I’m not much of a wine connoisseur but I know what I like.
When I was a young teenager, and not nearly as confident as I am today, I would do these questionnaires in women’s magazines and circle answer A, B or C, and then count them up to determine what kind of friend I was, what kind of boyfriend was right for me, how to choose the right color mascara and other life-changing decisions.
Without fail, I’d always end up smack-dab in the middle with all my B answers. “Why do I always end up being normal?” I’d complain to my parents — longing to exist in the realm of one extreme or the other — and they’d often tell me that normalcy wasn’t such a bad thing.
Today, when I read our Wine + Food Pairings cover story on pages 42 through 48, that I wrote with our wine expert Rick Rodger, I think about my own taste in wine and how it tends to be … normal. I don’t like cloyingly sweet wines but my taste buds aren’t fans of super-dry wines, either. I like both deep-red Merlots and crispy Rieslings, but I’ve been known to make a mean summer stone-fruit sangria.
That’s why if I’m at a winery or a wine bar that offers wine flights, you can count me in. For the most part, the wine rules of yesteryear have fallen to the wayside, so if you’re an amateur oenophile (wine lover) or just want to learn more about the fruits of the vine, wine flights are the perfect way to discover different styles of wine and determine which ones you prefer.
I’ve learned that the best way to begin is to sip the lightest wine and then head down the line toward the fullest-bodied wine. Don’t be afraid to take notes on what you like and what you don’t like about each wine, even if it’s just a comment like, “Has an aftertaste like blowing up a balloon.”
And if you begin to suffer from my favorite wine-tasting malady: palate fatigue, feel free to nibble on cheese and crackers. (Actually, for me, ordering a wine flight is probably just a good excuse to eat cheese.)
Once you’ve tried several kinds of wine, you’ll learn more about yourself, too. Maybe you like wine with a floral note, a chocolate barrel scent or a citrus aroma. Maybe you like a white-wine aperitif before a meal or a Madeira digestif afterward. Or maybe you’re a tried-and-true beer fan, and that’s okay too.
Whatever beverage you choose, keep this quote in mind from Brazilian author Paulo Coelho: “Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup.”
All the best,
Abby Cymerman, Managing Editor