Be aware of the sensations of taste when you are sampling wine. We as humans can perceive four tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, and salt. Bitterness in wine is usually created by high alcohol and high tannin. Sweetness only occurs in wines that have residual sugar left over after fermentation. Sour (sometimes called “tart”) indicates the acidity in wine.
Sweetness– The highest threshold is on the tip of the tongue. If there’s any sweetness in the wine whatsoever, you will taste it immediately.
Acidity– Found at the sides of the tongue, the cheek area, and the back of the throat. White wines and some lighter-style red wines usually contain a higher degree of acidity.
Bitterness– Tasted at the back of the tongue.
Tannin– The sensation of tannin begins in the middle of the tongue. Tannin frequently exists in wines that are aged in wood. When the wines are too young, tannin dries the palate to excess. If there’s a lot of tannin in the wine, the tannin can coat your whole mouth, blocking the fruit flavors. Tannin is not a taste, it’s a tactile sensation.
Fruit and Varietal Characteristics– These encompass both the aromas and flavors. The weight of the wine (its body) will be felt in the middle of the tongue.
Aftertaste– The overall taste and balance of the components of the wine that linger in the mouth after the wine is swallowed. In general, a high-quality wine will have a long, pleasing aftertaste. The taste of many great wines lasts anywhere from one to three minutes.