Wine Tasting Vocabulary: Essential Terms to Know

Wine Tasting Vocabulary · Tasting Experience

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Wine tasting is not just about drinking and enjoying the wine, but it’s also about understanding the different components that make up the wine and how they work together. To appreciate wine, it is important to have a basic understanding of wine vocabulary. Here is a comprehensive guide to wine tasting vocabulary that will help you understand and describe the different flavours, aromas, and textures of wine.

A

Acidic: Used to describe wines that have high acidity. They taste zesty, sour, or sharp and have a tangy edge on the palate. Acidic wines are often described as having a lemon-like flavor.

Aeration: The process of adding oxygen to wine or letting it breathe in the open air. Aeration helps to soften tannic wines that are still young and can also fatigue older wines.

Aftertaste: The taste that lingers in the mouth after wine is tasted or spat out. It’s also known as “finish.”

Aggressive: Wines that are harsh in taste or texture, over-drying on the palate due to high levels of tannins or acidity, are considered aggressive. This characteristic is typically associated with young wines.

Aging: The process of keeping wine in barrels, tanks, and bottles to improve its taste and flavor over time. Aging also adds depth and complexity to the wine’s aroma.

Astringent: Refers to a dry, puckering, or rough feeling in the mouth. Astringency is usually caused by high levels of acidity or tannins, which are commonly found in some red wines (and a few white wines).

Austere: An austere wine is one that has a minimal fruity flavor and lacks richness and depth. This is usually attributed to young wines that need time to mature

B

Barrel: An oak container used for aging wine and fermentation.

Balance: A wine that combines all its main components – acid, alcohol, sugars, and tannins – in such a way that no single element dominates.

Body: The impression of weight and fullness of a wine on the palate. Wines are typically described as full-bodied, medium-bodied, and light-bodied.

Blend: A wine made from more than one grape variety.

Backbone: A full-bodied, well-structured, and balanced wine with a correct level of acidity.

Blunt: A wine with a strong flavor, often alcoholic, that lacks aroma and depth.

Bright: Used to describe lively, young, and fresh wines. Bright wines have focused flavor and make the mouth water.

Big: A wine with intense flavor that takes up all sections of the mouth and tongue. A big wine is not necessarily a fruit-focused wine – it can also mean that it has big tannins.

Bouquet: Complex aromas that are perceived in wine after it has been bottled and aged.

Burnt: Used to describe wines that have an overdone, toasty edge. It’s also used to describe overripe grapes.

Buttery: A wine with buttery characteristics is typically rich and low in acidity. It has a creamy texture and hits the middle of the tongue with flavors reminiscent of butter

C

Closed: Underdeveloped wines that lack aroma or flavor.

Chewy: A full-bodied wine, both in texture and flavor, with high-tannin structure and a thick texture that feels almost chewy before swallowing.

Crisp – A wine with a high level of acidity that gives it a refreshing, zesty taste.

Complex – A wine that has a multitude of flavors and aromas, which can change as the wine is tasted and lingers in the mouth.

Creamy – A wine that has a smooth and velvety texture, often associated with buttery or oaky flavors.

D

Dark – Used to describe the deep, rich color of a wine, often indicative of a full-bodied and tannic wine.

Delicate – A wine that is light in body and flavor, often with subtle hints of fruit and florals.

Developed – A wine that has undergone aging, resulting in a more complex and nuanced flavor profile.

Digestif – A strong, alcoholic wine or spirit served after a meal to aid in digestion.

E

Earthy – A wine that has a distinct earthy or minerally flavor, often from the soil where the grapes were grown.

Elegant – A wine that is refined and well-balanced, with a smooth and sophisticated flavor profile.

F

Finish: The aftertaste and lingering flavors that remain in the mouth after a wine is tasted.

Firm – A wine with a strong structure, often characterized by high tannins and acidity.

Floral – A wine with a light and delicate aroma, reminiscent of flowers.

Food-friendly – A wine that pairs well with a wide range of foods, and enhances the flavors of the dish.

G

Grainy – A wine with a gritty texture, often from high tannins.

Grip – A wine’s tannic structure, which gives it a firm, full feeling in the mouth

H

Harmonious – A wine that has a well-balanced and integrated flavor profile, with no one element dominating.

Herbaceous – A wine with herbal or grassy notes, often indicative of the type of grape or growing conditions

I

Intense – A wine with a strong and concentrated flavor profile, often with high alcohol content.

L

Lean – A wine with low body and flavor intensity, often with high acidity.

Legs: Refers to the streams of wine that run down the inside of the glass after a wine is swirled. The speed at which the legs run can indicate the wine’s alcohol content and viscosity.

Lively – A wine with bright and fresh flavors, often high in acidity.

M

Mature – A wine that has reached its peak of development, with a full and complex flavor profile.

Medium-bodied – A wine with a moderate level of alcohol and body, not too heavy or too light.

O

Oaky – A wine that has been aged in oak barrels, resulting in flavors and aromas of vanilla, toast, and spice.

P

Peppery – A wine with a spicy or peppery flavor, often indicative of certain grape varieties or growing regions.

Pungent – A wine with a strong and powerful aroma and flavor, often with high alcohol content.

R

Robust – A full-bodied and flavorful wine, often with high alcohol content and tannins.

Round – A wine with a smooth and balanced flavor profile, often with lower acidity.

R

Robust – A full-bodied and flavorful wine, often with high alcohol content and tannins.

Round – A wine with a smooth and balanced flavor profile, often with lower acidity.

S

Spicy – A wine with a spicy or peppery flavor, often indicative of certain grape varieties or growing regions.

Supple – A wine with a smooth and silky texture, often with lower tannins and higher acidity.

T

Tannins: Tannins are naturally occurring compounds found in the skins, seeds, and stems of grapes. They give wine a dry, astringent and bitter taste, and can also provide structure and longevity to wine.

Tears: Also known as “wine legs,” tears refer to the droplets that form on the inside of the wine glass after it has been swirled.

Terroir: Terroir is a French term used to describe the combination of climate, soil, and geography that gives wine its unique character and flavor.

Toasty: Toasty is a tasting note used to describe wine that has been aged in oak barrels, which can impart a toasted or roasted aroma and flavor to the wine.

U

Unctuous: Unctuous is a tasting note used to describe a wine that has a rich, smooth, and creamy texture.

V

Viscosity: Viscosity is a term used to describe the thickness and body of a wine. A wine with high viscosity will be full-bodied and have a silky texture, while a wine with low viscosity will be light-bodied and have a thinner texture.

W

Weight: Weight refers to the body or fullness of a wine. Wines can be light-bodied, medium-bodied, or full-bodied, depending on their weight.

Woody: Woody is a tasting note used to describe a wine that has a strong aroma and flavor of oak, often due to aging in oak barrels.

Y

Yeasty: A term used to describe the scent of bread or dough in a wine, often found in Champagnes and sparkling wines.

Z

Zesty: Zesty is a tasting note used to describe a wine that has bright, tangy, and lively flavors and a high acidity.

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