Here are some technical wine terms to help you navigate the wine and food festivals of the world with as much gusto as the connoisseur general. Start memorizing.

  • 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. After a certain point all wine will decline in the bottle.
    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 ( Next Question )
    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:
    Hmmmmm……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 )
    Cognac:
    The finest of all Brandies aged in oak vats for a minimum of 3 years.
    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.
    Cordials:
    See Liqueurs
    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.
    Liqueurs:
    Sweet flavored alcoholic beverage distilled from rum, brandy, or whisky.
    Maceration:
    During fermentation, the steeping of the grape skins and solids in the wine, to extract color and aroma from the skins.
    Malolactic Fermenation:
    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 flavours.
    Neutral:
    Generally used to describe a wine without any outstanding characteristics, but with no particular bad ones, either.
    Nose:
    Smell again !
    Nouveau:
    New, 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