Wine Terms

Acidity – A component of every wine that can lend crispness and enhance flavor.

Appellation – A specific geographic region where grapes are grown.

Balance – The ratio of a wine’s key components, including fruitiness, sweetness, acidity, tannin and alcoholic strength. A balanced wine shows a harmony of components, with no single element dominating.

Body – The concentration or substance of a wine in your mouth (light, medium or full).

Bouquet – The complex scent of wines.

Crisp – The sharp taste of wine.

Dry – Wine containing little or no sugar.

Earthy – Can be a component of complexity deriving from the wine’s distinctive soil character or a pejorative description for a rustic wine.

Enology – The science and practice of winemaking.

Fermentation – The conversion of grape juice into wine through the action of yeasts present in the juice, which turn sugar into alcohol. This alcoholic fermentation is also known as primary fermentation. (See Malolactic Fermentation.)

Finish – The impression a wine leaves on your palate.

Flight – Comparing two wines by drinking them side-by-side.

Fruity – Wine with ripe flavors of fruit.

Hot – Having an extremely high level of alcohol.

Mouth Feel – The physical impression of a wine in the mouth; its texture.

New World – Describes wine produced outside the traditional wine producing nations of Europe.

Nose – The aroma or bouquet.

Oaky – The characteristic style of oak barrel aging.

Old World – Describes wine from traditional wine producing nations like France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Germany.

Oxidized – Possessing a tired or stale taste due to excessive exposure to air. An oxidized white wine may have a darker than normal or even brown color.

Reserve – Generally refers to a winery’s highest quality wine.

Soft – Used to express smooth rather than crisp; not sweet.

Tannin – A bitter, mouth-drying substance found in the skins. Stalks and pips of the grapes – as well as in wood barrels. Tannin acts as a preservative and is thus an important component if the wine is to be aged over a long period. Tannins are frequently harsh in a young wine, but gradually soften or dissipate as the wine ages in the bottle.

Terroir – The concept that climate, soil and terrain affect the flavor of wine. A vineyard can have its own terroir.