The Art of Wine Appreciation

Discover Your Palate

Explore the properties of great wine, cultivate passions for varietals you love, and deepen your understanding. We’ll have you choosing and pairing wine with confidence in no time.

Four glasses of various wines stand alongside fresh cheese and crackers at the vineyard. Abiqua Wind Vineyard & Winery. Willamette Valley. Scotts Mills, Oregon.
Your Wine Preference

Sweet or Dry?

After pouring wine to tens of thousands, it has become clear that sweetness is a driving attribute. That drive stems, in part, from the physical layout of the tongue. The number of taste buds we have is a factor driving our choices. Someone with a high number of taste buds may discover a sensory overload with tannic wines. Those with fewer taste buds lean toward higher tannins (bite a grape skin or seed) that ‘dry’ the tongue and generally have higher alcohol content.

Our wines, and the accolades they receive, have proven residual sugar can be present in wines of exceptional quality. Don’t be shamed into believing the common myth that sweet wines are of low worth. The best wines are a balance between sweetness, acidity, tannins, alcohol, and body. Taste a few wines and learn what your tongue prefers.

Exploring Combinations

Pairing Wine

When wine and food match perfectly, it’s a remarkable experience; a bit of food calls for a bit of drink, that drink requests more food.
More wine, more food… and you have a worthy cause for exploration.

Spicy Food

  • A sweet wine will help to offset spiciness. Find a sweeter wine within your preference; remember, it’s not the amount of sugar in a wine that matters. It’s the balance between the acidity and sugars that give the perception of sweetness.
  • A crisp, fruity wine is also a wonderful option.

Creamy Food

  • Heavy cream sauces, fried foods, and cheese will coat your palate and reduce the contact wine is able to make with your taste buds. 
  • Try pairing with something in your wine preference lowest on sweetness and highest in acidity. This will cleanse the palate and prepare you for the next mouthful.
Discover What You Love

Five Properties of Wine

Rich and Full

Sweetness

Sugar in wine adds sweetness, of course, but it also adds volume – giving wine structure and a pleasant roundness in the mouth. The subtle sweetness of wine is affected by many factors. To learn if sweet wine is to your liking, you may find it helpful to focus on the following characteristics:

  • Viscosity
    A sweet wine will often be “thicker”, and feels like it could coat the side of a glass or the inside of the mouth.
  • Color
    Most often, sweet wines will be white (though, there are some delicious sweet red wines to be found).
  • Sensation
    If you perceive a slight tingling or oily feel on the tongue, it’s an indicator your wine has some sweetness to it.
Tart and Zesty

Acidity

Wines with more acidity feel light and bubbly. Try paying attention to these characteristics:

  • Pucker
    More on the sour side, acidic wines may leave a bit of a pucker behind.
  • Watering
    A wine with higher acidity will often leave us feeling like we just bit into some juicy fruit.
  • Texture
    Put your tongue to the roof of your mouth, and you may feel a bit more texture than before.
Texture and Aging

Tannin

Tannins come from the skin and seeds of grapes, make up the basic structure of wine, and determine its longevity. Not off-putting, tannins add balance and complexity to wine. Look for the following:

  • Texture
    A feeling that’s a bit sharp, reminiscent of grapefruit, and astringent.
  • Color
    While tannins are in all wines, red wine is more likely to be tannic than white. 
  • Insoluble
    Tannins bind with proteins and create an pleasant astringent sensation in the mouth.
Warm and Spicy

Alcohol

Genetics play a role in how we taste alcohol, but it often helps balance a wine’s acids and tannins. Wines with higher alcohol content will lead with:

  • Warmth
    The higher the alcohol, the greater the heat you can expect to feel toward the back of your throat. You may even feel it warm into your stomach.
  • Boldness
    Alcohol in wine can bring forth flavors and a wine higher in alcohol will pack more strength in taste.
Light to Full

Body

Body is an overall perception that results from many factors. Generally, a light bodied wine will be easy to drink and pair with foods, and full bodied wines will be more complex, with powerful aromas. Look for:

  • Color
    White wines will typically be light bodied. Red wines will often be more full bodied. 
  • Viscosity
    Skim milk and cream feel differently in the mouth – similar to light and full bodied wines. The more alcohol a wine has, the more viscous it will feel.