The recent EP thread threw up another perennial in that long kept wines may no longer be your taste by the time you get to actually drink them.
This again is something that occurs more with the, lets say, the more senior members on here, but not exclusively, and it is a dimension in life that affects more than just our taste buds, we change how we look at things how we hear and smell things and how much, less and more we indulge in all the senses.
As an example, I have a neighbour who had his own successful rock band back in the day and still pre virus did live gigs around the country, and we were talking about the fact in both our cases our large music libraries get less and less play time, both our wives have commented on this fact in recent years, our much coveted Hi Fi systems gather dust for longer periods these days, we have not tired of our respective choice in music, we just don’t play it as much and some of it has not stood the test of time.
I never as a child had much of a sweet tooth, partly that was because post war sweets were rationed and you got used to not having them but even when rationing finally was raised I did not go mad as many did and buy all in the shop, yet now I like the odd cake and similar, items I never ate during previous years, a reverse of my changes in taste in wine to some degree.
Do we lose some degree of quality in our senses, my wife likes fino and manzanilla sherries, and I remember in years back the amazing nose many had, somehow now I find it something that is less evident in the sherries she drinks now, is that the sherry or simply me not being able as in the past to appreciate that wonderful aroma, or has our familiarity made us blasé?
And I know from conversations with people this is anything but uncommon, so how much do our tastes in wine change over decades? again this will vary from person to person and some will not change at all, more probably those who have had a narrower tasting experience and stick with their preferred choices, but I could be wrong.
When talking about my own tastes, I have found that certain regions have themselves changed the wine styles either to stay in fashion or to suit new markets, that also means a change in what you drink and the change may no longer be to your taste yet on the other hand it may well come into someone else’s comfort, taste zone, these changes further muddy the waters over what is happening to our senses.
My own experience with Riesling shows the changes in style in recent times have not all been to my liking, I can speak about Riesling as it was the first serious wine I started buying in the early seventies and I have always had what I like to think of as decent Riesling in my cellar, yet I drink more red than white from virtually all regions of the globe, I love the ‘finding out’ about new wines grapes and winemakers, it is one of the prime reasons for me to buy wine.
A good example of changing tastes and styles is Australian Shiraz , something that could be duplicated elsewhere as in Argentina with Malbec, the reds of California and indeed full on reds from almost anywhere and indeed with Chardonnays from the similar climes.
The trend is now away from full throttle wines and towards a lighter less alcoholic style in many of those places, yet I and others have enjoyed the better well balanced full on styles, it has been the other over extracted and alcoholic versions that have caused the changes now being made.
But many of the newer lighter versions of the same grapes suffer from being rather thin, the pendulum has swung to far.
With Riesling the change back to drier wines as Riesling originally was has resulted in many winemakers going for what is perceived by many to be the way forward and they are producing wines that are only one step away from battery acid, the comments from the lovers of this style are interesting, do they really like it or is it a case of keeping up with the trend, the mouth puckering Rieslings I have tried I simply do not enjoy, they verge on being untypical of the grape to the extent they become indistinguishable from SB and not good SB at that, the fruit is almost entirely obliterated, but that is just my opinion.
Back to changing taste and taking all those above items into consideration, I do still find I am, in the case of Riesling drinking a much larger amount of Kabinett class wines as opposed to the sweeter versions, the sweeter versions are still enjoyed but in much smaller doses, in reds yes I still like a full on balanced Rhone red or Aussie equivalent, but I am buying more of the lighter style wines such as those from Monastrell, as good an example as any, the shift in taste is along those lines.
I still have some some full on reds in my cellar and they will be drunk, but I am not buying so many these days, and if I had cases of those wines now waiting to be drunk, I doubt they all would be, and I pre-empted that scenario and unloaded a few years back a large part of those wines that fit that description, alongside many Bordeaux that I no longer thought did much for me any more, maybe they never did.
Sometimes I think we over complicate our choices in wine buying, we become so immersed in the whole region grower terroir expert opinion trends and whatever else is out there we forget it is just a drink to enjoy, sometimes that enjoyment can come from a surprisingly simple bottle, but that of course would not be something to admit to for many, simple simply cannot be good, it earns no brownie points.
There is of course a double whammy in that not only has your taste changed but many aged wines you have may have evolved so far away from what you initially purchased they no longer appeal, but that is a separate subject.
If you go onto Cellartracker and look through certain collections, they are totally dominated by specific regions and you do wonder what the owners would do if their tastes change, I also wonder how the same, and many do, comment on other wines when according to their cellars they having nothing but Bordeaux, but I digress, would they persevere or would they sell off and buy according to how they felt about wine at that moment in time and to suit their change in taste.
My own much reduced collection is there on Cellartracker for anyone who cares to look, it is short in certain areas like Burgundy that I simply refuse to take part in buying such is the ridiculous prices being asked for anything that can attach itself to the Cotes however tenuous, and my Italian section needs a big boost compared with the past, but still considering the size now it is still pretty widely spread with the exceptions of areas that do little for me, it is a pretty fair reflection of my tastes at this time of life, I have weeded out most of those wines I no longer automatically go to.
As for everyone else tastes do change, it would be interesting if in the future we could see if those who say they only drink x actually keep to their word, or will age have its affect on their choice, or indeed is that change of taste only confined to the older drinker?
In Bordeaux falling sales have resulted in Château making changes to the wine they make, are people really bored with Cru class wines, have the Château simply made a commercial decision to jump on the bandwagon that is the changing tastes of the younger drinker, something can be gleaned from this comment from a Bordeaux Château……….
“Château Carsin is looking to a younger clientele by producing wines that are more affordable — and less complicated “
The age demographic shows a distinct change among the young wine buyer, it is hard to believe from those early heady days of Mateus Rose then seen as the pinnacle of wine taste? And how we then ridiculed our drinking habits of the time to now see rose wine outselling white wine in France today, and it is the young who are mainly buying it.
Much of what we drink is affected by suggestion of what is perceived to be good, but is not necessarily so, drinkers are persuaded not by their own experiences but by others either peers or critics who many believe represent their own tastes, do they or is it a crutch to lean on when buying wine that you cannot sample or taste, it is always interesting when reading the ‘what are drinking today’ comments how people up tick wines that are hard to find and perceived to be good and don’t up tick others more readily available but in a lot of cases have equal merit as a drink, this line starts to stray into the should all wines be tasted blind category so I wont extrapolate any more on that but it shows how taste can be manipulated by belief not facts.
So yes our own tastes do change but so to do the general wine public in their choices, has it actually ever been any different.