For some of us, winetasting can be a bit intimidating. Knowing common terms can help. Here are some of the most commonly-used words by oenophiles.

Acidity  the liveliness and crispness in wine that activates our salivary glands

Aging — holding wine in barrels, tanks, and bottles to advance them to a more desirable state

Astringent — tasting term noting the harsh, bitter, and drying sensations in the mouth caused by high levels of tannin

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 — a tactile sensation describing the weight and fullness of wine in the mouth.  A wine can be light, medium, or full bodied.

Bouquet — a term that refers to the complex aromas in aged wines

Breathing — exposing wine to oxygen to improve its flavors

Brilliant — a tasting note for wines that appear sparkling clear

Complex — a wine exhibiting numerous odors, nuances, and flavors

Dry —  a taste sensation often attributed to tannins and causing puckering sensations in the mouth; the opposite of sweet

Fermentation — the conversion of grape sugars to alcohol by yeast

Finish  the impression of textures and flavors lingering in the mouth after swallowing wine

Fruity — a tasting term for wines that exhibit strong smells and flavors of fresh fruit

Full-bodied — a wine high in alcohol and flavors, often described as “big”

Herbaceous  a tasting term denoting odors and flavors of fresh herbs

Length — the amount of time that flavors persist in the mouth after swallowing wine; a lingering sensation

Malolactic Fermentation  a secondary fermentation in which the tartness of malic acid in wine is changed into a smooth, lactic sensation.  Wines described as “buttery” or “creamy” have gone through “malo”.

Mature  ready to drink

Mouth-feel  how a wine feels on the palate; it can be rough, smooth, velvety, or furry

Nose   a tasting term describing the aromas and bouquets of a wine

Oenology  the science of wine and winemaking

Oxidation — wine exposed to air that has undergone a chemical change

Sommelier — A wine butler; also used to denote a certified wine professional.

Spicy — a tasting term used for odors and flavors reminiscent of black pepper, bay leaf, curry powder, baking spices, oregano, rosemary, thyme, saffron or paprika found in certain wines

Structure — an ambiguous tasting term that implies harmony of fruit, alcohol, acidity, and tannins

Sweet — wines with perceptible sugar contents on the nose and in the mouth

Tannins  the phenolic compounds in wines that leave a bitter, dry, and puckery feeling in the mouth

Texture  a tasting term describing how wine feels on the palate

Vegetal  tasting term describing characteristics of fresh or cooked vegetables detected on the nose and in the flavors of the wine.  Bell peppers, grass, and asparagus are common “vegetal” descriptors.

Vinification  the process of making wine

Vintage  the year a wine is bottled.  Also, the yield of wine from a vineyard during a single season.

Weight — similar to “body”, the sensation when a wine feels thick or rich on the palate

Young  an immature wine that is usually bottled and sold within a year of its vintage.  Wines meant to be drunk “young” are noted for their fresh and crisp flavors.

Author: bmnadmin