What Happens to Wine with Salt or Lemon?

One of my students recently told me how much he misses going out to restaurants right now, and asked if there was anything fun and educational that he could try at home with wine.

My mind immediately went to the salt and lemon taste test. You can try this too at home to see just how profoundly these two ingredients or garnishes can change the taste of your wine.

Doing this tasting will also give you terrific insight on how to better pair your wine with a variety of dishes. These are the kind of tips that I teach in my free introductory online class at:


So head over there after this video, pick a time and a day that work for you and save your spot!







Strewn Winery LIMITED Home Farm Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Niagara, Ontario V.Q.A., Canada





Okay, I have two wines in front of me: a red and a white. Let’s taste a quick sniff and taste of them first. We want to be thorough!

There is a progression in how you taste wines, from light-bodied to full, from driest to sweet. Bonus tip: That’s why I started with red wines because they’re often drier than whites due to tannins, that furry mouth feeling you get from eating walnuts.






Now we’ve got a baseline. Let’s go back to my first red, a light-bodied Pinot Noir, taste it, then take a lick of the salt, then back to the wine. What happened? The wine has become even fruitier, juicier, almost sweeter accentuating the ripeness of the fruit. Let’s see what happens with the Cabernet. This has an even more powerful effect on the wine.

Let’s see what happens with the whites. First a dry Sauvignon blanc. It’s become even drier tasting, the opposite of the salt’s effect on red wine. Next an off-dry Riesling. Wow, that’s really removed much of the sweetness in the wine.






Schloss Schönborn Estate Feinherb Riesling 2018
Rheingau Qualitätswein, Germany





Salt and tannin in the red, salt and acid in the white.

Let’s see what happens with the lemon and the red wine. It becomes fruitier, juicier and a whole lot smoother: it really diminishes those tannins. Now for the white, the lemon makes the wine taste even sweeter than before.




I dive into why this happens in my courses, but now you can see not only how you might pair wines with different amounts of salt or lemon, but also how to add salt or lemon to your dish to make your wine taste the way you want it to.

I hope you found this tasting helpful! Join me for more food and wine pairing tips in my free online video class at:






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