A Taste of Sophistication

The Four Components

Taste (palate)
The saying goes, "wine is an acquired taste," and it's not entirely untrue. Most people's wine preference progresses from sweet to dry. When you first start out, it's not uncommon to prefer a sweet, chilled, inoffensive pinot grigio or white zinfandel. As your palate acquires the taste for wine, the progression will lead you to preferring a dry, complex wine served at cellar temperature, which is normally between 55ºF and 58ºF. These wines are aged to their peak and often require decanting before drinking.
Tannin comes from the grape skins, stems and leaves and creates an astringent or bitter quality. Subtle amounts add to the complexity of the wine and is often desireable. It feels like grit on the tongue and is paired well will proteins and big flavors. Avoid salt and delicate foods like salad.
Alcohol is the main permanent product of yeast activity. It affects the taste, texture and structure of the wine itself. United States law permits a 1.5% leeway, so if a label says 12.5% alcohol, it can be as high as 14% or as low as 11%. High alcohol wines go well with fatty, flavorful foods.
Acidity can be detected by the sharpness of the wine in the mouth, particularly around the edges of the tongue near the front. Some acids in small amounts can really lift the flavors in the wine. Too much, and the wine begins to resemble vinegar. High-acid go well with high-acid foods like fruit, seafood and red-sauced pastas.
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Made 19 November 2008
by Jessica Chasmar
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