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.
Those are just the groupings. Here's a table that shows a few sample mouth feelings.
|Particulate||Talc||Johnson's baby powder|
|Surface Smoothness||Satin||Satin cloth|
|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.
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.