Tasting WineThe human palate is capable of discerning four tastes: Salty, Sweet, Sour and Bitter.
Only sweet and sour (or acid) are especially applicable to wine. Some wines may display some bitterness on the finish. Almost no wine is salty except for Fino or Manzanilla sherry, whose saltiness derives from the proximity of the production facilities to the sea. In addition, some vines that have been irrigated with brackish water, may produce wines with higher than normal salt levels.
Some of what we perceive as TASTE is actually SENSATION. There are three main sensations that contribute to the texture of a wine:
Most of what we perceive as FLAVOR is really an extension of AROMA. This is easily demonstrated by pinching your nose when tasting wine. The flavor disappears, leaving only the essential tastes and sensations. Regardless of a wine’s flavor, the two basic tastes (sweet & sour) in combination with the sensations/textures mentioned above are often more than adequate for the accurate identification and assessment of a wine.
When tasting wine, one is always looking for harmony. A wine that is balanced in its youth will generally be balanced in older age. A wine that is imbalanced when young may “come around”, however, this is not always guaranteed. If a wine is especially over-ripe, and therefore overly alcoholic, it will generally age poorly, and will tend to turn pruny and stewed-tasting after a relatively short period of aging.