27 April 2011
Posted in The Science of Wine
Drinking wine is more than simply consuming it, it involves taste. Taste is a reaction that doesn’t require thought but it is very complex. The average person has 5,000 taste buds. Trying to decipher all of types of tastes can be proven difficult. There are many basic taste profiles found in wine. In order to fully taste and appreciate the wine you must learn what those tastes are; with time you will be able to recognize each distinct flavor. The main flavors found in wine are sweet, bitter, tannin, fruit and varietal characteristics, and aftertaste.
The basic taste profiles on the tongue are sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami (salt). Sweet flavors can be found on the tip of your tongue. Therefore if there are any sweet elements in the wine that will be the first flavor recognized. Acidity is the term in wine for a sour note. This flavor is found on the sides of your tongue closer to your cheeks. Acidity is more common in lighter-style red wines and white wines. They regularly contain more sour profiles.
Bitterness is found on the back of your tongue. It is very hard to ignore. Mostly this can be found near the end of the taste and can lead to the aftertaste. Tannin can be found in the middle of the tongue. Tannin can be found in either red wines or white wines aged with wood. Tannin is a sensation instead of a flavor. This sensation is why many don’t like red wines. Tannins are an acquired sensation. In white wines, tannin can dry the palate to excess. In red wines, tannins can actually coat your mouth.
Fruit and varietal characteristics are smells. You can tell the body of the wine from the fruit content. This will be found on the middle of your tongue. The aftertaste includes the overall taste and the balance of the flavors and sensations in your mouth. The amount of time the tastes linger can show the quality of the wine. The time the aftertaste can last varies from one to three minutes.
The best way to learn about these flavors is to think while you drink! You will be able to enjoy the wine much more if you realize what you are drinking. The easiest ways to determine what type of wine you prefer is to know the science behind your choice. If you like tannin then you might prefer an oaked chardonnay or a cabernet sauvignon. Knowing all these flavors, sensations, and smells comes with time. The more you drink and think; the more you learn what and why you like each wine.