How to Read Tasting Notes: Simplified

Updated: May 18, 2020

Wine tasting notes on the label of a Meiomi wine bottle.

Most products include descriptions and benefits to help you make a buying decision. For wine, that is the tasting note. How many of you actually think these notes are helpful? Most of the time it seems these notes are written by experts for experts. How do you really get anything useful out of them? Let’s take a moment to decipher.



#1 Know the Key Wine Elements


The first step to understanding tasting notes is to learn a few key wine elements. It can make all the difference in understanding those notes and can help you decide which wine to buy.


Structure

Wine is a combination of acidity, sweetness, tannin, body, and alcohol. The way these 5 elements come together in each wine is important to understand and will help you better decipher tasting notes. We’ll break down these elements below.



Balance

This is the harmony of acid, sugar, tannin, alcohol, and water. The wine is balanced when all of these elements combine together in harmony. It is unbalanced when one or more of these components overpowers the others.



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Acidity

This element gives the wine a tart, sour, or zesty flavor. The higher the acidity the more it will make your mouth water.


Acidity can make white wine seem drier and red wine feel lighter. Cool climates tend to produce wine with higher acidity because the grapes don’t become as ripe as those in warmer climates.



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