A Beginner’s Guide to Wine Vocabulary for Your First Wine Tasting Tour


You love wine! You love how it tastes in your mouth and how it gently embraces your throat as you swallow it. So you’ve decided to go on a wine tasting tour to one of the notable wine regions in the world. But the thing is you don’t know the first thing about wines and you still want to learn a bit about them. This post will introduce you to some of the common wine terminologies to help you enjoy your wine tasting tour without any stress.

Top 13 Wine Terminologies

You may have heard about some terms like acidic, buttery, body, crisp, and chewy. But you have no idea what they really mean. Take a look at some of these top wine terminologies so you can understand them better and prepare for your very first wine tasting tour:

1.  Acidity

Every wine has a certain level of acidity because acid plays a crucial role in the fermentation and preservation of wines. Acidity is one of the key elements used for determining the level of balance in a wine.

2.  Aftertaste

This terminology isn’t only used in wine tasting. It’s commonly used to describe the taste that remains in your mouth after you eat or drink something. In wine tasting, it is the taste that lingers after you have had a few sips of wine. Wines usually leave a bitter, sour, or sweet aftertaste based on their types and qualities.

Aftertaste - Wine tasting tour

3.  AOC

AOC or Appellation diOrigine Controlee refers to the French system of designation. Under this system, you have a strict set of guidelines and rules for wine-growing regions. A wine with an AOC stamp of approval is considered desirable.

4.  Balance

Your wine tasting tour will be perfect if you can find wines with the right balance of flavors. The term “balance” is used for describing the level of harmony between different flavors and elements in wine. If the acidity, fruit, oak, tannins, and other elements are perfectly balanced, the quality of wine is considered to be high.

5.  Barrel aged

This refers to wines that are fermented in oak barrels as opposed to stainless steel tanks. The barrel aging process can make a huge difference to the wine flavors and aromas. Barrel-aged wines are usually richer and creamier. Among barrel-aged wines, you’ll also find several differences in flavors and aromas based on the type of oak barreling used – aged barrels, American oak, new oak, etc.

Barrel aged - Wine tour

6.  Blend

Blending is the process of combining two or more types of grapes after separate fermentation. This can create an entirely new flavor of wine. Wine-makers popularly blend red and white Bordeaux. The Cotes de Rhone is also a popular wine blend, which you must try during your wine tasting tour.

7.  Body

The body of wine is something that’s easier to experience than explain and you will see for yourself during your wine tasting tour. It can be described as the impression of weight the wine has on your palate. It’s a combination of the aftertaste, the different areas of your tongue it affects, and more. You’ll be able to find three body types of wine: light, medium, and full.

8.  Breathing

Also known as aeration, breathing is the process of airing out and introducing some oxygen into wine. You can either do this by leaving the bottle open for a while or swirling the wine in a glass. Some people also use a wine decanter to enhance the breathing process.

9.  Buttery

This term is commonly used to describe white wines. It can be described as a tiny hint of melted butter or toasted oak in the aroma and aftertaste. Chardonnays are usually more buttery than other types of white wines. During your wine tasting tour, you could take some time to analyze your wine and see if it gives off a buttery taste.

buttery wine - wine tour vocabulary

10.  Corked

This term is used for describing wines with a moldy, musty aroma and flavor. This type of wine results from using TCA-tainted cork, which prohibits proper aeration and bottling.

11.  Crisp

Wines that are highly acidic can be described as crisp. You’ll also find some hints of bright fruit in the flavor with a clean finish.

12.  Dry

Dry wines contain low levels of sugar and therefore have little to no taste of sugar. Usually, dry wines do not contain more than 0.2% of unfermented sugar. However, the taste itself is subjective and the perception of dryness may change from person to person.

13.  Earthy

A wine that has an earthy taste has some residual aromas and flavors of soil, producing a rich taste. Earthiness is often a positive attribute of wines and is commonly found in Pinot Noirs and Cabernets. Don’t forget to ask for earthy wines during your wine tasting tour.

The Basics of Describing Wines

So now you’re equipped with some useful wine terminologies for your first wine tasting tour. But you might still be a bit lost on how to describe different wines accurately. And you don’t want to seem like such a beginner when you go on a wine tasting tour. Here are a few ideas you can use:

  •         Wines that taste bitter – chewy, tannic, firm, structured
  •         Wines without too much scent – subtle, light, soft, delicate
  •         Wines with an intense smell – bold aromas (in case of reds), aromatic life (in case of whites), brooding, pungent
  •         Wines that taste strong – rich, flamboyant, full-bodies, persistent
  •         Wines that don’t taste too strong – airy, mellow, subdued, nuanced
  •         Wines that taste earthy – mossy, herbaceous, savory, loamy
  •         Wines that taste tart – crisp, zippy, elegant, lean
  •         Wines that taste smooth – velvety, plush, supple, round

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a better idea about wine terminologies and descriptions, you’re all set to come off as an expert during your wine tasting tour. You’ll now be able to enjoy good wine on a whole new level. Was this post helpful for you? Share your thoughts and ask your questions in the comments below. All set to go on a memorable wine tasting tour in the top wine regions of the world? Get in touch with us for a  Customized Wine Tour.

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