The fifth taste. The molecular expression of savory deliciousness that explains what bacon, chicken soup, and sautéed mushrooms all have in common. Unlike many of the things we taste, which are more aromas than tastes, the flavor known as umami is perceived directly by the taste buds. Perhaps for this reason it can be just as much a sensation—a sudden rush of mouthwatering goodness—as an actual flavor. Originally discovered by a Japanese researcher looking to explain one of the distinct qualities of his country's cuisine, umami exists everywhere. Sometimes the product of cooking, sometimes the product of nature alone, we are drawn to this flavor in all its incarnations. In wine, umami can assume any of its many foodish guises, but quite often shows up as notes of olive, miso paste, soy, and more. Red wines, more often than white, seem to employ this flavor, especially as they age. But umami can show up in nearly any glass, usually with welcome results.
Chateau de Beaucastel Blanc, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone Valley, France
Domain Marcel Deiss "Burlenberg" Pinot Noir, Bergheim, Alsace, France
Montenidoli "Sono di Montenidoli" Red Blend, Tuscany, Italy
D'Arenberg "The Coppermine Road" Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Nicolas Catena Zapata Red Blend, Mendoza, Argentina
Tournesol "Proprietors Blend" Proprietary Red, Napa Valley, California, USA
Chateau Pichon-Longueville Comtesse Lalande Bordeaux Blend Pauillac, Médoc, Bordeaux, France
Henschke "Hill of Grace" Shiraz, Eden Valley, Barossa, South Australia
Domaine Skouras "Synoro" Red Blend, Nemea, Peloponnese, Greece
Abacela "Paramour" Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley, Oregon
Takler "Regnum" Red Blend, Szekszárd, Hungary
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Drinking Time Itself: The Champagnes of Anselme Selosse The Great Prosecco Crisis of 2015 Vinography Unboxed: Week of May 17th, 2015 Vinography Images: Up in Flames California's Other Seven Percent Vinography Unboxed: Week of May 10, 2015 Vinography Images: Spring Dreams Tasting One Man's Experience: The Champagnes of Agrapart et Fil Vinography Unboxed: Week of May 4, 2015 Vinography Images: A Shaggy Guardian
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune