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Tasting Wine: The Flavor

You've looked at the color, smelled the aroma and are now ready to taste the wine. Take a small sip of wine and let it sit on your tongue. Savor it a moment before swallowing. Let the wine spread out in your mouth and pay attention to where it lands and where you sense the flavor.

One of the first things you notice as you take a sip of wine is where it hits your palate.

  • Tip of your tongue: sweetness
  • Outer sides of tongue: saltiness
  • Inner sides of the tongue: acidity
  • Your throat: alcohol
  • Overall feel: tannin, for instance, dries your mouth

Continue reading about how you can taste and deduce elements of the wine structure

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Detailing the Flavor Profile

Once you've tasted the wine, organize the flavors that come forward. Use the same flavor construction as your aroma experience: red or white fruit and its condition, non-fruit flavors like floral or spice and, finally, earth and wood. Next, reflect on the structural elements we covered earlier and the finish of the wine.

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Quadrant 1: Fruits

White Wine Fruit

  • Citrus: lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, tangerines
  • Tree fruit: green, red or yellow apples; pears; quince
  • Stone fruit: peaches, nectarines, apricots
  • Tropical fruit: pineapples, mangos, papayas, passion fruits, melons

Red Wine Fruit

  • Red fruits: cherries, raspberries, red plums, cranberries, strawberries, pomegranates
  • Blue fruits: blueberries, boysenberries, marionberries
  • Black fruits: blackberries, black cherries, black plums, black currants

Fruit Condition

  • Baked
  • Cooked
  • Candied
  • Dried
  • Tart
  • Preserved

Quadrant 2: Non-Fruit Flavors


  • Fruit blossoms: orange, apple, lemon, lime
  • White/yellow flowers: baby’s breath, carnation, hawthorn, honeysuckle, jasmine, lily rose, chamomile
  • Red/purple flowers: geranium, lavender, lilac, rose, tulips, violet
  • Green/weed: clover, dandelion, grass


  • Basil
  • Celery
  • Chervil
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Lemongrass
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Tarragon
  • Black tea
  • Green tea
  • Thyme
  • Tobacco
  • Verbena

Quadrant 3: Earth & Wood

Earth Organic

  • Forest floor
  • Compost
  • Mushrooms
  • Potting soil
  • Barn
  • Truffle

Earth Inorganic

  • Mineral
  • Stone: limestone, chalk, slate, flint, volcano
  • Seashell
  • Petrol


  • Old
  • New
  • Large
  • Small
  • French
  • American


  • Beans/nuts: almond, cocoa, coffee, lentil, walnut
  • Animals: cured meat, leather, musk, wool
  • Edibles: honey, maple, soy

Quadrant 4: Structure, Finish & Complexity


  • Sweetness: bone dry, dry, off dry, sweet, very sweet
  • Acidity: low, medium, high
  • Tannin: low, medium, high
  • Alcohol: low, medium, high
  • Body: light, medium, full, creamy, round, lean

Finish & Complexity

  • Flavor length: short, medium, long
  • Quality: tart, astringent, silky, bitter
  • Number of aromas and flavors: low, medium, high