“The nose is quite developed, the tannins are still hard, but the fruit seems overripe and flabby, and the finish is a bit short.”
While conducting a wine tasting recently, it was pointed out to me that I had begun to sound a little too ‘winesy-cutsey. ‘ It was a polite reminder I was using wine jargon instead of English to explain attributes of the wine. While I deplore wine snobs and other bores, I must admit to falling into the occasional habit of using “winespeak” to describe the sensory aspects of wine. I guess it comes from reading a great deal from other wine writers or experts who liberally sprinkle around such terms as “tannin, acid, flabby, robust, ” even “orgasmic” when describing their tasting experience.
Below, I have listed several terms regularly used in describing wine qualities (but not orgasmic). There are obviously many more, but we’ll start with these:
Tannin(s) – A naturally-occurring chemical substance present in wine (particularly red wine) which can allow the wine to age. It manifests itself in the mouth as that sensation which makes you want to pucker.
Acid – Refers to the sharpness in the taste of wine. Good acid is balanced by alcohol or sweetness or both.
Rich – Wine is rich when it is mouth–filling, smooth and luscious.
Mellow – An absence of harshness or tannin or smoothness characterizes a mellow wine.
Robust – Describes a full-bodied or possibly heavy wine.
Crisp – Refers to the acidity in the wine, as in a “crisp white wine.”
Short Finish – When a wine leaves little or no aftertaste. Conversely, a “long finish” describes a wine that has a pleasant aftertaste and feel.
Nose – A general term which describes the aroma and bouquet of the wine.
Balance – A wine is balanced when the sugar or alcohol and the acid are in harmony with no one element overwhelming the other.
Fruity – Wines which exhibit fruitiness either in the nose or in the taste. Wine is sometimes even described as tasting like a specific fruit such as “this wine has green apple flavors.”
Flabby – This term not only describes a wine which has too little acidity, too much alcohol and is out of balance, it also describes your wine writer.
Today’s Wine Suggestion: Try the 2004 Graham Beck Cabernet Sauvignon. Gamekeeper’s Reserve ($15). This lovely, soft and approachable South African Cabernet is ready to drink with that grilled steak or roasted pork tenderloin flavored with garlic and rosemary.