As all Louisvale Wines fans know, the world of winemaking- and drinking- is packed full of terminology. From the french terminology to the solid science, it can get a little daunting- but not with us on your side! In this two-part blog series, we’re going to break down the mysterious world of wine technology. You’ll sound like an expert in no time!
You know what you like, but how do you find other great wines just like it! Knowing how to describe a wine will help you find new favourites, and ask wine waiters for what you want.
- Acidity: This one’s easy. It’s how tingling on the tongue the wine is. The acid is what makes your saliva glands get excited about a wine.
- Ageing: Some wines taste better when they’ve been in the barrel or bottle for longer. This is called ageing the wine. A wine is mature when it is ready to drink. Others are ready to drink almost immediately
- Alcohol and ABV: All wines are alcoholic, of course, but some have a higher amount of ethanol (the actual alcohol portion of the wine) than others. The ABV, or alcohol-by-volume, rating tells you this. The higher the number, the more alcoholic the wine. High-alcohol wines are called ‘hot’ wines.
- Aroma: Don’t get this confused with bouquet! Young wines, especially, have a distinct smell. Aroma and bouquet are grouped under the ‘nose’ of the wine.
- Balance: There’s several things that go into making the taste of the wine on your tongue, namely the alcohol, acidity, sugar content, and tannins. How these combine in each wine is called its balance.
- Bitter: Not a bad thing in a wine! Caused by the tannins in the wine, this is another flavour component of wine, felt at the back of the tongue.
- Blend: Blended wines are made from several grape types mixed together.
- Body: Wine drinking is a tactile experience, too. Wines can be light-, medium-, or heavy-bodied, and it refers to how it feels in your mouth (the ‘mouth feel’). Full-bodied wines are often called ‘big’ wines.
- Bouquet: As wine ages, it gets a complex aroma built from many ideas. That’s the bouquet.
- Chaptalization: Kind of a wine-world no-no, this means sugar was added to increase the ABV after fermentation.
- Closed: Closed wines are usually younger, and don’t give you the flavours you expect.
- Complex: Wines with many flavour and scent layers are called complex.
- Corked and Cork-taint: A cardboardy, wet-dog taste in the wine means it has ‘corked’, or been exposed to bacterial intrusion in the bottle.
- Demi-sec: Demi-sec wines are ‘half dry’, often used for sweet sparkling wines.
- Dry (and sweet): Dry wines (sec in French) are the opposite of sweet wines, and have a mouth-puckering, but pleasant, taste. Sweet wines, of course, are a little sugary.
- Finish: What’s the last impression of the wine as you take your first mouthful? That’s the finish! The length describes how long those flavours stay in your mouth.
- Texture: How a wine ‘feels’ in the mouth. You get the coarse feeling of high-tannin wines, or it could be smooth. Body is part of the texture.
What About Flavours?
There’s a lot of flavour-based terms to describe wine, too, often used to describe the bouquet. Most are very obvious- fruity, spicy, herbaceous, vegetal (like veggies), and so on. Earthy wines have hints of the ‘smell after rain’ to enjoy. Brilliant is a fun one. Your clear, sparkling wine doesn’t have a college degree! But it can taste like sharp sunshine on the tongue, and we call this tasting note ‘brilliance’. Buttery/creamy wines underwent a second fermentation (Malolactic fermentation, or malo).
And there you have it! With these common terms to describe wine under your belt, you’re sure to get just what you want from every bottle. In the next blog, Louisvale Wines will explain some terms common in the wider wine world, from making it to serving it, to help you enjoy your wine drinking experience all the more. Stay tuned!