Editor’s Note: This is the third and final article of three in a series about wine and how to assess, smell, and taste wine. Stephanie’s first article is a great introduction to the series: Let’s Talk Wine — First Impressions. Her second article, What Can the Nose Tell Me about Wine? is a fantastic tutorial on how to properly smell wine. We hope you enjoy this article on assessing the flavor and structure of wine. 

The final step in assessing a glass of wine, after looking at the wine and then smelling the wine, is through taste. Specifically, the two things to focus on are: Structure and Flavor.

Structure

There are four main components that make up a wine’s structure:

Sweetness

Sweetness is assessed on the tip of your tongue. To test this concept and to calibrate your tasting, try tasting a glass of apple juice compared with unsweet tea or even just water. Notice the difference in sweetness assessed on the tip of your tongue. The level of sweetness can indicate a grape varietal, climate, region, or even style of wine.

To read more about sweetness in wine, refer to a previous article explaining the difference between fruity and sweet wines here.

Acidity

Acidity is indicated by the watering sensation inside your cheeks, giving some wine that perfect refreshing characteristic. The quicker and more your mouth waters in 5 seconds, the higher the acidity. High acid levels in wines can indicate the wine is from a cooler climate or that the grapes were picked early.

Tannin

Tannin can be identified by the drying sensation on your gums and is the primary indicator when blind tasting a red wine. The drier your gums, the more tannin present in the wine. Tannins originate from the stem, seeds, and skin of grapes. It can also be developed in wine through oak aging. The tannin style and level can give an indication of the grape varietal and age.

Body

The body refers to the weight of the wine in your mouth. Is the weight similar to skim, 2%, or full-fat milk? The weight corresponds to light, medium, or full body for wine. The body of the wine can give clues to the climate, region, varietal, oak aging, and alcohol.

Flavor Characteristics

The same diverse aroma characteristics we can identify on the nose are the same we can find on the palate. However, not all wines have similar characteristics on the nose and palate, which can throw the wine drinker for a loop when formally tasting wine.

Flavor characteristics can give clues to the wine varietal, region, type of oak aging, length of aging, etc.

Wine Folly has a great aroma and flavor wheel to help train your brain to identify aromas and flavors when tasting wine. Link

Technique

Tasting the wine is the final step of the wine-tasting process. As with looking and smelling, there is a technique to follow.

Take a small sip of the wine and let it roll around in your mouth. Make sure the wine hits different areas of your mouth, such as the tip of your tongue, your gums, and the inside of your cheeks. This enables you to assess not only the flavors but also the structure of the wine.

It may take 3-5 sips (or more) to complete your tasting assessment. Give it time, be patient, and enjoy the process.

What is the wine telling you about its origin and journey?

Happy Tasting!

Questions? Email Stephanie at Stephanie@experience-wine.com

Photos courtesy of Stephanie Roberts, Wine Folly, and Unsplash

Stephanie Roberts, WSET® Certified Sommelier, empowers people to drink better wine. Through unique and tailored wine experiences, she demystifies wine and all its complexities and teaches people how to recognize a wine’s journey from a grape in the vineyard to the wine in your glass.  

More about how to experience wine with Corks & Boards here or email Stephanie at Stephanie@experience-wine.com.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed by our writers belong solely to them
and do not represent LKNConnect.com, its publisher or its staff.