You may call yourself a wine lover, and by all accounts that may be true. Maybe you even go so far as to call yourself a wine connoisseur because of the sheer volume of wine you drink on a weekly basis. But in reality, do those self-proclaimed titles give you the ability to identify the flavours in your favourite wine correctly? Having the ability to identify those wine flavours could make your food pairing choices easier. Let’s take a look at how you can adequately determine the flavours in your wine so you can proudly proclaim your “wine connoisseur” title!
Wine Flavours – The True Origin of Flavor
Before stepping out onto the wine scene as an expert wine taster, it is important to understand where the flavours come from in the first place. The flavours do not come directly from the grapes used to make the wine, as some may think. In fact, the flavours actually come from the aroma compounds that are released into the wine during fermentation. Wines can actually carry hundreds of different aromas at one time. These aroma varieties give you the complex flavours you know and love.
Wine Flavours – Your Nose Knows
When you begin wine tasting, you may notice that taking a sniff of your wine first is commonplace. Why? Because our noses are the interpreters of the aroma compounds that are found in the wine. When we smell wine first, we allow our brains to react to the smell to create the tasting experience.
While some people interpret smells differently (you may smell a peach, and I may smell a plum), you are most likely to smell aromas in the same family. So while I may smell a plum scent, you may detect a peach scent. Even so, it is safe to say that the wine has a fruity aroma, yes? Take a sniff of your wine before indulging in the wine’s goodness to give your taste buds even more of an experience.
Wine Flavours – Different Flavour Characteristics
There are different flavour characteristics that make up your favourite wine.
In short, you should not be able to taste the alcohol in your wine. If you can taste the alcohol, it will hit you in the middle of your tongue with a warm sensation. There won’t be flavours to taste with the alcohol.
Tannin refers to the texture of the wine you experience on your tongue. When you have a higher concentration of tannin in your wine, your mouth can become dry. If your tannins are ripe, you will not experience a bitter aftertaste. But, if your tannins are unripe, you will get that bitterness at the end.
You most likely will find higher concentrations of tannins in your red wines. If you see that your red wine is more bitter than others you’ve tasted, you may be experience young tannins. This should not be the case but can occur. You will experience harsh, astringent flavours with youthful tannins.
Sometimes a good, acidic wine is just what is needed for your particular meal choice. If you want to know whether your wine is acidic or not, you can look for the explosion of flavour that leaves a bit of freshness in your mouth. Imagine tasting Lemonhead candy. When you first get the candy on your tongue, a blast of flavour hits your mouth. Instead of thinking about the lemon flavour, focus on the sensations the flavour brings to your taste buds.
If you have acidic white wine, you will taste citrus fruits such as grapefruits or lemons. If you have acidic red wine, you may taste some citrusy flavours or sour berries.
While your first thought of a sweet wine may be that of sugary flavours, you would be wrong. Sweetness in wines does not refer to a sugary flavour that you would find in chocolates or candies. You will taste much more grape and natural fruit-based flavours that bring out that sweetness.
You will get the sweet flavour from the wine when you get a hint of fruit. For example, white wines that are sweet tend to have citrusy flavours from fruits such as peaches, pineapples, or other tropical fruits. With red wines, the sweetness can taste like berries – raspberries, blackberries, etc.
The next time you’re out for a wine tasting, let your nose be the guide, and your taste buds take you on a flavour excursion. Once you know the flavours to pay attention to, you can easily identify the flavours that are dancing around in your wine glass.