Brella Puts Wine Lingo on the Tip of Your Tongue
Acid: Wines too low in acid taste flat or dull, and wines too high in acid taste tart or sour.
Acidity: What makes wines lively and crisp.
Aeration: The addition of oxygen to wine to soften it.
Aftertaste: The lingering flavor and texture in the mouth after the wine is gone.
Aging: The keeping of wine in barrels, tanks and bottles to advance it to a more desirable state.
Alcohol: The result of fermenting sugars with yeast.
Appellations: Geographical wine-producing regions where grapes are grown.
Aroma: The smell of the wine.
Astringent: Harsh, bitter, drying sensation in the mouth caused by high levels of tannins in the wine.
AVA: American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) are federally recognized growing regions. Similar to France’s AOC (Appellation D’Origine Contrôlée).
Baked: A description for the flavor that results when the grapes are overexposed to the hot sun.
Balance: Harmony of the elements in wine: acids, sugars, tannins and alcohol.
Barrel: The container used for fermenting and aging wine.
Bitter: Taste often caused by a high level of tannins.
Blend: Wine made from more than one grape varietal.
Body: Weight and fullness of the wine in the mouth: light, medium, full-bodied.
Bordeaux: An area in SW France known for being one of the greatest wine-producing regions in the world.
Bouquet: The complex smell that develops in a mature wine.
Breathing: A way of improving the flavor of wine by allowing it to come in contact with air.
Brettanomyces: Yeast that produces barnyard, metallic and band-aid aromas.
Brick-red: The color of a mature red.
Brilliant: Completely clear wine.
Brix: The amount of natural sugars in grapes – the higher the brix in grapes, the higher the alcohol in the fermented wine.
Brown: The color of a wine past its prime drinking age.
Closed: Underdeveloped and young wines whose flavors are not displayed well.
Complex: Wine with many odors, nuances and flavors.
Cork taint: Aromas and flavors that suggest wet cardboard or moldy basements.
Corked: Wine that has suffered cork taint.
Dry: Wine that is meant to have minimal sweetness and residual sugar.
Dumb: Wine that does not live up to its full potential – it’s too young or too cold.
Fat: Wine that is full-bodied, heavy and has a lingering taste.
Fermentation: The conversion of grape sugars to alcohol with yeast.
Finesse: High-quality wine that is well-balanced.
Finish: The wine’s aftertaste – the lingering flavors and textures after wine is swallowed. Good wine has a long finish.
Firm: Wine with noticeable tannins. Often a quality in young wines.
Flat: Wine that lacks acidity.
Fleshy: Wine that is rich and smooth with full body and high alcohol.
Foxy: A musty smell and flavor in some wines, often associated with native American grapes. Smells like soap.
Heady: Wine high in alcohol.
Hot: The warm, burning sensation felt in the mouth after drinking a wine due to a higher alcohol level.
Intensity: You can gauge a wine’s intensity by trying to read print through a full glass of the wine.
Lively: The fresh, frank smell often found in young wine.
Maderized: Wine that is brown or going brown due to an extended exposure to oxygen.
Mature: Wine that is ready to drink.
Mouth-feel: How a wine feels in one’s mouth: rough, smooth, velvety, furry.
Musty: A smell often resulting from a rotten or unclean barrel.
Nervy: Vigorous and fine wine that is well-balanced with noticeable acidity.
Nose: How a wine smells.
Oenology: The science of wine and winemaking.
Open: Wine that is ready to drink.
Oxidation: Wine’s exposure to air. When exposed too long, it can cause a chemical change resulting in a stale smell and brown color.
Pinot Noir: Red wine made from the dark purple Pinot Noir grape. Generally a light- to medium-bodied, dry red wine with dark fruit notes.
Purple: Very young red wine’s color.
Racy: Vital, light and bouncy wine.
Residual Sugar: The amount of sugar solids in a wine at the end of fermentation.
Rough: Coarse mouth-feel often found in astringent wines.
Ruby: The full red color of a more evolved but youthful red wine.
Tannins: The compounds from skins, pips and stems of grapes used in wine that cause a bitter, dry feeling in the mouth.
Tawny: Faded amber color of old wine.
Terroir: The French word for “soil” that includes the geographical characteristics and environmental factors unique to the vineyard.
Texture: How the wine feels on the tongue.
Ullage: The empty space in bottles and barrels caused by evaporated wine. It can lead to oxidation in wine.
Varietal: The type of grape a wine is made from.
Veraison: The onset of ripening in the grapes. Many changes occur in the berry at this stage in development.
Vinification: The process of making wine.
Vintage: The year the wine is bottled.
Wine: The fermented juice of grapes.
Yeast: Used to convert grape sugars into alcohol.
Yield: The productivity of a vineyard.