Factors in Selecting Your Wine (oh wow!)
Reading the Wine Label The wine label will let you know the type, variety, flavor, region and vintage of the wine
Types of Wines The two basic types of wines are "White wines" and "Red wines".
Other-than-grape Wines made from something "other-than-grape": fruit, berries, flowers, vegetables, honey, etc.
Acetic Describes a sour, vinegar-like taste or odor also known as volatile acidity. This could make the wine undrinkable.
Acidic A wine with too much acidity will leave a sharp, tart taste or smell. Typically of young wine on both the nose and tongue.
Acidity of the Wine Acids of various types are present in wine, and are essential to the wine's longevity and also to its taste.
Ageworthy Term applied to wines which will benefit from further maturation in the bottle. Typical examples are either young reds with powerful tannins or very sweet young whites.
Aggressive A wine acidic enough to make your mouth tingle or excessive tannins, making the back of your throat feel dry.
Alcohol Content of the Wine You've probably heard of full-bodied wines, which is a direct measure of its alcohol content.
* 7.5% - 10.5% indicates light body
* 10.5% - 12.5% indicates medium body
* 12.5% and over indicates full body (very high alcohol)
Ample Describes a wine that feels full and generous in your mouth.
Appellation Appellation refers to the place where grapes are grown.
The geographic region or AVA (American Viticultural Area) in which the grapes from which the wine is made were grown. If a wine claims a particular appellation, 85% of the grapes must be sourced from that appellation. Appellations may exist entirely within an another appellation (e.g. Red Mountain lies within the Yakima Valley appellation). Appellations may cross state lines. Wines made from grapes sourced from multiple appellations may have to be assigned to the appropriate state appellation. Wines made from grapes sourced from multiple states may have to be assigned to the appellation America.
Aroma/Aromatic The perfume or fruity scent of wine. It diminishes with fermentation and disappears with age to be replaced by the "bouquet." Typical grape varietals of aromatic wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and the sweet Muscat
Astringent The rough, pucker taste and very dry sensation of the mouth caused by an excess of tannins and sometimes acid, especially in young red wines. It diminishes with age in the bottle.
Austere Austere would be a wine without fruity flavors and with bitter tannins, which leave a rough, raspy feeling, high acidity, or both.
Balanced/Rounded A wine that is balanced or a wine that is well rounded have all the natural elements in good harmony, such as acidity, alcohol, body, fruity quality, tannins, sugar, extract, etc.
Balance Is the harmony between a wine's fruit, acidity, alchoal and tannins.
Beery The odor of stale beer from a white wine that is over the hill -- usually in old Moselles.
Big/Blockbuster A big wine is full of body and flavor with a high degree of alcohol, color, and acidity. It makes a major impression with intense aroma or plenty of flavor. Most elements in abundance. A powerful wine.
Bitter A wine that is bitter is a sign of ill-health possibly caused by inferior treatment such as excessive stalks during crushing or even metal contamination. *Some Italian red wines, bitterness is highly sought after.
Black currants The slight smell and taste of black currants often found in Bordeaux wines.
Body Usually described with light body, medium body and full body – This describes the degree of weight (or weighty feeling) and substance of the wine in the mouth. A degree of viscosity largely due to the percentage of alcohol and sugar content.
Bold A bold wine comes out of the bottle on its own. Bold wines are strong with distinct aroma and flavor and are usually easy to make out the different elements.
Bouquet A wine’s bouquet refers to the fragrance a mature wine gives off once it is opened, with complex aromas.
Breed A wine with the character, type, and qualities of its origin.
Bright A bright wine often describes a wine with vivid color or intense aromas and flavors.
Brilliant Bright and sparkling in appearance so that one can see the light through the wine. Brilliant wine is opposite of dull wine or cloudy wine.
Broad Broad is used to describe a full-bodied wine which lacks acidity.
Buttery A smell and taste that comes often to wines matured in oak barrels. Chardonnay often has a buttery flavor.
Cedary Cedary is used to describe a wine with either flavors or smell of cedar wood.
Character The character of a wine is its distinction, traits and substance.
Champagne/Sparkling Wine "This type of wine is produced by a secondary fermentation that takes place in the bottle. A common misnomer is to refer to all sparkling wine as Champagne but a wine that is in fact Champagne must be of the varietals of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, or Pinot Meunier, and produced in Champagne France. There are different classifications of sparkling wine which are based on the sweetness of flavor. These are:
>Ultra Brut/Extra Brut/Brut Zero/Brut Nature/Brut Sauvage: These sparkling wines have no added sugar
>Brut A Brut wine is nearly dry and contains no more than 1.5% sugar.
>Extra Dry/Extra Sec sparkling wine
>Dry/Sec Sparkling wine that is Dry or Sec can contain up to 4% sugar.
>Demi-Sec wine can contain up to 8% sugar.
>Doux A Doux sparkling wine is the sweetest and can contain up to 10% sugar."
Chewy Describing a wine as chewy typically means strong flavor and plenty of tannin, but not aggressive.
Clean A well-constructed wine with no faults, offensive aroma or tastes.
Clear A clean wine is transparent and has a vivid appearance.
Cloudy Cloudy wine means its condition is less than ideal, usually a hazy, dull-looking wine. Not to be confused with the condition of a recently shaken old wine whose deposit or sediment hasn't yet settled.
Cloying A Cloying wine describes too much sweetness and too little acidity.
Coarse Course wine has rough texture which typically does not have much elegance.
Common A common wine is typically a wine that is adequate but ordinary.
Complex When wine is complex, it has many kinds of aromas and flavors – possibly several fruity flavors and hints of other traits such as vanilla, mushrooms or other elements. Typically, when you describe a wine as complex, it has many layers of flavor. Often after you decipher one flavor, you discover a new one. Good wines are usually complex. Typically, complexity develops through aging and maturity.
Concentrated A concentrated wine implies an intense taste and powerful feeling. That would be a wine with plenty of tannin, sugar, flavor and color.
Cooked A wine can become Cooked which is usually the result of excessive heat. This can be observed when the taste has a prune-like flavor.
Corked When you say a wine is Corked, it is spoiled wine and there is a TCA presence. This typically happens when air has reached the wine from a bad or dry cork. Hints or cork and objectionable aromas come from corked wine.
Corky Unpleasant odor and possibly a flat taste due to a defective or rotten cork are usually the elements of a corky wine.
Crisp A wine with a good, refreshing sense of acidity is often referred to as crisp. A crisp wine is typically applied to white wines with a clean and fresh flavor.
Deep A deep wine is similar to a complex wine in which the flavor develops at many levels and where different hints of flavor surface at various stages of the tasting.
Depth A wine with depth has rich, lasting flavor.
Dessert Wines Exceptionally sweet, especially flavorful wine typically thicker and richer than table wine. Often the grapes are picked later in the season ("late harvest"). May be fortified. Includes Ports and Ice Wines.
Dry A dry wine is typical of a wine lacking sweetness. White wines with ripe flavors may look sweet but these and some red wines that have spent too long in the barrel or bottle are sometimes dry.
Dull A Dull wine is similar to a cloudy wine in which the wine appears blurred, or has indistinguishable aromas and flavors, not really defined. Excessive contact with oxygen may cause a wine to be dull.
Easy-drinking An easy-drinking wine can be enjoyed by itself without thinking much about it. A typical easy drinking wine probably has fruity elements, low in tannin (if red) and in alcohol content.
Earthy/Dusty Typical of a red wine (common in Pinot Noir), an earthy wine has a damp earth/soil - type flavor or aroma.
Elegant Describing a wine as elegant is when it is well balanced, pleasant to drink with good quality.
Extract This is what gives body to wine, including tannins, sugars and color.
Fat Applied to white wines, fat would be used to describe a full-bodies but flabby, often with too much sugar. When fat is used to describe red wines, it typically means softness and maturity.
Finesse A wine with finesse, or firm, is often used to describe a wine with the breed and class that distinguish a great wine. If a wine has finesse it is elegant, well balanced and defined.
Finish The finish of a wine is the taste that the wine leaves at the end.
This could be either a pleasant or unpleasant finish. I.E., that wine has a smooth finish.
Flabby/Flaccid Flabby or flaccid are negative terms usually describing a wine with low acidity, and typically unbalanced. Flabby or flaccid wine typically is too soft, no structure and/or too much sugar.
Flowery A Flowery wine has a flowerlike bouquet and has an appealing aroma similar to the fragrance of blossoms.
Fleshy A wine that is fleshy would have a high concentration of fruit and extract feel that would feel thick when drinking it.
Focused Focused means a wine that is well defined where the flavors and aromas are in place and can be identified.
Food Pairing Whats on your plate/being served
Foxy A foxy wine has pronounced grape jelly flavor found in wines made from American grapes.
Fresh A wine that is fresh would leave a crisp and pleasant impression. Fresh wine is typically applied to young white wines with plenty of fruit flavors and good balance of acidity.
Fruity A fruity wine is generally appealing with the taste and aroma of fruit like apples, berries, citrus, currants, pears, etc. The fruit essence is more typical of young wines and diminishes with age.
Full A full bodied wine or a wine with full body is a heavier sensation and usually has deep color, high in alcohol, sugar and extracts.
Geranium When a wine smells of geranium leaves, this is an indication that the wine is faulty or is tainted.
Grassy A wine with a grassy taste or aroma, some times redefined as capsicum, gooseberry or lime zest. This characteristic is often applied to New Zealand wines.
Grapy A wine that is grapy has that strong flavor in certain wines.
Green When a wine is too young, has unbalanced acidity, a tart flavor and/or is unripe, it can be referred to as green. However, it can also be a refreshing wine with gooseberry or apple flavors, or in some red wines, a subtle aroma of green leaves.
Hard/Harsh A hard wine or harsh wine tends to not have much subtlety and can be too acidic or high in tannins. This coarse or rough wine taste can become softer with age.
Heavy When a wine is heavy, it can be difficult to drink, feeling like a weight in your mouth. It is usually applied to full-bodied red wines that would benefit from more time in the bottle.
Herbal An herbal wine is said to have hints of herbs.
Honeyed A wine that is said to be honeyed is when the wine has a smell or taste reminiscent of honey.
Insipid When a wine is said to be insipid, it usually lacks in character and acidity or is dull.
Jammy When the taste of a wine is jammy, the taste is similar to jam.
Lean A wine with high acidity and low flavor is said to be a lean wine.
Light A light wine has low acidity, not much body, color or alcohol but generally has an agreeable taste.
Lively When wine is referred to as lively, it usually is young and fruity and has a little carbon dioxide.
Long A long wine is usually a sign of quality and has a lingering aftertaste, leaving a persistent flavor.
Luscious When a wine has a sweet, juicy and soft taste and is well balanced, it is said to be luscious.
Madeirized A madeirized wine refers to oxidized or flat wine that may have passed its prime, with a brownish color and stale odor. Madeirized comes from the island of Madeira where wine is intentionally produced in open air vats.
Mature A wine that has matured usually means a wine is ready to drink after having past the required time in bottle.
Meaty Some wines can taste like meat like Syrah tasting like bbq. These wines are referred to as meaty.
Mellow A mellow wine has a soft feel and typically occurs with age.
Metallic A wine can have a metallic taste which is the unpleasant bitter taste typically in a white wine.
Mineral A wine with the taste of minerals.
Musty A disagreeable odor and stale flavored wine can be called musty.
Neutral When a wine has little flavor or is difficult to make it out, it is said to be neutral.
Noble Noble wines are made from noble grapes that are considered superior and distinguished. This is a classification of grapes that, traditionally, are said to produce the highest quality of wines. These include Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Nose When a wine has aroma, it gets to the nose. If it is off-nose, this refers to defective wine or objectionable wine.
Nutty When a wine is nutty, typically it is oxidized. The aroma is similar to sherry or aged white wines.
Oaky A wine is oaky when it smells or tastes like oak, often from the fermentation in oak barrels. This could also have the taste or smell of toasty, smoky, buttery or char.
Oxidized An oxidized wine is spoiled and looses its fresh scent and taste due to contact with air.
Peppery Typically, a peppery wine is from the aroma often in red wines.
Pétillant Pétillant is French and refers to an effervescent with a natural light sparkle.
Petrol Petrol smell and taste of wine is similar to mineral but is associated to mature wines, often found in Riesling.
Piercing Describing wine as piercing could be positive, like having lively fruit flavors, or negative, like high acidity.
Piquant Piquant would be used to describe a wine that has dry and crispy acid, with a slight tartness.
Powerful A powerful wine is usually applied to robust red wines of great substance or to white wines with full, assertive bouquet. This can be pleasing or unwanted.
Racy Racy wine is lively, spirited, crisp, fresh, stimulating and/or refreshing. It is noticeably acidic and often found in German wines.
Red Wines Wine made from grapes with dark-colored skins. Examples: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Pinot Noir. Also wines made from "blue" or "black" grapes. Examples: Fredonia, Valiant.
Rosé Pink-colored wine produced by allowing the skins of red grapes to remain in contact with the juice for a relatively short period time so a pink, rather than red, color is imparted. A rosé wine may also be produce by blending red and white wines together. Also known as "blush" wine.
Rich A rich wine feels intense, concentrated, deep with a full flavor and can often refer to a wine with too much of a sweet taste.
Ripe When a wine is Ripe, it is a wine made from well ripened grapes, with good fruit flavors. It might feel sweet even if does not have sugar. Without a taste of greenness.
Rounded A rounded wine is well balanced and complete with all elements in place. Rounded wine has satisfying flavors with no surprises or sudden sharpness.
Sharp Sharp wine has excessive acidity, a defect usually found in white wines.
Short When a wine is short, it leaves no flavor in the mouth after the initial taste.
Simple A wine is simple when the wine lacks in complexity with no layers and plain aroma. This is expected of everyday table wine but it is a fault in expensive wine.
Smoky A wine can have a smoky aroma or taste, either from the aging process in the barrel or the soil where the wine grows.
Smooth/Soft A smooth wine or a soft wine typically has mild tannins or low acidity and makes the wine easy to drink. Often has a silky texture with no rough sensation to the palate.
Sound When a wine is sound, it is a healthy, well balanced and clean-tasting wine.
Sour A sour wine has a vinegar-like taste and is spoiled and unfit to drink.
Sparkling A sparkling wine contain carbonation and has many levels of dryness (see Sparkling Wines).
Sparkling Wines Wines with sufficient levels of carbon dioxide to make them "bubbly" or "fizzy". The carbon dioxide results from natural fermatation either in the bottle (method champenoise) or in a large reinforced tank (charmat process). By law, US winemakers may not use the term "champagane".
Spicy Hints of cinnamon, cloves and pepper would be considered a spicy part of the bouquet of wine.
Spritzig Spritzig is a pleasant and lively acidity and effervescence noticeable to the tongue and not the eye and mostly found in young wines.
State The state in which the winery that produced a wine is located. The appellation of a wine may be located in another state.
Structured A structured wine has a good balance of tannins and fruit flavors (generally red wine) or acid to fruit flavors (generally white wine).
Subtle Subtle wine is usually associated with finesse where fragrances or flavors are hinted. It can also been applied to wines lacking fruit flavors.
Sulphurized Wine with a reminiscent of rotten eggs and if the odor does not disappear after the wine is poured, it is faulty.
Supple A supple wine has both a spirited and smooth texture.
Sweet A sweet wine has either plenty of sugar or plenty of rich and ripe fruit flavors from the grape and/or during the fermentation process.
Tannin/Tannic Wines with excessive tannins can make the mouth pucker, usually from young red wines or wines that need more maturation in the bottle. A wine needs a balance of tannin and fruit to be enjoyable.
Tannin Content in Wine Tannins are a vital ingredient in wines, especially red wines, It comes from the stalks, skins and pits of grapes, creating a drying sensation in your mouth.
Tart A wine that is tart usually has excessive tannins or acidity. Typically of a young, red wine needing maturation in the bottle.
Thin A thin wine is watery and usually lacks body and alcohol and will not improve with age.
Toasty A toasty wine has the flavor of buttered toast, resulting from aging in oak barrels.
Up front An up front wine is uncomplicated and easy to drink.
Varietal The type of grape from which the wine is made. If the name of a wine includes a varietal, 75% of the grapes in the wine must be of the varietal and the appellation must be indicated on the label.
Velvety A smooth, mellow and silky texture is called a velvety wine that will leave no acidity on the palate.
Vigorous A vigorous wine is lively, firm and youthful.
Vintage of the Wine Vintage simply refers to the year the wine was made.
Warm A warm wine is applied to red wines with a full body, tangy flavor and deep, velvety color. Wine high in alcohol can also make you feel warm.
Watery Watery wine is used to describe a thin wine without body or character.
White Wines Wine made from grapes with light-colored skins. Examples: Chardonnay, Fume Blanc, Viognier, Pinot Gris.
Where to Buy It is important to purchase wine from a liquor outlet that takes proper care of their wine, like buying directly from the winery.
Yeasty If a wine smells similar to bread, it is yeasty. Yeasts help fermentation, however, if the wine is bottled too early it may be undergoing a second fermentation and contain the yeast smell.
Winery The name of the winery or vintner that is marketing a wine.
  • wines get darker and red wines get lighter as they age.
  • Americans drink more wine on Thanksgiving than on any other day
  • The grape harvet generally starts in February in the Southern Hemisphere and in September in the NOrthern Hemisphere
  • There are ~25 cases in a barrel.
*Please note: If the wine has sulfites (important factor)