Wine Talk

Snooth User: Hollytron

Is it possible that I just don't like some varietals as much?

Posted by Hollytron, Feb 1, 2010.

I'm fairly new to wine tasting, but I've noticed something: Most Zinfandels I have tried really just haven't rubbed me the right way. I'm always excited when the opp presents itself to me to try them, because I tell myself, "Surely, I just haven't had the right one!" Is this the right frame of mine? Have I not just had the right Zin? Or are Zins just not my thing?

I also wonder if there are regions that are this way. My boyfriend has brought home a few Spanish reds, none of which I have been impressed with. Still, I've had so few, its really hard to tell.... A handful of Spanish wines versus the hundred + Cali wines! Primarily, I'm just wondering about the grape varieties and if there really are ones that I may just not prefer to have over others, period. I like reds and whites equally, by the way, but find reds to be easier and preferred to whites if drank a little more regularly. (Sometimes I drink more wine more often. Sometimes not as often.)

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Reply by brasschick, Feb 1, 2010.

its totally possible they arent your *favorite,* but there's always a good one somewhere!
i dont particularly care for the spanish wines myself, but more so the italians-
it does depend on the growing conditions, the age, even what year you get! you just have to get your feet wet- go out and try a bunch of different areas, and countries. australia makes some good stuff, germany is big for non-reds(eiswein/reisling/etc,) new zealand, and give south america a good try too. they've got some good stuff!

Reply by shellyk123, Feb 1, 2010.

Wine sometimes is nice but i am very very much scared of this because sometimes it is harmful......................................
Brisbane real estate

Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Feb 1, 2010.

Have you tried primitivo, zin's b.f.f. from Italy? Generally, they tend to be lower in alcohol and overt fruit, with more acid. They also tend to be easy on the wallet.

Reply by chadrich, Feb 1, 2010.

I don't think what you're experiencing is out of the ordinary at all. I find that I don't particularly like Merlot or Pinot Noir. Though as mentioned above, you'll come across one now and them that you like. For me, that usually expresses itself by comparison to another grape that I do like ("this Merlot tastes like a Cab" or "this is a bolder than usual Pinot that drinks like a Syrah").

Further, I usially find that I'm not a big fan of French wines. In some cases their flavors are too subtle for me, or they have aromas (barnyard for example) that may be more representative of the area where they're made, which I don't particularly care for. But there again, I've come across the random one that strikes me with a more new world/bold style, hence I do like it.

I'd never suggest you avoid a grape type or a country entirely. But there's so much out there to try that I'd follow where you palate leads.

Reply by tinroofrusted, Feb 1, 2010.

I think it is very normal for people to favor some varietals over others. For instance, I really don't care for most Viogniers. They just don't taste good to me. So I avoid them. You may have the same reaction to Zinfandel (although there are some GREAT zins out there, so don't stop trying them based on a few bad experiences). If you don't love Zinfandel then may try Pinot Noir, which is much lighter and has a very different flavor profile. Or Syrah.

Finally, before you quit Zin altogether, try one from Ridge Vineyards, or Ravenswood if you want to spend a bit less.

Best regards,

Tin Roof

Reply by Gantt Hickman, Feb 1, 2010.

While Zin is one of my favorites I can understand how you might not like it. I can understand why some people don't prefer many different grapes. They all have their own story and those stories change year after year with different climates and terriors.

My main advice would be to not let it stop you from trying wines. Keep the attitude you have had and continue to see what you don't like and you do.


Reply by Flamefighter, Feb 1, 2010.

What is it that you find disagreeable? Does it seem too strong or do you not like the flavor of the fruit?
I agree with most of what the others have said; we all like certain wines but no one likes all wines.
As for Zin's, it may just be that the ones you have tried are a little too “over the top”. There are a lot of big, bold, high alcohol Zin's, especially from California, so you may want to start with something with a lower alcohol level. Try a Peachy Canyon or another Paso Robles Zin or one from the Lodi region, just make sure it is a fairly good one ($12 -$22) and you may find what you are looking for.
Other than a Pinot Noir, I would also recommend a Merlot from Calif. or Washington State. There are many good value Merlot's that you may enjoy and then once you have developed the taste for reds you can move on to Zins.
PS: Regarding Spanish wines, I agree; I have not found a Spanish wine I really want to buy regularly.

Reply by Drunk as a Skunk, Feb 1, 2010.

I have the same problem with shiraz , actually Aussie wine in general. I don't think its unusual at all.

Reply by Flamefighter, Feb 1, 2010.

I agree with GirlDrink, those who regularly taste wine often have a better idea of what is good and what isn't. My point was that when you are first starting out tasting and enjoying wine you can get caught up with what you think you are suppose to like. We read somewhere that a particular wine is great and when you try it we just don’t get whatever it was the reviewer got. Or in other words the point system is only good up to a point. Just because I would rate a wine as a 90 point doesn’t mean you will like it. Otherwise how do you explain the astronomical sales of White Zin? Nobody rates white zin high and yet Beringer and Sutter Home sell millions of dollars of the stuff.

Although I subscribe to a number of wine and drink magazines and often take the reviews very seriously, I also try wines that maybe they didn’t or that they didn’t rate as high as another, just to see what I think of them. Another good source for me when I first started was the County and State Fair recommendations along with some of the bigger wine tastings like San Francisco’s and the bigger wine stores in my area.

In my part of the state (CA) the county fairs have excellent judges who are all volunteers and do not have a conflict of interest. They offer tastings, educational seminars and outings to wineries for next to nothing. I have found them fun, friendly and very willing to help new tasters learn more about the magic that is in the bottle. I just wish I had more time to join them!

Enjoy and let us know if you come to like any Zins Hollytron.

Reply by jabrn67, Feb 1, 2010.

I think it's completely normal. No 2 people have the same tastes. Supposedly Malbec is the new big thing, but there's just something about it I don't like. I've tried a few in hopes I'll find one I like, but it hasn't happened yet!

Reply by GregT, Feb 1, 2010.

Holly - It's normal not to like some varieties and even some regions. But remember, Spain is not a region. It's about 200,000 square miles, which is bigger than California, at around 160,000 or so. In addition, it has various climates, from the wet Atlantic-influenced climate in the north to the high dry climate in the mid-north, to the Mediterranean climate on the east coast to the hot desert of the south, to the warm windy Canary Islands. It's actually more varied than California because it's a peninsula.

That said, the winemaking probably has as much to do with whether you like or dislike a grape variety as much as the variety itself. For example, speaking of malbec - will it taste the same from Lujan de Cuyo in Mendoza, from Colombia Valley in Washington State, from Cahors in France, from Jumilla in Spain, from Lake Ballaton in Hungary, or from Clare Valley in Australia?

(The answer is no.)

More importantly, you have winemaking styles that vary. Now if you have a lot of zinfandel from say, Amador County, and the winemakers are picking at roughly the same brix or sugar levels, you're going to get stylistic similarities based on the region and what the weather gives you, but one producer may leave the wine in new barrels for a long time, another may macerate the skins at a higher temp, another may pick a little earlier, another may crush the grapes with the stems, and they'll basically imprint their own touches within the parameters set by the climate and the vintage.

So what to do? Nothing really, because if you don't care for it, that's completely valid. However, if you try a zinfandel from Italy, Croatia, Australia or Austria, you may have an entirely different viewpoint regarding the grape. Syrah for example, is completely different when it comes from Burgenland in Austria than when it comes from Sonoma County.

So there is absolutely no reason that a person needs to like all kinds of wine. In fact, that would be the exception rather than the rule - we all have our preferences. But at this point in my own life, it's pretty hard to dismiss an entire variety or an entire region because last time I did that, a week later I found a great wine from the grape I'd just been trashing.

Reply by schellbe, Feb 1, 2010.


I've been drinking wine all my life, and I don't like Zins or Spanish wines, with a few exceptions. So it's probably not inexperience that explains your palate. Some experienced wine drinkers will have similar tastes to yours, some dissimilar.

Look at Greg' DPs recent piece about flavor profiles of different grapes. I particularly like high acid, lightly to moderately oaked wines with moderate tannins... and very old wines.

Your tastes are fine. Don't woory about it.

Reply by Hollytron, Feb 2, 2010.

Thank you all for the replies! I will definitely keep trying Zins, and I will keep trying wines from other countries and note the region (thank you GregT; wasn't even paying attention that that when I had the Spanish wines)!

Flamefigter: I'm not so certain its the fruit yet, but it seems like it may be. I need to familiarize myself with more Zins before I am certain about what exactly it is. Off subject: I was thinking about subscribing to a magazine of some sort just to get exposed and get ideas. Anything you'd recommend to a young, newbie wino in Southern Cali? Oh, I live in Southern California and often go to fairs. :) This will be my first summer of visiting fairs as a 21 year old! I also read one of my local papers, which has a "wine of the week." It's pretty nice. Image of the wine, a brief about, recommended food pairings, and where to locate it in my area (they always have around 5 listings, so there's always somewhere close)! I was happy to find this and my micro-collection of wine has grown quite a bit in the last couple of months in part due to Snooth and in part due to "wine of the week," even with drinking a bottle a week!!

Reply by lucanico, Feb 2, 2010.

Hi - you have to drink, and drink an drink and taste and compare before know only one expression of one wine. I think is better try other vines: Cabernet - Sangiovese - Aglianico - Nebbiolo aka Barolo wine or Barbaresco, Primitivo aka Zinfadel, or withe Fiano, Vermentino, Greco, Prosecco.....

Reply by Flamefighter, Feb 2, 2010.

Sounds like you are on the right track. In So Cal try the Del Mar, Orange County and L.A. County fairs this summer. The OC Fair usually offers classes and tastings for $5 or $10 dollars. In the OC area, there are many wine tastings for under $20 that can be fun and allow you to try different things. Some of the best are in the Irvine another is at Hi-Times Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa/Newport Beach area. They have tastings and a very knowledgeable staff that is good about answering questions and offering suggestions at any price point.

As for magazines, I like Wine and Spirits and Wine Enthusiast. Wine Spectator is expensive and deals with wines that are out of my price range. I am sure there are others but those are my regulars.

Best of luck and remember the four S’s when tasting and driving - Swirl, Sniff, Sip and Spit.

Reply by beachopn, Feb 2, 2010.

I used to feel the same way about Zins until one night when I put some Pepper Jack cheese on some crackers and poured a glass of Zin. The love of Zin began! To me they go together fabulously :) Now I buy Zin just to go with the cheese and crackers. I am going to try the Pork and Peas recipe as well .. and have been adding Zins to my collection. Have fun by trying lots of different wines but don't forget to try them with various foods as well... you never know!

Reply by GregT, Feb 2, 2010.

Holly - one other thing, and it's pretty random, is that you might want to note the temperatures at which you serve your wines. If it's the temp of your kitchen, and it's a zin, you're likely to taste alcohol and sugar at the expense of anything else. Put it in the fridge a few minutes and you'll really see a difference!

And the other thing is, price points matter. Many years ago I thought I was getting a good idea of what was out there by buying $5 or $7 wines. First time I spent $18 I walked home with the wine in both hands, worried that I'd drop that precious liquid. But it was totally worth it.

I'm not saying that there's a linear correlation between price and quality because there isn't. But every once in a while, try to vary your price range, whatever that may be. It can be really illuminating.


Reply by Lucha Vino, Feb 3, 2010.

The good thing is there are lots of varietals, regions and wine makers to choose from! I have just recently started to explore the world of wines and am discovering what I like and what is not so appealing to me.

I recently purchased this Spanish wine on sale at one of my local wine shops in Seattle and found it to be very good.

It is a blend of 65% Tempranillo, 20% Merlot & 15% Cabernet Sauvignon

Here is a link to a blog with some more details if you are interested.

Reply by GregT, Feb 3, 2010.

Good choice and another reason you can't talk about "Spanish" wine as an entire class. The area that wine is from is near Barcelona and in that area there's been a great deal of development in the wine industry, notably in Priorat and Monstant, but elsewhere as well. They also planted cab and merlot and syrah and even petite verdot out there, which you're not going to find all over Spain. It's also a warmer area for tempranillo than Rioja for example, so the grape will behave very differently.

So if you liked that wine, you may want to look for wines from close by. Good luck exploring!

Reply by Hollytron, Feb 5, 2010.

Thanks Flamefighter for the magazine recs! And... I LOVE Hi-Times Wine Cellar!! I've gone there to get some wines that were pretty hard to find locally. I also really enjoy Total Wine & More, but I can get some of the more obscure Paso Wines that I grew to love from Hi-Times. :)

Thanks for the continuing replies. I've noticed that a few of you seem to think that I haven't tasted other wines! I certainly have, however I just want to clarify that I am being specific about Zins is all!

beachopn: I am going to bust out a Zin tonight with some jack cheese and crackers actually. :) It's Coastline Paso Robles. My boyfriend and I went to Total Wine & More, and it was on special and at the tasting.

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