During a recent wine tasting, one opinion given of the wine was that it was sweet. My reaction was that it wasn't sweet at all. So, how can a wine seem sweet and not sweet at the same time?
Well, as you'd expect, everyone's perception of taste is different. But, are tastes so different that one person can find a wine to be sweet while someone else can find it not? The answer, of course, is yes. It's possible.
To understand this, you first have to understand that taste has a lot to do with smell. As soon as you smell a wine's aroma, you are detecting distinct fruit flavors. And, many of these fruit flavors are associated with sweet fruit. Think about black cherries, plums and blackberries. These are all sweet fruits. But, they are also flavors you can get from many red wines. The wine we were tasting was a Cabernet Sauvignon and it indeed had aromas and flavors of these fruits.
When your brain senses these aromas, you automatically and subconsciously associate them with sweetness. And, with a first sip, your brain will continue you down that path as you taste the various fruit flavors. Sweet fruit flavors. But the wine, as was the case with this Napa Cabernet, had little to no residual sugar (RS).
As we started talking about the wine, it became apparent that indeed the bright fruit flavors were there, but the wine wasn't actually sweet. So, this wine had great flavors of sweet fruits, but having little to no residual sugar, it really wasn't sweet.
The wine world is a fascinating adventure. Get out and try some wines, different varietals or wines from different regions of the world. You'll find a world of flavors! Cheers!