Wine Culture Magazine

The experts offer tips to get your tastebuds tingling again

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It happens to us all at some point. We purchase the same bottle time and again because it doesn’t let us down—we know what to expect and, honestly, it’s just easier to stick to what’s comfortable. I get it, but the downside of getting stuck in a rut is you’re not experiencing new things, and you are certainly not expanding your palate repertoire. The pros know the only way to get better at tasting, developing your palate and deepening your overall wine knowledge is to taste new wines—all the time!

So I reached out to five of the province’s skilled tasters and asked their advice on how to get out of a wine rut. Here are their top tips.

Kurtis Kolt. Supplied photo

Kurtis Kolt 

Vancouver-based wine consultant, writer and wine enthusiast: Talk to the pros.

“When perusing aisles at a wine shop, or tucking into a restaurant meal, any savvy wine enthusiast on staff will most often be more than happy to offer their two cents in helping you find your next favourite bottle,” says Kolt. 

“By all means share what you’re usually drinking, mentioning what you like about it, and your friendly neighbourhood wine folks should be able to take that as a starting point, and whisk you away to something new and exciting.”

 Kolt looks for quintessential bottles that offer incredible value and boatloads of deliciousness, and are dynamic for pairing with foods such as: cheese boards, fish and chips, salty snacks, spicy Thai curries and Buffalo wings.

His pick:

Domaine Martin Jund Edelzwicker
(Alsace, France, $32)
Aromatic blend; orchard fruits, honey, opulent, juicy. 

Mya Brown. Supplied photo

Mya Brown

Wine director for Vancouver’s Botanist Restaurant at the Fairmont Pacific Rim: Take a leap of faith.

“Be willing to buy a wine knowing you may not love it,” Brown says. “That is truly the only way to discover new gems. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for help—the staff in independent wine shops are there to help you.”

She suggests looking for something you don’t know. “Are you feeling classic or adventurous? If classic, maybe pivot your Chablis to a Muscadet; if adventurous, pivot your Rhône red to an Austrian Blaufrankisch, or choose an Etna Rosso instead of Pinot Noir, or South African Chenin instead of California Chardonnay.”

She adds: “People ask me what wine I choose when dining out in a restaurant, and my answer is always the one I don’t recognize, or know the least about. Sometimes the wines I pick don’t fit perfectly, but I always learn something.”

Her pick: 

Terravista Vineyards Fandango
(Naramata Bench, B.C., $29)
Albariño-Verdejo blend; crunchy, perfect for everyday. 

Sharon McLean. Supplied photo

Sharon McLean

Co-founder of Cru Consultancy, a wine education company based in Victoria: Commit to trying new wines.

“Put yourself in situations where you have to try new things,” says the award-winning wine instructor and certified sommelier. “Invite a group of friends over and ask everyone to bring a new-to-them bottle. Taste any samples on offer at your liquor store. Sign up for a wine class. One rule—you have to taste everything. Only after you taste can you decide if you like a wine or not.”

Her pick: 

Palazzi Rosato, Monferrato, Chiaretto
(Piemonte, Italy, $17)
Gorgeous Barbera-based rosé; juicy strawberries, raspberries.

Filippo Bevilacqua. Supplied photo

Filippo Bevilacqua

Key accounts manager with Stile Brands: Dine out often.

“Go to a restaurant and ask the sommelier if they’ve got anything new and unique,” advises Bevilacqua, a sommelier who spent most of his professional career in Napa Valley. “We [somms] love to nerd out on the lesser-known varietals with cool backstories, but don’t get to talk about them as often as we’d like. Ask any sommelier if there’s a particular bottle on the list they’re excited about and you’ll see their eyes light up. It’s the easiest way to branch out of your comfort zone.”

He advocates for Italian whites, wines that are a “force to be reckoned with” and can rival a white Burgundy or top-level Grüner Veltliner from Austria.

His pick:

Ezio Poggio Timorasso “Caespes” Terre di Libarna
(Piedmont, Italy, $45)
Textural, mineral, aromatically complex.


Severine Pinte. Supplied photo

Severine Pinte

Award-winning winemaker at Le Vieux Pin and LaStella: Subscribe to a wine club.

“Settling in a wine rut is so tempting, but so dangerous for our taste buds,” says Pinte, who made wine in France and Australia before landing in the Okanagan in 2010. 

“I participate in wine tastings with industry peers or organize wine tastings at home with friends and the [only] rule is to bring a wine that is not from B.C. We all taste blind,” she says. “More recently I also subscribed to a monthly wine delivery from Vancouver’s Apéro Mode, to force myself to try new producers from around the world.” 

Her pick: 

Roche Wines “Vig” Zweigelt Rosé
(Okanagan Valley, B.C., $25)
Delicious; red berries, rosehips, dry and subtle.

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