Saturday, December 17, 2005

Wine Tasting Lingo Part Two

So, you did your reading in Part One. Now for the fun stuff. Grab a glass of your favourite wine and try to suss out what you’re smelling and tasting. I’ve included some common terms for wine tasting to get you started. After, if you’re still intrigued, go to the links I provide at the end of my mini glossary. Have fun!

Acidity: Natural fruit acids (and sometimes added citric acid) that balance wine, cleanse the palate and help wines age gracefully. Some wines are unbalanced and either too blah or too acidic. A little acidity is desirable and gives wines a pleasant bite or zip. Too much acidity and wine becomes tart or turns to vinegar.

The combination of fruit, alcohol, tannins and acid that create harmony in a bottle.

Big/Bold: Full-flavoured and full-bodied wines like Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Malbec, Merlot, Shiraz/Syrah, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay, for example.

Body: Weight of a wine. Does it feel light or heavy, thick or thin?

Crisp: White wines with the perfect amount of acidity.

Dry: The wine’s sugar has been used in fermentation, resulting in a wine that isn’t sweet, but puckers the mouth thanks to tannins in red wine and acids in white wine. Semi-sweet (many whites) and sweet wines (like dessert wines) have residual sugars that are tasted.

Earthy: Native flavours of plants, minerals and soil seem infuse themselves into the growing grapes. Maybe you’ll experience sagebrush in an Okanagan wine or clover and honey in a white wine or a particular fruit aroma and flavour.

Finish: The aftertaste following swallowing wine. The finish should repeat the scents and tastes that you’ve experienced. But… some unbalanced or immature wines have finishes that are different and not complimentary.

Spicy: Some wines are spicy, like Zinfandels (the true, big reds, not the blush wines), and have bold tastes of cinnamon, clove and black pepper.

Tannins: Created by contact with grape skins, seeds, stems and oak barrels. Tannins, causing a dry, puckering sensation in your mouth, are found in red wine and oak aged white wine. Too much tannin will leave your mouth feeling uncomfortable parched.

For more wine terms, check out an extensive glossary on all things from wineanswers or go to the Epicurious site, a foodie’s fav, to check out their online wine dictionary.