It goes without saying that as individuals, we all have preferences when it comes to what we like to taste or not in anything from wine to cheese to breakfast. These individual differences are what make anything interesting, but they can become a major problem for winemakers when the preferences take precedence over what consumers taste and desire. At Fox Run, we have a strong preference for a tight-wire balance between sparkling acidity and dryness with our rieslings in particular. To many consumers, these rieslings would seem far to dry to be enjoyable and we have to keep that in mind and push our personal opinions with sugar in riesling. (As part of this balancing act we do end up rewarding our palates with our Reserve Rieslings, that are labeled as such because they suit our stylistic preferences with the understanding that they will not be appropriate for everyone.)
This difference between the palate of the winemakers and the consumers extends in many directions; tolerance of oak, tolerance of tannic structure, understanding of aging potential (i.e. how long a winermaker versus a consumer would age the wine), etc. etc. A more fundamental problem with the house palate, however, is when it ends up becoming so firmly entrenched we are blinded to realities in the wine instead of preferences.
There are a multitude of flaws that can plague wines of every type that have to do with the winemaking; as opposed to something such as a corked wine which is beyond the control of a winemaker once the wine is in the bottle. Nevertheless, there have been just as many cases where a winemaker is so used to tasting their own wines that they don't recognize that flaw as out of the ordinary. This has far less to do with preferences than it does with lack of tasting variety, and in the past few years it is a problem that everyone from winemakers to owners are understandably keen to avoid in themselves and their staff.
Finally, slightly larger in scope than the house palate, is another preference set that has a more nuanced impact across an entire area; the regional palate. The regional palate issue, however, is not restricted to those who work in a winery but can hold sway over an entire consumer base. The general idea is that one's palate adjusts to the particular expression of grapes in a region or style that is consumed most often, and learning to get beyond that can be as frustrating as it is rewarding. This is probably a topic for another blog post due to how fascinating and far-reaching its impact can be. Instead, I'll leave it for now with this question that has been bothering me; why do so many people pride themselves on enjoying a multitude of cuisines from high to low brow, yet just as proudly proclaim a very narrow perspective in wine?
By: Kelby Russell, Winemaking Team
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