The softnesses are the most flattering sensations, those that touch us and that caress our senses. These are the ones we seek when we meditate, when we are more thoughtful or looking for some sort of protection.
They are important because, along with the hardnesses, they contribute to the final taste of the wine. It is important that they do not prevail over others, and vice versa, because the final taste may be unpleasant.
The softness sensations can be of two types: "taste" and "tactile". The first are perceived through the taste buds on the tongue: the main is sweetness. The tactile sensations are perceived by the sense of touch: they are softness and alcohol sensation.
The softnesses depend most on the winemaking process, which is fundamental to their definition. They are usually more marked in red wines, in passito and fortified wines, more easily perceived at higher temperatures.
The softness is a tactile sensation related to the presence of various substances such as glycerin, alcohol and sugar. It is perceived as a embracing and roundness sensation around the tongue.
It is common in all types of wine, though it is more intense in the reds and prevalent in liqueur wines.
The equilibrium condition must be sought between two extremes: first, an overly soft wine may be pasty and difficult to drink, on the other hand, the same soft wine may be pungent and almost annoying.
The sweetness is a taste sensation due to the sugar dissolved in wine. Although it is often perceived as enjoyable by most, an excessive amount of sweetness could cover all other qualities, resulting nauseating and unpleasantness.
It is common in all wines in which fermentation has not been completed (i.e. sugar has not completely turned into alcohol).
The alcohol sensation (also known as pseudo-heat) is a tactile sensation related to the presence of alcohol dissolved in wine. It is essentially perceived as heat in all types of wine, although it is more intense in red wines, tasted between 14 and 18 °C (57-64°F).
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The perception of softnesses is strongly influenced by the temperature of the wine, so it is important to taste a wine according to how the producer has thought it: for the reds 14-18°C (57-64°F), for the white wines 10-14°C (50-57°F). Let's avoid drinking a red wine stored in the refrigerator or a white wine at room temperature: the first would be sharp, the second flat.