When I assess a wine there are many different elements that come into play. Yes, what fruit components, earthy herb or other aromas waft into my sense of smell. The weight of the wine in my mouth, or the finish after the wine has left. These all add to what I call the CORE of a wines balance which is SATA or Sugar, Acid, Tannin and Alcohol.
Sugar or sweetness is sensed at the tip of the tongue. It can be scientifically measured, but I prefer the old fashioned way of just tasting. If overpowering it can make a wine seem like syrup.
Acid, is the element that gives lift or crispness to a wine and is felt on the sides of the tongue. If there is not enough acid in a wine it is considered flabby. Too much and you will be puckered like a fish. As a note, acid and sugar compete in a wine and help to define balance.
Tannin is the phenolic compound that comes from the skins of a grape and the wood of a wine barrel. This is a gritty sensation that can be very aggressive in younger wines or wines that use thick skinned grapes. As a wine ages it becomes less gritty and more silky. When sipping some wine allow the wine to sit between your upper lip and gums. This will help you feel the structure of the tannins.
Alcohol is measured as a percent by volume. This usually stays a constant in a wine unless there is minor evaporation but does add to the experience. It should blend in according to the style of wine so as not to be the focal point.
If any one of these four parts of a wine are overpowering we determine that, at this time ,the wine is out of balance or clumsy. A wine that has a harmonious display of all of these parts is considered in balance. Add in the assessment of the previous mentioned elements at the beginning of this article and you have that overall pleasureable “experience in a glass” called wine.
Have a sip.
Justin Rutchik -Owner of The Bottle Room – Making wine more approachable…[caption id="attachment_139" align="alignleft" width="150"] Enjoying some cab in NAPA[/caption]