Did you start out drinking sweet wines and then gradually switch to less sweet wines? I know I did. I wanted to do some research on wine preferences to see if that is the norm. Thank you to Liz Thach, MW from Sonoma State University, for her great information.
Three Big Takeaways on Wine Preferences
- Most people start out liking sweet wine.
- Wineries should have a beginner wine to accommodate wine newbies, because a bad initial tasting experience can lead to somebody steering clear of wine for the rest of their lives.
- Approximately 75 percent of people move on to liking drier wines. The exceptions are hyper-sensitive tasters, who will always prefer sweeter, less tannic wines.
Introducing Sonoma State’s Wine Palate Life Cycle Wheel
Thach created the Wine Palate Life Cycle Wheel to portray the palate journey of many wine consumers. It includes four phases of taste migration. Phase one shows a preference for semi-sweet white and Rosé wines. Phase two reflects a movement to softer reds and dry white and Rosé wines. Phase three reveals a growing preference for bolder, more tannic reds and unique white varietals. Phase four displays a desire for distinctive wine styles, such as earthy Barolos and Burgundies, petrol-laced dry Riesling, and/or nutty Sherry and Madeira. Thach’s model is just that – a model. But it’s very helpful for thinking about how most people progress in their wine journey.
Have Your Wine Preferences Changed Over Time?
For her research, Thach surveyed 422 people. One of the major questions in the survey was: “Have your wine preferences changed since you first started drinking wine?” The results show that 69% of the sample stated their wine preferences did change over time, whereas 31% of the sample reported no change.
Interestingly, 28% of the survey respondents were aged 21 to 22, but they, like their older counterparts, were just as likely to say that their tastes had changed over time. There were no significant gender differences, meaning both men and women were equally apt to report that their preferences had changed.
Medical researchers say that genetics and receptor genes such as TAS2R38 strongly impact a person’s ability to taste bitterness, and that age modifies this effect. The wonderful “wine anti-snob” Tim Hanni describes this phenomenon in his book Why You Like the Wines You Like, explaining that genetics and environment impact wine preferences, but that tastes may change over time.
I’d love to hear whether Thach’s Wine Palate Life Cycle Wheel holds true for you. Please share your thoughts here. Thanks. Cheers!
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