Wine Lingo-Part I

This blog is intended to break down all of the “wine lingo” we hear spouted off in tasting rooms, at restaurants, wine bars, regular bars and at parties.  What does it all mean and why in the world is it so confusing?  Be in the dark no more, here’s what the winos are trying to say:


Acidic -contributes to the tartness/sourness of a wine, without acid wines can taste “flabby”.

Acetic(VA) -a volatile acid present in wine, in excess can taste like vinegar.

Age –the amount of time that has passed while the wine has been in bottle.

Angular –lack of roundness and depth, can be associated with excess of VA.

Aroma –the smell of a younger wine(older wines referred to as bouquet).

Astringent –a quality present in wines that is associated with a drying effect in the mouth and harshness, is related to amount of tannin in wine(either young, poorly made, or characteristic of variety).

Austere –a wine lacking richness and typically very dry.

AVA –stands for American Viticultural Area, “official” grape growing regions designated by the ATF.  If printed on a wine label, 85% of that wine must come from the stated AVA.

Big –a full-bodied wine with a concentrated, intense mouthfeel.

Balanced –very desirable, means acidity, concentration of fruit and tannin level are all in present in good amounts and in harmony.

Barnyard –dirty, cow manure scent that is associated with wine made in unclean barrels/facilities.  Can also be associated with Brettanomyces.

Botrytis –fungus that attacks grape skins that causes very concentrated fruit via extreme hydration.  Very desirable in sweet, white wines.

Body –fullness and weigh of wine that can be sensed on the palate.

Bouquet –the smell of an older, more developed wine.

Breathe –a wine that needs to “breathe” is a wine that needs to aerate slightly before drinking to soften tannins.

Brettanomyces –a common fault in wine that some people like, causes a barnyard, leather, earthy character.  It is a type of yeast that can continue to ferment by eating the sugars of the wood barrels are made of.

Bright –a wine that reflects light.

Buttery –a character in some white wines imparted by the fermentation process, yeast contact or the barrel the wine was aged in.  Provides a popcorn butter nose/taste.

Chewy –usually related to high glycerin content(related to high-extract, high alcohol wines), makes for a dense, viscous wine.

Clone –a variety within a variety, made to resist certain diseases and has the same DNA as other wines made from that variety.

Closed –a wine not showing its’ potential because it is too young.

Complex –wines that are interesting and have a depth of flavor and many different nuances.

Corked –a wine that has an overwhelming scent of cork/wet cardboard from a faulty cork tainted with TCA.

Crisp –a wine with pronounced acid/tartness.

Cuveé –basically a French word that means a batch of wine, sometimes meaning “first press” juice.


**While writing this blog, I kept coming up with more and more terms I thought would be helpful to define, that being said, this is a 3 part blog…STAY TUNED!

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