Free Words!

by Kathleen Dennis
May 30, 2013

Hey wine friends! In my ongoing quest for supreme wine aficionado, I have composed a list of common terms used to describe wines in one’s “wine notes”. I can now begin filling out my wine journal with much needed articulation and poetry. Enjoy!

  • Acidity: Refers to the tart, sharp taste and smell, usually from the greener fruits in young wines. More found in whites than reds, the acidity in white contributes to its crispness, making it desirable in most whites.
  • Aroma: The wine’s perfume. Fresh fruit, herbs, flowers, vanilla, tobacco, etc. After fermentation and aging, the “aroma” diminishes and becomes the “bouquet”.
  • Balanced: All elements working together in perfect harmony. Also described as elegant and rounded.
  • Body: The weight of the wine in one’s mouth, mostly dependent on the level of sugar and alcohol content.
  • Bouquet: The fragrance of mature wine.
  • Brilliant: Bright and sparkling in appearance, one can see through the wine.
  • Clean: Well made, no offending tastes or smells.
  • Cloudy: Dull, hazy in appearance.
  • Cloying: Lots of sweetness with too little acidity.
  • Depth: Richness in flavor.
  • Dry: Not sweet at all.
  • Earthy: Refers to the slight taste from the vineyards’ soils. Not appealing if too noticeable.
  • Finesse: Class and breed, distinguishing a great wine. It is a vague description, usually attributed to elegant wines.
  • Finish: The impression the wine leaves at the end.
  • Full: A wine with body and color, high in alcohol and sugar.
  • Green: Harshly young. Unripe, unbalanced acidity.
  • Hard/Harsh: Excessively tannic without softness or charm. Will likely mellow with age.
  • Light: Lacking in fullness, but still pleasant.
  • Long: Lasting flavor in a taste, a sign of quality wine.
  • Luscious: Juicy and soft, usually in sweet wine that is well balanced with acidity.
  • Maderized: A wine well past its prime.
  • Mellow: Beautifully softened with age.
  • Oaky: A wine resembling traces of the barrel it was stored in. Also smoky, toasty or woody.
  • Peppery: The aroma of black pepper.
  • Ripe: Full of ripe tasting fruits, no greenness.
  • Sharp: Lots of acidity, to a fault. Usually in white wines.
  • Short: Without flavor after the initial impact.
  • Smooth: Silky texture, no grit. Velvety.
  • Spicy: Aroma more pronounced and richer than what one would describe as “fruity”, with spice in the nose and on the tongue.
  • Tannic: A red wine that is firm and leaves the mouth feeling dry. Too much makes the wine unyielding. The taste can be mouth-puckering, but some tannins are less bitter than others. Diminishes with age, but necessary for preservation.
  • Thin: Too watery to be called “light”, lacking in body and will not improve with age.

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