Wine Speak

Acetic—Wine which has gone sour or vinegary caused by excessive contact with air.

Acidity—Essential for the life and vitality of wine. Too little acidity makes a wine dull, flat and short; too much and it is sharp and raw.

Aftertaste—The taste that stays in the mouth after the wine has been swallowed. It may be pleasant or unpleasant and may disappear instantly or linger.

Alcohol—Found in concentrations of 9-15%, usually in table wines. Wines of low alcohol are said to taste light or weak, and those high in alcohol are said to be strong or alcoholic.

Apples—A fruit smell associated, with the presence of malic acid which is apparent in many white wines.

Aroma—The part of the wines nose or smell that can be attributed to the grape variety used. Not to be confused with the bouquet.

Astringent—A wine containing too much tannin and with a “clawing” feeling. An astringent wine will cause a puckering effect in the mouth. Wines lose astringency with age. Not to be confused with dryness.

Austere—A wine that lacks fruit and is dominated by harsh acidity and/or tannin.

Bad—Unsound or spoiled wine.

Baked—The flavor resulting from grapes grown in a hot climate; a warm, cooked or roasted smell or flavor.

Balance—The harmonious relationship between acid, alcohol, fruit, tannin and other natural elements in wine.

Big—Strong, rich flavored and full-bodied wine.

Bite—Wines that possess a high acidity level or an excessively astringent wine.

Black Currants—A blackberry fruit smell found in many reds, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon.

Body—The level of fruit and alcoholic strength that together give an impression of weight in the mouth.

Bottle Age—The length of time a wine spends in the bottle before it is consumed.

Bouquet—The part of the wines nose or smell that is attributed to aging in the cask or bottle.

Bright—Said of a wine’s color which is clear.

Brilliant—Said of a wine’s color which is absolutely clear.

Browning—The brownish tint of a well-aged red wine which can be noticed at the wines edge in the glass.

Burnt—Highly cooked flavor.

Buttery—A rich, fat and delicious character found in some Chardonnay wines, particularly if produced in a great vintage or a warm climate.

Character—Wine with distinguished qualities.

Charm—Attractiveness. Often said of light, fruity wines.

Claret—English term for a red Bordeaux wine.

Clean—A well-made wine with no “off ” aroma or taste.

Cloudy—Hazy or murky wine.

Cloying—Used to describe wine with a sweet, heavy or tiresome taste; often has an unclean finish.

Coarse—A sound wine, though usually crudely rough or harsh. Also, a young wine lacking finesse.

Complex—Wines offering a subtle blend of various scents and flavors. Great wines in their youth may have a certain complexity, but only bottle maturity will enable a wine to achieve it full potential in terms of complexity.

Corky—Odor and flavor imparted to wine by a flawed cork recognized by a musty wood smell. CREAMY—Used to convey the impression of a creamy flavor.

Crisp—A clean wine with good acidity, yielding a fresh finish.

Crusty—Containing deposits on the inside of the bottle; sediment.

Deep—A wine is said to have good depth when the flavor and nose have several levels; used most often when referring to rich red wines.

Delicate—Applies to wines that are light, usually white, young and fresh. DISTINCTIVE—Positive recognizable characteristics of a wine.

Dry—Without the impression of sweetness, a wine with no residual sugar. EARTHY—Scents or flavors reminiscent of fresh earth.

Elegant—Well balanced with finesse; a truly fine wine usually not overtly rich and lush.

Finish—The quality and enjoyment of a wine’s aftertaste and the length of time it continues.

Flat—A wine lacking acidity.

Fleshy—A wine with plenty of fruit and extract.

Flinty—Dry, steely, stony or minerally nuance in the scent or taste, often used to describe Chablis.

Flowery—An appealing fragrance, almost perfume or flower-like.

Fragrant—A wine offering a highly scented nose.

Fresh—Used to describe young, fruity wines that are clean and still vital with youth; the opposite of tired.

Fruity—Ripe fruit scents and flavors; not always simply grape.

Full—Usually refers to body weight, but a wine can be light-bodied and full of fruit.

Generous—A full-bodied wine having a high quality and rich in body.

Grapey—A fruity wine with a fresh grape smell.

Grassy—The smell of grass or freshly mowed hay; often used to describe Sauvignon Blanc.

Green—Unripe, unbalanced acidity, raw taste.

Hard—Indicates a certain severity, often due to excess tannin and acidity.

Harsh—An extremely astringent or acidic wine.

Heavy—A full-bodied wine.

Intense—Wine with highly concentrated qualities.

Jammy—Commonly used to described a fat, drinkable red wine rich in fruit, but lacking elegance.

Legs—The apparent drips on the inner walls of the wine glass which reveal the viscosity of the wine.

Lemony—Many dry and medium-sweet wines have a tangy, fruity acidity that is suggestive of lemons.

Length /Long—Refers to a wine in which the flavor lingers in the mouth a long time after swallowing.

Light—A wine low in alcohol and subsequently not as viscous.

Little—Wine with little nose, flavor or body.

Lively—Usually implies youthful freshness of fruit due to good acidity and an above average carbonic gas content.

Luscious—A wine that is rich and voluptuous.

Mature—Refers to a wine’s development in bottle, as opposed to ripe, which describes the maturity of the grape itself.

Meaty—Suggests a wine so rich in body and extract that it feels chewy in the mouth; often have a high tannin content.

Metallic—A tin-like flavor found in dry white wines.

Moldy—An unpleasant smell and taste from rotten grapes.

Musty—An unpleasant smell like that of a dank cellar.

Neutral—Indistinctive wine.

Nose—The smell or odor of a wine, encompassing both aroma and bouquet.

Nuance—A subtle flavor or odor trace.

Nutty—The flavor of nuts sometimes found in rich, mature white wines.

Off—A wine that is partially or completely spoiled or defective.

Old—A wine past its peak.

Oxidized—Wine with a noticeable Sherry-like odor caused by excessive contact with air.

Quaffing Wine—Unpretentious wine that is easy and enjoyable to drink.

Rich—Wine possessing a balanced wealth of fruit and good depth on the palate and finish.

Ripe—Wine with the richness that only ripe grapes can give; applies to ripeness of grapes, not maturity of the wine.

Round—A wine that has rounded off all its edges of tannin, acidity, extract, etc. through bottle-aging.

Sharp—Biting acidity.

Short—Said of a wine with a quick finish.

Smoky—Flavor or aroma of smoke produced by certain grapes or by oak casks.

Silky—Possessing a smooth texture.

Soft—Wine low in acidity.

Sound—Not a judgment of quality, but rather a chemical state of wine properly made and stored.

Spice—A spicy flavor or aroma derived from certain grape varietals (Gewurztraminer) or bottle-age after time in wood.

Stalky—Green, woody scent.

Strong—Descriptive word used for alcoholic wines.

Sulphury—Chemical taste due to excessive sulphur added to the wine.

Supple—A quality wine with smooth or few tannins; easy to drink.

Sweet—Opposite of dry; caused by the presence of fructose and glucose.

Tannin—The astringent substance found in grape skins, seeds and stems; found in young red wine and softens with age.

Tart—Refers to noticeable acidity.

Thin—Wine lacking in body and fruit, watery.

Tight—Firm wine of good extract and significant tannin, with fruit that has not yet opened and reached its fullest potential.

Vanilla—Often used to describe the nose and sometimes palate of an oak-aged wine.

Vegetal—Applied to wine of a certain maturity that have taken on a bouquet reminiscent of vegetation.

Velvety—A wine which is mellow, fine and soft as velvet on the palate.

Woody—Quality of wine kept too long in wood; wood-like taste.

Yeasty— Young wines tasting of yeast, as in fresh bread; a common characteristic of Champagne.