Palate Fatigue: The result of tasting just too many wines whereby ones taste buds essentially give up on you.
It can happen to even the best of us. But just how many wines can one taste before their taste buds give up? It really depends on your experience level. The answer is the same as how you get to Carnegie Hall: practice.
I was talking with fellow wine expert, and International Wine Competition panelist, Beth Niles, about this subject. She recalled that her limit is about 20 wines, give or take a few. I’ve found that I can usually get to about 30 wines before everything tastes like a Zinfandel. Even with our super palates, it’s going to happen. The important part here is to know when you hit that limit.
If you’re new to wine tasting, you might not even reach double digits. That is fine. It’s just means that you’re palate hasn’t had enough practice in the wine tasting arena. If you do want to improve the amount of wines you can taste, start investigating new varietals and wineries. It’s safe to drink what you like, but at some point, if you want to get to the higher level, you’re going to have to start venturing out to uncharted varietals.
With practice, over time, you’ll begin to delay that palate fatigue. The crucial part is to know when you’ve hit your limit and head back to the Champagne.
Haydn Adams is the author of the book, Wineries Beyond Napa Valley: Dry Creek and Alexander Valley, an insider’s tasting guide to the hidden gems region. He also contributes to the Beyond Napa Valley Wine Blog, writes for vinvillage.com, and can be found roaming the hills of Sonoma County (and at times, Napa Valley) looking for the next hidden gems. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.