The Right Wine Is the One You Choose

Wine is such a status symbol that choosing the right one can seem incredibly fraught. Imagine the embarrassment if you're trying to impress a new client or a date and you foolishly order Cab Sauv with your caviar. Never mind white wine with a steak! Luckily, new research takes some of the terror out of disagreeing with a sommelier. It turns out that even with wine, the customer is always right.

Hospitality scholars at Michigan State University have proposed a new way to understand your palate. Rather than assuming that all humans react to wine and food pairings the same way, this study supports the idea that everyone has a particular "vinotype" that matters more than conventional wisdom. Vinotypes come in four flavors, ranging in preference from picky to intense: sweet, hypersensitive, sensitive, and tolerant. No matter how subtle a Riesling may be, for instance, if you're a tolerant vinotype, you'd rather try bold and intense flavors, even paired with an understated dish.

We already know that most of us can't tell the difference between very cheap wine and very expensive wine. In fact, when we spend more money on wines, our brains trick us into thinking it tastes better. In a business situation (or a romantic one), there are still psychological elements to offering a pricey bottle to your dining partners. But if you're thinking purely in terms of taste, literally and socially, don't worry so much about which wine is the right one. You like what you like — and you shouldn't care who knows it.