A Glossary of Wine Terms

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A lot of wine sellers make the mistake of simply assuming that their customers are completely aware of everything that they need to know about wine, which can be somewhat intimidating for the newcomer who wants to get their feet wet and explore a little bit of Italian culture.

As such, the world of Italian wine can often seem like quite a scary place, especially when terms start getting thrown around that make absolutely no sense to people who haven’t had the opportunity to learn about what goes into the creation of these wonderful drinks.

With that in mind, we have decided to compile a short glossary of terms related to wine and the industry in general that should serve as a good starter pack for anybody who wants to learn more about the industry.

Aroma

We all know that aroma essentially equates to smell and the same is true with wine. However, enjoying the aroma of a wine is often crucial when it comes to truly getting a feel for what the drink has to offer.

It is always important to remember that a wine’s aroma is often very different from its taste. In fact, a trained nose will often be able to detect hints of various ingredients that are nowhere to be seen when the wine finally reaches their tongue.

Body

You may have heard people referring to the “body” of a bottle of wine and been a little bit confused about what they are referring to. Simply put, the body of the drink is what makes it what it is. It is the feeling it inspires when the wine passes your lips and often directly relates to the alcohol content and type of grape that has been used to create it.

To get a good feel for what different “bodies” can feel like, try sampling a Prosecco and then follow it with a Chianti. You will find the Prosecco is light and refreshing, while the Chianti is deep and complex.

Depth

As in many other walks of life, the term depth as it relates to wine refers to the complexity of the drink. You will generally find that red wines contain more depth, as they have a more complex mix of flavours.

It is important to note that depth does not always denote quality. While a good Barolo is expected to have plenty of depth, a similarly priced white wine should not be so complex as they are to be enjoyed in different circumstances.

Expressive

This is a wine that is easy to detect based on the aromas and flavours that it contains. An expressive wine will often smell delightful and even inexperienced wine lovers will be able to pick out the various aromas on display.

Taste will be a similar story, which means an expressive wine is usually a good one for the novice taster to get started with, as they will be able to see what the producer is aiming for with the drink far more clearly.

Finish

Rather than referring to the act of drinking the full glass of wine, the term finish is much like the term aftertaste, in that it refers to the lingering notes that the wine leaves behind on the palette after it has been enjoyed.

Much like with aroma and taste, the finish will often exhibit different qualities and can add an extra layer of enjoyment for the drinker. It is also important to consider the finish of the wine when pairing it up with different types of food.

Hollow

While we would hope that every wine that you drink exhibits some level of flavour that makes it enjoyable, there are occasional wines that just don’t seem to be quite right. In some cases it may taste like the wine completely lacks any of the fruitiness that makes the drink so enjoyable.

In these cases the wine will often be referred to as hollow, which is a derogatory term that essentially implies that the maker got that particular vintage wrong and it doesn’t exhibit any of the hallmarks of a good drink.

Mature

Many people know that wines often improve with age, reaching a certain level of maturity that has them at the peak of their powers and makes them far more enjoyable when the cork is finally popped and the wine is shared around.

A wine is called mature when it has been aged to perfection. Any earlier and the wine will still taste great but won’t be at its peak, whereas leaving it to age for longer may lead to the wine losing much of its flavour and lead to a less pleasurable experience when you drink it. As such, it is always a good idea to know approximately how long a particular vintage should be aged for if you are looking to get the best out of it.

Oxidized

A good wine will be a very delicate composition, which means that any foreign chemicals will quickly alter the taste and quality of the drink. Oxygen is often the biggest offender, as wines will essentially exist in a vacuum until the day that you finally open the bottle.

Oxidation is always going to happen, as it is impossible to drink wine without opening and pouring it first. Sometimes it can even be a good thing. However, of the bottle is left too long without being consumed you will often notice that it loses much of its clarity and taste as a result of the process.

Structure

This term essentially refers to the overall composition of the wine in terms of its sugar, acidity and the combination of flavours that it exhibits. The more complete a wine’s structure, the more pleasing it will be to the taste.

In fact, creating a good structure is something that all great winemakers strive to do, so it is important to be aware of the makeup of your drink and the work that has gone into make it what it is for your consumption.

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