Wine 101: How to Taste Wine With Andrew Lampasone of Wine Watch
Step Four: Taste
By this point, you probably just want to get your buzz on, but the goal is to really get a good feel for the wine in your mouth. Sip in a good amount and let it sit on your tongue, feeling the weight and mass of the wine. Hold it for three to five seconds before swallowing.
"A wine that is very concentrated and viscous contains either a high amount of sugar, alcohol, and/or acid," said Lampasone. "A very light wine is probably low in alcohol, sugar, and/or acid. A white wine that prickles the back of your tongue is probably fairly high in citric or malic acid [associated with green apple]. A red wine that completely dries out your mouth, leaving you speechless, is probably high in tannins -- a compound found in the grapes' seeds and stems that can be very bitter."
Step Five: Wait...
The initial flavors that traverse your palate when you first let the wine sit in your mouth will change after swallowing. There are three stages to the finish.
According to Lampasone, "The finish sets great wine apart from good ones. The first 15 seconds, the essence of the wine will be the strongest and sometimes too strong due to excessive drying tannins, acidity, or alcohol. The next 15 seconds, the intense flavors will begin to diminish quickly for most wines. The following 15 seconds, most of the flavors will be faded and the wine will neutralize your palate. Only the best of wines will be well-balanced through all three stages, and only the very best will gain in complexity and flavor after the initial 15 seconds. After 45 seconds, if you can still taste the wine, try to determine if the acid, alcohol, and fruit are still in balance."
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