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Wine Spectator School

Class 1: Intro to Tasting: White Wine

SUMMARIZE: Finish, Balance, Complexity


A wine is balanced, or harmonious, when no single structural element - acidity, alcohol, sweetness or tannins - stands out.

If one or more of these elements predominates, the wine is said to be "awkward" or "disjointed."

In white wine, the key elements are acidity, alcohol and sweetness or fruit. (Sweetness refers to the taste from sugars in the wine while fruit refers to the flavor from ripe fruit, which your brain can interpret as sweet.) The elements have the following relationship:
  • Acidity is balanced by alcohol and sweetness.
  • A white wine that is in balance will feel refreshing and lively on the palate-not too tart, nor cloyingly sweet, nor too "hot" from alcohol.
  • An overly acidic white...

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