Finish and its subcategories

Aftertaste / Afterflavour

Aftertaste is really afterflavour. Taste relates to a series of stimuli that are only experienced on the tongue, cheeks, lips, gums etc, whereas afterflavour refers to the summation of the total smell and taste experience. Aftertaste / afterflavour is also often referred to as the Farewell, which is another term used to describe the sensations that remain in the mouth after swallowing a wine. Afterflavour, like length, is measured in time:

Neutral 0 sec
Cask wine 1-2 sec
Commercial wine 3-4 sec
Good commercial wine 5-6 sec
Complex 8-10 sec
Very complex 10-15 sec
Multi layered 15-20 sec
Memorable 20 plus sec



Balance refers to the juxtaposition of the wines component parts and is an expression of their harmony and ability to co-exist in a way that leads to the greatness of a wine. Fruit, acid, tannins, oak, texture flavour should all be present and create an impression of harmony. If one component is present in a dominant manner, the likelihood will be that the wine will be out of balance and remain so for the duration of its bottle life.

Tannin / Phenolics

Tannins are complex organic compounds that are imparted into the final wine from the skins and pips of grapes (grape tannins). Tannins manifest themselves on the gums of teeth and provide for a dry finish. There are varying degrees of tannins, based on the tannin compound; some are hard and others appear very soft and indiscernible.

Tannins can be softened by allowing the wine to macerate on skins post fermentation for up to one month or more. The result is silky smooth tannins, as can be experienced in the wines of Jasper Hill reds or Thomson 1869 vines Family Shiraz.

Grape tannins convey fullness of body and provide a wine with a degree of grip. Tannins act as a preservative, and are necessary if a wine is to be cellared for any length of time.

A wine with excessive tannin will not precipitate the tannins at a faster rate than the maturation of the wine's other components; hence, out of balance in youth, out of balance for ever.

Tannins can also be introduced into a wine from oak cask maturation, and wood tannins usually express themselves as a prickling sensation on the cheeks.

When tasting a number of red wines, tannin fatigue can build up quickly and create an exaggerated impression of the wine. It is wise to take a rest, drink some soda water or plain water and then resume tasting.


Phenolics are hard bitter compounds that can be found on the back palate and are due to excessive skin contact particularly in white wine, or over extracting the juice during pressing.


Acid levels are indicated by the tartness or sharpness of the taste of a wine. The two main types of acids in wine are tartaric and malic. It is important to achieve a balanced level of acidity in a wine. A wine with low acidity will taste flat whilst a wine with excessive acidity will have a very 'sharp' or 'sour' taste. Acidity needs to be in balance with other components of the wine and is usually experienced at the back of the palate.

For detailed examination on the relationships of acidity and pH refer to the section on pH of wines, and how it impacts upon colour.