This paper explores the language used by critics to appraise wine, at the same time investigating the validity and usefulness of categories in the Appraisal framework, as set out by Martin & White (2005). Our analysis of a corpus of wine reviews suggests that sub-categories of Appreciation — used to evaluate products, and non-human targets by reference to aesthetics and other values — may need extending or enhancing in terms of delicacy, depending on the register of the texts under investigation. An adapted version of the Appraisal system of Attitude is used as basis for our investigation. The assessment of our adapted model was carried out in the form of a comparison between two analysts’ independent annotations which function as a basis for a critical discussion of the proposed categories. The bulk of the paper discusses the relevance of our findings for the analysis of specialised genres in general, the field of wine criticism in particular and the application of the Appraisal model for discourse analysis. We conclude that the understanding and application of analytical categories is dependent on the analyst’s previous experience with the Appraisal model as well as acquaintance with the discourse field.