What Does Wine Taste Like?

Wine is a popular drink often enjoyed with a meal or in a bar. Drunk in moderation, wine has health benefits.  Because of the antioxidants it contains, it can boost heart, gut, and brain health. This is especially true for red wine, but white wine doesn’t lag far behind. Maybe you are new to wine and don’t know where to start your journey. If this is the case, this article will tell you more about the flavor profiles of wine so that you can choose the wines you would like to try.

The Way To Taste Wine

If you want to appreciate wine, you will need to understand the elements below. They follow a sequence, so when you come to taste the wine, try to follow them in this order. 

1 – Identify the Sweetness Level

The first thing you will notice is the sweetness of the wine. It could be sweet, off-dry, or dry. If it is fruity with flavors of berries, it is more likely to be sweeter. If it is citrusy, it will be drier. 

It is interesting to note that we taste the aromas of the wine first before we taste the flavors on our tongues. The best way to ascertain if the wine is sweet or not is to pinch your nose and then take a sip of the wine. The smell then won’t get in the way. 

So, how does wine become sweet? Grapes contain sugar and when the wine is fermented, the yeast turns the sugar into alcohol. If you stop the fermentation process at some point before the end, the wine will have a degree of sweetness. If you carry on fermenting the wine until the yeast has turned all the sugar to alcohol, it will be dry. However, the yeast nearly always misses a little sugar so there are residual sugars in all wines, however small.

Sweetness can round off the acidity in wine and make it balanced. It is interesting to note that champagne has 12 grams of sugar but you don’t notice it because it is highly acidic. 

You will find that light-bodied wines are sweeter while full-bodied wines are dry. If a wine is very dry, it is called bone dry.

If a wine is high in tannins, it is going to be dry. Tannins are plant compounds that are found in grapes. They give the wine an astringent and bitter taste. You will find that red wines are higher in tannins than white. This is because grape skins are used to make red wine as well as the pulp while white wine only uses the pulp.

2 – Identify the Acidity

Grapes contain tartaric acid but the acidity in wine varies from varietal to varietal. You can feel the acidity in the mid-palate of your tongue. It may sound strange but the higher the acidity of the wine, the more saliva your mouth may produce. 

White wines tend to have more acidity than red wines. This is why many white wines are called crisp. 

3 – Taste the Tannins

While acidity is the backbone of white wine, tannins are the backbone of red wines. They can cause bitterness and a dry taste in your mouth so are not to everyone’s taste. However, the levels of bitterness vary from varietal to varietal. 

A wine connoisseur will taste the tannins at the back of the mouth, on the gums, and on the inside of the cheeks. The wine can be firm, which means it has a lot of tannins, astringent, or soft, which means that it is low in tannins. If you are embarking on your wine journey, you may prefer to start with wines with few tannins as they are an acquired taste. 

What is the Taste of Red Wine?

It is well known that red wine is good for the heart as long as you drink it in moderation. If you drink too much, you could cause health problems such as liver disease. 

Red wine is a great accompaniment to food, especially red meat, and hard and stinky cheeses.

Here we’ll tell you more about the taste of red wine.

What is Red Wine?

Dark-skinned grapes are used to make red wine. The fermentation process starts with macerating the pressed grape juice called must. The next step is to ferment the must with the grape skins. This gives flavor, tannins, and color to the wine. The yeast converts the grape sugar to alcohol. 

What Does Red Wine Taste Like?

Some red wines can be bitter because of the tannins. Others can be sweeter. It all depends on the variety of the grapes and the fermentation process. 

Wine connoisseurs believe that good red wine has a balance between sour, bitter, and sweet. 

Do Grape Juice and Red Wine Taste Like Each Other?

Some red wines have a slightly similar taste to grape juice but most don’t. Wine has a sharper taste because it has been fermented and turned into alcohol. If you want to try a red wine that has some similarities to grape juice, these wines may suit:

  • Sangiovese
  • Grenache
  • Beaujolais
  • Merlot
  • Pinot Noir 
  • Nebbiolo Concord

What Are the Characteristics of Red Wine Tasting?

If you are able to understand red wine tasting terms, you will be able to appreciate the different flavors. This list should help you.

Term                                              Description

Tannins                                          They leave the mouth feeling dry. The more tannins there are,  

                                                       the drier your mouth will feel.

Light-bodied                                 Light and crisp with a fruity taste.

Medium-bodied                            Slightly heavier than light-bodied wine but still fruity.

Full-bodied                                   Dry and complex, sometimes bitter and acidic.

What Does White Wine Taste Like?

White wine is generally lighter and more refreshing than red wine unless it is fortified. Although we hear that red wine is good for our health, white wine also contains antioxidants that help protect our bodies from cancer and heart disease.

What is White Wine?

White wine is produced from white or green grapes. Unlike red wine, it isn’t fermented with its skins. This gives it a yellow-gold color and a lighter, crisper taste.

How Does White Wine Taste?

White wine ranges from sweet to dry. It can be acidic but it generally isn’t bitter because there are few tannins in white wine. It doesn’t have tannins because most tannins are in the grape skins. White wine is often described as crisp with aromas of flowers, stone fruit, and citrus.

Does White Wine Taste Like Citrus Juice?

Some white wines have hints of lime, grapefruit, and lemon and can be as refreshing as a glass of lemonade. These wines include Pinot Grigio, Verdejo, Alberino, Chablis, and Dry Riesling. 

What are the Tasting Characteristics of White Wine?

Terms                               Description

Bone Dry                          The driest of white wines which leaves a clean taste in the mouth.

Dry                                    No sweetness at all.

Sweet                                Sugar is dominant.

Very Sweet                       Usually a fortified wine.

Harmonious                      A perfect balance between acidity, bitterness, and sweetness.

Fruity                                Aromas and flavors of fruit.

Hard                                  High in acidity and tannins

Fragrant                            A floral and fruity experience in both the nose and the mouth.

Sparkling                          White wine made with carbon dioxide.

How Do Famous Red Wines Taste?   

Let’s now take a look at a few famous red wine varietals and see what their flavor profiles are like.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is considered by wine connoisseurs to be one of the best red wines there is. It is very popular and can often be found in restaurants and bars. It is a complex wine with delicious flavors. Cabernet Sauvignon is fruity, with a hint of hay, leather, and plum. There is a slight bitterness on the tongue with a slightly sweet aftertaste. It pairs well with red meat and aged and stinky cheeses.


Merlot has a flavor of dark fruits. It tastes of blackberries, plums, and black cherries, with a chocolatey finish. Unlike many red wines, it isn’t dry, so it is refreshing. It pairs well with steak, beef casseroles, pizza, and pasta.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a light to medium-bodied wine with high acidity. It suits people who like a lighter wine. It has complex flavors including cherry, raspberry, mushroom, and forest floor. If it has been aged in French oak barrels, you will get hints of vanilla and baking spice. It pairs well with roast chicken, roast pork, vegetarian pizza, and spring vegetables. 


Malbec is a full-bodied red wine with a rich and dark fruit nose, and flavors like red plum and blackberry. There are also notes of oak, dark chocolate, vanilla, and tobacco. Malbec pairs well with beef dishes, a charcuterie board, and a cheese board. It goes well with blue cheeses such as Gorgonzola. 

Red Zinfandel

Red Zinfandel is both fruity and spicy. It has aromas of dark fruits such as blackberries and plums and flavors of raspberries, cherries, and cranberries. There is also a sprinkling of cinnamon and black pepper. It pairs well with lightly spiced foods, ribs, burgers, pizza, meatloaf, and roast beef.

How Do Famous White Wines Taste?

Let’s now take a look at the flavor profile of some famous white wines.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc tastes herbaceous and grassy with fruit notes of gooseberry, peach, melon, and grapefruit. The nose is floral. It is highly acidic and pairs well with fish, shellfish, spring vegetables, lightly spiced Thai food, and goat’s cheese. 


Chardonnay is a dry wine with a full-body and moderate acidity. Its flavors range from papaya and pineapple to apple and lemon. If it is aged in oak barrels, it is creamy and there are vanilla notes. It pairs well with sushi and shellfish as well as creamy vegetable soups. It also goes well with cheese, especially Brie, Mozzarella, and Ricotta.

Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio is zesty, crisp, and refreshing. You will get flavors of lime, green apple, and lemon. It pairs well with antipasti, seafood, and vegetarian dishes. 


Riesling is a refreshing, aromatic wine. It has crisp flavors of apples, pears, peaches, and apricots. It is acidic and pairs well with Cajun cuisine, Tex-Mex, roast pork, roast duck, and fish. 


Hopefully, this article has introduced you to the different flavors of well-known red and white wines, and you are now in the position of choosing a wine to suit your palate. Happy tasting!  

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