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Dear Dr. Vinny,
I attended an excellent wine tasting—they offered a tasting of around 40 wines from 10 different winemakers. By the time I arrived at the fifth winemaker, everything was starting to taste the same. Any advice on how to keep my palate alive during a wine tasting? I tried eating crackers and drinking lots of water, but that only seemed to help a little.
Tasting wine is a skill, and like most skills, the more you practice, the better you'll be. The best tasters I know are ones who routinely—nearly daily—taste through a flight or two of wine.
When you're tasting, continue what you're already doing: hydrate with lots of water, nibble on crackers or bread or something neutral for your palate. Take breaks. Tasting is a mental exercise as much as a physical one. Be sure to spit; letting the alcohol enter your bloodstream will not help keep you sharp. Sometimes I'll take a huge whiff of water to clear my sense of smell, which is a large part of how things taste. Even so, there are times when my palate gets fatigued, and all I can taste is acid or alcohol. Then it's time to go home.
Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.