An Easy Guide to the 5 Main Wine Characteristics

Wine descriptions range from practical to absurd. The majority of words used on labels or wine lists are for marketing. You can better describe a wine if you know its five main characteristics.

In my Online Course, I cover all wine characteristics in detail and provide a step-by-step process for wine sampling, but it can be helpful to read it first. It is best to enroll and see wine tasting in action. You will be able to distinguish each wine.

Wine Characteristics 

The acidity of wine can be described as how tart or sour it tastes. The edge of wine is what makes it great or bad. The pH of wine is around 3, between coffee and lemon juice, which are both very acidic.

Types of Acids In Wine

In wine, three primary acids are tartaric, citric, and malic. These acids are present in the grapes and are not byproducts of fermentation. Lactic Acid, however, is a wine acid produced by winemaking. Malolactic fermentation is the process that converts malic into lactic Acid. 

Acidity levels at Grape Harvest

As grapes mature, the acidity level drops, and the sugar level increases. A ripe grape will be sweet. The grapes must be harvested before they become out of balance. Your wine will taste sour and have low alcohol if you gather it too early. If you pick your wine too late, it will have a high alcohol content and lack the acidity that lifts 

The white grapes are harvested before the red grapes. The white wine produced will be acidic. Conversely, red grapes are left to ripen a bit longer for the grapes to reach Acid is a slowing agent for oxidation. Oxygen is essential to aging wine, but too much oxygen can ruin it. Wines with a higher acid level will last longer than those with a lower acid.

The acidity of Wine – Words used to describe it

High-acid wines are described as being bright, sharp, and tart.

Low-acid wines are soft, limp, dull, and floppy.

Acidity is a crucial factor in wine selection.

They further read Wine Characteristics-Acid: Low Acid White Wines, Low Acid Red Wines, Malolactic Fermentation, and Winemaking Step by Step.

Wine Characteristics: Sweetness 

The sweetness of wine is self-explanatory ….or not? I like to discuss the sweetness of wine with my students. You may think that because grapes are sweet, wine must be lovely. Nope.

The wine will be devoid of sweetness if the grape must ferment until the yeast eats all the sugar. No grape sugar= no sweetness. This results in wine. Some wines contain residual sugar or sugar left over from fermentation. The amount of sugar left will determine if.

Do not confuse sweetness in wine with fruitiness.

We describe wine by describing the aromas and flavors of fruit we can detect. Pinot Noir, for example, smells of strawberries, cherries, and raspberries, all fruits we consider sweet. The essence of the fruits remains, but the sugar has turned into alcohol. Even though the wine smells lovely, it is dry unless the sugar is still in the bottle.

Wine Characteristics Body

The body of a wine is one of the most complex characteristics because it cannot be quantified. What do I mean? Acidity, sweetness, and tannins can be measured chemically, and a number is produced. The body of a wine is not measurable but can be felt compared to other wine characteristics. Mouthfeel, or how the wine feels in your mouth, is an excellent way to measure your body.

Several factors determine the body of a wine. These factors combine to decide whether or not it has a whole, medium, or light body. Alcohol, glycerol, and sugar are the three main factors. Many wine experts are adamant that alcohol is the main contributor to the body of wine. I’m not among them. 

How to detect body in the wine

Full-bodied wine coats the mouth and has a thick, creamy texture. Light-bodied wine does not feel like it covers your mouth but instead feels watery. You’d have a medium-bodied red wine if it falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.

The milk test is another way to determine if you have a problem. You’ll need to use your childhood experience since most adults do not drink milk regularly. The texture of skim/0% is a light body, the feeling of 1% or 2.5% milk would be medium, and the whole body of cream or total fat would be heavy.

Tannin is the fourth wine characteristic.

Have you ever had a glass of wine and noticed all the moisture from your mouth disappeared? Tannin is the friend we all love. Tannins are the bitter and astringent element in wine. Tannins play a vital role in the structure of wine and whether it can age. Tannin can be found in (almost!) Tannin is found (almost!)

Tannins are produced by the skins, seeds, and stems of grapes and the wine that has aged in barrels. The tannins that are ‘good for you’ come from the grapes’ skins and the barrels. They are softer than the tannins in a stem or seed. Have you ever eaten a grape or other fruit seed before? It’s not very pleasant.

During fermentation, the red grapes must be crushed. The grape juice (must) is left with the skins and seed of the grape to extract tannin and color. The darker the wine gets, the longer the must stays with the skins.

Tannins, a polyphenol, slow down the oxidation of wine. This allows it to mature slowly. Tannins become less bitter as the wine ages. The tannins in wines should be consumed many years after the wine has been produced.

Wine Characteristics Alcohol

Everyone loves wine. What is alcohol? Alcohol is a byproduct of fermentation. The yeast eats grape sugar and produces alcohol. Alcohol is ethanol.

The alcohol content is directly related to the amount of grape sugar in wine and how much was fermented. Low-sugar grapes at harvest result in low-alcohol wines. A grape with high sugar levels at harvest will produce a wine with higher alcohol content. Wines with high alcohol levels are more common in wine regions located in warm climates or Mediterranean climates.

Alcohol range in wine

Wines can range from by volume. The majority of wines we consume are between Moscato d’Asti, the lowest-alcohol wine. Its alcohol content cannot exceed The highest alcohol content wine is Port fortified by grape spirit to reach.

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