Acidity

Tartness or sharpness in the taste of wine due to natural acids. Not to be confused with sourness, dryness, or astringency.

Balance

A wine whose components—sugar, fruit, tannin, acid, alcohol, wood, and so forth—are evident, but don’t dominate one another.

Bouquet

The smell or odor of wine that has been aged in a barrel or bottle.

Complex

Wine with many elements, odors, flavors, tastes, and subtle nuances, which seem to harmonize.

Delicate

Wines, usually white that are light, subtle, young, and fresh.

Earthy

Smell and/or taste imparted to a wine from the soil in which it’s grown.

Flowery

Appealing fragrance of a wine, reminiscent of fresh flowers; typical of Chenin Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Moscato, and Riesling.

Grassy

The smell of fresh cut green grass or hay; often used to describe Sauvignon Blanc.

Lively

Young fruity wines with plenty of acidity, zestiness, and/or a little fizz/carbon dioxide.

Nutty

Describes characteristic aromas or flavors of almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts sometimes found in oaked-aged wines such as Chardonnay or oxygen-exposed fortified wines such as Marsala, Sherry, or Vin Santo.

Spicy

Aromas and/or flavors of various spices: black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg. Often detected in oak-aged wines or varieties such as Gewürztraminer, Syrah, and Zinfandel.

Woody

Excessive odor and/or flavor from too much contact with wood.

Aroma

The smell or odor of a particular grape or grapes used to make the wine.

Big

Full-bodied, concentrated, flavorful, powerful wines with considerable tannin.

Buttery

Odor, taste, and texture of butter often present in Chardonnay due to malolactic fermentation.

Corked

An unpleasant musty odor (mushroom, wet cardboard) or flavor imparted to wine by a defective (moldy) cork.

Dry

Wine with little or no noticeable sugar, usually containing less than 0.5 percent sugar. On champagne and sparkling wine labels, dry only refers to faintly sweet—not as dry as brut.

Elegant

Well-balanced, with finesse, grace, class, and refinement; a truly fine wine.

Fruity

Wines that have a defined, pleasant aroma and flavor from grapes and other fresh fruits.

Herbaceous

Wines that have an aroma and flavor of herbs, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc.

Maturity

Wines that have an aroma and flavor of herbs, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and CabeThe stage in the aging of wines when they have developed all of their characteristic qualities to full perfection.

Oaked/Oaky

The odor and/or flavor of wines aged in newer oak barrels.

Sweet

Term applied to wines that have moderate-high levels of residual sugar; including Moscato, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and other dessert wines. This is determined by the winemaker and not due to the grape variety.

Astringent

Wine with a drying, pucker quality due to tannins; most common in red wines.

Body

The feel, weight, or fullness of wine in the mouth; often noticed on the sides of a glass.

Citrusy

Term for white wines that have an aroma or flavor suggesting citrus fruits; lemon, lime, or grapefruit.

Crisp

Wine with pronounced but pleasing acidity; mostly white wines.

Dumb

Synonym for “closed,” used to describe a yet undeveloped wine whose aromas and flavors do not announce themselves.

Finish

The flavor impressions left in the mouth after the wine is swallowed. Some wines finish harsh, hot, and astringent, while others are smooth, soft, and elegant.

Full-Bodied

Term relating to the body or mouth-filling capacity of a wine. Additionally, it applies to wines that are robust, intensely flavored, and comparatively high in sugar, or alcohol.

Light

Lacking in body, color or alcohol, but still pleasing; with a texture similar to skim milk.

Nose

Synonym for aroma, bouquet, smell, or odor as in, “I like the nose on this wine.”

Oxidised

A wine that has lost its freshness due to exposure to air.

Tannin

Slightly bitter and astringent compound obtained from the skins of grapes but also present in stems and seeds as well as oak barrels.

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