Wine Speak 101

Have you ever been at a wine tasting and been asked to speak about the wine? Did you have no idea what to say other than you liked or disliked the wine? Here are some terms to help you sound like wine connoisseur whether you know anything about wine or not. 

Full-Bodied- This describes a wine that has a rich or heavier feel to it. They are usually complex and the flavor lingers in your mouth (Cabernet and Bordeaux are good examples of wine that are often full-bodied)

Thin- This is the opposite of full-bodied. The wines are usually not as complex and the flavor does not linger on your palette.

Dry- A dry wine has little or no residual sugar left in it after fermentation. Whether a wine is dry or not is very subjective (chardonnay is a good example of a dry wine)

Complex- A wine that is complex has many different flavors and aromas. The start of the wine should be different then the finish. (This is a good catch-all term for when you’re not sure what to say)

Balanced- A wine where the acid, alcohol, fruit and tannins seem to be in harmony. No one characteristic is over powering the others. (Another good buzz word)

Crisp- Usually used to describe white wines. Associated with the acidity in wine; fresh, light characteristics.

Tannin- Tannins are what makes you pucker when you drink certain wines. A wine that needs to age more will often have harsh tannins that make your mouth go dry and pucker. A Good way to know if it is acidity or tannins making your mouth pucker is to swish the wine around in your mouth and then run your tongue over your teeth. A wine with a lot of sharp tannins will leave a grainy feeling on your teeth.

Smooth- A Wine that feels soft and creamy in your mouth and will not make you pucker.  A Smooth wine generally has soft tannins and low acidity. Well Balanced wines are often described as smooth.

Spicy / Peppery- A wine with spicy notes, such as clove, cinnamon or pepper. (Shiraz is a good example of a wine that frequently has characteristics of pepper)

Earthy- Used to describe wine with flavors resembling the earth; minerals, soil, mushrooms. Also refereed to as barn yard. (European wines particularly Bordeaux are often earthy)

Fruit Forward- A wine that has a burst of fruit at the beginning. (lots of California wines are fruit forward)

Old World- Wines that are more earthy (Many European wines)

New World- Wines that are more fruit forward (many California and Australian wines)

Finish- The final flavor left in your mouth after a sip of wine. A finish which lingers for a while is a long finish and one that is gone almost as soon as you swallow is a short finish

Nose- The aroma of a wine. A good noise means that wine has a pleasant or strong aroma. 

There you have it!  15 wine terms to help you sound like you know something about wine and hay maybe after reading this you do! Remember when describing a wine there is no right or wrong answer. Wine is subjective. Every one has a different palette and will pick out different characteristics in a wine. The best way to really start understanding these terms is to go out and drink wine. Happy tasting!


Posted on April 13, 2011, in Wine Terms and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. fantastic information for the novice wine drinker! Thanks!

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