GLOSSARY OF WINE TERMS
LAST UPDATED 25 May 2007
CONNIE & ROSS SCHMOLL ATTENDED A "WEEKEND WINE AND FOOD CAMP" AWHILE BACK AND WERE INTRODUCED TO THE FOLLOWING LIST OF ADJECTIVES USED TO DESCRIBE WINE.
MORE DESCRIPTIVE TERMS FROM OTHER SOURCES FOLLOW:
ACIDITY: Taste derived from the amount of citric, tartaric, or malic acid in the wine. Comes across as crisp, tangy, zingy, even refreshing. Some grape varities such as riesling, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, and pinot noir, for example, are genetically high in acidity. Other grapes varities such as chardonnay and zinfandel, for excample, are low in acidity. Also, the cooler the climate, the more acidity.
AFTERTASTE: See "FINISH".
AROMA (SMELL): Smell of the grapes in the wine. See also BOUQUET.
BIG: Strong, round, and satisfying.
BOUQUET (SMELL): Complex smell arising with maturity in good wine.
BODY: In terms of taste, the wine's substance, as an impression of weight, rather than lightness. Can have the a likeness to being LIGHT, MEDIUM, or FULL, as in "light bodied" or "full bodied".
BRILLIANT (CLARITY): Completely clear in the glass; crystal clear.
CLARITY (SIGHT): Wine clarity refers to the absence or presence of suspended particles or sediment in a wine. Clarity can be BRILLIANT, CLEAR, CLOUDY.
CLEAN (FINISH): Refreshing, agreeable. Having a pleasurable finish free of defects or unpleasant tastes; can be either short term or long term in nature.
CLEAR (CLARITY): Free of sediment but not brilliant.
CLOUDY (CLARITY): Visible sediment or a muddy look.
COLOR (SIGHT): The intensity of a wine's color can convey some idea of its character. Generally speaking, the lighter the color for red or white, the less likely the wine will have much body or flavor.
COMPLETE: Mature, well-rounded.
COMPLEX: The "scents-within-scents", suggesting various fruit, flowers, or other prerceived scents.
DISTINCTIVE: Having its own character, substantially unique or different from other labels of the same wine.
DRY: Opposite of sweet.
ELEGANT: Has much charm and grace.
FINESSE: Distinction rendering a wine out of the ordinary.
FINISH: How the wine tastes and feels after it is swallowed. Also known as aftertaste. Types of finish can be SHORT, LONG, CLEAN, or UNPLEASANT.
FLOWERY: Having an attractive forthcoming scent of flowers particulary for white wines.
FRUITY: Having a somewhat distinctive taste of ripe fruit; almost all fine young wines are fruity. Suggestive of berries, apples, pears, currants, to name a few.
FULL (BODY): Very robust, rich, and mouth-coating in texture (like heavy cream).
HEADY: Attractively high in its alcohol content.
LONG (FINISHY): Lingering aftertaste; the wine's flavor is noticeable for a length of time.
LIGHT (BODY): Thin, slightly watery in texture (like skim milk).
LIVELY: Fresh, frank good smell from a young wine that will last.
MEDIUM (BODY): Fuller than light, but not too heavy in texture (light regular milk).
NOSE: Term used to describe the overall impact of aroma and bouquet of a wine.
ROBUST: Sound, sturdy, full-bodied, not necessarily fine.
SHORT (FINISH): Very little aftertaste; the wine's flavors go away quickly.
SIGHT: When the glass is grasped by the stem or base and held to the light. COLOR and CLARITY are observed.
SILKY: Having a smooth texture when swallowed.
SMELL: Consists of AROMA and BOUQUET and results from swirling the wine in the glass, holding it up to the nose, and inhaling.
SMOKEY: Aroma obtained from aging in oak casks, applies to both reds and whites.
STYLE: Characteristic of the grapes and the wine.
STEELY: Extremely hard, and even tart or perhaps metallic, without being harsh or green.
UNPLEASANT (FINISH): Unpleasant aftertaste caused by excessive bitterness, cloying sweetness, excessive tartness, or having off-flavors.
VIGOROUS: Young and lively.
YOUNG: Not yet at its peak but still improving.