The Wine Glass Level
While you are enjoying that glass, you may want to show off your ability to wine. These terms and commonly used descriptions will help you through your next tasting, order, or purchase.
Acidity Natural grape acids help wine age and influence taste. The right amount of acids make a wine crisp, fresh, or zesty—they taste good and are the result of good winemaking. Wines with too much acid taste sour and overly tart; those with too little taste flat and dull.
Aroma A wine’s taste is influenced by its smell. Good aromas for wine are flowery, fruity, spicy, herbal, chocolatey etc. Bad ones may be described as musty, moldy, vinegary, corky etc. Also referred to as a wine’s nose.
Balance A good wine will have the right amount of acid, alcohol, fruit, sweetness, and tannin—nothing should dominate and throw the wine off-balance. Good wine is well-balanced.
Body You can feel a wine’s weight when it is in your mouth—this is its body. It can be light-bodied, medium-bodied, or full-bodied. Full-bodied wines feel heavier and have more alcohol, while light-bodied wines are the exact opposite.
Complex Description for good wine with many characteristics (flavors and aromas).
Depth The intensity in a wine. A great merlot, for example, can have depth.
Dry The term for wine with little grape sugar. Off-dry wines will have a little more sugar (aka semi-sweet / demi-sec). Brut is also used for dry-to-very dry champagnes or sparkling wines.
Finish Wine’s aftertaste once it’s swallowed. It can be short, long, nonexistent, smooth, tart etc.
Green Description for grassy or vegetable-like taste in wine. Good white wine will have a right amount of green, but only bad red wine will taste green.
Legs Dripping lines of wine that form inside a glass after it is swirled (aka wine tears). They form because of alcohol, sugar and evaporation—leggier wines usually have more alcohol.
Mouthfeel The texture of wine when it’s in your mouth. It can be soft, velvety, course, etc.
Oaky Description for wine that tastes or smells smokey, woody, or toasty. Oaky flavors come from preparing wine in oak barrels. Badly made wine can be over-oaked.
Tannin A compound found in grape skin, seeds, and stems that gives red wine its structure. It gives it a dry, puckery feel, and creates a wine that becomes smooth, soft, and mellow with age. Wine with too much tannin is bitter and harsh.
Viscosity Used to describe the thickness of wine once it is in your mouth. Viscous wines are usually high in alcohol or sugar.
People use words like palate, earthy, elegant, peppery, meaty, mature, dull, and thin to describe what they taste, smell, and feel in their wines. In addition, there are the specific tones of fruits, flowers, spices, and whatever else you may notice in your sip. It’s not that complicated so have fun with it. Be creative. Be poetic. Make us laugh.