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Wine Terms You Should Know: Words to Help Read Labels, Describe Wines and Others

Wine Terms You Should Know: Words to Help Read Labels, Describe Wines and Others | drinks.ng

Knowing as much about wine as possible can only help in social circles. Say your company’s CEO asks you to attend a wine tasting to represent him or you’re meeting your partner’s parents for the first time. Whatever the reason, you could find yourself needing some wine basics.

Some of the following words will help you read wine bottles, while others will help with knowing the differences between one wine and another. With these, you should be able to wander into a store and choose a wine based on more than just the eye-pleasing design of the label.

Words to help you read wine labels

Appellation

This says in which particular area the grapes used in the wine were grown. Most wine-producing countries have their own guidelines for this.n the United States, for example, 85% of the grapes used to produce the wine must have been grown in the wine’s appellation.

Blend

A blend refers to wine made from more than one grape variety. Blends are often made to create a more complex wine or marry the attributes of the individual grapes.

Importer

The person or company responsible for bringing a foreign wine into a country for distribution is the importer. Importers often deal with similar types of wine because of their personal taste preferences, so if you like a particular brand of wine, you might also like other wines brought to you by the same importer.

Sulfites

They are a natural by-product of the wine fermentation process. Contrary to popular belief, red wines don’t contain higher levels of sulfites than white wines. Sometimes, they may actually have fewer sulfites.

Varietal

This refers to a wine made predominately from one single grape variety, although it sounds like it should contain many varieties of grapes. To be designated a varietal, a wine needs to be made of at least 75% of one grape variety, and that’s the one listed on the wine label. Well-known varietals include Chenin Blanc, Zinfandel, and Merlot.

Vintage

The year in which the grapes were grown and harvested. This is not necessarily the same as the year that the wine was produced and bottled.

Vintner

The wine producer or proprietor of a particular vineyard.

Wine Terms You Should Know: Words to Help Read Labels, Describe Wines and Others | drinks.ng

Words used to describe wines

Acid or Acidity

All grapes contain acid, and acid helps preserve wine. When a wine has a higher acidity, it tends to taste crisper and sharper. A wine’s acidity is often rounded out with softer wine elements like alcohol and sugar.

Aroma

This refers to the smell of the grapes in a wine, before the fermentation process. A wine’s aroma is determined by the nose when you sniff the wine in your glass, and not by what you smell when actually tasting the wine.

Bouquet

The particular smell that a wine develops after it has been fermented and aged in the bottle. A wine’s bouquet takes years to develop.

Balance

A wine’s balance is all of its individual elements–alcohol, acidity, fruitiness, sweetness, and tannins–in harmony with one another.

Body

This is not the quality of a wine, but the impression of weight that a wine leaves in your mouth. A full-bodied wine feels heavy with many different flavours and sensations going on at once, while a light-bodied wine is more delicate. A good comparison can be made with cream, whole milk, and skim milk, which are full-bodied, medium-bodied, and light-bodied respectively.

Complex

Just as you may find complex people to be intriguing, complexity in a wine is highly valued. A wine that is complex features a depth of flavour, a harmony of tastes, and subtle nuances in every mouthful. There’s a lot going on in a wine that’s considered complex.

Finish

A measurement to describe the flavour that lingers in your mouth after you taste a wine is the finish. It’s also sometimes called the “aftertaste,” although “finish” sounds a tad classier. A wine’s finish is considered the most important way to determine its quality.

Length

A term referring to the amount of time that a wine’s finish remains in your mouth after you’ve swallowed it. The length might be short or long, quick or lingering.

Mature

A mature wine is one that’s ready for drinking. When wine is mature, it has reached its peak of complexity. Aging it any longer in the bottle will cause it to go past its prime.

Texture

This is another word that describes the feel of wine in your mouth. Full-bodied, denser wines tend to have more texture, and you decide what type of wine texture you prefer: smooth, chewy, and so on.

Young

Young wines are usually bottled and sold within a year of their vintage. They aren’t meant to be kept in a wine cellar for further maturation, but to be uncorked and enjoyed right away. Young wines tend to be light and crisp, and are lower in tannins.

Wine Terms You Should Know: Words to Help Read Labels, Describe Wines and Others | drinks.ng

Other wine terms

Aeration/breathing

Aeration is the process of allowing a wine to breathe. This is often done with younger wines, allowing them to open up. Aeration is accomplished by simply pouring a glass of the wine, or by transferring the entire bottle to a decanter.

Aging

Some wines are even better and more complex when they’re kept for a longer period of time in the bottle before being uncorked and enjoyed. Only a small number of all wines would benefit from aging, so be sure to ask somebody knowledgeable whether a particular wine should be aged or opened and enjoyed.

Corked

While a wine that has been uncorked is ready to drink, a wine that has been corked is not a good thing. “Corked” means that the cork of the wine bottle has been tainted, by such things as a moldy basement. A tainted cork often translates to a wine with a smell and flavour that is less than desirable and far from optimal.

Oxidation/Oxidize

Wine that has been exposed to air too long begins to oxidize, resulting in a brownish colour and a loss of freshness.

Sediment

Sediment is comprised of tannins and colour pigments that “fall out” of a wine, settling on the bottom or side of the bottle depending on how its stored. This occurs in wine that’s been aging for years. Sediment is mostly found in darker red wines because they contain more tannins and more colour pigments.

Tannins

Tannins are phenolic compounds derived from all different parts of a plant; in wine they come from the grape stems, skins, and seeds, and also from the barrel in which the wine is aged. Wines that are high in tannins are considered “dry”, although aging a wine high in tannins does soften it a bit.

 

So, you’ve got your veritable Cliff’s Notes of wine terms. You might not be ready to apply for a sommelier position, but you should definitely feel more comfortable ordering wine from a daunting wine list or purchasing a bottle from the aisles and aisles of offerings at your local liquor store.

 

Wine Terms You Should Know: Words to Help Read Labels, Describe Wines and Others | drinks.ng

Wine Terms You Should Know: Words to Help Read Labels, Describe Wines and Others

Posted on 03 02, 2017

Knowing as much about wine as possible can only help in social circles. Say your...

Read More
Posted on

Wine Labels: 5 Things to Check on Your Bottle for a Better Idea of its Value

Wine Labels: 5 Things to Check on Your Bottle for a Better Idea of its Value | www.drinks.ng

Wine labels tend to have a lot of information on them. Some of it is critical to understanding what is in the bottle, and some of it is just blowing smoke, so, knowing how to spot a bargain and what to ignore is important for all wine enthusiasts. Understanding wine labels may not always tell us how the wine tastes, but it can help us paint a better picture of exactly what we’re buying.

Below are quick, basic guides to help you identify the wines you want better.

Producer or Name

The producer name is either obvious or in small text at the top or the bottom of the label. These labels tell us who made the wine. Most French wines have producers displayed this way, and some American wine labels such as Apothic Red which only have wine names are branded wines from larger wine companies. Apothic Red is a branded wine by E&J Gallo.

Region

The region tells us where the grapes used in producing the wine were sourced from. A wine from a larger region is typically a value wine whereas a wine from a specific vineyard site often indicates a higher quality regional designation. If a wine is from a specific vineyard site, that site will be indicated in quotations as in “Les Suchots” or located right below the region designation as in Vosne Romanee Les Suchots. Generally, as you narrow the source to a specific site, the quality level becomes more refined and the price increases.

Variety or Appellation

The variety refers to the grape or grapes used in producing the wine. Examples of these are Merlot or CMS Blend (Cab, Merlot, Syrah). Many blends don’t include the constituent grapes nor the percentage that each makes of the whole. If there is no varietal given, look for the Appellation which could give clues to what varietals were used based on the rules governing that region. Today, there are fifteen nations with officially regulated appellations, though the strictness of the rules varies wildly among these nations.

Vintage or Non-Vintage (NV)

The year the grapes were harvested is the vintage. The vintage says a great deal about a wine if you are familiar with vintage variations. Multi-vintage wines or “NV” wines are considered lower value wines, because they have the advantage of pulling wine from multiple vintages to control the flavour.

Alcohol by Volume (ABV)

The alcohol level also says a great deal about a bottle of wine. Many European wine regions only allow their highest quality wines to have 13.5% ABV and above, but in America, ABVs can be up to 17% on some dry wines. The alcohol level is an indication of how rich/big the wine may taste. Many higher alcohol wines are made from riper grapes and tend to have more fruit forward flavours. However, this is a generalisation. There are exceptions to the rule.

Wine Labels: 5 Things to Check on Your Bottle for a Better Idea of its Value | www.drinks.ng

Wine Labels: 5 Things to Check on Your Bottle for a Better Idea of its Value

Posted on 02 16, 2017

Wine labels tend to have a lot of information on them. Some of it is...

Read More

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