Learn the basic wine characteristics to develop your palate and find favorites. By understanding the 5 characteristics below you’ll have a better chance of getting what you love. The best way to learn about your taste is to classify wines by their fundamental traits and then pick what you like the best.
To understand the basic characteristics of wine it’s important to learn how to taste wine. Learning to identify wine characteristics helps to identify what you like about a wine.
Our human perception of sweet starts at the tip of our tongue. Often, the very first impression of a wine is its level of sweetness. To taste sweet, focus your attention on the taste buds on the tip of your tongue. Are your taste buds tingling?–an indicator of sweetness. Believe it or not, many dry wines can have a hint of sweetness to carry a larger impression of Body. If you find a wine you like has residual sugar, you may enjoy a hint (or a lot!) of sweetness in your wine.
How to Taste it in Wine
Acidity in food and drink is tart and zesty. Tasting acidity is often confused with the taste of higher Alcohol. It is common for wines grown in cooler vintages to have higher acidity. Wines with higher acidity feel lighter weight because they come across as ‘spritzy.’ If you prefer a wine that is more rich and round, you enjoy slightly less acidity.
Tannin is often confused with Level of Dryness because tannin dries your mouth. What are wine tannins? Tannin in wine is the presence of phenolic compounds that add bitterness to a wine. Phenolics are found in the skins and seeds of wine grapes and can also be added to a wine with the use of aging in wood (oak). So how does tannin taste?
Imagine putting a used black tea bag on your tongue. A wet tea bag is practically pure tannin that is bitter and has a drying sensation. Tannin tastes herbaceous and is often described as astringent. While all of these descriptors sound very negative, tannin adds balance, complexity, structure and makes a wine last longer.
How Does a High Tannin Wine Taste?
Wines are often characterized by their main fruit flavors. Tasting for fruit flavors in a wine can help you better define your preferences. For instance, wines that have strawberry notes lead into a very different set of varietal wines than enjoying wines that taste like blackberries. Additionally, the level of fruitiness that you taste in a wine leads to very different growing regions.
Tasting for fruitiness in a wine
Are you in the mood for a light, medium or full-bodied wine? Body is the result of many factors – from wine variety, where it’s from,vintage, alcohol level and how it’s made. Body is a snapshot of the overall impression of a wine. You can improve your skill by paying attention to where and when it’s present.
Alcohol Level ABV (or Alcohol by Volume) adds body. The wine will have a higher viscosity which is easily seen in watching it bead on the side of the glass. A high alcohol wine typically tastes fuller bodied than a light-alcohol wine.
Wine characteristics help identify and relate different wines to each other. Since over 250,000 different wines are released every year around the world, it’s helpful to think about wine characteristics in terms of the varietal and where they’re from.
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