Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or a casual wine drinker, knowing some basic wine terminology can help enhance your wine experience. Wine terms can help you understand the flavours and characteristics of the wines you’re tasting and can also help you communicate your preferences to others. This blog post will explore seven important wine terms you need to know.
The finish of a wine refers to the lingering flavours and sensations that remain on your palate after you’ve swallowed or spit out the wine. The finish’s length and intensity can indicate the wine’s quality – a longer, more complex finish is generally associated with higher-quality wines. The finish can include flavours, textures, and even a sense of heat or spice. Some common descriptors for finish include smooth, crisp, or velvety.
2. Dry Wines
A dry wine has little to no residual sugar, meaning it is not sweet. This term can be confusing because it is often used to describe a wine’s taste and sugar content. Due to its other flavour components, wine can be technically dry (low sugar content) but still taste fruity or sweet due to its other flavour components. Dry wines tend to be less sweet and savoury or tart than sweet wines.
The body of a wine refers to its weight and texture on your palate. This can be influenced by alcohol content, sugar, and tannins. Wines can be classified as light-bodied, medium-bodied, or full-bodied. Light-bodied wines are typically more delicate and refreshing, with lower alcohol content. Medium-bodied wines have more weight and complexity, while full-bodied wines are rich, bold, and often higher in alcohol. The grape variety, climate, and winemaking techniques can also influence the body of a wine.
4. Wine Tannins
Tannins are naturally occurring compounds found in the skins, seeds, and stems of grapes and in oak barrels used for ageing wine. They contribute to the structure and mouthfeel of a wine, providing a drying, puckering sensation on your palate. Tannins can also help a great wine age gracefully, acting as natural preservatives. Red wines typically have more tannins than white wines due to the longer contact with grape skins during fermentation. When describing tannins, common terms include grippy, chewy, or soft.
Acidity is an essential component of great wine, as it helps to balance the flavours and provide structure. Wines with higher acidity tend to be more refreshing and crisp, while those with lower acidity can taste flabby or flat. Acidity can come from the grape, or winemaking techniques can influence it. Some common descriptors for acidity include zesty, tart, or bright.
6. Ageing Wine
As wine ages, its flavours, aromas, and textures can evolve and become more complex. Some wines are meant to be consumed young and fresh, while others benefit from ageing for several years or even decades. Factors such as grape variety, winemaking techniques, and storage conditions can all influence a wine’s ageing potential.
Earthy is a term used to describe wines with aromas and flavours reminiscent of the earth, such as soil, minerals, or even mushrooms. This characteristic can result from the grape variety, the terroir (the unique combination of climate, soil, and other environmental factors of the vineyard), or the winemaking techniques. Earthy wines can be intriguing and complex, offering a different flavour profile than fruit-forward wines.
Understanding these important wine terms can help you fully evaluate and appreciate great wine. Whether you’re a novice wine drinker or a seasoned connoisseur, knowing the language of wine can enhance your overall experience and deepen your enjoyment of this complex and fascinating beverage.
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