I have been in the Food and Wine industry for 20+ years – longer than I care to admit. In that time, I have encountered many different types of diners and drinkers. Some who drink the same thing day in and day out. If they like Cabernet Sauvignon, that’s what they drink, regardless of what they are eating. When I offer to recommend a pairing, I have been countered with “No thank you. I don’t like______”.
This forces me to share with you a brief overview of my wine journey. I drank Boone’s Farm in high school. It’s so pitiful and embarrassing, but it’s a fact. Bartles and Jaymes was the hot wine cooler on the market and, ever the glutton, I decided I didn’t want to limit myself to such a small bottle and upped the ante to the 750ml of Boone’s Farm. I don’t remember the flavor, but it was pink. I’m fairly sure that it wasn’t made from grapes. Either an apple wine or something of that nature. Gak.
From there I graduated to White Zinfandel. Still sweet, but actually made from grapes as opposed to the straight up soda pop of wines. Then when I got to Europe I was backpacking through France and purchased a pink wine, which I thought would be sweet, but it wasn’t! It was a dry rose. Next in South Africa I moved onto Viognier. Next I lived in Northern California, and big dry Cabernet’s became my Kings. Then it was on to Miami and Champagne became (and still is) the love of my life. I went from sweet wines, to fragrant whites, to bold reds. Of course, I have drunk and enjoyed every wine under the sun. Having stints where I can’t get enough of something- Gruner Vieltliners, Rieslings, Super Tuscans, Cotes du Rhones… you get the picture. But I’ve never appreciated Chardonnays.
The housewife’s haven: Chardonnay. Buttery, oaky. Flabby, awful. Unless you buy a white Burgundy that you pay through the nose for. Okay, so that is a very large generalization, but that’s what I’ve been telling myself for years. And, well, many Chardonnay’s were made that way for years. So I have recently reopened my heart and have found room for Chardonnays. And they’re not half bad. They still won’t be my go to anytime soon, but they do pair well with so many foods, and I love playing with pairings and really maximizing every dining experience.
The reason I am throwing myself under the bus, and sharing my life long distaste for Chardonnays, isn’t to allow you to presume that Chardonnays are better now than ever (although it’s possible), but because my palate has presumably changed. As we get older our palates change. What we like and don’t like takes on new meaning. We even develop allergies that we never had before. Simply, our body chemistry changes. While it fully blows that pollen has become my nemesis this spring, I am thoroughly delighted that Chardonnays are finally on my menu!
Now, all of you crumple up that list of what you don’t like and revisit wines (and foods for that matter!) that you haven’t tried in years. See what happens, you may be surprised!