Glossary of Wine Tasting Words

Structure of Wine


-- this is the part of the wine that makes your mouth create saliva and is responsible for refreshing the palate. The pH is also linked to the colour, not to mention the stability of the wine. High acid wines tend to come from cooler climates though wines from warm to hot climates such as Australia are allowed to acidify their wines through the addition of acids naturally found in wine -- tartaric and malic


-- this contributes significantly to the structure of the wine and can be detected by the legs or tears on the glass; the greater or more visible the tears/legs, the higher the alcohol. If the alcohol is too high and out of balance then the wine can seem 'hot' on the finish from a burn of alcohol (ethyl alcohol, a by-product of fermentation)

Aroma (or bouquet for secondary and tertiary aromas)

-- when you swirl your wine around your glass you are trying to aerate the wine to release the volatile aromas which is an absolutely essential part of tasting as the nose is far more sensitive and acute than the tongue which can only taste 5 things -- salt, sour, sweet, bitter and umami. There are 3 main categories of wine aromas -- primary (grape), secondary (winemaking) and tertiary (age)


-- arguably one of the most important words in wine tasting and the most important measure as to the quality of a wine. For a wine to be balanced and to be deemed to be a good wine the fundamental components of a wine have to be balanced and for me this is the fruit, acidity, alcohol and tannins (for red) and you can taste them on the whole tongue and mouth as all those components tend to hit different parts. Fruit on the tip of the tongue as sweetness, alcohol at the back and tannin and acidity on the sides. If a wine fills your whole mouth and is harmonious with nothing jarring, then the wine is well balanced

Body (like weight or mouthfeel)

-- simply the weight and structure of the wine -- light-bodied, medium-bodied or full-bodied. Is the wine delicate and ethereal or heavy, rich and ripe? All these clues to the wine can be detected by the colour, the aroma and finally on the palate by using the eyes, nose and mouth in turn. A wine can also be thin and/or watery which means lacking in body

Fruit (Flavour)

-- this is really the flavour of the wine, the fruit profile, and is derived mainly from the grape variety. You can get fruity notes such as pear, apricot/peach and pineapple from a cold fermentation in stainless steel which tends to produce lots of peardrop notes but otherwise the fruit comes from the grape variety, with different flavours commonly found in different grape varieties. Wines can be quite neutral or restrained when it comes to fruit, all the way through the spectrum to full on aromatic powerhouses

Length (or finish)

-- the length of the wine is simply how long you can taste the wine for in your mouth after you have either spat the wine out or swallowed it. The longer the length/aftertaste, the better the quality of the wine so if a wine is short or fades quickly, that is disappointing


-- there are 4 things that can help you determine and assess the quality of the wine and they are BLIC --balance, length, intensity and complexity. We have covered balance and length and intensity means the persistence of the wine but also the depth of fruit, how it perseveres in the mid-palate and how many layers there are to the wine. Is it interesting, nuanced and intriguing or all upfront fruit that shouts blackcurrants but then fades away to nothing? Initially one of the trickier things to assess...


-- predominantly found in the skins of the grapes though also in pips, stalks and oak so you can get fruit tannins and oak tannin in wine. Tannin is detected by the drying sensation around the sides of the mouth and is also found in tea. Because tannin is found in the skins it is through the process of skin contact (where the juice of the grape is left in contact with the skins, predominantly a red wine process) that tannin gets leached out

Wine Faults
Other Lingo