The Fundamentals Of Wine Tasting: Breaking Down The Five Characteristics

We know how much our customers love wine tastings – especially when they’re paired with our simplified bus hire services. It’s often said that wine is much more enjoyable when you understand the process taken to create the wine. We’ve already spoken about the general vinification processes – but what about the fundamental characteristics that define the way wine tastes? There are five commonly recognised characteristics: sweetness, acidity, tannin, alcohol and body – and we’re going to be exploring each one in detail in today’s blog.

Three Friends Tasting Wine at a Winery


1.     Sweetness – the natural sugars

The sweetness of a wine is derived from the natural sugars left over from the grape after the fermentation process. Whilst it’s often thought that the grape dictates a sweet wine – it actually falls to the winemaker to control how much residual sugar (or RS) remains during fermentation. As we know, the fermentation process is where yeast is added to the grapes to convert sugar into alcohol – so it’s up to the winemaker to determine how sweet they’d like the wine to be by halting the process whenever they see fit. If the yeast converts all the sugar, then it becomes a dry wine.


2.     Acidity – the sour characteristic

Acidity is defined by the tart or sour tastes you may experience when sampling wine. Since grapes are naturally sour, all wines are acidic to some degree. This is opposed to the fact that not all wines have a degree of sweetness in them since dry wines have no RS. Regarding the pH scale (which measures acidity levels) wine tends to sit around the pH 3 mark – with pH 14 being the highest rating on the other end of the spectrum and pH 0 being the highest acidic rating.

The amount of acidity within a wine is determined by how ripe the grapes are – the riper the grape the sweeter it is and the more likely it is to have well-balanced levels of sweetness, acidity and tannin. So wines that are heavy in acidity tend to be taken from prematurely ripe grapes Cool evening temperatures and shorter growing seasons are characteristics that help acidic-rich grapes grow.


3.     Tannin – the bitter taste

If sweetness defines how sweet the wine is and acidity how sour – then tannin represents the boldness. The easiest way to determine if a wine has high tannin levels is if it leaves your tongue dry with a lingering bitter taste. This should not be confused with the characteristic that defines a dry wine, however (which we know is the yeast leaving no RS during fermentation).

Tannin itself is naturally occurring and originates from the skin, seeds and stem of a grape as well as oak barrels. Tannin is a characteristic that predominantly exists in red wines but can be present in certain white varieties if they’ve been aged in wooden barrels or fermented on skins – similarly to the red fermenting process. Tannin is also one of the possible reasons you may get a headache when you drink red wine.


4.     Alcohol – from light to bold

The amount of alcohol in wines can vary from anywhere between 5.5% to 20% – but your typical bottle will be rated around 11% – 13% per glass. Alcohol gives us the warming sensation we feel when we drink wine. The alcohol level also determines how bold or light the wine is – with higher levels of alcohol representing oily, bold wines and low alcohol levels representing light and fluffy wines. Alcohol is also responsible in part for the body of a wine.


5.     Body – light, medium and full

The body of a wine is split into three distinct types – light body, medium body and full body. These three categories describe how the wine feels in our mouth. We mentioned that alcohol plays a part in this trait which makes it easier to distinguish between the three types – especially light and full-bodied varieties. Full-bodied varieties are usually bolder and will feel heavier when you drink them – whereas light-bodied varieties feel light and easy to drink.


Looking to hire a bus for your next winery tour?

Victoria is full of countless wineries across several regions – each with their own unique traits to offer. Whilst they’re currently inaccessible – when the lockdown ends, you’re going to need a transportation plan to ensure that you and your crew can enjoy the full experience. Melbourne on the Move offers premium bus hire services for both private and corporate events – allowing you to travel stress-free and in style to your next event.

If you’d like to know more about our services, then please don’t hesitate to contact us by filling out the form on our website or calling 1300 55 86 86.