Taste, smell, and memory intimately tie together. The perfect piece of chocolate cake, for example, may help you remember a special occasion—even helping you recall aromas of that day.
Wines’ creation imbues bottles with food-like flavor notes: vanilla, cherry, apple, chocolate. One reason you associate flavors with wine is that the compounds creating those taste sensations are present in many things. For example, the chemistry existing in chocolate may exist in a wine that has a chocolate flavor—even though no chocolate was used to create the wine. The flavors you prefer may help you learn which bottles you like. Here are five taste descriptors to get you started.
Fruit flavors are common in many wine descriptions, and cherry is a term often used to recall the familiar tastes in many pinot noirs. Take Ghost Pines Pinot Noir: In addition to cherry, its dominant flavors include ruby-red pomegranate and purply plum.
Fermenting, aging, and barreling provide the gateway for the alcohol in wine to create familiar flavors. For many white wines, including chardonnay, a common flavor is vanilla. Look for hints of it in the palate-pleasing sip of Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay.
When you notice a flavor in a wine, you create a connection between your tongue’s ability to taste and your nose’s ability to distinguish aroma. Sweet and tart apple-like flavors abound in many wine descriptions. Riesling tends to lead with a sweeter bent. In addition to apple flavors, pay attention to the mineral-like tones in Chateau Ste. Michele Riesling.
Citrus flavors singularly indicate a wine’s level of acidity. The flavors may range from orange to grapefruit or lemon, and the tartness level may cause your mouth to pucker a little. You’ll notice grapefruit and lemon, as well as a little peach and apple, in Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc.
Bold tannins and purple berries are often used to describe the flavors in many red wines, but so too are chocolate and cocoa. The presence of this flavor tends to signal a fairly complex and flavorful wine, as it does in Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon.
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