What You Talkin Bout Willis?!?!?!
Aka: What does that even mean
Oh the joys of trying some wine with friends and sharing opinions on the wonderful bottle that was opened for you! Taking that sip, and your friend asks the dreaded question….”what do you think?”. Quick, anything, what wine terminology do I know, oh my, I have no idea, I just know I like it. “Well, it’s kind of oaky, with a hint of tannins and the acidity is rectangular with the palate. I..um..love the hint of patchouli with a definite crisp bite of sage leaves and rum.”
Been there before haven’t you? I know I have, and I panicked. That might have actually been something I said. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I sure as shit don’t know all the terminology still but I am happy to provide here, the basics to some Wine Terminology 101:
A Breakdown of some very common wine terminology!
Tannins – Naturally occurring compounds that exist inside grape skins, seeds and stems. They are released when they soak in the grape juice just after the grapes have been pressed and are what give certain wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, their characteristic dryness or bitter taste. You experience the effect of tannins any time you drink a wine that creates a drying sensation in your mouth. Depending on how dry your mouth feels, you can determine whether a wine is high or low in tannins.
Oaky – Describes the aroma or taste quality imparted to a wine by the oak barrels or casks in which it was aged. The terms toasty, vanilla, dill, cedary and smoky indicate the desirable qualities of oak; charred, burnt, green cedar, lumber and plywood describe its unpleasant side.
Legs/Tears – They develop and flow down the side of the glass following swirling. They are little more than a basic indicator of the wine’s alcohol content. The thicker and more prominent the legs, the higher the alcohol content.
Palate – Refers to the taste of a wine as well as how it affects the different sections of the tongue and mouth (including the roof of your mouth!).
Varietal – A term used to define the type of grape. This is mostly used in the U.S., South America, and Australia.
Vintage – Refers to the year that the grapes were grown and harvested.
Aeration – A simple process of introducing oxygen into the wine, also known as breathing. This can be done through swirling wine in a glass, opening a bottle of wine to let it “breathe.” or by using a wine decanter.
I do hope this help with some of the basics. Maybe you even learned something today. Worst case scenario, just use all of these words together in the sentence and you will do just fine!