In the world of wine, the word taste has a very important place.
It’s a verb, as in to taste… It’s also the noun as in defining the taste of that wine. Now let’s look at the latter.
The noun! So what’s in the taste of a wine?
How do we define it? How do we explain something that’s so difficult to put to words?
Well we break it down and use a vocabulary that is common.
A few defined words that are the same for us all so there isn’t any possible confusion. So, how are we going to break down taste you may ask?
Well, here I have good news for you! A lot of what we think is taste is actually not taste in pure terms, but flavours.
Let me explain…
Taste, as is one of our 5 senses… comes from our palate and our taste buds. These pick up.. Taste!
And the good news is that they only pick up 5 tastes.. because there are only 5 tastes. These are sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. That is it! Only 5.
Now for further good news, salty and umami tastes aren’t found in wine! So we only have 3 tastes. Everything else you were thinking of when I first told you about taste isn’t really taste.. but more smell. It’s comes from something called retro olfaction. Retro means backwards and olfaction means smell. This is when our nose picks up smells coming to our receptors via the back of the mouth, as opposed to how we normally pick up smells from the front of the nose. This happens because the nose and the throat are directly connected, and smells from what’s in our mouth can reach the nose.
So this smell, blended with the basic taste of the wine will give us flavours. But remember, flavours will be more smell than actual taste, so they will be examined differently. What you need to think about first of all when we talk about taste of a wine are the 3 basic tastes. Sweet, Sour and Bitter. However in the world of wine, we’re not going to call them exactly the same…
We have our own vocabulary you see.
In the world of wine, we sour: acidity.. think of lemon juice. Instead of bitter, when you talk about wine you’re going to start using the word tannic.. think of the bitter taste of really strong tea. As for sweetness, it’s the same, we use the word sweetness.
So when we talk about the taste of a wine, we talk about it on these three tastes: How sweet is it? How acidic is it? And how tannic is it?
For each imagine you have a scale of 0 to 10 and see where on each taste you’re going to situate the wine.It takes a bit of time to dissociate each taste so you can look at them separately, but with a little practice, you’ll quickly get the hang of it!