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Wine Terminology


Acid/Acidity:
Stuff that makes wine taste sharp. Also contributes to the bouquet and brilliance. Can have too much or too little.

Acrid:
Describes a wine with overly pronounced acidity. This is often apparent in cheap red wines.

Aeration:
The process of letting a wine "breathe".

Aftertaste:
The taste or flavors that linger in the mouth after the wine is tasted, spit, or swallowed.

Age/Aged/Aging:
To let get older under controlled conditions in order to improve flavor. All wine is aged from a few weeks to many decades. Aging in barrels is a very slow oxidation, and the barrels can impart flavors to the wine: bottle aging allows the wines to soften and various components within the wine to harmonize.

Alcohol:
The whole point.
The part of wine that makes you drunk.

Aperitif:
Any wine drunk before eating, ostensibly to induce appetite, but in fact as an excuse to start drinking early.

Appellation:
Defines the area where a wine's grapes were grown such as Bordeaux or Burgundy.

Aroma:
Smell

Attractive:
A lighter style, fresh , easy to drink wine.

Balance:
A tasting term, states whether the fruit, acid, wood flavors etc. are in the right proportion.

Blending:
The art and science of mixing wines and/or spirits.

Blanc:
French word for white.

Body:
Sort of the oomph a wine has. The flavor or perhaps the character per unit volume.

Bouquet:
See Aroma

Brandy:
A liqueur distilled from wine aged in wood.

Brut:
French word for dry.

Buttery:
Associated with some white wines, notably California Chardonnays. It refers to both flavor and texture or "mouthfeel."

Carbonic Maceration:
Fermentation of whole, uncrushed grapes in a carbon dioxide atmosphere.

Champagne:
Any lightish, whitish wine that is sparkling ( ie:fizzy )

Complexity:
A combination of richness, depth, flavor intensity balance, finesse, and lots of other fancy words that let you know this is a really good wine.

Crisp:
A tasting term, denotes a fresh, young, wine with good acidity.

Decanting:
Slowly and carefully pouring the wine from the bottle.

Developed:
A tasting term referring to the maturity of a wine.

Dry:
Not sweet, in the same way that "cold" means not hot...

Earthy:
Describes a wine that tastes of the soil in which it was grown. Red wines most often have this characteristic.

Extra-Dry:
Don't believe everything you read. What this really denotes is a sweet Champagne.

Fermentation:
The process that turns the lowly grape into wonderful wine.

Finish:
See Aftertaste

Flinty:
Used to describe the fragrance or taste of some white wines, especially a White Bordeaux. If you can remember what flint smells like when struck with steel, you'll have an idea of this characteristic.

Fortified:
More alcohol !

Fruity:
Having the taste of fruit.

Green:
Tasting of un-ripe fruit. Not a bad thing really especially in a Riesling.

Heady:
Used to describe the smell of a wine high in alcohol.

Herbaceous:
The taste and smell of herbs in a wine.

Late harvest:
Wines made from grapes that were allowed to hang on the vine until their sugar content was very high, thus the wine is sweet.

Lees:
Sediment remaining in a barrel during and after fermentation.

Legs:
The droplets that form and ease down the sides of a glass when the wine is swirled.

Maceration:
During fermentation, the steeping of the grape skins and solids in the wine, to extract color and aroma from the skins.

Malolactic Fermentation:
A secondary fermentation process, which occurs naturally in most wines.

Mature:
Ready to drink.

Methode Champenoise:
The method by which real Champagne gets its bubbles.

Mouthfeel:
How a wine feels in your mouth and against the tongue.

Noble Rot:
The beneficial mold on grapes that causes the grapes to shrivel, concentrating the sugars and flavors.

Neutral:
Generally used to describe a wine without any outstanding characteristics, but with no particular bad ones, either.

Nose:
Smell

Nouveau:
New, okay bottled as soon as possible.

Oaky:
Aroma & Taste of Oak

Palate:
The feel and taste of wine in the mouth.

Potent:
Strong, Intense, Powerful

Round:
Describes a wine that has a good balance of fruit and tannins, with good body as well.

Short:
Term for a wine which does not remain on the palate after swallowing - see 'finish.'

Simple:
Used to describe a wine that has few characteristics which follow the initial impression. Not necessarily a disparaging term, it's often used to describe
inexpensive, young wine.

Smoky:
Term used to describe a subtle wood-smoke aroma and also some wines that seem to pick up a smoky aroma from the earth in which they are grown.

Soft:
Term to describe a wine with low acid and gentle tannins.

Spicy:
Term to describe flavors that are spicy.

Supple:
Describes a wine with well-balanced tannins and fruit characteristics.

Tannin:
Adds dryness and astringency.

Toasty:
Often used to describe a white wine with a nice hint of the wooden barrel in which the wine was stored. Sweeter wines are rarely described this way.

Vintner:
Wine Merchant

Now that you know all this go un-cork a bottle and enjoy !