Katy Rutland
May 8, 2014 | Wine Lingo | Katy Rutland

Wine Lingo: Palate

Not everyone has a water buffalo, pallet, or palette. A pallet is a wooden frame and a bed on the ground. A palette is a painter’s tool. Water buffalo just don’t live in Washington. To add to the homophone confusion, “palate” is yet another spelling. And unlike the above three, everyone has a palate.


In a tasting room, you often hear the term “palate,” sometimes in interesting ways.


“Soft palate.”


“Smooth palate.”


“Light and airy palate.”


These are just a few descriptive terms Wine Educators use when describing wine. What on earth does that mean? No, we are not referring to your tongue being light and smooth because that’s exactly what the physical palate is: your tongue.


You can’t taste wine without it. It is the ultimate judge of whether or not you like a wine. Does the wine taste good? Bad? Iffy? Your palate determines what you like.


Wine also has a palate. No, it’s not tasting itself. Instead, a wine’s palate refers to how the wine tastes on yours.


Fruity, delicate, spicy, and bright are all words our Wine Educators have used to describe the palates of our wines. Each wine we pour in the Tasting Room has its distinctions that can be discerned between scent (the “nose”) and the taste (the “palate”).


A talented taster can easily pick out individual flavors and scents and use them to determine what varietal is in his or her glass. A Washington Syrah is generally peppery with black fruits. Merlot is known for its cherry and cedar profile. Blends have layer after layer of flavor. Knowing these factors and being able to determine what is on the wine’s palate clues in the taster and narrows the potential grapes.


Not everyone can do this. Yet.


Our Wine Educators are familiar with the palates and profiles of our wines. The next time you’re out in our Tasting Room, ask what can be tasted on the palates of wines. If you really want to test yourself, ask after you’ve already tasted it and see if your senses are getting sharper.


Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged.


The great thing about wine tasting is that it takes practice!



Veni, Vidi, Vinum!


Terra Blanca


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