Four ways to taste wine

The Budometer, a computerized palate-assessment tool developed by California wine consultant Tim Hanni, divides wine drinkers into four categories: tolerant, sensitive, hypersensitive and sweet.

The rating is based on the number of taste buds you have — a higher number makes you more sensitive to strong, bitter flavors — and your personal experience. Here is a basic guide to Hanni's categories. To take his survey, go to

  • Tolerant — Favors intense, powerful wines with oak characteristics. Stick to reds — cabernet sauvignons, Rhone reds, old-vine zinfandels, barolos, amarones — or oaked chardonnays and Rhone whites.
  • Sensitive — Favors smooth wines with richness and, more important, balance. Many styles appeal. Hanni recommends U.S. and Chilean sauvignon blancs, viogniers, rich wines from Alsace, New World chardonnays, shiraz/syrah and Rhone blends; merlot and merlot blends; rich-style pinot noirs; red zinfandels; more modern French, Italian and Spanish reds.
  • Hypersensitive — Favors lighter, more delicate wines with just a touch of oak, if any. Wines with high alcohol tend to create an unpleasant burning sensation. Hanni recommends dry and slightly sweet rieslings and Austrian, German and Alsatian wines; French or Chilean chardonnays; unoaked New World chardonnays; lighter New Zealand, French and U.S. pinot noirs; lower-alcohol red zinfandels; lighter French, Italian and Spanish reds.
  • Sweet — Very sensitive to bitterness and alcohol; wants only sweet wines. Period. Hanni recommends white zinfandels, sweeter rieslings, Lambruscos, Moscato wines and sweet red dessert wines.

— The Washington Post

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