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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Last night, I had a great dinner matched with a fine wine from a nice vintage and wine region. The wine steward said that the wine was great because of its great midpalate. What does he mean by midpalate?

—Catosa, Los Cabos, Mexico

Dear Catosa,

Some people break the sequence of tasting down into three stages: "attack" (the first impression as the wine hits the palate), "midpalate" (what registers as you hold the wine in your mouth before swallowing) and the "finish" or "aftertaste" (what's left after swallowing or spitting). For most wines, most of the interesting flavors happen on the midpalate, so to compliment it may not be saying much. If the impression between the first taste and swallowing is disappointing, sometimes a wine is described as "hollow" or having a "hole in the middle."

—Dr. Vinny

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