Speaking the Lingo, Part 2

As promised, an easy to follow glossary of wines terms!

Aroma
Aroma is simply a posh word for smell. It is interchangeable with the term bouquet; aroma tends to describe the fruity smells we associate with young wines.

Aromatic
A term used to describe wines made from grapes with a particularly distinctive aroma, especially when young. New Zealand sauvignon blanc could be described as a very aromatic wine, with strong pungent smells of gooseberry and tropical fruit.

Astringent
Wines with higher levels of tannin (see part 4 of the guide); these wines often produce a drying effect in the mouth and taste slightly bitter on the palate.

Balance
Balance describes the way in which the principal elements of a wine – acid, alcohol flavour and tannin – relate to each other, and assesses whether one element is in excess or lacking.  For example, a flabby wine is a wine that is lacking acidity and would be described as unbalanced.

Body
Often used and sometimes confusing, the body of a wine refers to the density of texture — some drinks have a fuller consistency than others, wine is no different. A wines alcohol content is an important part of the equation; full-bodied wines often have higher levels of alcohol.

Bouquet
Similar to aroma, bouquet is used to describe the mature subtle smells that develop with some wines as they age in the bottle.

Closed
Referring to a wine’s smell as lacking in a forceful impression — the opposite of aromatic.

Corked
The most common fault of a wine; its tell tail signs are musty smells which mask the wine’s fruit.

Crisp
A wine with a good level of acidity.

Depth
Describes the complexity and intensity of flavor in a wine.

Fierce
The aggressive and burning sensations produced by high levels of alcohol and/or tannin in a wine.

Finish
The sensations of taste and smell you continue to experience after swallowing or spitting the wine. How long the finish lasts is an important benchmark for assessing a wines quality, the long the better. (See length in part 4)

Flabby
A wine lacking in acidity.

Green
A wine made from unripe fruit; often high in acidity and lacking in flavor.

Grip
A wine which has a firm texture, usually from the tannin, which helps give definition to fine red wines.

Part 3 coming next week!

James Lawrence

James Lawrence is a self confessed wine obsessive, passionate about discovering and promoting the lesser known wines and wine regions of the world. He is a frequent contributor to decanter.com and runs an interactive, community led wine forum, thewineremedy.com In 2004, he went to study in Bilbao, Northern Spain. Luckily for him, the famous wine region of Rioja was just over an hour away by car. He began to spend a great deal of time there, visiting the wineries in Rioja and speaking to local wine makers. Their passion for the subject and their pride in the wines was infectious. He began to realise what an amazing subject wine is and how wide and complex the world of wine could be. Subsequently James moved into wine retail while finishing his degree, and was hooked. James also enjoys food and travel writing - he lives for Italian and Thai cuisine!

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