Describing Wine

Lots of terms have come about on how to describe wine. When you hear them tossed about and you don't know anything about them, you can feel lost and the people using them may sound more than a bit lofty. But after a while you'll find that you'll start using the terms too! I think I was just a little bit amazed the first time I said the wine I was drinking had a nice "nose!" And I used it correctly, too.

The biggest point I wasn to make here is that you shouldn't let yourself get bogged down in the terms. Drink the wine. Enjoy it. Eventually you may search for a way to describe it and you might then find that these words are close to what you want to say!

There are a lot more terms than what follows, but here's a sample to start:

  • Austere: The wine is kind of stiff or tight, sort of hard. Hard to tell other traits.
  • Balance: Describing the relationship between tannin, acid and alcohol. You want to drink a "well-balanced" wine.
  • Big: A strong, perhaps alcoholic wine. It is a good wine that can get better.
  • Buttery: A sort of smooth feel and taste, like butter. Most often seen in white wines which have undergone malolactic fermentation.
  • Dry: If sugar remains in the wine it is sweet. When it isn't sweet, its dry.
  • Flabby: A bland tasting wine that isn't going to get any bet-ter.
  • Grassy (orherbaceous): Smells like grass. Often seen in Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Hard: A wine that has a lot of tannin still in it, like a young fine red. The tannin keeps you from tasting the other qualities of the wine which will come out through maturation.
  • Nose: The totality of what you smell.
  • Thin: A watery sort of wine.

I have been told that the book "Masterglass" by Jancis Robinson contains an excellent, unpretentious list of terms. There is a very large WWW glossary of wine terms at: http://metcon.met.co.nz/nwfc/beard/www/wine_glossary.html.