Education

Wine 101 Terms

Acidity
Quality of wine that gives it its crispness and vitality.

Aftertaste
A term for the taste left on the palate after wine has been swallowed.

Aroma
The smell of a wine.

Balance
The harmonious relationship of the components of wine – acids, fruit, tannins, alcohol.

Body
The sense of weight imparted by a wine to the mouth of a taster.  A wine may be light-or full-bodied.

Cuvee
The pressing, or a blending of several wines.

Decanting
The process of pouring wine from its bottle into a decanter to separate the sediment from the wine.

Dessert wine
In the US by law, any wine containing over 15% alcohol.

Dry
Wines with zero or very low levels of residual sugar. The opposite of sweet, except in sparkling, where dry means sweet.

Finish
A tasting term for the lingering aftertaste after a wine has been swallowed.

Flabby
Tasting term used to indicate a wine lacking in structure, often marked by a low acidity.

Legs
The tracks of liquid that cling to the sides of a glass after the contents have been swirled. Often said to be related to the alcohol or glycerol content of a wine. Also called tears.

Maceration
The contact of grape skins with the must during fermentation, extracting phenolic compounds including tannins, anthocyanins, and aroma.

Mead
A wine-like alcoholic beverage made of fermented honey and water rather than grape juice.

Mulled wine
Wine that is spiced, heated, and served as a punch.

Nose
A tasting term for the aroma or bouquet of a wine.

Off-dry
A wine that has the barest hint of sweetness; a slightly sweet wine in which the residual sugar is barely perceptible.

Palate
A tasting term for the feel and taste of a wine in the mouth.

Sherry
A fortified wine that has been subjected to controlled oxidation to produce a distinctive flavor.

Solera System
A process used to systematically blend various vintages of Sherry.

Tannin
Polyphenolic compounds that give wine a bitter, dry, or puckery feeling in the mouth.

Varietal
Wines made from a single grape variety.

Vine
A plant on which grapes grow.

Vineyard
A place where grape vines are grown for wine making purposes.

Vintage
The year in which a particular wine’s grapes were harvested. When a vintage year is indicated on a label, it signifies that all the grapes used to make the wine in the bottle were harvested that year.

Wine tasting
The sensory evaluation of wine, encompassing more than taste, but also mouthfeel, aroma, and color.