When tasting a wine, the sensations we feel are transmitted through sight, smell and taste. This last sense confirms the what we have felt before.

Besides the four elementary tastes related to it (sweet, salty, bitter, sour) we have a fifth. It is less known but has started to be noticed and it is different from the other four. It is called umami.

What is umami, really?

It means, in Japanese, delicious and tasty. On the one hand, if sugar (felt on the tip of the tong) and sodium chloride (felt a bit on the back) promotes sweet and salty, sodium glutamate (felt on the center) promotes umami. This fifth taste is naturally present in food like tomato, mushrooms, eggs, fish, chicken, for example.

can I find umami in wine?

Despite sometimes we feel like the wine is very tasty and we want to “eat it”, umami is not very common in it.

Even though, it is possible to find aromas of mushrooms in white wines from the old world that have been in contact with the lees. On the other hand, in well aged red wines, specially from Europe, aromas of meat are common.

How can I experience it?

There are lots of ways to do it. Comparing the mushroom’s taste when raw and cooked (30 seconds in the microwave is enough) is a good example. The difference is umami!



column by  joão guedes