JWL Issue #020: Tasting Wine on the Palate

September 18, 2018

My new header image for the newsletter comes from my recent tour of England for the forthcoming podcast. This particular shot comes from Bluestone Vineyards, who are about to enjoy their first releases this year.

Editing has started on the podcast. This will be a reasonably long process as I’m fitting it in around other things, but I’m still aiming for a late October launch date. Know someone who likes podcasts? Forward this to them.

I shared this Chapel Down pinot noir yesterday on Instagram and it’s prompted quite the discussion about English red wine. It’s made me think about potentially hosting an English red tasting somewhere - would you pay to come to something like that?

I can’t believe it’s been 20 issues already! This has flown by. I’ll be introducing a new ‘series’ for the Learn section soon: I’ve had a few suggestions for what it should be, what do you think?


I had the Wine Route cinsault/shiraz from Tesco this week (£7), which was delicious and a great primer for Autumn. On the nose there’s some meatiness and spice and a background of red fruits. It’s warm on the palate though the length of the finish suits its price point. That said, this is definitely one of the best supermarket reds I’ve had in a long time. If you’ve got a Tesco near you, pick up a bottle of this.

It was my Mum’s birthday this week, so we visited The Bower House in Shipston. I visited last December and thought it was one of the best restaurants I’ve been to outside of London. Unfortunately, since then its changed hands and the menu has taken a slight mediocre turn. For drinking though, we had a bottle of Philippe Livera’s 2014 Gevrey-Chambertain.

Definitely not in the affordable range, but this was the most ‘crowd pleaser’ of Burgundy reds I’ve had yet: fruit dominated rather than the meaty or herbaceousness I’ve grown to expect with Burgundy. A great starting point for the uninitiated. 


Tasting wine: on the palate

Aside from the flavours, there’s a few other things to look for. The first is how sweet it is. This is a scale from dry to sweet. There is a difference between actual sweetness (as in sugar content in a wine), compared to sweet flavour in the fruit. 

The acid in wine can be tested by seeing how quickly your mouth fills with water, read more on acid in wine here (newsletter). In red wines you have tannins too look for: you can detect these by how the wine grips to your teeth and gums when you swallow it. 

Finally you have the body. Think of this as a scale of milk from skimmed (light) through to full fat (full). These other characteristics aside from the flavour are things to look out for when tasting wine on the palate/in your mouth.



This is what every winemaker wants. It means things like sweetness (or dryness), acidity, flavour, texture, body all coming together where no single thing is overpowering. If you see a wine where its balance is complimented, buy it.

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