One of my favorite wine-centric websites is www.winefolly.com by Madeline Puckette. You may be familiar with Wine Folly for it’s creative visual education.
Over a year ago www.winefolly.com had a post on recognizing attributes in wine. I did the suggested exercise and wrote about it for a wine column I had when I lived in Washington. Recently I thought, “Why haven’t I shared this with my DeepRedCellar audience!” So here you go, step-by-step directions to easily learn the basics of knowing what you taste in wine.
Start by purchasing a mid-range ($10-$15) bottle of dry red wine, a blend would be nice. Pour five 3 oz. glasses of wine, using the same style glass. Keep one glass of wine as your untouched dry red wine. In one glass, soak one black tea bag for 10 minutes, remove the bag and stir to incorporate. In one glass, squeeze the juice from half of lemon and stir to incorporate. In one glass, pour 1 tsp. sugar, stir to incorporate. In one glass, pour 1 tsp. vodka, stir to incorporate. TO START EACH OF THE BELOW SECTIONS, TASTE YOUR UNTOUCHED WINE BY SWISHING IT AROUND IN YOUR MOUTH THEN SWALLOWING.
TANNIN: Taste your tea infused wine by swishing it around in your mouth then swallowing. You will immediately feel bitterness, followed by astringency on the front portion of your tongue, possibly like fine-grained sand paper.
ACIDITY: Taste your lemon infused wine by swishing then swallowing. Your mouth will pucker and water. The wine will taste more astringent and tart, maybe more bitter.
SWEETNESS: Taste your sugar infused wine by swishing then swallowing. Pay attention here, the wine will not taste sweeter, but fruitier. The wine will also have an oily sensation; this may take a second sip to feel.
ALCOHOL: Taste your vodka infused wine by swishing then swallowing. The wine will have a thicker mouth feel and may feel spicier and warm in your throat. The warm feeling will linger.