In the introduction to his book, 101 Wines: Guaranteed to Inspire, Delight, and Bring Thunder to Your World, Gary Vaynerchuk gives one of the most compelling arguments on taste that we've heard:
The best way I've found to exercise your palate is to taste everything, and I mean everything--not just wine...There is nothing in this world I won't eat. So, when you see me on WLTV or Conan O'Brien chomping cigars or sucking wet rocks, it's no gimmick. These really are the things that I've done to train my palate. You need to explore every exotic fruit, imported candy, farm stand jam, animal, vegetable, and mineral, because by a miracle of nature, all these flavors can appear in a glass of wine.
Reading this made us rethink our approach to food and wine. Here's why...We realized that we tend to fall into flavor patterns--both when we're cooking at home and when we're eating out. We play it safe and stick with the flavors and ingredients that we know.
Vaynerchuk reminds us that tasting is about having fun and being curious! If we limit the number of flavors we're willing to taste, we're cutting ourselves off from a whole world of possibilities.
There's no "right or wrong" tastes, or even "good or bad" tastes. Even if we try something new and don't like it, we've still learned something.
The truth is that we never know how something will taste. The only way to know is to try it. And try it over and over again since the taste will change depending on what we're eating it with, how it was prepared, or how many new flavors we've tried since the last time we tasted it!
There might be a time when these built-up flavor associations lead us to improvise a new dish or perceive subtle flavors in a new kind of wine!
Can you remember trying something new and being completely surprised its taste?
Related: Cooking Without Recipes: Understanding Flavor
(Image Credit: Just Peachy by Steven Mitchell, $9.99 on AllPosters.com)