5 Basic Wine Characteristics: Sweetness, Acidity, Tannin, Fruit, Body

By understanding these 5 characteristics you'll have a better chance of getting what you love. The best way to learn about your taste is to classify wines by their fundamental traits and then pick what you like the best.

Sweetness: aka "Level of Dryness" Often, your first impression of a wine is its sweetness. Believe it or not, many dry wines can have a hint of sweetness to carry a larger impression of Body. If you find a wine you like has residual sugar, you may enjoy a hint (or a lot!) of sweetness in your wine. Most people like wines sweeter than the "experts."  You taste a tingling and slightly oily sensation in the middle of your tongue that lingers. Wine has a higher viscosity; wine tears on side of glass slowly. (also an indicator of high ABV) Dry red wines such as cabernet sauvignon often have up to 0.9 g/L of residual sugar .


Acidity: Acidity in food and drink is tart and zesty .Wines with higher acidity feel lighter weight because they come across as 'spritzy.' If you prefer a wine that is more rich and round, you enjoy slightly less acidity. You taste a tingling sensation that focuses on the front and sides of your tongue. Feels like pop rocks. If you rub your tongue to the roof of your mouth it feels gravelly. Your mouth feels wet, like you bit into an apple.

Tannin: The Misunderstood Wine Characteristic Tannin is often confused with dryness because tannin dries your mouth. Tannin adds bitterness and is from the skins and seeds of wine grapes. Tannin adds balance & complexity and makes a wine last longer. You taste bitter on the front inside of your mouth and along the side of your tongue. Tannin makes your tongue dry out. After you swallow you feel a lingering bitter/dry feeling in your mouth. Tannin can often be confused with the term "dry" because it dries your mouth out.



Fruit: Identifying Different Flavors  Wines are often characterized by their main fruit flavors. You may taste red fruits such as raspberry or dark fruits like blackberry and blueberry in a red wine and lemon, lime, peach or apple in a white wine.
Body: Light to Full-Bodied.  Body is the result of many factors -wine variety, origin, vintage, alcohol level and how it's made. Body is a snapshot of the overall impression of a wine. ABV (Alcohol by Volume) adds body. The wine will have a higher viscosity which is easily seen in watching it bead on the side of the glass. A high alcohol wine typically tastes fuller bodied than a light-alcohol wine. How does it compare to other wines you've tasted? Lighter? Bigger? How long does the taste last in your mouth after you've swallowed?