Wine Tasting Terms
Acetic – A vinegar-like smell and/or taste caused by acetic acid. All wines contain acetic acid - (i.e.: vinegar). Normally the amount is insignificant and may even enhance flavor.
Astringent - Descriptive of wines that have a rough, puckery taste. Usually can be attributed to high tannin content. Tannic astringency will normally decrease with age. However, sometimes the wine fails to outlive the tannin.
Fruity - Apple, black currant, cherry, citrus, pear, peach, raspberry, banana pineapple, and strawberry; describes a wine in which the fruit is dominant.
Pepper - A component in either the nose or the palate, that smells or tastes of bell or cracked pepper.
Smoky - Tobacco aroma or flavor that is associated with Oak aging.
OAK - Aroma and flavor derived from aging wine in Oak casks or barrels. Oak is characterized by; smokiness, vanilla, clove and other spices.
Cassis - A black currant flavor common in Cabernet Sauvignon.
Earthy - This describes a mineral character that can add interest to the palate.
Pungent - Wine with a distinctly strong nose.
Grassy - The aroma of hay or cut grass, not unpleasant unless exaggerated. Usually found in
Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
Spicy - Wines that posses the distinct aroma or character of spice; clove, mint, cinnamon or pepper.
Brut - A term for dry Champagne or sparkling wine.
Buttery - Descriptor for rich flavor and smoothness of texture. Often referred to oak-aged white wines; many Chardonnay, white Burgundies.
Chalky - Describes an extremely dry finish.
Bitter - One of the four basic tastes. A major source of bitterness is the tannin content of a
wine. If the bitter component dominates in the aroma or taste of a wine it is considered a fault. Sweet dessert wines may have an enhanced bitter component that complements the other flavors making for a successful overall taste balance.
Crisp -Wine has pronounced but pleasing tartness, acidity. Fresh, young and eager, begs to be drunk. Generally used to describe white wines only, especially those of Muscadet de Sevres et Maine from the Loire region of France.
Balance- Denotes harmonious balance of wine elements - (i.e.: no individual part is dominant). Acid balances the sweetness; fruit balances against oak and tannin content; alcohol is balanced against acidity and flavor. Wine not in balance may be acidic, cloying, flat or harsh etc. Honeyed - Smell or taste reminiscent of honey, characteristic of late-harvest wines affected by "noble rot."
Vanilla - The aroma and/or taste of vanilla beans imparted by Oak aging.
Woody- Excessive aroma of wood, common in wines over-aged in casks or barrels.
Article From Inter Valley Health Plan