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Wine Terms Glossary

  • Acidity - The presence of natural fruit acids that lend a tart, crisp taste to wine
  • Aroma - Smells in wine that originate from the grape
  • Astringent - Bitter; gives a drying sensation in the mouth
  • Balanced - All components of the wine are in harmony
  • Barrel Fermented - White wine that is fermented in an oak barrel instead of a stainless steel tank
  • Body - The weight and tactile impression of the wine on the palate that ranges from light to heavy/full
  • Bouquet - Smells from winemaking, aging and bottle age
  • Buttery - Rich, creamy flavor associated with barrel fermentation
  • Character - Describes distinct attributes of a wine
  • Chewy - Wine that has a very deep, textured and mouth-filling sensation
  • Clean - Wine without disagreeable aromas or tastes
  • Closed - Wine that needs to open up; aging and/or decanting can help
  • Complex - Layered aromas, flavors and textures
  • Cooked - Wine that has been exposed to excessively high temperatures; spoiled
  • Corked - Wine that has been tainted with moldy smells or other obvious flaws from a bad cork
  • Delicate - Light, soft and fresh wine
  • Dry - No sugar or sweetness remaining; a fruity wine can be dry
  • Earthy - Flavors and aromas of mushroom, soil and mineral
  • Elegance - A well balanced, full wine with pleasant, distinct character
  • Finish - The final impression of a wine on the palate; ranges from short to long
  • Firm - Texture and structure of a young, tannic red
  • Flabby/Flat - Lacking in acidity, mouth-feel, structure and/or texture
  • Fleshy - A soft textured wine
  • Flinty - A mineral tone, aroma or flavor
  • Floral - Flower aromas such as rose petals, violets, gardenia or honeysuckle
  • Fruity - Obvious fruit aromas and flavors; not to be confused with sweet flavors such as berries, cherries and citrus
  • Full-Bodied - Rich, mouth filling, weighty-textured wine
  • Grassy - Aromas and flavors of fresh cut grass or fresh herbs
  • Green - Unripe, tart flavors
  • Hard - Texture and structure that hinders flavor
  • Herbaceous - Grassy, vegetable tones and aromas
  • Lean - Wine is thin and tastes more acidic than fruity
  • Legs - Teardrop impressions of alcohol weightiness that are visible on the inside edges of a wine glass
  • Light-Bodied - A wine with delicate flavors, texture and aromas
  • Lively - Young, fruity and vivacious flavor
  • Malolactic - Conversion of hard, malic acid (green apple flavors) in wine to soft, lactic acid (rich, butter flavors)
  • Medium-Bodied - A wine with solid, but not rich, weight and texture
  • Nose - The smell of a wine; aroma
  • Oak - Aromas and flavors contributed during barrel fermentation and/or aging such as vanilla, caramel, chocolate, smoke, spice or toast
  • Off-Dry (Semi-dry) - Very low levels of residual sugar remaining in the wine
  • Rich - Weighty flavors and texture
  • Round - Smooth flavors and texture; well-balanced
  • Smoky/Toasty - Aromas of smoke and toast imparted by fired barrels
  • Sweet - Wines that have a higher concentration of sugar after fermentation
  • Tannin - A drying, astringent sensation on the palate that is generally associated with heavier red wines
  • Terroir - French word reflecting the expression of soil, topography and climate in a wine
  • Thin - Wine is unpleasantly watery and lacks flavor and texture
  • Vegetal - Herbal, weedy aromas and flavors
  • Velvety - Smooth-textured with deep, rich aromas and flavors
  • Vintage - Year that grapes were harvested and fermented to make a wine

List courtesy of Kendall Jackson