Do you scratch
your head when people start to talk about wine?
Why do wines have "legs"? When would you describe a bad wine as "flabby?"
If the jargon
that wine experts throw around leave you wondering if the review
was good or bad, you aren't alone. Probably a
majority of the people who like drinking wine are lost when 'wine speak'
Enjoying wine doesn't mean you need to know how to pronounce the name, or what makes it special -- but it becomes important if you want to talk about the topic with other wine enthusiasts.
Just up ahead, check out some of the most commonly used wine terms along with a basic wine pronunciation guide:
acidity - the amount of tartness or "bite" to a wine. It is also a key ingredient of how well a wine ages
appellation - a geographically delineated wine region.
aroma - how a wine smells. As a wine matures, the term bouquet is generally applied.
balance - usually refers to a wine's harmonious blend of acid and sweet, fruitiness with oak and tannin, with no particular element dominating.
body - how a wine feels in your mouth. A light-bodied wine feels thin, while a medium body wine is full-flavored and more robust. “Heavy body” means the wine has an all-around richer feel and is usually higher in alcohol content.
It's got "legs".
breathing - the interaction between air and wine after a wine has been opened. Aerating for a few minutes or more helps to to mellow the wine -- especially red wines.
blush - a wine made from red grapes, but which appears pink because the grape skins were removed from the fermenting juice before more color could be absorbed.
Champagne flute - a champagne glass having a long stem with a tall, narrow cup on top (also see a guide to wine glasses.)
decanting - pouring wine from its bottle into a decanter to aerate it and separate the sediment from the wine.
fermentation - the traditional way in which grape sugar is converted to ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide, thereby converting grape juice into wine.
finish - the overall aftertaste that remains in your mouth after you’ve swallowed the wine. A more robust, balanced wine usually has a "long finish" while while lighter-bodied wines have a shorter finish.
flabby - a wine that has no "character", usually marked by low acidity
ice wine - wine made from frozen grapes and mainly produced in colder climates with shorter growing seasons.
legs - the streaks of wine that run down the side of wine glass after swirling. Thinner legs usually mean a higher alcohol content.
musty - an undesirable flavor usually describing an older wine that has not aged well.
plonk - an inexpensive wine without much flavor or character (also see flabby.)
reserve - a term that usually refers to a wine producer's higher quality wine.
sexy - often used to describe rich wines with a sensuous and silky mouthfeel.
spicy - wines with a peppery finish or those that taste of cinnamon, clove, or nutmeg and usually derive from natural tannins or wines aged in oak barrels.
tannin - a naturally occurring chemical in grape skins and stems. Tannins that are derived from ripe fruit leave a smooth feeling in your mouth. Unripe tannins often result in a hard or dry mouthfeel.
terroir - the unique taste and flavor imparted to a wine by local environmental conditions, including the type of soil and the surrounding terrain in which grapes are grown.
vintage - the specific year in which grapes were harvested (also see wine vintages.)
How do you say? .... A guide to proper wine pronunciation
That popular pink wine is not pronounced rose, it's rose-AY -- and if you take a liking to a sweetly spicy Gewürztraminer (pronounced guh-VAIRTZ-truh-MEE-nur) it's nice to know how to say it.
Here's more help with pronouncing popular names on the wine menu to let your waiter know exactly what you're looking for: