How to Distinguish Wine Notes

The Finish Line: Wine Aftertaste

If you haven't yet swallowed or spit out that wine, now's the time. Chances are, you've already detected many of the wine's notes from smelling and tasting it. But there are certain things you can learn even after the wine has bid farewell to your taste buds. Directly after spitting out or swallowing the wine, take in a deep breath through your nose and mouth. Examine what flavors and sensations are still lingering in your mouth. If there isn't much of an aftertaste or remaining sensation, the wine is usually considered of lesser quality [source: Parker].

Appropriately, wines that leave longer-lasting aftertastes are said to be a good quality. In fact, the longer the better. If it has a long aftertaste, it gives yet another chance to study its characteristics. Does it leave your mouth feeling bitter or sweet? Do you detect any new scents or flavors that weren't there initially? As long as the taste remains, try to study how it feels and smells, and associate those qualities to communicable, descriptive terms found on the aroma wheel previously mentioned.

Learning to identify and describe the different characteristics of a wine is tough. That's why aids like the aroma wheel were created. By using it at first and learning the proper techniques, understanding the subtleties of wine isn't as hard as it seems. For even more information, check out the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Ashland Vineyards and Winery, Shakespeare Wine. "Wine Aroma Wheel." (Accessed 03/30/2009)
  • Berger, Dan. "Why Terroir is Essential to Wine Evalution." Appelation America. December 27, 2006. (Accessed 03/31/2009)
  • Essman, Elliot. "The Wine Aroma Wheel." Style Gourmet. (Accessed 03/30/2009)
  • Exploring Wine. "Terroir." Exploring Wine - UK. (Accessed 03/31/2009).
  • Grape Radio. "Wine Terms." (Accessed 03/31/2009)
  • Jono. "Terroir." The Wine Blokes. January 14,2008. (Accessed 03/30/2009)
  • Kelley Cellars. "How to Taste Wine." (Accessed 03/31/2009)
  • Learn Vino. "Wine Basics: How to Taste Wine -- Looking at Wine: Just the Basics." DePaul (Accessed 03/31/2009)
  • Learn Vino. "Wine Basics: How to Taste Wine -- Sipping Wine: Just the Basics." DePaul (Accessed 03/31/2009)
  • Learn Vino. "Wine Basics: How to Taste Wine -- Smelling Wine: Just the Basics." DePaul (Accessed 03/31/2009)
  • Noble, Ann C., "The Wine Aroma Wheel." Wine Aroma Wheel. (Accessed 03/30/2009)
  • Noble, A.C., "Using the Wine Aroma Wheel." Inno Vinum Sensory Strategy. 2000. (Accessed 03/30/2009)
  • Parker, Robert. "A Glossary of Wine Terms." Robert Parker. (Accessed 4/1/09)
  • Peynaud, Emile, Jacques Blouin, and Michael Schuster. "The Taste of Wine." Google Books (Accessed 03/31/2009),M1
  • Prial, Frank, J. "Wine Talk." The New York Times. January 26th, 1994. (Accessed 03/31/2009)
  • Schneider, Sara. "Taste wine like a pro." Sunset (Accessed 03/31/2009)