A Post-COVID Tasting Thread

I thought it might be useful for other folks who have had COVID to have a place to share their experiences with tasting. I had a very mild form of it in April - never tested positive - and seemingly recovered quickly, but I’ve noticed that tasting wine in the last ten months has been confusing, to say the least. I never lost my senses of taste or smell, but I’d say that my taste more often than not - especially lately - feels like an out of tune instrument. I notice it a little with most food and drink, but wine is particularly vivid, probably because I’ve been learning how to differentiate tastes with more care.

I have gone months where every wine taste just fine - no problem. But I have a jumble of weird, recurrent side effects (increased eye pressue, asthma, hair loss, tinnitus) that come and go, seemingly at random. For some reason my early, main symptoms (headache, nausea, ear congestion, sore throat, vertigo) really roared back this week and it made me notice that the out-of-tune taste thing was especially noticable.

Rather than focus on one specific note, I want to report a general trend: I seem to do best with whites, but only after the first couple of sips. Chardonnay works better than sauvignon blanc, which tastes like turpentine. I am very sensitive to alcohol and reduction. Very bold cabs, merlots and malbecs, just fine, no problem - after those first two sips. Stuff with age, I sense the bandaid first, but then that calms down. Last night I had my most difficult experience. Of all things, it was a very young Myriad syrah. My girlfriend reported that it was excellent, but all I tasted was the alcohol and grapes. The aroma was its normal terrific self. I found this odd, because I’ve had plenty of Calfornia syrahs without issue - but not while my overt symptoms were flaring up. I’ll lay off for another week or so, and if and when this abates I’ll see how it’s working.

If you have any anecdotes or notes or experiences, lay them on us. Maybe we can come up with a working theory of how to best taste wines while we still have this thing.

I’m very much a beginner to wine but I have found a few favorites so far, especially Chardonnay. Then I had COVID in November with extremely mild symptoms. On new year’s eve, I splurged on an expensive wine tasting to do with my boyfriend - four Chardonnays total, two of which I had tasted and loved pre-COVID. This time around, all I could taste was burnt matches in every single wine! Ever since then, I have not been able to find a Chardonnay where I could actually taste anything beyond burnt matches. I am trying to learn to enjoy or at least accept this new flavor… but it’s coming along slowly.