Taste the quality but feel the texture, too
Wine isn't simply a taste sensation - drinking wine is also about how it feels.
Taste and texture go together, as any keen foodie will confirm.
As we eat our way through the best of the summer produce, we can relate to this idea - a fleshy, juicy nectarine, the first of the crisp apples, the soft ripeness of a strawberry. Compare those mouth-watering thoughts with the converse - hard nectarines and soft, spongy apples.
Of course there are foods we enjoy purely for their textural qualities - foods that are used as a vehicle for other introduced flavours. We always consider the aubergine as a prime example of a texture food.
Back to wine - and the simple fact that many people think of taste when they try a wine without considering how it actually feels as it washes across the palate.
This is where words like velvety, furry, chunky and unctuous come in to play.
Texture often indicates how well a wine will complement food.
Whereas some of the more subtle flavours in a wine may be lost when the wine is consumed with food, if the wine has sufficient texture its contribution will be more than sufficient.
Common texture sensations to look for when tasting wine include silkiness, which is often found in pinot noir; oiliness or unctuousness in a heavy-bodied pinot gris; creaminess in an oak-aged chardonnay.
Tannins also introduce a textural dimension - we often mention furry, soft, firm and grippy tannins. Next time you're drinking a red that gives the sensation of coating your teeth, you'll understand what grippy really means.
All of which brings us to the reason why we try to identify tastes and texture in a wine. It's not about some kind of elitism - it's simply a matter of trying to make sense of what we are experiencing and why we are enjoying it so much.
We all like to describe, classify and file information. We like to be informed and we like to think that, armed with the right information, when it's time to make a big decision, we will buy a wine that not only tastes right but feels right, too.
Sacred Hill Halo Hawke's Bay Syrah 2012 ($25) Deep crimson, opaque with flashes of garnet - certainly looks the part.
The plum, white pepper and smoke aroma has depth thanks to some bacon-like savouriness and a crisp green note.
The palate is smooth with plum, white pepper and spice flavours to the fore. There's a crisp acid character, which suggests this wine will be good for another year or so. The boysenberry and chocolate flavours are supported by velvety tannins.
Still young with plenty of get up and go in terms of liveliness across the palate. A really lovely example with plenty of depth and character - good buying.
Little Harvest Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($19.99) The subtle aroma is gently citrusy with light herbal notes, some capsicum and tomato leaf.
This little cutie has a juicy, ripe palate with plenty of lemon and crisp minerality. There's plenty of up-front flavour and mid-palate depth. Loses length of flavour towards the finish but that finish has a lip-smacking quality.
Served without knowing the alcohol content (9 per cent), the average punter wouldn't notice the difference. A very refreshing wine.
Lawson's Dry Hills Marlborough Pinot Rose 2013 ($19) Deep rose pink with lifted strawberry, vanilla and floral aromas - sweet and enticing.
There's no argument here, the palate is absolutely delightful. Drying herbal notes complement ripe berry-fruit and light oregano-like herbal flavours.
The crisp, cleansing acids are almost flinty and the finish is dry. All class and highly recommended.
The Doctors' Marlborough Riesling 2012 ($20) The soft, powdery aroma has floral and lemon notes.
This 8.5 per cent alcohol wine has a moreish palate with lots of gentle lemon flavour. Lovely citrus acids are softened by a slightly creamy note. Some granny smith and crisp malic acidity toward the finish.
A very pleasant drop, light and lovely with a finish of surprising length. Tending medium dry on the riesling scale, this is a very versatile wine.
Tohu Marlborough Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 ($28) Deep dark garnet, slightly opaque with a rich, deep aroma full of chocolate and plum-duff characters. Temptingly spicy with nutmeg and cinnamon notes.
The smooth, rounded palate has soft tannins well suited to the earth and tobacco, plum and spice flavours supported by herbal notes that corral the richer flavours.
Elegant, rewarding and great value at the price.
The Marlborough Express