Five features of quality wine
Even a basic understanding of the features of wine can go a long way to helping you better select wine that you really like. Not learning or understanding the different flavour combinations can make choosing wine a hassle at best or overwhelming at worst.
What to look for when selecting wine
Beyond your personal preference, a good rule of thumb for a high-quality wine is to assess how well it balances five key features: sweetness, acidity, tannins, alcohol, and body. With this quick guide, we're here to tell you what these features are, what to look out for, and how that translates in the wine shop.
A wine's sweetness is determined by how much residual sugar is left over from the fermentation process. It's often the first impression we get when tasting a wine, and sweet wine can leave a tingling sensation on the tip of our tongue. This is followed by an oily sensation in the middle.
Interestingly, adding sugar to wine does not make it sweeter. Instead, the sugar is consumed by the yeast and fermented into alcohol. When the yeast is left to 'eat up' all the residual sugar from the grape, a dry wine is produced. When a wine's fermentation process is cut short, the wine is sweeter. It may also have a lower alcohol content.
If dry wine is your style, try out the Kiss of Wine Smooth Chardonnay or Zesty Riesling. While Rose's are generally sweet, our Chill Rose is light and easy to drink but more on the dry side of things.
Looking at beverages more broadly, wine falls at the acidic end of the scale, but, of course, there are variations within the group. Acidity refers to the sourness or tartness and often leaves a tingling feeling at the tongue's front and sides. If you find yourself salivating after a sip, this wine has high acidity. High acidic wines will also taste crisp and tart, while low acidity will come off smoother.
Not to be mistaken for acidity or dryness, tannins add bitterness or astringency to a wine. This characteristic is more influential in red wines. Although some white varieties like Chardonnay have notable tannins as well. Tannins come from the phenolic molecules in wine resulting from the organic compounds in grapes, or when fermented in oak barrels. Tannins also add to a wine's complexity and texture.
Nebbioli's and Cabernet Sauvignon are often high in tannins. If tannins are where you're at, Kiss of Wines Feisty Nebbiolo and Wild Dolcetto are your best bet. We also have a lovely Chardonnay, but it's lighter in tannins than most.
Assessing the alcohol content of your wine comes down to how much it warms your throat. Alcohol is sensed with many different receptors, and our alcohol senses are at the back of our mouths. Also, how sweet, spicy, or bitter alcoholic drinks taste can be determined by our genetics!
Typically, wine sits around 11% to 13% alcohol, and that's true for the Kiss of Wine selection. With this, we'd say it's only a moderate factor in flavour and warmth for most people.
Body refers to how full or how light a wine is. It's a result of many factors ranging from the variety of grape, the region it's from, the vintage, and even how much alcohol is in it.
Think of the colour beyond red, white or pink. Is it rich or soft? How does it feel in your mouth? This will translate on the palate. Full-bodied wines also linger for longer in your mouth. Body is considered the overall snap-shot of a wine's character.
Light-bodied wines tend to be easier to drink and a great place to start if you're starting out. It can take time to acquire other preferred flavours. Our Feisty Nebbiolo (red) and Crisp Sauvignon Blanc (white) are easy to drink and great to start out with.
A good rule of thumb is that full-bodied wines are usually red – think, Shiraz, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon. However, Chardonnay is often a full-bodied white wine. Kiss of Wine has a Smooth Chardonnay, however, it's lighter than most! The Wild Dolcetto is a great full-bodied red.
We think everything wine is supposed to be easy and fun. Tap into what you already know and love, use this guide, or even do your very own home wine tasting to find what tingles your taste buds best.