Understanding The Science Behind Wine Tasting

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017
Wine tasting events

You don’t have to be a scientist to enjoy wine, but there are quite a few scientific elements at play when it comes to wine tasting. Anyone can drink a glass of wine and decide whether or not they like its flavor. However, truly “tasting” this beverage requires understanding how the human body’s physical processes work. We use our senses of smell and taste to determine whether or not wine is to our liking. Understanding how aroma and taste work during wine tasting can help you know how to describe your favorite or least favorite flavors and types of wine.

The role of aroma in wine tasting

Smell, or aroma, is an important part of the drinking and eating experience. There are two ways in which you can smell wine: externally and internally. The external sense you use to smell is known as orthonasal olfaction. This is the sense used when you place your nose partly inside your glass.

The second smell is called the retronasal olfaction, which occurs inside the mouth. This process actually gives the perception of flavor. If you are drinking a sweet, red wine and assume you can taste cherry, you are actually smelling cherry. It is common for a connoisseur to swoosh the drink around their mouth. This process allows them to “smell” the flavors as they enter the nasal passage.

The taste of wine

Taste refers to the actions that occur on the tongue when you are eating or drinking something, as well as the description of the product. The five primary tastes are sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami (meaty). Texture is another factor when it comes to taste. Textures fall under haptic senses and include spicy, menthol, and calcium, such as the grit of raw spinach. Texture can also produce an electric feeling. At wine tasting events, both taste and texture are used. To truly taste wine, you have to isolate and differentiate the physical reactions of these processes.

Common descriptions and what they mean

The sweetness of a wine is often sensed on the tip of the tongue and, after swishing around your mouth, the middle-back area of your tongue. A sour tasting beverage will result in saliva production and your cheeks will slightly stick to your tongue. Salty flavors are sensed toward the front and middle of your tongue. Bitterness is a tricky flavor, so you must distinguish between bitterness and astringency. Bitterness is something you would likely taste in kale juice or spirulina. Licking chalk would produce an astringent taste.

These are only a few of the descriptions you may use when tasting wise. Everyone experiences taste differently. What someone may think is grape might not be what you perceive as a grape taste. Some people love a sour taste, while other cannot stand sour flavors. People also have different tolerances to bitterness and texture. There is no right or wrong answer when determining your own taste preferences.

Gaining wine tasting experience

Some people enjoy wine in the privacy of their home while others treat wine tasting as a social event. Many even build careers around wine tasting. Whether you plan to pursue the experience recreationally or professionally, consider trying a variety of wine and experimenting with flavors.

Heart Of The Desert produces a variety of award-winning wines. Seven different varietals are grown in our vineyards near Alamogordo, which allows us to offer a wide selection of wines. Gourmet foods, gift baskets, and boutique items are all part of the mix. We also host a variety of events throughout the year, including farm tours and wine tastings. For more information about our products and events, call us today at (800) 432-0999 or Contact Us by email.