Mouthfeel Terminology Secrets revealed

In the last article, I discussed the relationship between potato chips and mouthfeel.  Again, mouthfeel related to beverages is exceptionally important, especially when pairing.  I wish to take a few moments to describe mouthfeel terminology and explain how to use it.  Just as a refresher, I define mouthfeel as:

  • the texture of wine on your palate (specifically related to texture only).

It’s a bit difficult to understand but I will try to explain it.  Let’s take the example of freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Imagine if I ask you to place a tablespoon of this in your mouth and let it sit for a few seconds.  Please take a moment and picture the sensation.  We can use the following words to describe what we feel:

  • My mouth started to water/produce a lot of saliva.
  • It has a strong flavor of lemon (which can be pleasant or not, depending if you like lemons).
  • It’s astringent and makes my mouth pucker.

All of the statements above are true but only one of them is related to mouthfeel.  This is where everything gets confusing.  However, if we remember that we are focused on texture only, then we can decide what is related to mouthfeel.  Let me explain each statement.

Saliva Production

Some may say that when our palate produces saliva, that is mouthfeel.  In theory, they are correct since it’s sitting on our palate and has a texture.  I understand the correlation.  However, saliva production for wine terminology is not related to mouthfeel.  Its actually related to acid levels which I will explain in an upcoming article.  I’ll show you how to use saliva production to determine how acidic the wine is.

Strong Lemon Flavor

How we determine flavor is an amazing process.  It combines a number of sensations and aromas to build a ‘packet’ in our brain of what a particular flavor is.  I will be writing on this soon but for now think of it this way.  When I say something is a certain flavor (such as lemon or cherry), that is not related to mouthfeel.  For example, I can purchase a cherry flavored candy.  It will have a ‘cherry flavor’ but not the mouthfeel that we relate to fresh cherries.

It’s Astringent.

This statement is the correct one as it relates directly to mouthfeel (as its texture based).  Astringency is something that you can feel so we can use this term.  Your mouth puckering is texture based, so we can use it to describe a sensation.  Just always think texture to help clarify it in your mind.

Mouthfeel Terminology

Above is the Mouthfeel Wheel that I’ve shared with you previously.  This one is slightly different as I’ve highlighted a few terms on the wheel.  These are the terms that I limit myself to  (such as soft, dusty, and green).  While all of the terms on the chart can be used, I beg that you only use the ones I’ve highlighted to keep it simple.  Too many times, we can use the ‘big words’ to try to relay information.  The highlighted terms you have heard before and are simple to use.  More important, you can understand them!

Using the Terms

In the last article I posted about aromas, I asked you to purchase a wine to try a great exercise.  We are going to use that same wine again to showcase mouthfeel.  The wine was a 2022 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc.  Did I mention that this is a great wine for the price point?  Let’s focus on texture. 

Under the section of Taste, it lists the categories of:

  • Sweetness,
  • Acid,
  • Tannin,
  • Texture (aka Mouthfeel), and
  • Body.

In the coming articles, I will discuss the other categories.  For now, we will focus on the texture of the wine.  From my tasting notes, I highlighted that the wine was both astringent and round.  Let me define each of these terms.

  • Astringent
    • causing a tightening of soft organic tissues.

This sensation occurs when your palate gets exposed to acid and you feel your mouth tighten (or as some refer to as pucker). 

This is a sensation that refers to a beverage’s components hitting all of the spots on your palate (roof, tongue, sides, etc.) with an equal sensation.  While this wine does have high amounts of acid, it’s equally distributed around the mouth and hits all of your palate.   

Hopefully, both of the above terms make sense.  They are easy to relate to, easy to remember and use.  That is specifically why they are placed on my tasting chart in the texture section.  If you go back to the wheel and reference it, you will notice that the above two terms are not listed anywhere.  I’ve done this on purpose.  I’m looking for easy terms that everyone can relate to. 

Think about it this way.  If I had placed all of the highlighted mouthfeel terms on the tasting chart, most of us would ‘look for something to put down’.  The more choices I give you, the more you feel that you have to list.  Just because it’s on the page does not mean it’s there.  It’s just a guide for your thought process.  Let’s keep it simple.

Final Thoughts

I hope that this will give you a better insight on mouthfeel / texture.  Please go and purchase a bottle of the wine and give it a try and let me know your thoughts on both the aromas and mouthfeel.  We are going to keep using this wine as a benchmark for other future discussions as I guide you in the future on the other sections of taste and then flavors.  I’m looking forward to exploring more with you. 😊

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