Wine Tips

A Comprehensive Wine Glossary

Just about everyone enjoys a good glass of wine now and then, but it can sometimes be a little confusing when that one connoisseur in the group starts showing off a little bit. However, there is something to be learned from them.

When you start to delve into the world of wine, you’ll find that there is practically an art to choosing, recognizing and tasting wines. Read on to become familiar with some of the terms that are commonly used when discussing wine.

Acidic – An excess amount of acid in the wine, giving it a sour flavor.

Aftertaste – A flavor that can be tasted after the wine is swallowed.

Aperitif – A wine that is typically not paired with food.

Blanc de Blancs – A wine made exclusively from white grapes; usually Champagne.

Body – The depth of the wine’s flavor, or the perceived weight of it.

Bouquet – The multiple smells that combine to give the wine its overall aroma.

Breathing – Exposing the wine to air, or allowing it to breathe, tends to improve the flavor.

Chewy – A viscous texture in the wine caused by large amounts of glycerin.

Complex – An interesting, well-balanced wine that offers many different aspects of aroma and taste.

Corked – A fault in the wine’s flavor, caused by its contact with an unclean cork.

Crisp – A prominently acidic note in the wine that is pleasant.

Decant – The act of pouring wine from its original bottle into a different glass (or crystal) vessel, usually to leave out the sediment.

Demi-Sec – A French term, translated as “half-dry”; it is the sweetest type of Champagne.

Dessert Wine – A very sweet wine that is more appropriate after a meal.

Dry – A description of a wine’s flavor when it contains little to no sweetness.

Dumb – A young wine that has not yet properly developed its flavor or aroma.

Earthy – A wine flavor that captures some essence of the soil.

Enophile – A person who greatly enjoys wine.

Faded – A wine whose flavor has been lost over time.

Fat – An exceptionally well-balanced wine made with very mature grapes.

Finish – A descriptive term similar to aftertaste.

Floral – An aroma reminiscent of flowers, usually found in white wines.

Fresh – A wine that is meant to be consumed while it is still young.

Fruity – Used to describe a prominent note of sweetness lent by the grapes.

FullBodied – A rich wine with a good all-rounded flavor and texture.

Glycerol – An alcohol present in wine due to fermentation.

Green – An acidic, leafy-smelling wine made from grapes that were not yet ripe.

Hard – An overwhelming taste of tannin in the wine.

Harsh – Used to describe wine when its acidity is excessive and unpleasant.

Heavy – Describes a wine when its tannins are overbalanced.

Hot – A wine that contains so much alcohol that it burns in the nose or mouth.

Ice Wine – A dessert wine made from frozen ripe grapes.

Jug Wine – Cheap table wine; a term most often used in American parlance.

Light – An enjoyable (usually young) wine that is low on tannins.

Lively – A young wine that tastes fresh, with desired levels of acidity.

Lush – A sweet, rich, fruity wine with a soft flavor.

Maderized – When a wine turns brown in color due to oxidation.

Matchstick – A slight sulfuric smell, noticeable sometimes when opening a bottle of white wine.

Mead – A type of wine made with water and fermented honey instead of grapes.

Musty – An aroma of mold or mildew in the wine due to an unclean bottle, cask, cork, or moldy grapes.

Nose – The overall aroma that is perceived from a wine.

New World – Used to describe wines made in areas outside of Europe or North Africa.

Nutty – A flavor similar to hazelnuts, caused by oxidation.

Oaky – A warm, vanilla-like flavor imparted by oak barrels.

Off – Describes a wine that is flawed; it does not taste as it should.

Peppery – A spicy flavor in a wine.

Port – A rich, sweet wine from Portugal.

Proof – A way of indicating the amount of alcohol in the wine.

Refined – A positive term to describe a very well-balanced wine.

Rice Wine – An Asian alcoholic beverage made from rice; technically not a wine at all, since it does not contain grapes.

Rich – A wine that is full of flavor, with high amounts of extract and fruitiness.

Rose – Refers to the pink hue that white wines have when mixed with red.

Smoky – A wine’s flavor or aroma caused by the soil or wooden barrels.

Stale – An oxidized wine that has become unbalanced and uninteresting to drink.

Tannic – A dry, bitter quality caused by grape skins, seeds, and stems.

Tasting Flight – An event in which numerous wines are sampled for comparison.

Tobacco – A distinctive aroma sometimes found in red wines, associated with the smell of tobacco leaves.

Velvety – An enjoyable texture that describes a wine that is lush and smooth.

Warm – A wine with a high alcohol content that is properly balanced by its flavors and texture.

Woody – An undesirable prominent flavor of oak in wine.

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