Descriptors provide specific information
In addition to general descriptive words, we use a four-tier scale for the following descriptors: body, tannin, sweetness and acidity.
The sweetness in a wine comes mainly from the sugar found in the grapes.
As well as sugar, fruity esters in a wine also add to the sense of sweetness.
If a wine contains even a small amount of sugar, the wine, especial white wine, tastes more full-bodied. The sugar does not yet taste sweet, however.
The mouthfeel of sweetness is also influenced by the acids contained in wine: if there is a high level of acidity, the sense of sweetness declines; if there is a low level of acidity, the sense of sweetness rises.
very dry – dry – medium-dry – medium-sweet – sweet
Tannicity or hardness is sensed when a red wine tightens the gums and dries the mucous membranes of the mouth.
When there are a lot of tannins in red wine, an almost sand paper-like feeling is sensed in the mucous membranes.
A low-tannin red wine, on the other hand, has low tannins but is rich in glycerol, a sweet-tasting alcohol produced in connection with fermentation, and possibly also has some residual sugar and a low level of acidity.
low tannins – medium tannins – tannic – very tannic
Full-bodiedness is sensed when a wine is rich and mouthfilling – even chewy.
The sense of full-bodiedness increases if a wine is matured in oak barrels, while tannins and high alcohol content also enhance a wine's full-bodied character. A full-bodied wine also often has a rich colour and structure.
A light-bodied wine is the opposite of full-bodied. It has less alcohol and lower tannins, which makes it easier to drink.
light-bodied – medium-bodied – full-bodied – very full-bodied
The acidity of a wine is sensed when the mouth begins to secrete lots of saliva and a slight tingling sensation is felt on the tongue.
An acidic wine has good body. It smells and tastes crisp and fresh.
An almost acid-free wine, on the other hand, is flat with a short finish.
A wine that has a high level of acidity may, however, have a very mild taste if it has relatively high levels of sugar and alcohol. Correspondingly, a relatively high level of acidity reduces the sense of sweetness in a wine.
low acidity – medium acidity – acidic – very acidic