thing when striving for balance. Yet, bitterness can also present admirably in wine. Bitterness can be a counterpoint to sweetness, enhancing floral and fruity notes. Also, consider tannins. Wines with higher levels of tannins can come across as drying and bitter initially, yet they often age gracefully and lose some of that bitterness with time. After all, such is the allure of classic aged Bordeaux! Umami Umami attempts to defy categorization. Colloquially known as the fifth taste, the Japanese word umami roughly translates to “pleasant savoury taste,” which hints at why the broader “savoury” might be a better descriptor. Umami is typically associated with fermented foods such as kimchi, cheese and miso, so it should be no surprise that wine—simply fermented grapes—also has an umami taste. But how does umami taste in wine? Describing umami is difficult. You can sense it, but you can’t explain it. Or perhaps it’s better to say the taste is subjective. Like when swirling and then sipping a meaty, savoury and textured wine such as Tannat. Or like a traditional- method sparkling wine or fino sherry— umami is just “there.” It is a taste that is more visceral than explanatory. The Overall Taste of Wine It turns out that “visceral” is a common theme when describing the taste of wine. After all, taste is perception, and flavour is subjective. The five basic tastes manifest and combine into infinite possibilities. So, consider taste to start, then permit taste to lead you into a world of flavours that enhance your overall impression of and appreciation for each wine.

NIK WEIS ST. URBANS-HOF OLD VINES MOSEL RIESLING Germany $30.99 597997 Sweet and semi-dry? Yes, there are evident residual sugars, but these offset the great natural acidity, creating a delicious balance in this elegant, floral and citrus-toned German Riesling from Mosel.

CLOUDY BAY SAUVIGNON BLANC New Zealand $43.99 304469 Zesty and vibrant, there’s no denying the fresh acidity (which can come across as sour) of this classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, which packages mouth-watering tropical fruit and citrus into a patio favourite.



M. CHAPOUTIER BILA-HAUT CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON BLANC France $19.99 175042 Mineral, almost salty notes and a herbaceous finish bookend this intense white, which comes together as a light, bright golden drop with mid-palate nuances of lemon, hay and beeswax.

CHÂTEAU DAVIAUD BORDEAUX ROUGE France $19.99 401073 A fetching blend of four of red Bordeaux’s big five grapes, this robust red brings lush berry and dark fruit together with a balanced, earthy and yes, slightly bitter tannic finish.

Did you know? “Taste” and “flavour” are not the same thing. Taste refers to the five basic sensations we perceive (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami), while flavour is a combination of all senses, including taste and smell giving you an overall sensory experience.


MUMM NAPA BRUT PRESTIGE USA $30.99 265678 Sparkling wine projects textural umami, particularly when it’s carbonated during a secondary fermentation in the bottle. This and sur lie aging have imbued this Brut Prestige with layered associations of apple, pastry, flowers and almond.



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