Wine Tasting Terminology

Wine Tasting Terminology

The wine tasting world is full of unusual words, like tannin, maderized, ponderous and even cloying. No matter how strange the words seem to you, in order to effectively communicate within a group of wine tasters, you should have a basic understanding of the terminology.

Let’s take a look at some of the words used in the wine tasting world.  Some you may know, others may seem strange to you, but keep your mind open as some of the descriptors might just surprise you.

Acidity – Used to describe a tart or sour taste when the overall acidity in a wine is extremely high. Usual acid content of either lactic acid, citric acid or malic acid should be around 0.6 and 0.7 percent of the total volume. Anything above this is usually referred to as “acidic.”

Ascescence – This term is used to describe the vinegar-like taste in the mouth, with a slight twinge upon the nose. This is due to the presence of acetic acid and ethyl acetate.

Austere – This is another way to describe the dry, acidic wines that are shallow and hollow in body and flavor. This word is also used to describe a wine that is made with young grapes, grown in cooler climates, giving the wine a sharp pinch on the inside of the cheeks.

Big – This term is used to describe the rich, full flavor of a wine; the overall body and taste of a wine. Red wines are usually big in tannin, while white wines usually have a higher alcohol content. Of course, “big” is supposed to be within a context, for example some wines are said to be more elegant than big.

Buttery – A creamy texture, often found in extremely good white wines, such as Chardonnay. This is a full mouth, thick feeling as the wine is in the palate area.

Finish – The aftertaste, or amount of time the flavors linger in your mouth. A exceptional finish will last anywhere from 15 to 40 seconds. Anything less than this is considered standard, or if under 8 seconds, a poor finish.

Flinty – Similar to mineral, flinty literally means rock-like taste. This is a smoky, dark taste that may be slightly hidden behind the floral bouquets of the wine, said to be similar to if you actually licked a flint rock.

Green – This term refers to a wine made with under-ripe fruits. It can also be significant in dealing with colors, such as Rieslings, which have a greenish color indicating a youthful wine.

Hollow – Wines have dimensions. A hollow wine is one that is missing a mid-palate taste. These wines usually have a strong attack and finish, but are lacking in flavor while in the mouth and on the tongue.

Nose – The nose of the wine is the aroma produced. A balanced nose is one which does not strike the taster as having too much of any one component.

Tannin – This is the pucker factor of wines. An astringent taste, naturally occurring in grape skins, seeds and stems. It is responsible for the bitter component in wines and acts as a preservative to aid in proper aging of the wine.

Wine terminology is a fun world to live in for wine tasters, as well as plain old wine enthusiasts. It is full of descriptors ranging from chalky to burnt rubber. If you rub elbows with any group of wine tasters long enough, you will surely become familiar with these terms and even enjoy throwing a few terms out yourself!

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