ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

We’re just plain sick of wine. Well, not really, but I find my palate is off right now, and I am just not enjoying wine the way I used to. Inexpensive gems seem lackluster, more expensive reds seem OK, but I just don’t seem to be enjoying them either at the moment. Is it time for a rest? I’ve read that taking a few weeks off is a good idea once in a while to refresh one’s palate. True? Have you or others been through this strange phenomenon?

—Paul M., Arlington, Mass.

Dear Paul,

Oh, sure, I’ve been there. Sometimes I get palate fatigue from large tastings, and there are other days when I have a glass of wine with dinner and I only seem to pick up the wine’s acidity or alcohol. Some factors that can contribute to this state include illness, allergies and taking certain medications or supplements. Other folks insist that the barometric pressure, or tasting wine on a so-called “leaf day” in the biodynamic calendar, can have a negative impact. And as much as I love them, I avoid foods that make wine harder to enjoy, like artichokes.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from wine. But I’m wondering about your comment, “Inexpensive gems seem lackluster, more expensive reds seem OK.” Is it possible that your palate is becoming more fine-tuned? Perhaps you’ve graduated past simpler wines? It’s certainly easy to overpay for more expensive wines that aren’t worth their price tag.

No matter what the cause, the next time you reach for a glass of wine, shake it up (metaphorically speaking, that is). Always drink red? Explore some whites, or bubbles, which I never tire of. Try a new country, a new variety, a new blend or region. Try something more tannic or sweeter or crisper than you typically reach for. I’m sure you’ll find your wine mojo again.

—Dr. Vinny


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