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Importance of 'Texture' to Red Wine Quality Acknowledged by the Development of a Red Wine "Mouth-feel Wheel".

©Richard Gawel

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The importance of the in-mouth textural qualities of red wine has of a red wine 'mouth-feel wheel'. Developed by Richard Gawel of Recognose Pty Ltd in collaboration with Dr Leigh Francis and Anita Oberholster of the Australian Wine Research Institute. The wheel lists 53 terms that may be used to describe the complex range of mouth-feel sensations elicited by red wines.

The principal developer of the wheel, Richard Gawel explains his motivation behind undertaking the project. "Just listen to red wine consumers when they explain why they like, or don't like, a particular red wine. Wines that they perceive as 'soft' and 'smooth' in the mouth are frequently at the top of their shopping lists. This convinced me of the merits of compiling an extensive list of defined terms that could be used by wine-tasters to describe red wine texture." The use of the 'wheel' format to present the terms was inspired by the success of the now famous wine aroma wheel developed in the mid 1980's by Professor Ann Noble at the University of California, Davis.

Falling into the main classes of astringency, acidity, body, texture, heat and irritation, the terms were initially selected by considering the mouth-feel sensations perceived during the tasting of hundreds of red wines of varying varieties and ages from Australia, Italy and France. After further tasting and consultation with some of Australia's most experienced red winemakers, wine educators and red wine researchers, the final list of terms contained in the wheel were chosen and grouped. Chalkyness, furryness and chewyness were some of the more unusual textures perceived in some of the wines, while the sensations of silkyness, sappyness and dryness were others that were more frequently encountered by the tasters.

Published by the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology in its official journal, the Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research (Volume 6, No. 3), the wheel is already being used by winemaking and wine marketing students throughout Australia, and by researchers in the United States, Israel, New Zealand, Canada and Australia. In particular, the Australian Wine Research Institute ( is investigating the link between the occurrence of specific tannins in red wine and the sensations listed on the wheel.

It is also hoped that the publication of the mouthfeel wheel will draw greater attention to the fact that a red wine's 'texture' is crucial in defining its 'pedigree' and quality; something understood and appreciated by the makers of great burgundies and clarets, and also the better Australian winemakers.

Laminated A3 sized full colour copies of the mouthfeel wheel can be obtained from the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology (


Gawel, R. Oberholster, A. and Francis, I.L (2000) A 'Mouth-feel wheel': terminology for communicating the mouth-feel characteristics of red wine. Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research, 6, 203-207.