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Mouth Feel Wheel

Mouth Feel Wheel = Yum

When I first started VinoPair, I was telling my mother about mouthfeel, and she asked if that was even a word. LOL.

Mouthfeel - the physical sensations in the mouth produced by a particular food.

From that point, it got me thinking how little we understand about the concept of mouthfeel.

That's the same way a few horticulture and oenology professors (Gawel, Oberholster, Francis) from Australia felt in 2000, so they set out to fix it. They setup a panel of experts to taste red wine and derive a mouthfeel vocabulary. They organized the results into a wheel shape with like-mouth feelings grouped together.

They way things feel (tactile) to our skin is used to describe the touch standards for how wine feels in our mouth. For example, there's a group on the wheel called "particulate." Talc, like Johnson's Baby Powder, is a particulate, for example. Here's a table of all the mouthfeel groupings they developed.

Surface Smoothness

Those are just the groupings. Here's a table that shows a few sample mouth feelings.

Group Descriptor Touch Standard
Particulate Talc Johnson's baby powder
Surface Smoothness Satin Satin cloth
Particulate Plaster Gypsum powder
Surface Smoothness Chamois Moistened chamois
Surface Smoothness Silk High grade silk cloth
Surface Smoothness Velvet Velvet felt in the direction of the nap
Surface Smoothness Suede Medium suede leather
Surface Smoothness Furry Short velour cloth
Surface Smoothness Fine emery paper 1000 grade emery paper
Harsh Abrasive 600 grade sandpaper

If you've wondered why terms like chewy, grippy, furry, plaster, sappy were acceptable terms to use to describe wine, you can blame or thank Gawel, Oberholster, Francis. This is where knowing the mouth feelings and groupings becomes helpful. Using the wheel, work backwards, starting with mouthfeel, to determine groupings you like and dislike. Think of this graphic below as a tool to help guide your mouth.

Mouth Feel Wheel

Since the development of the original mouth-feel-a-wheel, work has been done to improve the original design. Gary Pickering, with his design, has further grouped mouth feelings based on timing. According to Mr. Pickering, some mouth feelings are more predominate early in the tasting experience, and some come on late. The others are integrated mouth feelings.


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