The midpalate describes a physical location as well as a sense of a wine "unfolding" in your mouth. First there is the "attack" where you get your first taste bud feedback, then comes the midpalate, where some of the most compelling flavors are rendered. The complex secondary flavors typically appear at midpalate. A hollow midpalate is a flaw in my mind. A wine may have a short finish, but if the attack and midpalate are good it does fine by me. Anyway my 2 pennies worth. If the wine has all three (attack-midpalate-finish) showing well, that is a seamless balanced wine. In that case I often don't notice the finish as much as I an too eager to have another sip ;
what rmkam said.

While every part of the wine tasting experience is crucial for me (nose, attack, midpalate, finish) the midpalate is often the most important and revealing aspect of the wine.

a

"What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?" -- W.C. Fields
Again, what rmkam said. And to add....the "attack" is called that for a reason. Wine is acidic, and the first taste of the substance on your tongue will be dominated by the acidic phenomenon. It literally attacks your tastebuds and shocks them like a lemon would. this subsides quickly. You don't want to judge a wine entirely based on this, because all acids have the same effect on you. Doesn't matter if it's Harlan of Two Buck Chuck. Acid is acid. (Although, wines do differ in the percentage and degree of acidity, so it is proper to note and comment on the level of acidity when judging a wine).

Also, wine contains alcohol. Alcohol and acidity are an anesthesia for your tongue. Leave enough alcohol and acid on your tongue for a long enough period of time, and your tongue will go numb. During a long day of tasting, people experience what they call palate fatigue. This is simply acid and alcohol dulling the taste sensors. So if you leave your wine in your mouth for a certain period of time, your ability to taste it, and all its nuances diminishes.

Think of mid-palate as the time in between the attack, (after the initial shock has subsided), and the time when your tounge starts to get desensitized by the acid and alcohol. This is when the wine should really shine. If it doesn't move you during this interval, it never will.
Thanks all for the great explanations. I think I must be really sensitive to acid, and found JimmyV's comments about getting past that to be really interesting. When I read TN's that describe a wine as "hot" I know it will be "molten lava" for me and tend to avoid that wine.
Stefanie,
While it is true you may want to avoid "hot" wines, the term generally refers to high alcohol wines, not necessarily high acid. And, it, generally refers to a sensation of heat on the finish -- like a whiskey is "hot" in that it warms your throat.

Wines that have a lot of extract often mask their alcohol and do not seem "hot." Amarones are wines which often have alcohol levels pushing 16% but, because they are essentially made out of raisins, there is enough extract to completely mask the high alcohol.

Cheers!
a

"What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?" -- W.C. Fields
From the MDM Distributor's website:

Amarone della Valpolicella, or Amarone for short, is created in the Venetian region of Italy. Originally there was only one legal region, or DOC, for the Valpolicella name. These wines are made with the Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Molinara grapes

Amarone della Valpolicella is produced with a small bunch of indigenous grape varieties, which have always been the basis of Valpolicella wines: Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Molinara, with the addiction of other indigenous and rare grapes, such as Dindarella, Negrara, Rossignola, Forselina and Oseleta, worthy of rediscovery and re-evaluation.

The traditional Doc regulation for Amarone della Valpolicella specifies that the grapes mix has to be made up principally of Corvina (from 40 to 70%), Rondinella (20-40%), and Molinara (5-25%). Amarone is made with grapes that have been dried on straw racks, bringing out their flavors. The drying process removes the water and leaves only the essence of the grape.
quote:
"Mid-palate" is a term used by wine snobs to differentiate themselves from the less sophisticated drinker who simply buys and drinks wine because it "tastes good."


CDR911,
That's probably the most asinine thing I've ever read on this board. I hope your joking.
Wow, some really good explanations here from rmkam and JimmyV! The only difference I have compared to rmkam is I like a wine with a very long finish as I tend to pick up a lot of secondary flavors there. Just a personal preference though, rmkam probably picks those flavors up earlier than I do.
That's the most assinine thing you've seen on the boards? Really?

Perhaps I over-simplified my position, as I often do. I understand intellectually the "mid-palate" thing, but am not sure I experience it. I have been seriously involved in wine for over 20 years from a collecting, business and marketing standpoint. I guess I kind of do mean what I said, as I have not experienced a "mid-palate" sensation in a wine. Maybe I just don't know what to look for, kind of like the evr elusive "sense of place."
It is confusing, and I may have a general grasp of "midpalate", but when I see it in tasting notes it throws me. Ie. "the wine possesses a hollow midpalate." What does that mean ? No taste? Or just grape juice ? Is there a cheapo nationally distributed wine that you'd consider having this hollowness ? Sometimes I think I need to taste bad wine (intentionally) as well as good to grasp some of these concepts.
The donut wine is typically cabernet sauvignon. This variety tends to have a front and back palate, but weak in the middle. Merlot, however, has a weak front and back palate, but has a more defined mid-palate. This is why these two varieties are often blended together.

If you think of a wine entering your mouth at the front (it would only enter the back after several bottles) and moves through your mouth and down your throat, a wine leaves various impressions as it moves through. The back of your lips tends to be the front palate, the big blob of fruit flavour a typical Aussie shiraz leaves behind is in the middle palate, and the back palate is down your throat as well as the "length" for minutes after swallowing.

pete

www.peterhowlandwines.com
quote:
Originally posted by cdr11:

I understand intellectually the "mid-palate" thing, but am not sure I experience it. I have been seriously involved in wine for over 20 years from a collecting, business and marketing standpoint. I guess I kind of do mean what I said, as I have not experienced a "mid-palate" sensation in a wine.


Could well be a physiological difference, but I'll leave that to the MDs. I really can delineate this so called midpalate. Maybe that's just the way my brain is wired and my tongue receptors are arranged. I know the finish never really is that important to me because it is mostly like an echo of what I pick up on the attack and midpalate. In engineering terms I would describe the finish as the second harmonic, present but a lesser amplitude than the primary carrier. It's all just vocabulary to describe wine tasting...perhaps too anal, but it is a common term. Whatever we call it, in the end I do agree with you that if it tastes good and gives you pleasure in drinking, that's all that count
quote:
Originally posted by Stefanie N:
It is confusing, and I may have a general grasp of "midpalate", but when I see it in tasting notes it throws me. Ie. "the wine possesses a hollow midpalate." What does that mean ? No taste? Or just grape juice ? Is there a cheapo nationally distributed wine that you'd consider having this hollowness ? Sometimes I think I need to taste bad wine (intentionally) as well as good to grasp some of these concepts.


Stefanie,

The best example of a hollow midpalate I recently had was a 98 Mondavi Reserve Cab. It had an attack that lasted a millisecond, then the midpalate was a "black hole" of nothingness, that is until the very astringent tannin kicked in. The finish was there and it was like currant and licorice. This was the biggest "doughnut" wine I have ever had. I have one bottle left and I am hoping that this hollow midpalate is due to the rather oppressive tannins. Perhaps time will help, but any fruit needs to hang on while the tannins subside
It is the reserve wine and was marked at $125 Eek. It was reduced to $65, so I bought a few to try Frown. I would stay away from this and the Dominus 98. The Mondavi at least has a great nose, it smells like a Lafite, lots of the Pauillac lead pencil showing.

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