You will develop your own personal palate when you're tasting wine and the more you taste, the more you will develop your wine palate. Tasting wine will also deepen your appreciation for both winemakers and wine.
The combination of taste and smell allows you to discern the flavor. You are able to only taste salty, sour, sweet and bitter, but your nose is able to smell an unlimited amount of unique scents.
But what things should you look out for when tasting wine? Below you will find a list that will help you developing your own personal wine palate.
Take a good look at your wine after pouring a glass of wine. Look at the color, but look a bit further than recognizing it is white or red. Is the wine clear or cloudy? Is it watery or dark? Give your glass a swirl and take a look again. Do you sediment or cork? After tasting various wines, you will see for instance that young white wines are lighter than older white wines.
Swirl your glass again and stick your nose into the glass, inhale through your nose and then let your imagination do its work: what do you smell? When tasting wine with other people, don't be surprised if you are the only person recognizing a particular aroma, everyone has their own references.
Take a sip of your wine and swirl the wine around your mouth. By doing so, you ensure that the wine reaches all parts of your tongue. Bitterness is sensed at the very back of your tongue, sourness and acidity at the sides and saltiness a little farther to the front. Sweetness is sensed at the tip of your tongue. It will also help if you suck in some air through your lips, this will help recognizing the flavors and aromas. Don't be embarrassed if you're making funny noises when swirling the wine around your mouth.
Obviously you will find alcohol in all wine. But the higher the level of alcohol gets, the rounder the wine feels in your mouth.
When smelling and tasting the wine, let your imagination run wild. You simply won't just smell and taste grapes, but flavors you could recognize are strawberries, raspberries, nuts, apples, chocolate or even coffee. Don't worry if you don't find right away a garden full of fruit flavors, this will come over time.
Do you recognize that drying feeling in your mouth after tasting (young) wine? Tannin creates that feeling in your mouth. It comes from the stalks and skins of the grapes and softens with age.
Acidity makes the wine crisp and fresh. Wine that lacks acidity will taste shapeless, too much acidity makes the wine too sharp and bitter.
Dry or Sweet
The dryness or sweetness of the wine is affected by the amount of natural sugar of the wine. Sweetness needs to be balanced by acidity; otherwise the wine will be too sweet or rich.
Refer to my other wine articles if you are interested in:
- Cava - The Spanish alternative for Champagne
- Prosecco - a fine and affordable alternative to Champagne
- Moselle wines - Germany's top wines