There’s a reason you like the wines you like; see where your taste buds fit
The concept of “vinotypes” challenges conventional thinking about wine. The notion of supertasters—people with heightened sensitivity to a relatively narrow group of compounds—is bandied about quite a lot in wine circles. The implication is that they are superior tasters and anyone who claims to be a wine expert must, by definition, be a supertaster.
Not true, according to Tim Hanni, the Napa-based Master of Wine who developed vinotyping after 20 years of research into consumer wine preferences, behaviours and attitudes. In his book Why you Like the Wines You Like, he writes that supertaster “is an unfortunate term, misleading at best.”
True, a person with more taste buds (a matter of normal physiology or genetics) is bound to have a stronger sensation of taste. However, Hanni says many supersenstives have trouble enjoying wine “due to the burning and bitterness they experience.”
Count the taste buds and there is still no uniformity in tasting know-how. A myriad of other variables such as an individual’s wine tasting experience, training, enthusiasm for the grape, involvement in the industry or tasting groups, and the influence of culture come into play.
Answer a few questions, “a grossly oversimplified vinotype sensitivity self-assessment” in Hanni’s book or online at myvinotype.com, and you can discover what vinotype category you fit in, along with personality traits based on Hanni’s research.
Acutely sensitive to light, sound, touch and taste, Sweet types “want sweet tastes to mask bitterness and alcohol in wine.” Typically female (three to one), Sweets prefer delicate, fragrant, sweet wine with any food, even steak.
Hanni substitutes the term Hypersensitive—the largest category comprising over a third of men and women—for “supertaster” as it “is less superior-sounding” and “improves our understanding of consumers.” Inhabiting a “sensory cacophony,” Hypersensitives really like Pinot Grigio and prefer a slight sweetness in their Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon.
A quarter of respondents fall into the category of Sensitives and are adventurous in their tastes. They are open to and enjoy a wide range of wines from light and delicate to big and bold, although they may steer clear of the more bitter flavour of wines with high tannins.
Males dominate the segment Hanni identifies as Tolerants by a hefty two to one. These wine drinkers are after the high alcohol content of big, heavy reds and revel in wines high in bitterness and tannin. Their motto is “no wimpy wines.”
Have some fun, take the test and learn more about your vinotype.
Photo: Tasters sampling Recline Ridge wines may fall into one of four distinct vinotypes.
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Our February issue features the Good Life in the Okanagan from big bold red wines to winter staycations. It's a Journey to the Dream Job with Dona Sturmanis and a feature on Pension Peril from freelancer Dawn Renaud. We’re also in the kitchen with Okanagan chef Nik Theodorakis of Theo's Restaurant, a long standing best restaurant award winner.