The basic elements of wine include acidity, body, and tannin. Acidity is the element of the wine that makes your mouth water (i.e. lemon juice is high acid). Wines with high acidity are described as being zippy or bright. When you taste a wine, assess how much it makes your mouth water after you swallow it.
The body of wine is also described as the weight of the wine. I like to think of body in terms of the mouth feel of different types of milk. Whole milk = full body; 1% or 2% milk = medium body, and skim milk = light body.
Tannins are a drying substance present in red, rosé and orange wines. Two very highly tannic foods are black tea and spinach. When you eat or drink these you feel a drying sensation in your mouth. When you taste a wine, assess how drying it is in your mouth. This will indicate the tannin level in the wine.
Of course there are other elements to wine, but these are the three primary structural components. Next month I’ll talk about other elements, including alcohol, sweetness and flavor. Until then, happy tasting!