Too many times I have witnessed people drinking their epitome of greatness in a glass, while turning their noses up at the people next to them who are drinking something that isn’t deemed worthy. The dissonance of palates, to me, can be overwhelming. Without trying to over-complicate why someone enjoys a particular thing, I think the real question should be why do we care? It’s obviously not for our own enjoyment. Does it boost our egos? Do we justify our own palates by qualifying those of others?
There is quite a bit of muscle-flexing, or palate-flexing, in the world of alcohol. When someone is passionate about alcohol, name/knowledge/cellar-dropping is, more often than not, the focal point at the start of the conversation. In our own world, our palate is KING. We won’t let the peasants bring mutton (Miller Lite, Two Buck Chuck) to the table. We will only indulge in the foie gras (Lafite, SQN, DRC, Caymus, Cantillon) In reality, most of us can’t afford to drink luxury beers and wines as often as we’d like; although we tend to describe our flavor profiles akin to those producers. We try to find a middle-ground, a sense of comfort, for our palates as well as for our wallets.
Likewise, there is a certain level of class to which we set our palates. Many people will snub a person drinking white zinfandel in a wine glass filled with ice cubes, while they drink a residual sugar-driven Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley out of their stemless wine glasses. Who has the better palate? Is it the sommelier drinking a ’47 Cheval Blanc? Is it the country club golfer drinking Silver Oak? Is it the birthday girl, who just turned 21, drinking a glass of Beringer White Zinfandel? My answer, while not genius, is none of these. All have a starting point in wine and have advanced to where their own palates are at this given moment. Two Buck Chuck, Mateus, Lancers, Apothic Red, and thousands of other wines of that “caliber” have passed the lips of most of us at one point or another in our lives. There is absolutely nothing wrong with liking them, as there is nothing wrong with disliking them!
My suggestion is to avoid sticking your nose in the air at people drinking wines that don’t please you. Rather, it is more useful to stick it in the glass of wine you’re drinking and enjoy it!