Wine & spirits: Wine vocabulary
When learning a new language, there’s a balance between knowing what you’re talking about and having confidence in what you’re saying. Same goes for the language of wine. Here are some wine words that’ll have you speaking fluently. So the next time you’re at a party, on a date or entertaining a client, bring out your new wine vocabulary to look and sound like a professional!
If you like to swirl your wine (as any good wine lover should), you’ve more than likely noticed the wine running down the inside of your glass. These drops, called legs or tears, are indicative of alcohol and sugar content, as well as the wine’s body. The slower the legs run down your glass, the more alcohol, sugar and body.
Referring to a wine’s scent, aromatic wines tend to have a fragrant and floral bouquet on the nose. There are many great aromatic whites, including Riesling, Moscato and Gewürztraminer.
A wine’s texture is revealed through how it feels in your mouth. Some descriptive examples of mouth feel may include dry, soft or smooth. Try to think of these things the next time you have a glass of wine – you’ll better understand the concept if you taste it for yourself.
Tannins can be found in almost any red wine. They help give a good red wine mouth feel, and are the backbone for aging well. You can also taste tannins when you sip tea that’s been oversteeped. Wines can taste tannic, meaning they possess a strong tannin.
This is the year that the grapes were grown. Some wines are vintage wines, meaning they come from one specific year. Non-vintage wines include grapes harvested from different years blended into one bottle.
Balance refers to the proportion of acidity, sugar, tannins, alcohol and oak. A great wine will have a very balanced taste.
Varietal refers to the variety of grape that is used to make a wine. Examples of this include single varietal wines, such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. The opposite of a single varietal is a blend.
All wine has body and can be light-, medium- or full-bodied – typically this can be discovered by the legs of the wine after swirling, tasting the wine, analyzing its mouth feel and savouring the finish.