Mouthfeel & Wine Tasting

If you’ve ever ventured into the fascinating world of wine tasting, you’ve probably been intrigued by just how many diehard fans of top-rate wines there are within the field. One of the most important aspects of wine tasting is the determination of mouthfeel in evaluating a vintage. Mouthfeel is a term to refers to the way that wine impresses the mouth with different textures, flavors, or levels of astringency, that is, the levels of tannin in a wine.

Indeed, mouthfeel is especially important in evaluating wines because it is one of the basic elements in matching a wine with a meal. For many experts, the way in which a wine complements a well-cooked dish is one of the greatest pleasures in trying different vintages. Here are just a few ways that mouthfeel can add to your appreciation of wines.

A Question of Balance

One of the greatest ways to try different wines is by coupling them with a good, fatty meal such as a steak. Because good wine will contrast with the feel of a well-cooked meal, tasters will experience a balancing of the two, provided that the meal and wine are both well made. 

POI's Photographs of Ayza Restaurant at Midtown in New York.
Taste a variety of wines to get a better understanding of mouthfeel.

Learning the Ropes

So how exactly do we describe something as intangible as the taste of wine? Usually, aficionados of wine tend to use several common terms to describe their experience with a particular bottle. For example, the description of a “soft” mouthfeel in a wine might convey the dryness that an overabundance of tannins would produce, while a “hard” mouthfeel might convey the opposite. Similarly, a “fleshy” wine might be described as one in which a great amount of flavor was present. Mostly, the elements of mouthfeel that you find most interesting will depend on what you like in your favorite wine. If you’re a fan of overtones of fruit or other flavors, you’ll quickly discover that you have a preference for certain grapes over others.

Practice Makes Perfect

Whatever level of wine tasting expertise you aspire to, a key step in the process is getting a grounding in different types of grapes and blends. If you prefer hints of plum and soft levels of astringency, for example, the red wine Merlot may become your favorite. If you like a full-bodied wine, a Syrah or Shiraz type of wine may be your choice to accompany a favorite meal. From here, the characteristics of your favorite wines will differ according to year, blend, or winery.

For these reasons, mouthfeel is truly a quality of wine tasting that every would-be connoisseur must learn about. While learning the basics can be a challenge, the truth is that the right tasting skills will provide a lifetime of enjoyment in learning about wines. Above all else, enjoy the process!