How to Figure Out Your Wine Palate

How to Develop Your Wine Palette by popular DC travel and lifestyle blogger Alicia Tenise

Shop the Look:
Let’s talk about one of my favorite things in life: wine! From visiting my favorite Virginia vineyards to hosting little wine tasting parties at home, I love all things vino.

As a 20-something, I know it’s hard to know where to start with wine. How do you know what you like? What to order at a restaurant? What to pick up at Trader Joe’s? Here’s how I’ve figured out what my ideal wines are over the years!


Wine Palate: The Basics

By now, you probably know if you enjoy red or white wine more. I prefer reds, but I love a nice crisp, dry white in the summer, and I’m a fan of rosé as well. However, ask yourself: why do you prefer one over the other? For me, I learned over the years that I prefer dry, full-bodied wines — which is likely why I gravitate towards reds. 

Did you know there are nine different types of wine styles? These include:

  • Full-Bodied Red Wines
  • Medium-Bodied Red Wines
  • Light-Bodied Red Wines
  • Rosé Wines
  • Full-Bodied White Wines
  • Light-Bodied White Wines
  • Aromatic White Wines
  • Dessert & Fortified Wines
  • Champagne & Sparkling Wines

Chicwish Morning Glory Blossoms Embroidered Top in Mustard - How to Develop Your Wine Palette by popular DC travel and lifestyle blogger Alicia Tenise

Explore Your Area for Tastings

The best way to figure out which of those nine wine styles you prefer the most for your wine palate? Tastings, of course! Even though I visit Virginia wine country on the regular, if you’re only tasting regional wine, you aren’t really exposing yourself to a wide variety of wines. Different regions produce different grapes: for example, Virginia is known for Cabernet Franc, and the state grape is a Vigioner. 

Some of the best wine tastings I’ve had have been in little wine shops. I took a class at Chelsea Market in NYC a few years back on the best wines to pair with Thanksgiving dishes, and I learned so much. A wine shop will carry wines from around the world, and most of the time you can purchase the wine that was tasted for under $20. If you have some downtime on the weekend, definitely head to your local wine shop to try out new wines and figure out what you like!

Tillman's Cheese Shop in Downtown Charlottesville Virginia - How to Develop Your Wine Palette by popular DC travel and lifestyle blogger Alicia Tenise

Always Ask for Suggestions

Even though I know my wine palate, I still ask for wine suggestions from servers and bartenders on a regular basis while I’m dining out. I explain that I love full-bodied, spicy reds, and ask which wine to order. If you’re ever in between a couple of wines on the menu, don’t be afraid to ask for a small taste of each before committing to a full glass. It’s easy to get overwhelmed at some restaurants with their wine lists, so don’t be afraid to ask for help once you know what your palate is!

How to Taste Wine as a 20-something - How to Develop Your Wine Palette by popular DC travel and lifestyle blogger Alicia Tenise

Wine + Travel

The best part about traveling for me is getting to try all the wines! When we were in Paris, our Airbnb was right across the street from one of the best natural wine bars in the city. The staff was incredibly knowledgeable, and we tried so many different kinds of wines we wouldn’t be able to get in the U.S. My boyfriend, and I love doing regional wine tastings wherever we go: whether it’s overseas, in Upstate New York, San Diego, or even a different part of Virginia. The more you taste, the more you can get an idea of what you do and don’t enjoy for your own wine palate!

Outfit Details: Top ℅ Chicwish | Jeans ℅ Shopbop | Sneakers (On Sale!)

Photos by Tom McGovern

Leave a Comment