Have you ever shared a drink with someone you know (someone who even shares the same taste as you) and disagreed completely over the quality of what you were drinking? It can be quite flabbergasting. I opened a bottle of wine with someone the other night (a white wine that I find to be quite delicious) and my friend took a sip, wrinkled her nose, and said, "I don't like that at all." I took a sip to make sure the wine wasn't corked or off. There was nothing wrong with it.

"Are you serious?" I asked, completely confused. It tasted wonderful to me.

"It has a terrible finish," she said, her mouth now a crooked line of complete disgust. I took another sip. The wine was perfect. Fresh, crisp, clean white wine—everything as it should be.

"I'm not quite sure what you're tasting," I said, trying to be polite. "I think it's great."

"It tastes like there's something wrong with it," she said. "It has a terrible, bitter finish. I can't drink it." She put down her glass.

I sat there for a minute unsure of what to do. I was in total disarray. Finally I got up, opened another bottle, and poured her a glass of a different wine. She thought it was much better, but I didn't find much of a difference between the two. That was the end of it though. There was no point in arguing or discussing it any further. She felt the way she felt. I felt the way I felt. What more was there to say?

My point? People can taste different things in different beverages and you may never know why. It doesn't matter how experienced you are. Despite the fact that both my friend and I work professionally in the trade, we could not come to any sort of middle ground concerning a very ordinary (and delicious, in my opinion) white wine—and it's not just experienced folks who don't always see eye to eye. I interact with customers all the time who don't like some of the wines they've purchased from K&L. That doesn't surprise me because you can't like everything. What does surprise me, however, is when people assume that because they don't like a wine it automatically means the wine is flawed or not good. I have to laugh when people email me in anger because I liked something they found to be unsatisfactory, but I guess when you hate a wine or a whisky and think it tastes absolutely terrible, it's hard to imagine why the person sitting across from you, sharing that same liquid, wouldn't hate it too. And the opposite is true, as well. When you love something it can be hard to imagine another person not liking it.

But that's the way things work. For every person who likes peaty Lagavulin there are fifty others who hate it. For every person who hates earthy Bordeaux there are fifty others who love it. You can fight about it if you want to, but you're not going to convince anyone you're right.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll