All our senses delight in wine. Long before we smell and taste, both ear and eye have already taken pleasure. The popping of a cork, the fizz of a sparkler or the first glugs from a bottle add to our enjoyment. Then there is texture: the tactile experience of wine.
Sensory scientists have long championed the importance of texture in food. A proper crunch heightens the experience of eating potato chips, while a melting mouthfeel is as important to chocolate as cocoa itself.
We all know this in food—we almost take it for granted. But in wine, our flavor and taste perceptions often override tactile stimuli, which is a pity when some wines ripple like folds of silk across the palate or crunch like starched linen. Texture is most obvious in the tannic structure of red wines, but it exists in every wine: the brisk slenderness of a crisp Riesling, the smooth roundedness of an oaked Chardonnay, the lively froth of Prosecco, the creaminess of vintage Champagne, the viscous richness of Sauternes.
I almost invariably refer to textiles to describe a wine’s texture. To run your hand across rolls of fabric to feel their weave and quality is not that different than tasting a wine. Textiles convey not only that caress of material on skin, but also give an accurate sense of weight and density, sometimes even color. Think in these terms, and your tasting experience will be enhanced.
Billowing, translucent chiffon is as weightless and subtle as blanc de blancs Champagne.
The breezy, fine netting of tulle recalls the frothy, exciting fizz of fruity Prosecco.
Pliable, supple and utterly versatile: Dry rosé has a lot in common with stylish satin.
The firmness, durability and crunch of Sangiovese is also characteristic of twill, as is some of its appealing rusticity.
The sheen, structure, and evident complexity: Nothing says classified-growth Bordeaux like carmine brocade.
Gold lamé has the same sinuous flow, thrill and sheen as a mature, sweet, luxurious Sauternes.
Brilliance of tiny silver sequins is so evocative of Riesling eiswein: It has both sleekness and acidic crackle.