Open Accessibility Menu

What Wine Critics Mean When They Say a Wine Is "Dappled"

Part of developing your wine palate is developing a vocabulary to describe the myriad tastes, aromas, and textures you experience with each wine. The more descriptive your wine vocabulary, the better you'll not only be able to describe wine but also the better you'll be able to experience it too.

For today's blog, we take a look at the word "dappled" as it relates to wine.

Dappled ­(adj) — marked with spots or rounded patches.

As an adjective, "dappled" often describes contrasting patterns of color (e.g. "a cheetah's dappled fur") or patterns of light (e.g. "sunlight dappled the ground"). A few wine critics have also use the word "dappled" to describe certain wines. So what does being "marked with spots" have to do with a wine's flavor?

As a tasting note, "dappled" is a way of describing the contrast between the multitude of flavors in a wine, both obvious and subtle. The difference between the many tastes and sensations that come from a single sip is what makes a wine "dappled." Contrast between savory and fruity, sweet and dry, herbaceous or chocolatey, or any other pairs define the world's most complex wines. "Dappled" is another way of expressing that quality.

Dappling as a Vineyard Practice

"Dappling" has also been used in reference to the grape-growing technique. Some vineyards will sometimes remove leaves from vines to allow dappled sunlight to reach the fruit, increasing the levels of phenols in the grapes. Phenols are the chemical compounds in wine that help shape a wine's taste and mouthfeel. While that's less of a tasting note, it is a way that dappled light can affect a wine's flavor!

The next time you try wine, try to experience the dappled flavors and textures in each sip. Focus on the contrast between sensations, and you'll be able to feel and describe the same complexity as leading wine critics.

For complex wines grown in one of the rarest wine-growing microclimates on earth, visit our wine page. Make sure you hear about future releases by signing up for our mailing list today!