Wine Terminology

Wine is more than a drink, it’s a hobby, a passion, and a lifestyle for people all over the world. And like any hobbyists, wine drinkers have their fair share of in-words. Have you gone to dinner with friends and been totally lost as they discussed their options with the Sommelier? (Do you know what a Sommelier is?) That’s okay! We do! And we can help you speak like the wine lover you are on the inside, or at least keep up with your fancy friends. Here are some terms to help you discuss wine, and pick wines that you’ll really enjoy.

Wine Terminology:

Acidity: Crispness that activates salivary glands

Aeration:  Adding oxygen to a wine to make the flavor softer and fuller. If someone says that a freshly opened red  “needs to breathe” this is what they are referring to. You can also buy aerators which are tools that quickly add oxygen to the wine as its poured through, and decanters which allow more air to access the wine than a bottle does.

Blend: Wines that are made of different types of grapes. Wines are typically named for the grape used to make it, like Frontenac. Some wines however use multiple varietals and are referred to as a “blend.”

Body: A sensation that describes the weight of the wine as you drink it. Wines can be light, medium, or full-bodied.

Bouquet: The aroma of an aged wine.

Complex: A wine with several aromas and flavors

Corked: A wine that has been stored improperly and now has a poor flavor.

Dry: A wine that is not sweet and causes a puckering sensation.

Finish: The sensation in the mouth after swallowing.

Fruity: A wine that strongly exhibits the taste and smells of fresh fruit (hint: awesome choices like Blue Silk).

Hot: A wine that contains more alcohol than average.

Mature: A wine that has aged long enough that it’s now ready to drink.

Oak/Oaky: A wine that has notes of vanilla, and other flavors that it takes on from the oak barrels it is stored/aged in.

Sommelier: A certified wine professional

Structure: A term often used to describe the balance of flavors, acidity, alcohol, and tannins

Sweet: A wine that has perceptible sugar content

Tannins: Phenolic compounds in wine that have a bitter taste

Vinification: The process of making wine

Vintage: The year that a wine is bottled

Written by Tanglewood Winery