Wine Terms

FULL-BODIED
This is used to describe the texture of the wine. Think of full-bodied as the difference between whole milk vs. skimmed milk. If you’re looking for something lighter, ask for something light- or medium-bodied, depending on your preference.

EARTHY
This word is less about the taste and more about the aroma. If you prefer a white that smells like fresh-cut grass or a red with a scent like the woods, earthy is what you want.

BLEND
All this means is that the wine was made from an assortment of different grapes. For example, most bottles from Bordeaux feature a grape combination. (Think 65% Cabenet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot.)

FRUIT-FORWARD
Not to be confused with “sweet,” this refers to wines that are dominated by fruity flavours. For example, your Sauvignon Blanc with a hint of citrusy lemon or the Montepulciano that tastes like delicious Maraschino cherries.

OAKY
Some wines are aged in barrels and oaky refers to the range of flavours that come from that–like the bottle of Zinfandel that tastes smoky and coffee-like. Or the Pinot Noir that tastes like chocolate.

SAVOURY
The term “savoury” is used to describe bitter flavours found in more vegetable-leaning fruits (like bell peppers, tomatoes and olives). Common savoury wines include Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Cabernet Franc.

SWEET
If you use the word “sweet,” it’s pretty much assumed you’re looking for a late harvest or dessert wine. Think: tawny port or Moscato. Goes great with Tiramisu.

DRY
The majority of wines you will purchase are classed as dry. If you despise dessert wines, this word is your fail-safe at the bar.

MINERALITY
If you enjoy crisp, dry rosés, ask for a glass with robust minerality. It’s the opposite of buttery and oaky. And it has a synonym in the wine world: earthy.

BUTTERY
Use this term if you prefer a white–like Chardonnay–that’s creamy and smooth when you swish it around your mouth. It will generally have spent some time in oak.

TANNIN
This describes compounds found in grapes that make your lips pucker. High tannin wines can actually make it feel like your saliva has evaporated with each sip.

CORKED
This refers to something called cork taint—which happens when a cork (which is a natural substance) gets contaminated before your wine is bottled. You’ll know if your wine is corked because it will smell like wet dog.

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