How to describe wine

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Learn how to describe wine with the best of them using the right vocabulary

There's nothing wrong with using the words "good'and "tasty" to describe wine. However, those adjectives won't make you look like the wine connoisseur you are.

If you are ever asked how to describe wine you are drinking, you'll look like you really know what you're talking about when you pull out words like "heavy" or "bright". But before you go and impress those around you with your knowledge of wine, it helps to know how to describe the wine.

Start with the right glass

It might not seem important, but experiencing wine starts with the right wine glass. Wine isn't like juice or coffee that will be just fine in a paper cup or a mug. Wines show off their best characteristics when they are served in the right size and shape stemware. Although there are exceptions, sparkling wines are best served in a tall narrow glass, reds are properly served in a glass with a generous bowl, and whites show off best in a smaller glass with a meduim bowl. 

The start of the taste

Before you gulp down that tasty wine, take a whiff of its aroma. Believe it or not, the scent of the wine can tell you a lot about how it is going to taste, and what variety of wine it is. For instance, you might smell a buttery scent, which is typically common for chardonnay. If you detect a cork smell in the aroma, you could say the wine smells "corked," which typically means it has gone bad.

As you take a sip of the wine, let it sit in your mouth before you take a swallow. Notice how the wine feels in your mouth and on your tongue. If it feels pretty thick and heavy, you can say it is full-bodied. When it feels almost weightless, it is light. Wine that feels smooth and silky in your mouth is called "supple."

Now on to the taste of the wine. There are probably more words than you could imagine to describe the way the wine tastes on your tongue. Obviously, when a wine tastes sugary, you can say it is sweet. A wine that is not sweet at all is likely dry. Wine that has a grassy taste to it is called "grassy" and "spicy" refers to wines that have cinnamon or clove undertones.

Big, bold flavors are common in red wines. Actually, some red wines can be referred to as "meaty" if they have meat-like flavors to them. These crimson-colored wines also often have dusty tastes, as well as "deep" and "complex"  flavors, meaning many flavors and undertones are detected.

White wines often feel crisp in your mouth and many taste acidic. If the wine is too acidic, to where it makes your gums tingle, you could say it is "aggressive." If you are extremely satisfied with your wine and find that it tastes balanced and delightful, you can call it “elegant."

So go ahead and impress all your wine friends with your new vocabulary when asked how to describe wine. You never know, you might teach them something.   


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