- Sweetness - and dryness, we detect at the tip of the tongue. If a wine is very dry you may feel an almost itchy tingle here. Most wine on the market is dry but because it id fruity it sort of tricks the brain into thinking it's sweet.
- Sourness - also called acidity we feel at the sides of our tongue. Think about when you taste a Sauvignon Blanc, for example. It is an acidic wine and if it reaches the sides of your mouth your saliva glands are affected. This causes you to salivate which in turns triggers a response in your brain to make you hungry. It's why we have acidic wine as an aperitif as it actually prepares you for food.
- Bitterness - this is the largest taste area on your tongue and can be felt in the fleshy bit between your back teeth. This area is also often known as the mid-palate and wines lacking balance often don't have much effect on this part of the tongue. The wine just feels like something is missing.
- Alcohol - The tongue goes all the way into the back of your throat and it is here we detect alcohol. For wine it is usually a warming feeling but think about when drinking spirits. That burning sensation is the alcohol affecting the tongue.
- Finish - when the wine has left the mouth, the feeling and sensation that remains is known as the finish, or the length. We feel it on the soft-palate; push your tongue back as if to reach your nose from the inside, there. If you can really savour the flavour of the wine here and if it lingers a long time you've got a good wine. If the flavour just disappears then it's probably not so good.
So, you've seen and smelled the wine, now it's time for the bit you've been waiting for, the wine tasting. You noticed when we talked about smelling wine how the flavour changed when you swirled it in the glass. Well, the same thing happens on the palate too. If you just take a sip of wine and drink as normal you will feel and taste the wine predominantly across the surface of the tongue. However, your taste buds are far more widespread than just the middle of your tongue so we need to swish the wine to really 'taste' it properly.