A Refined Palate

A young bartender/male model/med student was sitting at my bar this past weekend and did not enjoy either of the cocktails that he ordered.  When I spoke to him about what could be the problem–and I knew it wasn’t me because the drinks had passed my usual scrutiny–he complained that he had not yet “developed his palate” and seemed quite frustrated with himself.  How does one acquire a refined palate?  Does it come with age?  Or experience? Or interest? He asked me.

He went on to vent his frustrations around tasting various families of liquors, specifically scotch and gin.  I thought it a bit uncouth to tell him that it takes a veritable interest in something to refine successive experience with it.  But I chose not to speak and only listened.

Before our most recent yoga practice, I read aloud some verses from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, where the five rules of living, the niyamas, are named.  Among them was refinement (right after purification, but before surrender to the Lord).

And just today I read a poignant explanation on being an expert by Dr. M. Scott Peck:

“There is no greater satisfaction than that of being an expert, of really knowing what we are doing. Those who have grown the most spiritually are those who are the experts in living.”

One of the ways we begin to refine our experiences is to make our observations of them more accurate, more precise.  We slowly refine ourselves as we are able to appreciate the subtleties in whatever we are experiencing, whether it be a glass of wine or a cocktail or an exchange with a stranger.  Yes, a refined palate as well as a refined life is developed over time, but only with the key elements of interest and patience as a guide.