Wine Terms Everyone Should Know!

Whether you`re a casual wine drinker or a self-proclaimed aficionado, you have probably heard your fair share of words being tossed around to describe different types of wine.

At Vinolithic, one of the things we`re most passionate about is educating others on all things wine. For wine lovers looking to brush up on their terminology, we`ve compiled a list of wine terms we fell everyone should know!

Acidity — the liveliness and crispness in wine that activates our salivary glands.

Aeration — the deliberate addition of oxygen to round out and soften a wine.

Ageing — holding wine in barrels, tanks, and bottles to advance them to a more desirable state.

Alcohol — ethanol (ethyl alcohol), the product of fermentation of sugars by yeast.

Appellation — a delineated wine-producing region particular to France.

Aroma — the smell of wine, especially young wine (different than “bouquet”).

Balance — a term for when the elements of wine – acids, sugars, tannins, and alcohol – come together in a harmonious way.

Barrel — the oak container used for fermenting and ageing wine.

Bitter — a taste sensation that is sensed on the back of the tongue and caused by tannins.

Blend — a wine made from more than one grape varietal.

Body — a tactile sensation describing the weight and fullness of wine in the mouth. A wine can be light, medium, or full bodied.

Bouquet — a term that refers to the complex aromas in aged wines.

Breathing — exposing wine to oxygen to improve its flavors (see “aeration”).

Brut — french term denoting dry champagnes or sparkling wines.

Complex — a wine exhibiting numerous odors, nuances, and flavours.

Corked — a term that denotes a wine that has suffered cork taint (not wine with cork particles floating about).

Cru classé — a top-ranking vineyard designated in the Bordeaux Classification of 1855.

Cuvée — in Champagne, a blended batch of wine.

Demi-sec — french term meaning “half-dry” used to describe a sweet sparkling wine.

Dry — a taste sensation often attributed to tannins and causing puckering sensations in the mouth; the opposite of sweet.

Earthy — an odor or flavour reminiscent of damp soil.

Fermentation — the conversion of grape sugars to alcohol by yeast.

Full-bodied — a wine high in alcohol and flavours, often described as “big”.

Herbaceous — a tasting term denoting odors and flavours of fresh herbs (e.g., basil, oregano, rosemary, etc.).

Lees — sediment consisting of dead yeast cells, grape pulp, seed, and other grape matter that accumulates during fermentation.

Length — the amount of time that flavours persist in the mouth after swallowing wine; a lingering sensation.

Malolactic Fermentation — a secondary fermentation in which the tartness of malic acid in wine is changed into a smooth, lactic sensation. Wines described as “buttery” or “creamy” have gone through “malo”.

Mature — ready to drink.

Mouth-feel — how a wine feels on the palate; it can be rough, smooth, velvety, or furry.

Must — unfermented grape juice including seeds, skins, and stems.

Oak/oaky — tasting term denoting smells and flavours of vanilla, baking spices, coconut, mocha or dill caused by barrel-ageing.

Oxidation — wine exposed to air that has undergone a chemical change.

Sediment – is the solid material that settles to the bottom of a wine bottle, vat, tank, cask, or barrel. This typically happens with wines that have been ageing for several years, usually in darker red wines due to preservatives.

Spicy — a tasting term used for odors and flavors reminiscent of black pepper, bay leaf, curry powder, baking spices, oregano, rosemary, thyme, saffron or paprika found in certain wines.

Structure — an ambiguous tasting term that implies harmony of fruit, alcohol, acidity, and tannins.

Superiore – found on Italian wine labels and most commonly associated with a regional classification that typically have more rigorous production quality standards.

Sweet — wines with perceptible sugar contents on the nose and in the mouth.

Tannins — the phenolic compounds in wines that leave a bitter, dry, and puckery feeling in the mouth.

Terroir — French for geographical characteristics unique to a given vineyard.

Texture — a tasting term describing how wine feels on the palate.

Vinification — the process of making wine.

Vitis Vinifera — the species of wine that comprises over 99% of the world’s wine.

Vintage — the year a wine is bottled. Also, the yield of wine from a vineyard during a single season.

Weight — similar to “body”, the sensation when a wine feels thick or rich on the palate.

Yeast — a microorganism endemic to vineyards and produced commercially that converts grape sugars into alcohol.

Yield — the productivity of a vineyard.

Young — an immature wine that is usually bottled and sold within a year of its vintage. Wines meant to be drunk “young” are noted for their fresh and crisp flavours.

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