Wine Lingo-Part II

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:


Dry –wine with a small amount of residual sugar, so that it is the opposite of a sweet wine.

Demi-Sec –a half-dry wine, meaning semi-sweet, not dessert wine, not table wine…in between.

Earthy –provides a rich nose/taste of soil, truffle and/or wood.

Fat –wines with low/moderate acid that are very rich and concentrated.

Fermentation –process of making wine, in an equation: yeast + grapes  = CO2 & alcohol

Finish –the last flavor or impression a wine leaves on the palate, can be long or short.

Firm –a wine with a lot of acid or tannin/astringency.

Flabby –a wine that is not well-balanced and lacks structure.

Fleshy –wine with a lot of body, is very concentrated and usually has high alcohol as well.

Floral –wines with a nose of flowers, many white wines have floral noses like Muscat or Viognier, some reds do also.

Fortified –a wine with a distilled beverage added, most commonly brandy.

Foxy –a wine that smells/tastes of the actual wine grapes.

Fruit forward –a wine that has pronounced characters of fruit, be it cherry, stone fruit or a variety of others.

Full-bodied –wine with high concentration & alcohol.

Green –wine made from under ripe grapes, they lack body and have a vegetal character.

Herbaceous –wines with an herbal character about them, could be oregano, thyme, rosemary, juniper or a variety of others.

Hot –not the temperature of the wine, but the amount of alcohol in the wine, can cause a burning sensation in the mouth, think of the sensation mouthwash gives.

Jammy –a wine that is intense with ripe fruit and is so pronounced in flavors of berry preserves, it is literally called “jammy”.

Legs –the streaks left in a wine glass when wine is swirled, is either an indicator of sugar level, concentration or alcohol in wine.

Lees –dead yeast cells and other matter that collects at the bottom of a batch of wine, fining removes lees.

Length –how long a wine can be tasted in the mouth after swallowing.

Lift – usually referring to the acid level in the wine, giving the wine “lift” and definition.

Macroclimate –the climate of the wine growing region.

Malolactic Fermentation –process of winemaking where tart apple-like malic acid is converted into softer butter-like lactic acid, popular in Chardonnay.

Méthode Champenoise –the traditional French method of making sparkling wine/Champagne that involves fermentation in the bottle, rather than in a large vat.


**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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