How would you describe you palate? Broadly speaking, most wines can be divided into two major groups – modern style & traditional style. Modern style means the wine is driven more by fruit & tends to be bigger & bolder in style. With modern winemaking techniques, this type of wine can be made pretty much anywhere in the world from any varietal. Modern wines are named after the style of wines that were being produced in many of the newer wine regions outside of Europe that have gained recognition in the modern era. Most of these newer wine regions are famous for the fruit driven bolder style wines they produce.
Traditional wines on the other hand typically refers to wines that are more reflective of a particular place of origin. These tend to be earth or soil driven wines that have flavors unique to the wine region or type of wine being produced. This doesn’t mean traditional wines can’t have big fruit flavors in them. There are a lot of traditional wines that are big & bold. The difference is traditional wines are just not as bold or fruity as modern wines might be. And even with fruit flavors, they tend to still have unique flavors based on where the grapes were grown or what type of varietal was used to make the wine.
As an example, let’s look at wine from Tuscany. Traditional Tuscan wine can be big or light but they all tend to have soft earthy flavors reflecting the unique Tuscan clay soil. It’s unmistakable & makes almost all the wines from Tuscany super delicious. However, there’s also a type of wine made in Tuscany known as Super Tuscans. These are bigger, bolder fruit driven wines that were made to compete with California Cabs & Australian Shirazs and other new world wines that were gaining popularity in the modern era. These Super Tuscans tend to be more modern in style & offer a stark contrast to the traditional wines normally produced in Tuscany.
So the next time you go to a restaurant or wine shop, make sure to tell the person giving you a recommendation what kind of style you like. We all appreciate wine differently. That’s why I like to ask you first about what you like in wine. This way I can identify where on the wine spectrum your palate lies and I can recommend good wines in the style that you like.