Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How to Taste Wine

How Our Sense of Taste Works in Tasting Wine

So, now comes the fun part. Take a big slurp and slosh it around in your mouth. If you only take a sip, y­ou won't be able to get an overall impression of the things that you're looking for. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, you may want to try what's called mouth aeration. To do this, hold a sip of wine in your mouth and breathe in through pursed lips. This aerates the wine and has the same effect as swirling it in the glass. As a cautionary note, beginners should be careful not to inhale the wine and choke.

You'll notice the sweetness first because the taste buds that recognize this are located on the tip of the tongue. This is the easiest taste in wine for us to identify because we learn to recognize sweet things at an early age.

Next, you'll pick up on the acidity, which is detected with the sides of our tongue. It's more of a feeling than a flavor, and you'll know it because it makes your mouth water. The acid is actually an important ingredient of the wine, because it holds the flavors together and balances the other components. High acid makes a tart wine, and if it's too low, the wine will taste flat and flavorless. Acid also acts as a preservative.

Tannin in wine is also something that's felt more than tasted and is mostly found in red wines. Tannin has a mouth-drying effect that can create a puckery sensation, similar to putting a tea bag on your tongue. If a red wine is going to be stored in a wine cellar for a long time, it starts out with a high level of tannins. This makes the young reds undrinkable until they mellow and soften with age.

Your palate can also detect the weight of a wine, which is indicated by a feeling of fullness and usually indicates a full-bodied wine. Wines with high alcohol content also feel heavier in your mouth. Ethanol is the main alcohol in wine and can be detected by a warming sensation on the sides of the tongue.