Wine Tasting Terms Defined

Wine-tasting-terms-definedIf you’re new to wine tasting, there are some terms that may be quite unfamiliar to you. Like so many things, specific lingo has evolved to describe activities and reactions of wine tasting.

For your convenience we have defined the basic wine tasting terms here. Professional wine-makers and tasters may have many more, but these will cover you in just about every situation.

Wine Tasting Terms Defined

  • Acidity: This is similar to sour, without it’s negative connotation. You taste acidity on the sides of your tongue, your cheeks, and the back of your throat. Think citrus-type flavors with acidity, typically found in white wine and some lighter reds.
  • Aftertaste: This is the flavors left in your mouth after you swallow the wine. The finest wines have a balanced harmony of their flavors in their aftertaste. The length of the aftertaste also indicates the quality of the wine. Better wines will have longer aftertastes.
  • Blind Tasting: The process of tasting and evaluating wines without knowing what kind they are or who made them.
  • Breathing: Allowing wine to get air. Oxygen enhances the flavor of red wine. This is not necessary with white wine. Oxygen neither enhances nor detracts from white wine.
  • Decanting: The process of pouring red wine from it’s bottle to a decanter which allows air to interact with the wine in the process.
  • Nose: The aroma or smell of the wine. Usually described by types of fruits (plum, cherry, citrus, etc.), spiciness, chocolate, even leather in heavier red wines. It’s what you are actually smelling when you put your nose into a glass of wine and sniff.
  • Sweetness: How sweet the wine actually tastes. Your sweet taste buds are at the very tip of your tongue, so the very first taste you should find is sweetness. The very dry wines will need to pass further back on your tongue before you taste anything.
  • Tannin: This is a substance naturally found in the skin of grapes and is also found in the wood barrels used for aging. So red wines tend to have more tannin, as do white wines that are aged in wood barrels. Tannin is not a taste, but a tactile experience in your mouth. The more tannin in wine the drier it will feel in your mouth.
  • Varietal Wines: These are wines made from a single variety of grapes. They are not made from a mix of different kinds of grapes.

Learning Wine Tasting

Wine tasting is more of a comparison, than a process. When you compare different types of wine, you will begin to taste and smell the differences.

First learn some basics about wine, then go on to taste many different kinds of wine. This will help you determine those that you like best. Remember to try wine with different foods as well. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is a great food to taste with wine.

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  1. Mandee says:

    Excellent reference for the definitions of wine tasting terms! I will send a few of my friends so I don’t have to keep explaining!

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