The first article on TastingTools? A basic guide of what to look for (or, taste) when reviewing a wine... courtesy of WineMcGee.
How clear is the wine? Tilt your glass at an angle and look into the light or down onto a white background. Unfiltered wines can often be slightly hazy, and old wines may have sediment. Our clarity scale goes from Brilliant (crystal clear) to Cloudy (visible sediment, haziness).
Depth defines the darkness of the color. Use the slider to find a color that comes close to your wine.
A major taste component to wine, acidity can best be detected on the sides of the tongue. It can also help to associate the taste with a common acidic flavor.
The major acids in wine grapes are tartaric (bananas), malic (green apple), and citric (lemons). The fermentation process also adds other acids, primarily lactic (yogurt), succinic (salty), and acetic (vinegar).
Sweetness can best be detected on the tip of the tongue. It is important to concentrate on the tongue, as fruity aromas can often lead to the perception of sweetness.
In the natural wine making process there is a direct correlation between sweetness and alcohol content, so look at the back of the bottle for a clue. The higher the alcohol, the lower the sugar level. However, winemakers can alter the process to add additional sugars or alcohol, so this rule is not always true.
Bitterness is most evident in aftertaste on the back of the tongue. Like acidity, it can help to associate the taste with a common bitter flavor, like dark chocolate, coffee, or stout beer.
Alcohol is best detected through its physical effects on the body. High alcohol content can bring the perception of heat in the back of the mouth or throat, or a burning sensation in the taste buds.
Tannins are astringent plant chemicals found naturally in grape seeds, skins, and stems. They produce the familiar drying, puckering feeling on the tongue.
Mouthfeel is the texture and body of wine in the mouth and on the tongue. It is often perceived in weight, viscosity, and graininess.
Balance defines the overall harmony in the various taste components. If any one attribute dominates the taste of a wine to the detriment of the other taste elements, it's likely out of balance.