Wine enthusiasts are inundated with a plethora of educational and anecdotal information about the liquid produced from Vitas Vinifera (the wine grape). With all of this data available from the experts, how does the average lover of this beverage and lifestyle wade through all of it? Well we believe that your palate is the best personal advisor. We all know what is pleasing to us. When we first started to have an interest in all aspects of wine, the terroir, the varietal, the effects of climate on production and bottled outcome from year to year, along with the finer points for determining the personal value of a wine, it seemed daunting. Over the years through education from the American Wine Society and our growing relationships with recognized winery owners and vintners, and of course comparisons made with our friends and family we began to appreciate the importance of personal taste. Granted, because of having the experience of tasting lots of different wines, visiting domestic wineries and those in Europe, we have finally at the point where “we know what we don’t like and why”. We also have learned that wine is so much more than the end result. How many of you visit wineries on a regular basis, sometimes, only when traveling, or never. Well if you do have the opportunity to visit a winery, wine festival or even a tasting at your local wine shop take a moment to think about why you are there. Is it just to drink the fermented juice or to get some valuable education? If it is the latter make sure to press the pourer for as much information about the wine that you are tasting. It is not a game of stump the stars, but a great opportunity to hear the story. The story is most certainly a part of the overall experience adding, in some cases, volume to the wine. We all love a good story and most savvy wine distributors at a wine shop, pourers at a winery or wine festival, or the winery owner and/or vintner themselves will take you on a journey that will take your love of wine to new levels. Now we are not professing that you need to become a wine snob or an expert, but give yourself the opportunity to learn about this beverage that has been in production in one form of another for over 5000 years. We would highly recommend that if your next vacation abroad is in a wine region make it part of your itinerary. We conduct wine tours with hosts that are experts in the field. Or just visit a local winery if you are in a wine producing state and if not, visit a wine shop in your community. Tell them you want to learn about the wines they sell. Also seek out an American Wine Society chapter in your area. You will meet a great group of people who have the same interest and desire for wine education that you have. We would like to leave you with a quote from Robert Parker. He is a leading wine critic well respected throughout the world. We think he best explains why the scoring system for wine is not a substitute for personal taste. “Scores are important for the reader to gauge a professional critic's overall qualitative placement of a wine vis-à-vis its peer group. However, it is also vital to consider the description of the wine's style, personality, and potential. No scoring system is perfect, but a system that provides for flexibility in scores, if applied by the same taster without prejudice, can quantify different levels of wine quality and provide the reader with one professional's judgment. However, there can never be any substitute for your own palate nor any better education than tasting the wine yourself”.