Do you speak wine? Can you describe what you’re drinking in a language that’s widely understood? Or do you feel left out of the conversation when you hear wine being spoken?
Be inarticulate no more, I’ve created a wine descriptor cheat sheet for you to take a picture with your smartphone and keep in your pocket for when you’re confronted at a wine tasting.
These are just a sampling of the wine descriptors you can possibly use, but they are basic. Using them will fool anyone into thinking you know what you are tasting. Give it a try!
Wine Descriptor Cheat Sheet
Acidic: The sharp, tingling effect on the nose and tongue.
Think: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Champagne, Sancerre and Vouvray, Alsacian and German wines, Beaujolais, Burgundy and Sangiovese, Valpolicella and Chianti.
Aromatic: Big, pleasant smells detected on the nose.
Balanced: Where no single component stands out.
Biscuity: Yeasty or bread dough aromas and flavours.
Think: champagne, chardonnay, pinot noir
Bitter: Flavours of drying tannins.
Buttery: Rich, creamy mouthfeel, like butter.
Citrusy: Aromas and flavours of citrus fruits
Think: chardonnay, chenin blanc, Gewürztraminer, marsaunne, muscat, pinot blanc/gris/grigio, reisling, sauvignon blanc, semillion, viogneir, grüner veltliner
Clean: No faults, flaws or unwanted aromas and flavours.
Cloying: An unbalanced sticky or sickly sweet character.
Closed: Not very aromatic.
Complex: Multi-layered in terms of flavours and aromas.
Concentrated: Intense flavours.
Complex: Multi-layered flavours and aromas.
Crisp: A pleasing sense of acidity in the wine.
Dry: Completely lacking sweetness.
Earthy: Aromas and flavours of soil, forest floor, tree bark
Elegant: Well balanced, with finesse.
Fruity: Aromas and flavours of fresh fruit in young wines.
Full: Big Body and colour, often high in alcohol, sugar, and extracts.
Green: Harsh and unripe with unbalanced acidity.
Hot: Overtly alcoholic.
Think: 14.5% and above
Mouth: Flavors and texture detected on the tongue.
Nose: The smell, aroma, bouquet detected by sniffing the glass.
Quaffable: Easy to drink.
Short: Leaving no flavour in the finish.
Sweet: High content of residual sugar.
Think: Alsacian and German wines, late harvest, ice wine,
Soft: Smooth rather than crisp mouthfeel, a low amount of acidity.
Tannic: Mouth-puckering, hard, dry taste felt on the back of the tongue.
Think: Bordeaux and Cahor reds, syrah, petit sirah, carignan, montepulciano, garnacha, monastrell/mouvedre, nebbiolo, tannat, touriga nacional, tempranillo and zinfandel.
Thin: Lacking body and alcohol, too watery to be called light.
Oaky: Woody, smoky, toasty, vanilla flavours from oak barrels.
Vegetal: Aromas and flavours of vegetation, cooked or raw.