8 Wine Terms You Should Know

You don't have to be an expert to drink wine, but in the world of business, a little knowledge goes a long way and might make just that little difference in whether you clinch the deal or not. Besides, you may need to select the wines for a company dinner, or host a dinner at a restaurant for clients.

There are generally four sensations to drinking wine – sight, smell, taste and touch – and using all these senses together will help determine your likes and dislikes, as well as in describing the wine.

Wine connoisseurs often use flowery words to describe their wines when facial expressions are all that it takes. A smile or a nod is positive while a disapproving frown tells the opposite. However, if a wine newbie really has to comment on the wine with words, the description of the colour is usually the safest. For descriptions of smell and taste, you could describe it simply as it is – for example, sweet or acidic.

But to help you get started, here are eight simple wine terms you could use.

1. Body

The perception of fullness or texture in the mouth. The stronger or more potent it is, the more full-bodied it's considered to be. On the other hand, a wine that is lacking of "body" is often described as "thin".

2. Complex

The different layers and flavours of wine such as the first impression it gives and the finish. Also known as "depth".

3. Crisp

Refers to good acidity and taste without being too sweet or overwhelm the other aspects of wine.

4. Dry

In a very dry wine, the sugar from the grapes have almost all been completely converted to alcohol during fermentation. Wine snobs are known to prefer dry wines to sweet ones, which is also probably why the term "off-dry" – just a touch of sweetness – has been invented.

5. Fruity

The aroma of the fruits that can be tasted in the wine. Fruits that may possibly be present other than grapes are lemons, bananas, pineapples, peaches and more. Fruity is also an euphemism for sweet, a term despised by the wine snobs with a preference for dry wine as mentioned previously, though it is not exactly the same as sweet.

6. Oaky

As most wines are aged in oak barrels, there is an "oaky" flavour, or what is also known as "vanilla", to it. If the barrels of the barrels are charred, the wine may end up tasting "smoky". And because oak barrels are expensive, some winemakers may replace that taste by using less costly oak chips to retain that character. Most winemakers today use stainless-steel tanks which are neutral and some say with less character.

7. Balance

All aspects of the wine – acidity, fruitiness, tannins etc – working together to produce the end result.

8. Finish

The aftertaste of a wine or what lingers on after you sipped it. It also reflects the quality of the wine. A long finish is good and might be known as "having length".

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