We all want to know what wine tastes like. But how do we describe a wine’s taste?

Is it sweet? Dry? Well balanced? Aromatic? Intense?

The key to understanding the complexity of a wine is to identify whether it is sweet or dry, and what kind of sweetness or acidity it has.

  • Sweet wines are less tart than dry wines and have more sugar (more than 15 g/l). Examples include late harvest Riesling and Sauternes. These can also be called off-dry if they’re not too sweet—they’re still slightly acidic and therefore don’t taste like cake!
  • The type of acidity in wine helps balance out its sweetness. An example of this would be Sauvignon Blanc, which usually has high levels of both sugar and acidity at about 11 g/l each—this makes it very well-balanced overall despite being quite fruity due to all those blueberry flavors in there! It’s also considered an aromatic variety because its aromas are so strong when consumed alongside food—great for pairing with seafood dishes like salmon or tuna salad sandwiches on rye bread!
  • Intensity can vary greatly from one wine type through another; however, generally speaking, “intense” refers simply to how much flavor there is per glass size consumed: the higher level here indicates bolder flavors that stand out more prominently when paired with food items such as bacon & peanut butter sandwiches made from wheat bread slices dipped into maple syrup before being served warm alongside apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.”

Is the wine round, balanced or do you get one distinct flavor?

The first thing to consider is whether you are experiencing a wine that is round, balanced, or has one distinct flavor.

A round wine has many distinct flavors and goes down smoothly. A balanced wine has a few distinct flavors but they all blend together nicely. An unbalanced wine usually only has one noticeable flavor (e.g., citrus fruit or blackberries) and it can be overpowering to some people’s palates depending on their experience level with food and drinks in general.

Are you getting a lot of fruit flavors, new-wood/toast flavors, earthy flavors, herbal flavors, or mineral flavors?

Are you getting a lot of fruit flavors, new-wood/toast flavors, earthy flavors, herbal flavors, or mineral flavors?

If so, it’s likely that your wine is complex. Wine made from grapes grown in the same vineyard will often only have one set of characteristics—this is called a simple wine. A complex wine can have multiple sets of characteristics to it and will taste different depending on what type of food you pair with it.

wine tasting a rose

Does the wine just hit your tongue or does it feel like it fills your mouth from front to back and top to bottom?

The best way to think of a complex wine is as a painting with many layers. Each layer becomes clearer when you look through it, but they also blend together in surprising ways to create a whole new image you never knew was there.

When tasting a complex wine, the first thing that happens is that your tongue feels the slightly sweet taste of some fruit—maybe berries or cherries. Then another flavor comes into play: the bitter kick from tannins (which come from oak barrels) or acidity (which comes from fermentation). Those two flavors are like the background colors of your painting; they give depth and texture to what’s already there. But then suddenly! You notice something else entirely on your tongue—a spice, maybe cinnamon or clove; an earthy note that makes you think of mushrooms or moss; maybe even chocolate! These are like highlights in an otherwise delicate landscape—they give extra dimension and make everything else pop out even more clearly for us to see them individually without losing sight of how beautifully all these elements work together in this particular wine as well as how much we enjoy them on their own merits!

Does the wine have a very long finish (you can still taste the wine 30 seconds later) or does it disappear quickly after you swallow?

One of the most important things to consider when drinking wine is whether or not you can taste the finish. If a wine has a very long finish (you can still taste it 30 seconds after swallowing it), that means there’s a lot of complexity in the wine. The opposite of this would be if your mouth just felt dry after you swallowed and you couldn’t taste anything anymore. That would mean that this was an uncomplex wine with no real depth or layers for you to explore as you drink it!

wine flavors

Think about how many distinct flavors you’re encountering. How intense are they, and where in your mouth are they hitting your palate?

One of the best ways to judge whether a wine is complex is by considering how many distinct flavors you’re encountering. How intense are they, and where in your mouth are they hitting your palate?

A complex wine will have lots of flavor layers that take time to unfold (and re-unfold) as you drink it. This can include smells like rosemary, berries, and earth; tastes like vanilla, caramel, honey, and citrus; or textures that range from creamy to astringent.

It’s also important for the flavors in a complex wine to be layered—that means there’s not just one thing going on at any given time but also several things happening at once. It might be bright notes of citrus zest layered over deeper flavors of cherry jam or roasted nuts with hints of balsamic vinegar underneath it all, or maybe you taste strawberry first but then get floral notes afterward as well as hints of apple cider vinegar around the edges before finishing off with some black pepper spice on top.


Complex wines are the most enjoyable for us to drink. We like the way they make us feel, but what makes them especially great is that they can be paired with almost any food! So go out and try some complex wines and see how much fun it is to discover new flavors in your favorite beverages.

Feature Image by @venetsanoswinery (IG Handle)