Wine 101: Ten Wine Words to Know

Like any most passionate pursuits, wine has a language all its own. If you’ve ever walked into a tasting room, or talked with wine enthusiast, then you know it can make one a little uncomfortable to hear unfamiliar words bandied about. The wine industry has hundreds of them!

So to give you a headstart, here are 10 wine words you need to know!

Body:  Term used to describe the weight and feel of wine. Think of milk. Skim milk, milk and cream all have a different weight and feel in your mouth. It’s the same thing with wine.

Corked: A term used to describe a flawed wine. The wine may have an unpleasant smell. Think of what a wet dog or moldy newspaper smells like, and you now know what corked means.

Finish: The amount of time that flavors persist in the mouth after swallowing wine; a lingering sensation. The best wines have long finishes.

Nose: This common tasting term is used in describe the way a wine smells (e.g. I’m getting black cherries and spice on the nose).

Old Vine: There is no regulated or legal definition for grapes from old vines.  In general, the term is used for vines that are a minimum of 35 years old.  Old vines can produc better, more concentrated fruit, with naturally lower yields resulting in a more complex wine. You'll see many of these in Lodi as many of the wineries produce Old Vine Zinfandels!

Reserve: Another unregulated and often over used term that can have different meanings, depending on the producer. Most of the time, it refers to the producer’s best wine.

Structure: A wine’s structure is composed of all the elements of wine - fruit, acid, tannin, and alcohol. For example, a wine described as “well structured” implies harmony of the four elements of the wine.

Tannin: Tannins is a textural element that make wine taste dry.  Tannins come from grapes (skins and seed) or wood and bitterness, astringency and complexity to wine, mostly in red wines. If a wine has too many tannins it can leave a bitter, dry and pucker feeling in your mouth.

Terroir (sounds like “tare WAHr): A French word meaning a “sense of place “reflecting how a particular region’s climate, soils and aspect (terrain) affect the taste of wine. 

Vintage: Refers to the specific year the grapes were harvested.  Wines made with grapes from more than one year are referred to as “non-vintage” or “multi-vintage”.

So the next time you #visitlodi and drink in one of the plentiful tasting rooms, you'll know how to communicate what you're tasting! But don't just be familiar with them, better yet, ask questions about the wines you’re tasting using these words to learn more about wine!

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Martin Redmond

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