For some people it is basic instinct to taste an array of flavors and aromas in any wine, but the majority of us struggle to pinpoint that specific smell or taste.
WineFolly gives us more information, to help us understand and identify different aromas in wine.
Where do flavors in wine come from?
If you ever have a chance to taste a fresh Chardonnay grape you’ll see how wildly different it is than Chardonnay wine. A Chardonnay grape tastes very different than the apple, lemon and butter flavors associated with Chardonnay wine.
Why are grapes different than wine? This is because all the aroma compounds —stereoisomers as scientists call them— are released by the fermentation as well as the alcohol in wine. Alcohol is volatile (i.e. it is a gas at room temperature) and it carries these lighter-than-air aroma compounds into your nose. Every wine has many different aroma compounds. Each compound can affect the flavor of another or the overall flavor of a wine. This is why some Chardonnays taste different than others. Also, our brains can think of multiple answers to one stereoisomer (crazy, right!?). For example, the lychee fruit flavor in Gewürztraminer can also smell like roses.
Red wines typically fall into two different categories: red fruit and black fruit flavors. The reason to differentiate the two types is to be able to identify a wine in a blind tasting or to pick a favorite. Within each style there is a fair amount of variance. For instance, Lambrusco is typically considered a light red wine in terms of color and body. However in tasting a Lambrusco, many of them exhibit tart blueberry flavors making Lambrusco an example of a ‘black fruit’ aromatic wine. Also, we always have to separate aromas (smells) from tastes (sweet, sour, bitter) in wine…
Most wines with ‘black fruit’ aromas are full-bodied red wines with all the associated extra tannins. Of course there are some full-bodied red-fruited wines and some lighter, fresher, black-fruited wines. As always, there are exceptions. Knowing this about a wine will make you more adept at food pairing.
White wines offer two major fruit types: Tree-fruity vs. Citrusy. The more you taste, the more you’ll realize that the same type of wine will vary wildly depending on where it’s grown. For instance, tasting a Chenin Blanc from South Africa will taste much riper and lusher, whereas Chenin Blanc from Anjou in the Loire Valley, France will have much more ripe-to-under-ripe fruit aromas, even though aromas for all typical Chenins will always center around bruised apple and lemon-y type aromas.
When you taste a white wine, think about the type of flavor and then focus on the ripeness of that flavor. Below is a great example of how ripeness affects the flavor of white wine:
VinePair also have an informative video on “How to become a super wine smeller”
Understanding acidity in wine
Acids are one of 4 fundamental traits in wine (the others are tannin, alcohol and sweetness). Acidity gives wine its tart and sour taste. Fundamentally speaking, all wines lie on the acidic side of the pH spectrum and most range from 2.5 to about 4.5 pH (7 is neutral). There are several different types of acids found in wine which will affect how acidic a wine tastes. The most prevalent acids found in wine are tartaric acid, malic acid, and citric acid.
How to taste acidity in wine
Sit for a minute and imagine yourself tasting lemonade and pay attention to how your mouth puckers just from thinking about it. This sensation is how our mouths anticipate the acidity in lemonade. The next time you taste wine, pay attention to this specific puckering sensation. After tasting several wines, you’ll create a mental benchmark of where the acidity hits your palate and you’ll also begin to notice that some wines (such as Riesling) tend to have higher acidity than others.
Acidity in wine is important
As much as modern health has demonized acidic foods, acidity is an essential trait in wine that’s necessary for quality. Great wines are in balance with their 4 fundamental traits (Acidity, tannin, alcoholand sweetness) and as wines age, the acidity acts as a buffer to preserve the wine longer. For example, ice wines which have both high acidity and sweetness will age several decades.
How climate plays into acidity in wine
Acidity is a perfect example of one of the fundamental taste traits that are affected by different climates(warm vs cool).
When wine grapes are still green they have very high acidity. As they ripen, the acidity tapers down and the sweetness increases. The perfect moment, of course, is when the grape is perfectly sweet, ripe, and still possessing enough acidity to make great wine. This is where climate comes in. A region that produces wines with naturally higher acidity will have either cooler nighttime temperatures or a shorter growing season. The cool nights and cold weather stops the grapes from losing their acidity. In a region with a shorter growing season, there’s also the possibility that the grapes never quite get ripe enough, which results in both more tart and more herbaceous tasting wines.
What is Wine?
Wine is an alcoholic beverage made with the fermented juice of grapes. Technically, wine can be made with any fruit (i.e. apples, cranberries, plums, etc) but most wines are made with wine grapes (which are different than table grapes). Speaking of differences, the difference between wine and beer is that beer is made from fermenting brewed grains. So very simply, wine is made from fruit and beer is made from grains. Of course, there exceptions –that push the boundaries of beer,–but that story is for another time.
What are Wine Grapes?
Wine grapes are different than table grapes: they are smaller, sweeter and have lots of seeds. Most wines are made with a single species of grape that originated in Caucasus called Vitis vinifera. There are thousands of different varieties within the Vitis vinifera species–the most common is Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Origin of the term “Vintage”
Wine grapes take an entire season to ripen and thus, wine is produced just once a year. This is where the term vintage comes from: “Vint” stands for “Winemaking” and “age” implies the year it was made. So, when you see a vintage year listed on the label, that’s the year the grapes were picked and made into wine. The harvest season in the northern hemisphere (Europe, US) is from August–September and the harvest season in the southern hemisphere (Argentina, Australia) is from February–April.
A single-varietal wine is made primarily with one type of grape. It’s common to see these wines labeled by the name of that grape variety. For example, a bottle of Riesling is made with Riesling grapes. It’s useful to note that each country has different rules for how much of the variety should be included in order to be labeled as a varietal wine.
Percentage Required to Label as a Single-Varietal Wine
- 75% USA*, Chile, South Africa, Australia, Greece
- 80% Argentina
- 85% Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Spain, New Zealand
*Oregon requires 90% of the varietal
The Taste of Wine
There are several facets that explain wine’s unique flavor: acidity, sweetness, alcohol, tannin, and aroma compounds produced in fermentation.
- Acidity: Wine as a beverage lies on the acidic end of the pH scale ranging from as low as 2.5 (lemon) to as high as 4.5 (greek yoghurt). Wine tastes tart.
- Sweetness: Depending on what style of wine you drink, sweetness in wine ranges from having no sugar at all to sweet like maple syrup. The term “dry” refers to a wine without sweetness. See the wine sweetness chart
- Alcohol: The taste of alcohol is spicy, palate-coating and warms the back of your throat. Wine’s average range of alcohol is about 10% ABV (alcohol by volume) to 15% ABV. Of course, there are a few exceptions: Moscato d’Asti is as low as 5.5% ABV and Port is fortified with neutral brandy upping it to 20% ABV. Look at a chart of the alcohol levels in wine
- Tannin: Tannin is found in red wines and contributes to the astringent quality of red wine. Put a wet, black tea bag on your tongue for a great example of how tannin tastes. Read more about tannin in wine
- Aroma Compounds: Within the tiny minutia of wine (the phenols, esters, higher alcohols, acids, etc) is where you’ll find the complexities to wine’s flavors and aromas. Each grape variety exhibits aroma compounds at different levels. This is why some wines smell like berries and others smell like flowers. Another contributing factor to wine’s aromas is aging. Nearly all red wines are aged in oak, which not only contributes an oak barrel’s flavor compounds (like vanillan) but also acts as a conduit to expose the wine to oxygen. Oxidation and aging produce a range of unique flavors to wine including nuttiness, and dried fruit/flower flavors. Find out where wine aromas come from
Wine is a seemingly simple beverage that becomes more complex the more you study it. The good thing is, it doesn’t matter how much you know, nearly everyone can appreciate wine. In short, wine is good.
|Hold your glass by the stem or the base.|
|Smell your wine. Sniff it, taste it, and think about it.|
|Try to drink from the same position on your wine glass to reduce unsightly mouth marks|
|When opening a wine bottle, try to do it quietly, like a ninja|
|When clinking: clink glasses bell to bell (it reduces breakage) and look your clinking-buddy in the eye.|
|Pouring wine? hold the bottle towards the base.|
|Fill your glass less than half way to give your wine room to breathe.|
|Try to keep your portion of drinking equivalent to the other people around you.|
|Offer wine to others before pouring seconds for yourself.|
For some of us, this question has never come to mind, as we simply drink the whole bottle once it’s been opened. But for someone with more sober habits, WineFolly have created a simple guide to how long wine lasts once it has been opened:
WineFolly found these interesting wine glasses, and as they put it: “It’s up to you to decide if they are ridiculous or awesome.”
Aerating Wine Glass
This glass is for someone with a steady pour and a moderately short nose. While this glass is over-the-top, it does perform the function of aerating wine. Be very careful when you wash it.
Large Wine Glass Holds a Full Bottle
When you need to convince yourself that you don’t have a problem and only drink a glass of wine. I hate to be the first to say it, but it’s time to stop being greedy and learn to share.
Black Wine Glass for Blind Tasting
For that tough-as-nails wine friend of yours who thinks they can blind taste anything. This will definitely trip them up.
Sippy Straw Wine Glasses
Whoever named these glasses ‘Port sippers’ is a cunning prankster and I must commend them, because this is nothing like the actual glass. The official Port wine glass is a smaller modification of a standard wine glass that has a special divot in the stem so you always sip from the same side. You can see one here.
Red Neck Wine Glass
I first spotted these in Sparks, which is where you go when you’re down on your luck in Reno, Nevada. They’re actually quite solid and well made, for a Solo cup wine glass.
How I Feel… Etched Wine Glass
How many of us sit there sipping our Pinot like sophisticates while deep into the bowels of reddit or some other even darker place on the dark web. Perhaps there is a proper glass for you after all.
Illusion of Wine Glasses
The one genius part of this design is that the insulation may actually keep the wine cooler. The one downside is that the last drop collects in the foot and will splash you in the nose. Be wary, and never wear white when drinking red.
This design was last spotted on Touch of Modern. The glass itself is made with borosilicate, a special type of glass with high thermal stress tolerance.
Easy-Swirl Wine Glasses
When you combine kinetic with wine glass, it usually ends in disaster. Somehow these glasses manage to wobble around a little less dangerously
Tipsy Wine Glass
This wine glass was prototyped with a Makerbot and funded by Kickstarter. Make it a personal challenge to see how long you can hold it upright without spilling.
Bubble Wine Glass
The glass is designed to always maintain a perfect sip. The balloon fills with air bubbles as you drink.
Melty Wine Glass
This is a design made of pyrex/borosilicate glass which has a high thermal resistance. If you set it down for too long, it will start to rock back and forth with increasing momentum. You may heat your wine up with your hands, but you will look real cool doing it.
Original Source: Wine Flavor Profiles of Red Wines | Wine Folly
The flavors you like in other foods and drinks help identify your wine preferences. This technique is great for the beginner wine drinker who’s looking for good wine recommendations. Discover your wine preference in less than one minute.
What’s in your coffee mug?
A latte is lush and smooth. You’ll love a New World Wine.
TRY Merlot, Syrah, Shiraz, Petite Sirah and Malbec
You can handle a little grit. Try an Old World Wine.
TRY Nebbiolo, Sangiovese (Italy), Bordeaux red wines, Mourvedre (France), Tempranillo (Spain) and Aglianico (Italy)
What’s at the breakfast table?
Your love for sweet things can translate into Sweet White Wine.
TRY Moscato, Riesling, Chenin Blanc and White Zinfandel
You lean towards tart and like bitterness. You’ll enjoy Dry White Wine.
TRY Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino (Sardegna), Vinho Verde (Portugal), Grüner Veltliner (Austria), Albariño, Verdejo (Spain)
What’s for dessert?
Vanilla Ice Cream
Creaminess brings you joy. Look for Oak-Aged White Wine.
TRY Oaked Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Blanc, Torrontes (Argentina), Semillon
You like the tingle of acidity. Look for High Acid Wines.
TRY German Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Chablis, Gruner Veltliner, Albarino, Sauvignon Blanc, Sparkling Wine
What sounds better on bread?
You’ll enjoy Savory Wines.
TRY French Syrah such as Hermitage or Saint-Joseph
You love Fruit-Forward Wines.
TRY Australian Shiraz
WARNING: Your tastes will change
It’s true. As you explore the world of wine your tastes will evolve. If you’d like to know more about how your wine preferences change over time read 9 Steps to Becoming a Wine Expert.
After partying the whole night through with your favourite red wine, you get home, look in the mirror, and find that you have been walking around with the darkest red stained teeth for most of the night! But what causes it and how can you prevent it?
Red wine is a tasty mix of natural dyes, acids, and tannin, three ingredients that work together to etch and stain your teeth. The shockingly red wine teeth you see in your mouth after a marathon of zinfandel tasting is mostly a coating of dyed saliva, but there can be some long-term dulling effects from a chronic diet of dark, acidic wines.
The acids in the wine can actually effect the enamel on your teeth–one of the reasons it is not recommended to brush immediately after drinking wine. The softened teeth can be eroded by your vigorous hygiene, so you should rinse–and wait a bit–before scrubbing those purple teeth. This is actually true of white wines too, but without the deep color it is a less obvious issue. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to drink some water after a wine sipping marathon to purge the acids from your mouth. The tips below will help you increase your resistance to red wine teeth stains.
Tips on Preventing Red Wine Teeth Stains from WineFolly
- Drink Sparkling Water
- Skip the White Wine
- Brush Your Teeth Before Drinking WineFortify your teeth
- High Fiber Food Pairing
- Eat More Cheese
Cool Tool: Wine Wipes
Ever heard of Wine Wipes? The perfect “cure” for red wine smiles!