Mouthfeel is really just about how the wine actually feels as you sip it. Does it envelop your entire mouth? Is it more like sipping a glass of water? Or something between the two?
Here are four key sensations to help you better describe wine:
Body is your perceived thickness or weight of a wine. Does it feel heavy and enveloping? Or light, almost like drinking a glass of water? Alcohol content in wine is a sure predictor of the body you can expect in a wine. The lower the alcohol, the lighter and more delicate the wine will feel in your mouth. Light-bodied is a common description of these types of wine. Conversely, higher alcohol wines are fuller-bodied and will have a mouthfeel that is heavier and more robust. Yet, when they are neither delicate nor robust, wines fall into the medium-bodied category.
Texture is “body 2.0!” Once you’ve felt the weight of a wine in your mouth, pay attention to the textures and sensations you feel. Some wines will feel smooth and silky but others will be prickly and even give you a sensation I call “cat tongue.” I’ve also described wines as ropey, viscous, bubbly, spritzy, soft, velvety, enveloping, structured, or sharp. Don’t be scared to get creative here– wine is all about perception– your perception!
Balance is used to describe the overall wine. Was it in harmony? Or did you find it disjointed? A nicely balanced wine is akin to music being played. Did you feel like a well-rehearsed symphony was playing or a bunch of first-graders in music class? Or something between these two examples? Words such as well-balanced or nicely-balanced, awkward, disjointed, or out of whack are all good descriptors, depending on the wine.
Finish is all about how a wine made your mouth feel after you swallowed it. Did the flavor linger? Or dissipate quickly? Was it hot and burning? Or smooth and soft? Other often-used wine finish descriptors are; lasting, prolonged, tannic, or pronounced.
Tell me some of the ways you’ve described wines you’ve tried! Please share them in the comments.
Don’t miss our other Wine 101 articles:
Wine 101: Bubbles… explained, part one
Wine 101: Bubbles… explained, part two
Wine 101: Bubbles… explained, part three
Wine 101: Wine Bottle sizes and names
Wine 101: Use Your Words
Wine 101: Smell & Memory