A lot of people like drinking it, but not quite so many enjoy tasting wine. For some, this is a futile exercise and an excuse for people to show off their knowledge. For others, it’s an important way to learn more about the mysterious world of winemaking. However you feel about the swilling of wine in the glass, the drawing in of breath and the use of a spittoon, I think it’s fair to argue that sometimes the language of wine tasting can be off-putting.
I’m not talking about the imaginative flowery words of TV wine experts from years gone by – this may have been ridiculous for some, but there’s no denying it made wine very entertaining. How about the slightly more technical terms that come as second nature to those in the know, but can alienate everyone else? How important are they and what do they actually mean?
I’ve put this one first because I think it’s one of the most important and useful ways of describing the taste of a wine. If you know what it means, that is. I often say wines have ‘high acidity’ or ‘a good streak of acidity’ and I’m aware this might give off the wrong impression. Acidity isn’t necessarily a bad thing, quite the opposite in fact. Lots of food and drinks have notable acidity – it’s the sharpness you experience down the side of your tongue when you taste them. In the case of wine, this can be its most distinct characteristic, what elevates its flavour and makes it, well, wine.
This isn’t limited to just dry wines: sweet wines need acidity too otherwise they’d taste like grape juice. But even though the word sounds harsh, the whole point of acidity is that you shouldn’t really notice it too much. Which brings me onto my next point…
So many wines are described as ‘well-balanced’ or having ‘good balance’ and on the surface, this sounds like a bit of a vague cop-out. But to describe a wine as having good balance is actually one of the very best things you can say about it. Going back to acidity for a moment, a wine can have a lot of acidity whilst at the same time still have the right amount of acidity. In this case, the acidity is in balance with other characteristics of the wine – the intensity of the flavour and the body of the wine for example. For a wine to achieve good balance, none of these characteristics should be particularly discernible to anyone drinking it. All they will experience is the enjoyment of a very nice wine indeed.
There are lots of words used to describe different flavours present in wine and most of them need no explanation – floral, citrus, dark fruits, stone fruits, tropical fruits, liquorice etc. ‘Minerality’ is one that I’ve chosen to highlight because it’s a word that sums up a whole spectrum of flavours rather than one specific note. You know that smell in the air just after it rains, an aroma of water on stone? And sometimes you can even taste it on the tip of your tongue? That is how I would describe minerality. Still lost? Try a good quality Chablis and see if you can spot it.
***Grabbed from: https://www.rudewines.co.uk/blog/wine-tasting-terms-decoded/