How does your mouth taste? Taste buds! Some people have more than others, and women are fortunate to have more than men. Sorry guys! Statistically 75-90% of humans have more than enough tastebuds to enjoy wine and even identify specific things they taste in the wine they drink. You can thank the hundreds to thousands of these little guys for the amazing experience they provide when we drink a glass of wine!
When taking a sip of wine, what will your tongue actually taste? There are only 6 categories of taste creating responses on your tongue. Bitter, Salty, Sour, Sweet, Fatty and Umami. Fatty and Umami (yes, this one is hard to define!) are not covered in the diagram below as they have very little relationship to wine. As we break down the elements of wine tasting from acidity to sweetness, from fruitiness to tannins, the sensations of bitter, sour and sweet will all be triggered by different styles of wine. Salty may sound rather odd when talking about wine, but certain sensations of minerals and even salt from sea air can be detected in certain wines!
Each taste category triggers taste buds in different locations on your tongue. Thankfully this allows us to better enjoy food and wine. Keep these categories in mind as they will be really important when we discuss wine pairings in Module 5.
Does anything else help with wine tasting? YOUR NOSE! This guy is connected to your mouth and is even more important than taste buds in your wine experience. Your nose can tell you whether a wine is big and bold or light and simple. Start with your nose high above the glass (2-3”) and end with your nose stuck deep into the bowl of the glass and your nose will be your tour guide.