Wine Tasting – Stage 3 of Tasting – In Mouth sensations


The third stage of wine tasting involves assessing the sensations created by the wine in the mouth. If you take a small sip and then roll the wine around in the mouth for a while, the three main sensations that you’d register would be the taste, texture and aroma.

Strictly speaking, taste is made up of a combination of four flavors in exactly this same sequence – sweet, acid, salt and bitter. Some of these will linger longer than the others. In the process of wine tasting, it is important to recognize the taste that has the greatest persistence, the one sensation that lasts longest.

The acidic sensation of the wine comes from tartaric, malic and citric acids in grape juice or the acetic, lactic and succinic acids which are the results of fermentation. Some wines taste sweeter than others due to higher sugar content.

Wines also possess a salty tinge which, by itself, is insignificant, but serves to highlight the acidic and sweet flavors. Of all the tastes, bitterness is the one perceived last; in fact, it is this factor that is responsible for the bitter aftertaste of certain wines. The taste of any wine is thus the net result of a unique blend of all these flavors.
Although all parts of the mouth cavity have some tactile sense, a few like the centre of the tongue have the ability to feel the wine. Some dessert wines give the feeling of smoothness while others seem to possess a particular richness. Allow the wine to wash around your mouth, swallow and then rub your tongue on the roof of the mouth; if you feel a rough, coarse sensation, it indicates that tannins are present in the wine. Tannins are more common with young red wines than in mature, older ones.

In the process of wine tasting, it is important to distinguish this astringency from bitterness. Assessing the texture also involves sensing the weight of the wine in the mouth, a term referred to as “body”. High alcohol wines have more body than lower alcohol wines. Wine may also contain varying percentages of carbon dioxide which leads to a prickly sensation; this highlights the acidity in white wines and the astringent taste of the red ones.
A good wine is one that has the right balance of acidity, alcohol content and astringency; no one taste should overpower the others.


Wine tasters are trained to inhale through the mouth and exhale through the nose in order to enable the olfactory system to sense the aroma of the wine. This, along with the basic taste that is sensed by the oral cavity, is responsible for the final impression of the wine. If you wish to sense the aroma with greater intensity, just compress the wine in the mouth by pressing the tongue against the roof of the mouth. Perhaps the most difficult part of wine tasting is the process of recognizing and describing the actual aroma. The wine taster is hence required to be astute at memorizing and recalling a wide variety of smells that he could use to catalog the overall flavor of a wine.

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