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What is a ‘cellar palate’- ask Decanter

Sarah Smith, Bayswater asksWhat do professional tasters think about the influence of so-called ‘cellar palate’ when visiting a wine region? How significant is this and how do you guard against it?’

Matt Walls repliesSuffering from ‘cellar palate’ means that you’ve become so immersed in a local style that you become blind to the faults or shortcomings in the wines.

It’s a condition more commonly associated with winemakers, but it can affect anyone tasting lots of wines from a specific region, such as wine critics or even holidaymakers.

Essentially, over time, your palate adapts to become in-line with local norms.

How to avoid it

Most professional tasters – at least in the UK – are used to tasting widely, so any local idiosyncrasies should be immediately apparent when visiting a new region.

While there, it’s crucial to retain a degree of objectivity and distance. And if staying in-situ for extended periods, it’s also important to continue to taste widely outside that region to retain a sense of context.

If you’re aware of the problem, and take steps to mitigate it, cellar palate should be an easily avoidable condition.

Matt Walls is Decanter’s Rhône expert, DWWA regional chair for the Rhône and a contributing editor.

This question first appeared in the May 2018 issue of Decanter magazine, subscribe to Decanter here.


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