Characteristics of Wine

The following categories have to do with taste, wine reveals itself according to where it is detected on the tongue, we have over 10,000 taste buds with defined areas on the tongue and checks responsible for sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.


As soon as wine touches the tip of your tongue you will either notice sweetness or a lack of it

International Definitions of Wine Sweetness
English Canadian French German Italian Spanish
bone dry 0 brut
dry 1 sec trocken secco seco
medium dry 2 demi-sec halbtrocken abboccato semi-seco
medium sweet 3 doux mild amabile
sweet 4 moelleux lieblich dolce dulce
very sweet 5 liquoreux süss


All wine contains acid, mainly tartaric acid, and the acidity gives wine the ability to fight bacteria and allows wine to age gracefully. For white wines acidity is the backbone of the wines taste, it will impart a dry, crisp and fresh sensation while a lack of acidity tastes fat or flabby. The sides of the tongue will give the impression of the overall style of the wine and is classified as tart, crisp, soft or flabby.

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The substance tannin resides in grape skins, pips (seeds), and stock, it is responsible for the sensation of your mouth rapidly drying out into a pucker and keeps it dry. Acidity and tannin are difficult to distinguish at first, but the difference lies in the fact that acidity will make your mouth water after you have swallowed (saliva is alkaline) and tannin leaves it dry. Black grapes have a far higher concentration of tannin than white grapes and the greater amount of time the wine is left in contact with the grape skins the higher the concentration of tannin. The drying sensation will be noticed at the back of the tongue, cheeks, and gums and is classified as astringent, firm or soft. Oak is also a contributor of tannin in wine, though it is a less harsh type, tannin is also used as a cooking ingredient, cream of tartar is actually tannin scraped from oak barrels used for wine.

Balance and Body

The overall impression of a wine, how some feel light on the palate while others feel heavy of fuller is classified as light bodied, medium bodied, and full bodied. Balance and Body are both related to alcohol content in wine, too much alcohol and wine will feel hot and taste overly spicy. Balance is described as how the elements of a wine fit together, how nothing overpowers the palate but is rich in complexity.