Know Essential Wine Vocabulary

By learning some wine vocabulary, you can more easily chat about the varieties you enjoy drinking and better understand the language that is used by wine experts. These commonly used words can help you when purchasing wine or ordering it at a restaurant. Raise a glass and enjoy! 

Acidity: Acids in grapes come out during fermentation and they contribute a crisp or sharp taste.

Aging:  Wine is held in barrels, tanks, and bottles to make it more desirable.

Balance: Balance is when components of the wine work well together. 

Blend: Wine can be made from different grapes to make it more complex.

Body:  Types include light-bodied, medium-bodied, and full bodied. Light-bodied are lighter on the palate with a few simple flavors, like a Riesling. A full-bodied wine is more complex and will feel heavier on the palate, like a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Bouquet: This refers to the scent of a wine that comes from fermentation and aging. 

Breathe: This is when the wine is exposed to oxygen, often during decanting. 

Complexity: This describes different components of the wine such as their balance and flavor.  

Crisp: Often present in white wines, this is when the wine is high in acidity. The wines have a sharp flavor and a clean finish.

Dry:  Wines are described as “dry” when they have no residual sugar and don’t taste sweet.

Earthy: Often used to describe red wines, the term describes wine with aromas associated with the soil.

Finish: This is the taste that remains on the palate after drinking wine. 

Floral: Wines with floral notes have an aroma and flavor that is compared to flowers. This is common in white wines.

Fruity:  Wine can have tastes and aromas associated with fruits like cherries, strawberries, and raspberries.

Nose: When you inhale the scent of the wine, it is interpreted through smell.

New World: New World wines are from beyond regions where winemaking originated. They include the United States, Australia, Chile, and Argentina. 

Oaky: The aroma and flavor of wine comes from being aged or fermented in oak barrels. 

Old World: Old World wines come from areas where winemaking first started, primarily Europe. 

Round: This describes wine with a smooth texture.

Spicy: The flavors of spice like pepper, clove, or cardamom can be tasted in wine.

Sweet: Dessert wines are often referred to as sweet.

Tannins: Found in grape stems and seeds, tannins soak in the grape juice just after the grapes have been pressed. They give certain wines a puckering sensation in the mouth.

Terroir: Refers to natural parts of a region’s climate, geography, and soil, and how this affects the taste of the wine.

Varietals: This is a wine that is made from a single type of grape, like Chardonnay or Zinfandel. 

Vintage: Many wines display the date when the grapes were grown and harvested so you can tell how old the wine is. 

Cheers to all of us who enjoy a good glass of wine and the opportunity to have it with family and friends.

Photo Credit: Marina P. Kennedy

About Marina P. Kennedy (30 Articles)
Marina Kennedy currently writes for, and the Hemlock News in Pennsylvania. She likes to do articles and blog about the culinary scene, theatre, and travel. Marina and her husband Chuck enjoy the rich cultural experiences of the metropolitan area. She is absolutely delighted to contribute to Woman About Town.