, most taste receptors are on the tongue.  But that doesn’t sound sophisticated at all, does it?”

This is the word wine drinkers want to use.

The other words that get misused are:

Palette: this is a range of colours, and or the board that an artist uses to blend paint colours on.  Don’t use this word.

Pallet: a wood structure usually used to carry things.  Also good for converting in to wine racks, or for bonfires.  Don’t use this word either.

Now that we have cleared that up, let’s define your vino palate.

Wine Palate

Turns out that palate is a wine tasting term people like to use to appear intelligent.  No wonder wine drinkers come across as snobs! It refers to the feel and taste of a wine in your mouth.  If you combine this with the definition above, you can see how this distortion of the word allowed it to become part of the lexicon of wine consumption.

The Wine Wheel



The Wine Wheel has a series of over 100 descriptors for wine tastes. It can be made use of at wine tastings, and is a visual representation of wine terms organized by origin.

There are four main categories that make up the Wine Wheel.  They are:

Primary Aromas which are derived from the type of grape or the environment the grape originated from.  Aromas include herbal, fruit floral notes, earthiness and spice.  Primary aromas make up the largest part of the Wine Wheel.

Secondary Aromas come from the fermentation process.

Tertiary Aromas or bouquets, come from aging the wine, which is a result of oxidation and resting for a period of time.

Faults/Other are the “faults” of the wine, however, these can turn out to be a positive aspect of the wine.

wine palate


Develop Your  Palate

There are many ways you can develop your wine palate.  I experienced this through exposure and what I would call practise.  When I started attending wine tastings, I did not have a clue what was going on. I was there to be social!. I have to admit I did not have a strong affinity for red wines.. But, little by little, I was able to start to understand what the sommelier was talking about. As my palate became more “sophisticated” I began to think some red wines were not that bad.

Below are some recognized wine palate points.

The Basic Factors of Your Palate

It is important to notice how the four of the five senses work in union to give you the full experience of tasting your wine.

Taste: Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Salty

Smell: Causes a “flavour” through nasal receptors which trigger the tongue

Sensation: Temperature, Carbonate, Tannins, Alcohol

Sight: Colour, Intensity, Calm, Movement

Memory: As you age, your palate has learned and decided what it likes and what it does not like. Thus you have preferences established.  The subconscious has a constant scan for these preferences.

The Culture In Which You Were Raised.  Your palate preferences will inevitably be influenced by your up bringing.  This  is directly related to memory as described above.

Tasting Order:  The palate is extremely sensitive, and once it is exposed to an intense flavour, it can become exhausted, and need time to recover.  This is one of the reasons why wine tastings offer samples from light to dark, or from light to heavy.

Understanding Your Wine Palate

Now that you have had an explanation of how the palate works, you can better understand how gradually introducing unfamiliar wines in small doses, repeated over time, will allow the palate to adjust.  Before you know it, your palate will expect and anticipate wines that you never thought you would like, previously.



This is how you develop your wine palate.  Often sommeliers will present literature along with their talks to wine clubs , so the members can add to their current knowledge about their own taste in wine.


If you have any questions of comments, I welcome them below.Judy



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  1. Helen Vella

    June 23, 2017 at 7:00 am

    I love wine and I have just starting going to wine tastings and learning everything you are talking about in this post. It has really changed the way I buy and order my wines. Foods make such a difference to your wine experience also I find. Great post.

    1. Judith

      June 23, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Thank you for the comment. The wine journey has many interesting twists and turns.

  2. Linda

    June 23, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    Not being a big wine drinker myself, my palate is quite unsophisticated. My parents were coffee and beer people, with the occasional mixed drink at a party. Now, living here in Central New Jersey, we have actually 2 local wineries, but only 1 that I go to. Laurita Winery. They have wine tasting pretty much all day, and while I am not big on wine, it can be a social affair. Plus, I usually get wine as a gift for my mother in law and it is good if I know what she will be tasting. And also, all the best chefs and cooks tell you not to cook with wine that you would not want to drink from a glass. 🙂 Very interesting article, and very detailed. I will come back again to see more. Thanks for all the information! I have also bookmarked this on my Google.

    1. Judith

      June 24, 2017 at 6:52 am

      Thank you for the comment. It makes a big difference, if you can taste a wine before you buy it.

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