1. Palate
    2. Sugar
    3. Phenolic/ Polyphenols
    4. Other Flavor Topics

1) PALATE Term Used For Describing Tasting as a Process as Well as an Ability to Taste and Describe Wine In Mouth and Nose.

  • Think of Your Palate as a Living, Tangible Thing. Like a Muscle or Physique Your Palate Can Be Sharp or On Its Game or In Some Cases In Need of Practice, or Need to Get In Shape.
  • The Grape Variety Has the Largest Impact On How a Wine Tastes.
  • Papillae- The Tongue is Covered With Thousands of Small Bumps Called Papillae. Within Each Are Hundreds of Taste Buds. There Are 4 Types of Papillae.
    • Fungiform(Highest Concentration of Taste Buds), Foliate, Circumvallate, Filiform
  • Taste Bud- There’re Between 3,000 & 5,000 or 10,000 Taste Buds Located On In Papillae, Tongue, More On the Roof, Cheeks and Back of Mouth.
  • Impact of a Wine In the Mouth and On Palate Can Be Described Chronologically, and Locally In Different Parts of the Mouth.
  • Front-Palate Sweetness
  • Mid-Palate Balance of Weight, Tannins, Alcohol, Acid, and Flavors That Are Perceived While the Wine is Still In Your Mouth and On Your Tongue Before Swallowing.
  • Back-Palate

Deductive Evaluation/ Blind Tasting Focus On the Interaction of These Element’s of Wine On the Palate.

FLAVORS Fruit, Earth, Wood, Other

STRUCTURE Dry/ Sweetness/ Residual Sugar, Tannins, Abv., Acidity.

PROFILE Beginning, Mid-Palate, Finish, Length

  • WINE & PHILOSOPHY?  Does the Size of the Sips of Wine Effect the Taste and Flavor of Wine?
    • When Drinking for Pleasure Standard “Sips” Are Fine. When Drinking for Evaluation Take a Huge “Sip”, Enough to Fill Most of Your Mouth While Allowing Room to Move the Wine Around Your Palate. Your Goal is to Work the Wine Around Your Entire Palate and Receive a Full/ Correct Impression.
  • DEMYSTIFYING PROCEDURE~ ~Vary the Size of Your Sip.~
    • The Size of the Sip When Tasting Wine Does Effect How We Taste it. The Amount of Volatile Released When Wine Interacts with Saliva In the Mouth is Perceived Differently. Just as You Want to Smell a Wine Differently You Should Try to Taste Wine Differently In a Range of Sip Proportions to Get the Most Flavors and Subtleties Out of Your Wine.

TYPICITY- Term Used to Describe the Degree to Which a Wine Reflects Its Varietal Origins and Demonstrates the Characteristics of the Grape it Was Produced From.  Style or Taste of a Grape, Wine or Vineyard That Has Evolved Over Time Evolution.  Grape Possess Expected Qualities and Characteristics Pertaining to That Grape’s Varietal Character.

VARIETAL CHARACTER Unique Traits of a Varietal After it Has Been Produced Into Wine. (Color, Flavor, Aroma, Body) These Traits Are Unique to the Varietal and Can Be Distinguished In Blind Tasting From Same Grape Produced In Different Regions.

Does the Palate Reflect On the Nose or is it Somewhat Different?

  • WINE & PHILOSOPHY?CONTENTIOUS WINE ISSUE!” Who’s to Say What Aromas and Flavors a Grape Typically Should Have!
    • Typicity Isn’t Subjective. Wines and Grapes Have Standards That Nature Has Evolved or Mutated to Over Time. Typicity and Varietal Character is How the Grape or Wine Matches Up With Those Standards and Are Interwoven In Wine Culture. There are Reasons Why Grapes Have Mutated Into What They Are Today. Sometimes These Grapes Have to Be Put In Proper Context but Beginning or Average Wine Drinkers Shouldn’t Be Assessing Typicity For Lack of Experience or Calibration Skills. When it Comes to Judging or Scoring a Wine Typicity is Very Important and Should Be Observed.
  • DEMYSTIFYING PROCEDURE~ ~Take Time to Feel the Wine On Your Palate.~
    • Take a Larger Sip Than You Would Take Normally. Work the Wine Around Your Palate Without Swishing. Finally Take Two Small Slurps of Air For Oxygen to Open Up the Wine’s Flavors and Increase the Taste and Potential Textual Impact of the Wine.
  • WHAT MAKES US SALIVATE? Our Brains Subconsciously React to the Smell, Sight and Even Idea of Food. Saliva is 99% Water and the Rest Electrolytes, Lipids and Proteins. Saliva Begins the Process Of Breaking Down Food Before In Enters the Stomach. When You’re Producing Saliva, It’s Your Brains Getting Ready for Something That it Perceived as Potentially Delicious.
    • Front/ Tip= Sweet   |    Back= Bitter
    • Front Sides= Saltiness   |   Back Sides= Sourness, Acidity
    • Middle Strip= Sour, Acidity   |   Top= Weight/ Body
    • Sweetness (Presence of Sugar)
    • Sourness (Presence of Acidity)
    • Bitterness (Presence of )
    • Astringency- (Presence of Tannin)
    • Creaminess (From ML.)
    • Unami Savory Taste In Food and Wine.
      • Foods- Cured Meats, Mushroom, Asparagus, Shell Fish, Soy Sauce.
      • Triggers Taste Receptor In Mouth and Make Food Taste Better.
      • Unami is Consists of -Glutamean(Amino Acid) & Rabo-Nucleotide.
    • Calcium- Chalky, Bitter, Spinach
    • Kokumi-
    • Piquance- Spicy Foods and Peppers
    • Coolness- Peppermint, Menthol, Fresh
    • Metallicity- Tin, Foils
    • Normal Taster-
    • Non-Taster-
    • Super Taster- One of the Ways Someone Can Be a Super Taster is by the Increased Number of Papillae a Person Possesses On Their Tongue. Papillae Are Tiny Mushroom/ Nipple Shaped Projections Scattered On the Front and Sides of Their Tongue. A Persons Tastebuds Are Located Within These Papillae.
  • DEMYSTIFYING PROCEDURE~  ~Taste Wine In  Proper Order.~
    • When Evaluating a Wine Start with the Body of the Wine as You Feel it On Your Palate, Then Move to Assessing Sugar/ Sweetness, Acidity/ Sourness, Tannins/ Astringency, Then Alcohol Levels.

When You’re Tasting a Wine You’re Confirming What You Smelled, and Assessing the Wines Structure.


SWEETNESS Presence of Unfermented Residual Sugar On the Palate.

  • Sweetness Scale White
    • Dry   |   Off-Dry   |   Medi-Dry   |   Semi-Sweet   |   Sweet   |   Dessert
  • Sweetness Scale Red
    • Dry   |   Off-Dry   |   Medi-Dry   |   Sweet
  • Sweetness Descriptors Sugary, Coating, Sweet
  • When Evaluating a Wine We Taste Sweetness On the Front of Our Tongue and Should Identify Sweetness First.  Make it an Instantaneous Decision the Moment the Wine Hits Your Palate. The Longer Acids, Tannins or Other Structural Elements That Balance Sweetness Build On Your Tongue and Palate the More They Start to Diminish the Perception of Sweetness.
  • Dry is Level of Sweetness
  • Sugar is an Element of Winemaking That the Producer Can Use to Add Complexity to Their Wine.
  • Is Sweetness In a the Wine From Residual Sugar, Ripeness or +Abv., Botrytis or Climate?
  • Sweeter Wines (Chenin Blanc, Riesling Gewurztraminer) Will Taste Dryer Because They’re Balanced With Higher Acidity.
  • Once a Wine Gets Over +Abv.14.5% the Alcohol Starts to Dominates the Profile and Change the Sweetness and Mouthfeel.
  • Below 2 Grams of Sugar is Considered Dry as an Industry Standard.
  • The Higher the Alcohol Level In a Wine the Less Likely the Terroir, Subtleties and Other Characteristic Will Show.
  • Oak Barrels Have to Ability to Give Sweetness Without the Addition of Sugar.
  • Late Harvest or Leaving the Grapes On the Vines a Little Longer is the Best Way to Naturally Increase Sugar and Sweetness In a Wine.
  • Sweetness and Acid In a Wine Are Interrelated, as a Grape Ripens it Loses Its Acid and Becomes Sweeter.
  • Sweetness In a Wine is Usually a Wine Makers Decision.  If the Wine Maker Lets the Yeast Do Its Job Completely the Wine Will Be Completely Dry.
  • As a Wine Aged the Sugar Perception Transfers and Lowers In Sweetness.

Sweetness In the Worlds Wine Was Gradually Rising Decade After Decade, Now In Present Day It’s Gradually Declining.

RESIDUAL SUGAR Sugar Remaining In Wine That Yeasts Didn’t Ferment.

  • RS. In Wine is Measured In Grams Per Liter G./L. or Percentage of Weight to Volume
  • You Can’t Look at the Residual Sugar Level On a Label and Know Its Perception, You Must Taste It. You Wine Might Be Balance With Other Structural Elements or the Wine Could Be Unbalance and the RS. Might Stand Out.
  • Residual Sugar Increases Viscosity
  • *Generally– Low Abv. In the Wine, the More Residual Sugar There Will Be.
  • Phenolic Ripeness(Skin) and Sugar Ripeness(Juice) Doesn’t Develop On the Vine Simultaneously.
  • Residual Sugar(Sweetness vs. Dryness) Add to Wine Structure, Body, Texture.
  • **Refer to PRE-FERMENTAION/ Chaptalization For Additional Information.
  • **Refer to FERMENTATION/ Sugar For Additional Information.
  • **Refer to POST FERMENTATION/ Back Sweetening For Additional Information.
    • Merlot- 4 G./ L
    • Moscato- 60-80 G./ L.
    • Sauternes- 150 G./ L.
    • Tokaji- 400-600 G./ L.
    • White= Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Moscato, Riesling
    • Red= Lambrusco
    • Extra Brut- .0% Sugar…Bone Dry
    • Brut- 1.5% Sugar…Dry
    • Extra Dry- 1.2 to 2% Sugar…Off Dry
    • Dry- 1.7 to 3.5% Sugar…Dryer
    • Semi-Sweet- 3.35 to 5% Sugar…Semi-Sweet
    • Sweet- +5% Sugar  -Sweet-
      • **Refer to SPARKLING WINE/ Sparkling For Additional Information
    • Oak- Oak Can Release Sweet Tasting Compounds.
    • Ripeness- Flavors of Overripe Jammy Grapes Can Add to Perception of Sweetness.
    • Alcohol- Even a Dry Wine Can Be Perceived Sweet With Elevated Alcohol.
    • Serving Temperature- The Lower the Serving Temperature the Less Sensitive the Palate is to Sweetness.

I Like Wines I Can Smell and Taste and I Can Recognize Where it Was Produced.


  • FRUCTOSE- Slightly Sweet, Refined
  • GLUCOSE- Sticky Sweet, Yeast Ferments Glucose First
  • GLYCEROL- Type of Sugar Produce by the Fermentation of Glucose and Represented In 10% of a Wines Sugar Content
    • .5%-1% of  Total Wine
    • Natural Byproduct of Fermentation
    • Leaves a Lubricating Residue In the Mouth That Gives a Sensation of Texture


  • If All Sugars In Grapes is Fermented to Alcohol, Wine is Considered Dry
  • Wine Can Be Sweet & Fruity…Dry & Fruity…But Not Sweet & Dry
  • WINE & PHILOSOPHY?  Why Are Some Dry Wines Perceived as Sweet?
    • Even Dry Wine With Little or No Sugar Can Seem Sweet to Some Wine Drinkers.  This Impression of Sweetness Can Happen For a Variety of Reasons.
      • High Alcohol Content
      • A Supper Fruity Wine
      • Insufficient Acidity Level
  • WINE & PHILOSOPHY?  Can You Smell Sweetness In Wine?
    • You Can’t Spell Sweetness or Residual Sugar. You Can Smell Aspects of the Grape/ Wine That Can Lead You to What Could Be Sweetness In a Wine. Things Like Ripeness of Fruit of Viscosity.


Group of Chemical Compounds Present In the Skins and Seeds of Certain Vitis Vinifera Varietals That Contribute to the Color Pigmentation, Flavor, Aroma, Tannins, Mouthfeel of Wine. (Tannins, Flavonoids, Polymers, Polyphenols, Antohcyan)

  • Phenol- A Six-Carbon Ring With a Hydroxyl Group Attached.
  • Phenols Develop In the Juice, Skin, Seed, Stems of Certain Dark Skinned Grapes.
  • Phenolic Content In Wine Can Be Separated Into Two Groups: Flavonoids and Non-Flavonoids.
  • Concentration of Phenolics In Grape Skin Increase With Certain Varietals and Exposure to Sunny Climates. Certain Varietals Are Higher in Phenolics Because Their Skins “Have More to Give Up.”
  • Phenols Can Be Broadly Separated Into 2 Categories Flavonoids (Anthocyanidins and Tannins) and Non-Flavonoids. (Stilbenoids)
  • PIONEERS~ ~Vernon Singleton~ UC. Davis Professor of Wine-Science/ Phenolics.
  • PHENOLIC BITTERNESS Usually From Limited Skin Contact.
    • (Phenolic Bitterness is Tannins of White Wine.)
  • PHENOLIC RIPENESS Develops In Skins and Seeds of Grapes.
    • *Generally– White Varietals With Lower Levels of Acid Have Increased Phenolics.
    • White Wines Have Less Phenolics Than Reds and Little Measurable Tannins.
    • White= Albarino, Gewurztraminer, Grillo, Gruner Veltliner, Marsanne, Nebbiolo, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Rousanne, Verdicchio, Viognier

FLAVONOIDS/ FLAVONOLS Group of Phenolic Compounds Contribute to Color, Texture, Astringency and Bitterness of Wine, 90% Phenolic In Reds Made of Flavonoids.

    • Quercetin- Onions Capers, Apple, Broccoli, Cranberry, Tomato
    • Myricetin- Berries, Grapes, Parsley, Spinach, Walnuts
    • Kaempferol- Broccoli, Grapefruit, Brussel Sprouts, Apples
    • Luteolin- Beets, Bell Pepper, Cabbage, Celery
    • Apegenin- Lettuce, Parsley
    • Hesperetin- Citrus
    • Naringenin- Grapefruit, Oranges, Tomato Skin
    • Catechin- Tea, Rice, Cocoa
    • Epicatechins- Tea, Fruits, Legumes
    • Stilbenoids-
      • Resveratrol
      • Phenolic Acids
        • Benzioc, Caffeic, Cinnamic

HORMONES Substances In Plants Which Move From One Organ or Part of the Plant to Another to Regulate Growth and Development.

  • Aldehydes- Class of Chemical Compound
  • Acetaldehyde- Most Common Aldehydes
  • Contributes to Distinctive Smell of Fino Sherry/ Flor Wines
  • Ethanol Oxidized In the Presence of Oxygen

BITTERNESS Taste Sensation That We Experience When Flavonoid Phenols Reach the Bitter Taste Receptor Cells On Our Taste Buds.

  • Flavonoid Phenols- Compound That are Responsible For Bitterness In Wine.
  • Alcohol Enhances the Perception and Intensity of Bitterness.


RIPENESS As Grapes Mature On the Vine, Sugar Accumulates and Acidity Levels Drop, While at the Same Time Tannins and Pigments Develop. (Not Always In Synchronicity)

  • Don’t Confuse Sugar-Sweet With the Ripe-Sweetness of Fruit.
  • Fruit Ripeness Scale Low   |   Medi-   |   Medi   |   Medi+   |   High
  • Fruit Ripeness Descriptors Unripe, Ripe, Over Ripe, Bruised, Young
  • **Refer to GRAPE DEVELOPMENT/ Grape Ripeness For Detailed Information.

EXTRACT Non-Volatile Substances In Wine That Give Wine Its Substance.

  • Minerals, Sugars, Pigments
  • Effected by Varietal, Method, Maceration Time, Climate, Vinification.
  • Highly Extracted Wine- Wine That Has Had a Extended or Long Time In Contact With the Skins Before Pressing. An Overly Extracted Wine Can Have Negative Connotations, Suggesting Harsh Tannins, Bitterness or Jammy.
  • Total Dry Extract- Sum of All Non-Dissolved Matter or Dissolved Solids In a Wine
    When Water, and Ethanol is Removed.
    • Residual Sugar   |   Tannins
    • Other Polyphenols   |   Glycerol
    • Fixed Acids   |   Mineral Traces
  • FRUIT BOMB- General Term For a Wine Produced Usually In a Warm Climate, From Overly Ripened Grapes and Overly Extracted Resulting In a Distinctly Fruit Forward, High Alcohol, Full Body Wine.

SUR LEE AGING Process of Allowing Fermented Wine to Continue to Sit On Lees In Order to Extract Additional Flavors Prior to Racking & Bottling.

    • White= Albarino, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc
      • *Generally– Non-Aromatic White Grapes Show Best With Sur Lie Aging.
        • Most Reds Are Technically Sur Lie Aged.
    • Sight: 
    • Aroma: Cheese Rind, Sour Cream, Marsh-Mellow
    • Palate: +BODY
    • Structure:
      • PAIRING…                       CHEESE..

**Refer to VINICULTURE- Post Fermentation For Details On Sur Lee Aging.


      • Smokiness In Wine Can Come Through In 4 Ways, Be Sure to Mentally Evaluate Each Before Making a Decision On Which Way a Wine is Smokey.
    • 1) Primary Aromas- From the Grape Itself (Syrah, Zinfandel Are Naturally Smokey)
    • 2) Secondary Aromas- The Use of Oak Barrels. (Especially Chard Barrels Will Infuse Smokiness.)
    • 3) Tertiary Aromas- As Wine Aging it May Develop Smokiness or Cigar Box Aromas.
    • 4) External Forces- Smoke Taint From Fires Effecting the Grape Growing Areas.

**Refer to BIBLIOGRAPHY/ SOURCES For Details On Scholarly Works Referenced.