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TIP: Read Everything, Taste Everything!
By Alicia Towns, Wine Manager, Grill 23 & Bar

There is so much information available about wine, but whom do you read and what do you taste? I am a proponent of reading everything and tasting everything. Everyone has his or her favorite varietal and producers, but it is imperative to try other wines so that one does not develop a house palate-- a term I learned from Bart Araujo, proprietor of Araujo Estate in Napa, for a narrow flavor profile that you tend to favor. With the plethora of wine out there, it is possible to try something different every night. The more you taste, the more you learn and the more you'll like. Comparing styles is one sure way of understanding any varietal. If you are going to drink Chardonnay, drink from as many countries and appellations as possible. But be sure to pit them against other varietals, and soon I'm sure you will have many other favorites. Try Sauvignon Blancs from all over the globe, and Pinot Gris and Rieslings andĚ have no limits. Do away with the preconceptions that often come with choosing a wine. Not every Riesling is sweet. Not all German wines are sweet. Sauvignon Blancs are not sweet. Can you see the theme here?

As for what to read, once again, read everything. Do not take any one person's word as gospel. There is a science to wine making, but wine tasting at some point becomes not a science but an art. It is important to have multiple opinions to compare when it comes to wine reviews. Last year at a trade tasting in Boston, a particular Zinfandel was said by many wine buyers to be the biggest wine at the tasting. Two months later, it was reviewed by a well-known wine publication and was said to be light and refreshing!?! In my opinion, the wine was what I call a palate suicide-- a wine that has such an attack that it kills the palate for anything that might be tasted afterwards. Whose palate do I trust? Usually mine, but if I do not have the luxury of tasting a particular wine, I want to have as many opinions as possible. There are multiple wine writers--Stephen Tanzer, Hugh Johnson, the people at Restaurant Wine--whose palates I not only trust, but that I also look to for guidance. It is easy to like people who like what you like, but understanding and appreciating those who do not adds a bit of validity to your tastes.

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Interview with Alicia TownsWine List from Grill 23Alicia Towns' <img src=Sommelier Archives