How To Develop A Palate For Anything


The world is full of many flavors but I’m not just thinking about food or wine. All joys of life – whether in music, film, books, or whatever – vary depending on our tastes and preferences.

One taste isn’t better than another, but it is important that we have taste. It is important that know what we like.

The more we know what we like, the more we know ourselves, and the more we can maximize our time with activities we find pleasurable.

Say, for example, that my friend Paul hates Robin Williams and finds him to be an incredibly annoying actor. If they see a commercial of his new movie, then they might have a clue to avoid it. Having a sense of what we like can help us make decisions on how to spend our time.

Of course, it’s not really that simple. There can be a lot of factors that go into “liking something” and it’s also important to have an open-mind. Just because we didn’t like one or two movies with some actor doesn’t necessarily mean that we won’t like any of them. Therefore, developing a sophisticated palate entails giving every flavor a fair shot before being judgmental.

Be warned: Going into anything with a judgmental attitude may deprive us of pleasure that we would otherwise have.

The point of developing a palate isn’t to be a critic or a snob, it is about refining tastes so we know what we what when we want it! It’s knowledge about what in the world brings us joy.

How To Develop A Palate

Of course, naturally, we all already have a sense of what we like and dislike. However, as we age, we tend to get more stuck in our views, less willing to try new flavors, or experiment with old ones.

A few suggestions all palate-developers should heed to:

  • Frequently ask friends and family for recommendations.
  • Embrace the unknown by trying out different flavors (genres).
  • Don’t be afraid to give some tastes (individual works) a second chance (sometimes I notice that the very best tastes are the ones that grow on me over time).
  • Consume a lot. We don’t always have the free time, but the more time we spend consuming new material the more developed our tastes will be.
  • Find out about the history or culture of your tastes. Knowing the context surrounding an artistic or creative work (where it comes from, the biography of the creator, the culture surrounding the time it was created) can add another layer of juices to the mix.

This advice can be applied to almost any medium of creativity: architecture, design, paintings, poetry, dramas, photography, cooking …you get the point!


Developing a palate is not just about finding what gives us the most pleasure. It is also about developing our own personality. Having a diverse palate shows that you have a passion. And having a passion tells others that you have a strong sense of self and a certain zest for life. It gives you character.

Imagine someone who doesn’t have any taste in music, movies, books, video games, TV shows, or anything else. It’s all the same to them – they have no interests or tastes whatsoever. What a boring person!

However, when someone has a passion, and they are motivated to learn the intricacies to a particular art or hobby, then it shows they are dedicated toward something. They have importance in their life.

Now, I am not saying we should fully identify ourselves with what we enjoy. Some people can take their tastes too seriously and even end friendships over differences between who is the best singer or actor. Again, building up our palette is not about being a snob or critic. It’s about knowing ourselves, but also recognizing that others have different tastes too.


Understanding the components of other people’s creativity, by widening our palate, motivates us to better exercise our own creativity. By listening to lots of other music, we can get ideas on new ways to play instruments or arrange parts of a song. For example, when my friend first heard Animal Collective’s “Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished,” he put away his drum sticks and used brushes for about a year and a half. In literature, authors often allude to past works of fiction. In movies, filmmakers may pay homage to classic films. We learn through listening and watching other people’s action.

It is often argued that all of today’s art, in some form or another, is a rearranging of past creativity. So when we grow our palate we theoretically have more resources to help create our own projects. I’ve personally experienced this with blogging. It wasn’t until I actively started reading other blogs on a regular basis that I got more ideas for how to improve my own blog.

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