WINE TASTING TERMS BRIEFLY EXPLAINED**

(at least, what I'm looking for when I taste wine...)

** work in progress, but for now, here are some basics.


APPEARANCE 

What I SEE.

 

  • Color- Ruby/Red/Brick/Purple
  • Viscosity - How "thick" is the wine? Does it seem light, or syrupy?
  • Rim Variation - Does the color of the wine go all the way to the edge?
  • Opacity - Can I see through the wine?

NOSE 

What I SMELL.
  • How intense is the smell?
  • What types of fruit?

Red fruits (strawberries, raspberries, etc) vs purple fruits (plums) vs stone fruits (peaches, apricots) vs tropical (pineapple, mango) vs citrus (lemon, lime, grapefruit) vs orchard (apples). 

 

  • Minerals? 
  • Herbs? 
  • Spice?
  • Earthiness?
  • Floral?

 

 

 

PALATE 

What I TASTE...but this sense is still very much driven by smell as far as flavors go. (see smell)
What is most important here is structure:
  • ACIDITY - How much ACID is in the wine. Does it make my mouth water, especially under my tongue? Typically you'll have HIGH acidity in cooler climates. Think tart!
  • BODY - Consistency or "mouth feel." Light, Medium, Full bodied. You can think of this in terms of milk... Skim milk = light bodied, 2% Milk = medium bodied, Whole Milk = Full bodied. Cream = VERY full bodied. BODY is also typically associated with how much alcohol is in the wine.
  • ALCOHOL - Does it make my throat burn?
  • TANNINS - What makes your mouth feel dry. Many people say this makes their mouth pucker (VERY different than acidity). Tannins come from the grape skins, stems, seeds, and also oak barrels. 
  • DRYNESS - This is probably the most confusing of all wine-tasting terms. When people say a "DRY" wine, all it means is HOW MUCH SUGAR/HOW SWEET the wine is... This is NOT THE SAME as FRUITINESS! A wine can have NO RESIDUAL SUGAR (RS) [left over sugar after fermentation] but it can be very fruity. MOST wines are DRY (especially red wines). I rarely will mention DRYNESS unless it is "off-dry" which means it is a little sweet.