You guys know what I’m talking about. When an experienced wine connoisseur at a wine bar, restuarant, or tasting room starts describing wine with seemingly random language.
These terms are meant to help you understand more about the wine’s characteristics. But what if you don’t even know what these words mean. Like us, you might find yourself lost in translation.
We decided to share some of the most commonly used terms. Knowing these words will help you understand the wine being describing and hopefully better understand the wines you most enjoy.
- Acidity: The liveliness and crispness in wine that activates our salivary glands.
- Aeration or Breathing: the deliberate addition of oxygen to round out and soften a wine.
- Aroma or Bouquet: The smell of a wine — bouquet applies particularly to the aroma of older wines. Sometimes noted as the “nose” of the wine.
- Balance: A term for when the elements of wine – acids, sugars, tannins, and alcohol – come together in a harmonious way.
- Blend: A wine made from more than one grape varietal.
- Body: The apparent weight of a wine in your mouth (light, medium, or full).
Bouquet: The smell of an aged or mature wine; very different from that of a young wine.
- Complex: A wine exhibiting numerous odors, nuances, and flavors.
- Crisp: A wine with refreshing acidity.
- Dry: Taste sensation often attributed to tannins and causing puckering sensations in the mouth; the opposite of sweet.
- Earthy: An odor or flavor reminiscent of damp soil.
- Fermentation: Conversion of grape sugars to alcohol by yeast.
- Finish: The impression a wine leaves as you swallow it.
- Flavor intensity: How strong or weak a wine’s flavors are on your palate.
- Fruity: A wine whose aromas and flavors suggest fruit; doesn’t imply sweetness.
Minerality: The invented English equivalent of a French wordf avored by some tasters to describe a dry wine with “stony” flavors akin to a salty mineral water.
Oaky: A wine that has oak flavors (smoky, toasty).
Round: Feel in the mouth indicating subdued acidity together with a soft center.
Soft: A wine that has a smooth rather than crisp mouthfeel.
- Tannins: Compounds in wines that leave a bitter, dry, and puckering feeling in the mouth.
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