One of the coolest things about working at a liquor store is that in order to better sell our products, we sometimes have to taste them—I know so horrible right? But really, tasting and learning about new products is so interesting to me and I’m really enjoying it. However, it does sort of make me a little nervous. In all honesty I don’t have the most refined palate. I’m trying, but you can tell me a wine has hints of cherry or notes of oak or whatever all you like I still just taste wine. I mean I can tell the difference between two different wines side by side but my descriptors for them really only go as far as I like it or I don’t or I’d drink it if someone offered me some but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it. I’m good at that; at knowing what I like and what I don’t…unfortunately my face is also very good at it. I have no poker face whatsoever when I taste something I don’t like. I like to think that with my job being what it is that I’m getting better at controlling it but I still find myself nervous whenever I go to taste something new, worried that if I don’t like it I’ll make a horrible—and horribly rude—face at the vendor that’s running the tasting. So, when my managers invited me to join them for a high-end tequila tasting with a vendor the other day I wanted to turn and run in the other direction.
Look, I’ll usually try almost anything once, even if I know I won’t like it. For instance whiskey and bourbon; I have yet to taste any that I like so I know if you put one in front of me I’ll probably hate it but I’ll still try it. But tequila? Tequila is another animal entirely. The first time I ever had tequila was at my college roommate’s 21st birthday party. She had a bartender friend making cocktails that night. My first drink of the night was a vodka mixed drink of some sort. My second drink was a tequila sunrise. Two sips into the tequila sunrise and not even feeling the effects of the first drink yet, I suddenly found myself shoving the drink into one of my friend’s hands and running to the bathroom to throw up. It could have been any number of things, I know that, it could have been bad orange juice, it could have been something I ate earlier, or even the vodka drink I had before, but ever since that night just the smell of tequila makes my stomach turn. So yeah, being asked to join a tequila tasting was, frankly, terrifying. But then, as the very kind vendor running the tasting pointed out when I warned her that I was not a tequila drinker, there is a difference between the most likely very cheap tequila I had at that party and the high-end and high-quality stuff she was representing.
Don’t get me wrong I will never like it, but that tasting completely changed the way I look at tequila. I didn’t like it, but neither did I feel the urge to throw up or even spit it out. Since then I’ve been able to join in on another tasting for a much less high-end tequila—but still probably leagues better than whatever was in that tequila sunrise—without fear and while I liked that tequila even less than the first one I feel like I’ve gotten to a place where I can approach tequila the same way I approach whiskey—will I like it? Probably not. Can I still learn from it and appreciate it for what it is? Hopefully.