Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat, there is no real rule that says one cannot drink white wine after drinking red. Tradition can be a wonderful thing, except when that tradition comes out of formal tastings, and not leisurely imbibing, leading to a host of formalities which often cause us to feel restricted and judged by rules and regulations. This silly wine “rule” is one of those examples.
When people are formally tasting wine, most of the time they choose to go from light to heavy (white wine to red) or dry to sweet (table wine to dessert wine) in order to best allow their palate to adapt while processing and analyzing all those specific flavors. If one were to taste a ton of reds and then switch to tasting whites, often there could be a build-up of tannins (that stuff that dries out your mouth) on the palate, therefore completely changing how the white wines might taste. The same is true if you were going from sweet to dry. The sugary elixir may stay on your tongue in this example, thus slightly clouding how you might perceive an otherwise dry wine. You’d hate for this to impact the nuances of a wine if you were trying to decide whether or not you wanted to buy the bottle, or if it was worthy of some auspicious award, thus at formal tastings, most people drink in an order.
But the last time we checked, we aren’t formally tasting wine when we’re out drinking with friends, we’re enjoying ourselves, and in this situation, a little white wine after red can be a wonderful thing. In fact, during long meals or get togethers, a glass of white wine interspersed between all the reds, especially if they’re heavy reds, can be a fantastic way to add a little zip to your palate, waking it up a bit. You’re not breaking any rules by doing this. Instead you’re simply drinking with the flow of the evening, and providing your palate with the pick-me-up your taste buds crave.
And concerning that other wives tale which says white wine on top of red will give you a hangover, it isn’t true either. The only thing that will certainly give you a hangover is drinking a lot of wine, both red and white, but there is no proof whatsoever that a glass of white on top of red equals a sure-fire hangover in the morning.
So go forth and drink with confidence and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
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