It is a well-known medical fact that certain areas of the tongue are responsible for detecting particular flavors and taste sensations. Knowing where these areas are can help you concentrate on identifying specific tastes as your palate becomes more experienced. Here is a general guide to the anatomy of taste identification:
- Sweetness Tip of the tongue
- Acidity Sides of the tongue
- Bitterness Back of the tongue
- Tannin Drying, puckery or furry sensations
- Alcohol Back of the mouth; general sensation of warmth
Also take note of how the wine feels as it travels through your mouth. Is it thick and creamy, or thin and light? When the drink coats the inside of your mouth, does it do so in a pleasant, flavorful way, or does it create a cloying sensation? After you swallow, does your mouth feel refreshed and clean, or overpowered and bitter? Did the wine leave your mouth watering, indicating a too-high acidity level, or dried out, hinting towards too much tannin?
Try to remember if there were any lingering flavors or ‘themes’ that the wine brought to mind. Did it leave an aftertaste that was floral, woodsy, vegetal, or fruity? Did the wine’s bouquet complement or give an accurate indication of its’ aftertaste?
We put an emphasis on the aftertaste because that is where the quality of a wine will truly shine through; the taste and sensations in your mouth will simply confirm your initial opinions of fondness or disapproval for the wine you just drank.
Please note that you are not obligated to swallow every wine that you taste. If you don’t care for the taste of a particular wine, or you simply do not want to feel the effects of alcohol consumption, there will be convenient spittoons in which you can dispose of the wine. This may just be in your best interests, especially if you are planning a day trip which involves visiting multiple wineries. Remember, it is perfectly acceptable etiquette to taste, but not swallow.