Updated: Mar 20, 2019
Let’s face it. Most of us purchase wine solely based on the label, price, and alcohol-by-volume percentage. However, sometimes it’s fun to impress your friends and speak like a sommelier (it’s even more fun to throw terms like “supple” and “slam” around after you’ve had a few glasses).
For those of you who are about to open a new tab to Google “supple” and “slam”, don't. Supple is a word used to describe texture, as it relates to tannin, body, and oak. (Side note: tannin is what makes your mouth pucker when you drink red wine). Slam is a slang term that refers to the act of aerating a young wine.
Here are a few tips to amaze your girl friends:
Before tasting your wine, smell it. If your Sauvignon Blanc smells like peaches, then you would say “the wine opens with notes (aromas) of peach on the nose” – fancy, right? Don’t be alarmed if your friend is tasting the same wine and doesn’t smell (or taste) peaches. One person’s peach may be another person’s apricot.
Sweet and fruity describe two different wine characteristics. Sweet refers to the amount of residual sugar. Fruity describes the flavors you taste. A wine can be fruity without being sweet, as well as being sweet without being fruity. Confused? Refer to number three.
Pick a few key descriptive words and rotate them. Some good ones to know are dry, fruit-forward, acidic, and full-bodied. I could go on, but you can honestly get pretty far (or at least through a tasting) with just those four.
DRY: A wine that is dry is not actually physically dry (duh!), but refers to the fact that the wine has very little, if any, residual sugar. So don’t get caught saying “this Pinot Grigio is a dry, sweet wine” because you’ll sound pretty silly to someone who actually knows what they are talking about.
FRUIT-FORWARD: Fruit-forward is a common term used to state that the fruity flavors prevail over anything else in the wine. The opposite would be “savory”. Fruit-forward wines tend to be lighter-bodied, beginner wines that are super easy to drink.
ACIDIC: In wine tasting, the term “acidity” refers to the tart and sour attributes of a wine (comparable to the way you react to biting into a green apple, or taking a sip of lemonade). Acidity gives wine it's crisp and mineral taste on the palate, and personally something I look for when selecting a wine.
FULL-BODIED: The exact definition of full-bodied is “rich and satisfying in flavor”, which in wine can be identified by two main elements: the color and the texture. A full-bodied wine is generally a wine over 13.5% alcohol that has a strong taste with a dark color, and leaves you feeling like it’s still lingering in your mouth, even after you have swallowed. While the majority of wines over 13.5% alcohol are usually red, an oaked Chardonnay is a perfect example of a white that often is considered full-bodied.
Now go off and impress your friends – or keep this article open on your phone, under the table, and refer to it during your tasting – I won’t judge you.
h a p p y / d r i n k i n g