There is a rhythm to the seasons, a flow from winter to spring, summer, autumn and then the flow begins anew.

Along with this seasonal flow, there is movement in the clothes we wear, the foods we eat and the wines we drink.

Bundled against the cold, we anticipate hearty meals and hearty wines, predominately red: cabernet sauvignon, syrah, Tannat, Barolo, Rioja.

As the weather moderates, so does our preference in wine. We move from the deep reds to softer reds, rosés and then to the whites, served cool and refreshing under the shaded cover of outside tables.

This is common sense, right?

It's a reflection of who we are and what we are eating, since wine is a food and as such a reflection of what is available at any moment in the year.

Of course, there are some people who prefer a hearty red in the dog days of August, just as there are those who relish a crisply chilled chardonnay for the Christmas repast.

There are no rules, no matter what you are urged to believe; a person's taste is personal.

This is not a new idea. Writers such as Alfonso Cevola and, more recently, Craig Camp, have shared these sentiments for years.

Recently, though, I've been struck at how many people have told me their tastes have changed, not for the moment, not for the season, and perhaps not forever.

But they have changed sufficiently so that they have become what Camp recently described as "the equivalent of picky eaters."

Seeking answers

Six years ago, Cevola posted on his blog "On the Wine Trail in Italy" a thoughtful essay on changing tastes.

"In my life, I have to say, my tastes have ranged all across the board, like waves of appreciation," Cevola wrote.

Once a staunch lover of red wines, Cevola discovered he was having trouble finding a place for them in his diet. Instead, he wrote, "I am enjoying lighter wines."

THE Italian connection

I thought of this in early April during a conversation with Niccoló Montecchi, owner of the 500-year-old estate Villa del Cigliano, south of Florence, Italy.

Montecchi makes old-school Chianti Classico, with blackberry and other dark fruit notes, smooth tannins and a touch of clay-soil minerality.

He, too, once preferred the heavy, bolder reds, but now he tends toward wines that finesse, instead of overpower, a drinker. His recent vintages reflect that taste.

"I don't know what it was, but I find the elegant, lighter wines, still with concentration and nuance, are what I prefer," Montecchi said. "Some wines have a big impact but they aren't all that drinkable, one or two glasses and you're done. I've always been on the more elegant side than the power side."

The retailer

Josh Matteson from Fisher's Liquor Barn in Grand Junction said the first wine he remembers drinking years ago was a less-than-impressive blush rosé.

"Back then I really didn't understand wines, but over the years, as I started appreciating basic stuff, I found myself picking wines apart and appreciating them more than I used to," he said during a short break in the bustling 26,000-square-foot store.

"But it's weird. In the last few years, I've been more interested in whites. Before that I loved giant reds — big Italians, Napa Valley and Alexander (Valley) fruit — and now whites are just more appealing," he said.

His job offers him ample opportunities to taste different wines, and he's conscious of appreciating wines from a retailer's price-conscious view.

"I think for me the white wines offer more variance," he said. "I still love a great Cabernet Sauvignon or a Brunello di Montalcino, but for everyday drinking, for me, whites across the board offer a different feel from one wine to the next."

The restaurateur

The cold front blowing through the Grand Valley last week played havoc with Brenda Wray's newly planted outdoor seating area.

"My plants are dying out there," lamented Wray, co- owner (with husband/chef Theo Otte) of the fine-dining establishment, 626 on Rood. "It's so windy, we can't open the patio."

She consoled a visitor with a glass of Pigeoulet Vaucluse Blanc, a blend of equal parts Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Clairette Blanc.

It's an elegant white, redolent of herbs, stone fruit and spice with brilliant acidity. And like most of the wines Wray selects for her clients, it's unlikely you'll find this wine served anyplace else in town.

With nearly 30 years in the food-service industry, most of it in Colorado, Wray is a veteran of the trade whose wine education came the old-fashioned way.

It began in San Francisco in the '80s, then a stint in Fort Collins in her brother's restaurant and another few years owning a destination bed-and-breakfast along the Cache La Poudre River and eventually to the Grand Valley, working with Bennett Price at DeBeque Canyon Cellars in the nascent Colorado wine industry.

Along the way, as her palate expanded and improved, she and the big reds she would drink have slowly parted ways.

"It's like I tell my staff, 'You're going to see your palate change,' " she says about the daily wine tastings she holds for the restaurant staff. "It's going to become more sophisticated and you're going to come in here and you're going to like big reds and then ..."

It trails off, because by now we all know where it's going.

She noticed her palate changing after she took over the wine buying a few years after the restaurant opened in 2006.

With distributors bringing in 40 or more wines each week to sample, she soon had a serious case of palate fatigue.

She discovered, as have many others, that dry white wines and rosés, tending toward higher acidity, can awaken and refresh tired palates.

"That's what high-acid wines do and I happen to have high-acid wines on my list because they are great food wines," she said. "We still have lots of amazing reds, they're still very popular, but I love it when I can give people the experience of how acid makes the food pop and it all works together.

"They say, 'Wow, this is so cool'."

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