How to Describe Wine
In our everyday lives we often do not explicitly realize the sensations that are picked up by our senses. Few people even consciously notice them, let alone articulate them. But this is what describing wine is all about.
Most words used to describe wine focus on subtle or minor details. Making things even more complex is the fact that many of the adjectives used to describe the flavor, aroma, and bouquet of a wine are not things that the average person typically eats. The vocabulary used to describe wine may seem pretentious or convoluted, but it is based on actual tastes and smells detectable to a finely honed palate.
The aroma of a wine includes any smells that the grapes impart. Words that can describe a wine’s aroma include black currants from Cabernet Sauvignon, apples from Chardonnay, or cherries from Pinot Noir. These are all smells that come from the vineyard, not the winery.
The bouquet of a wine includes all of the smells that are derived from the winemaking process. Words that can describe a wine’s bouquet include vanilla, chocolate, butter, caramel, or coffee from barrel aging.
The following are a few other insights for correctly describing wine. The length of a wine indicates how long the flavor lingered. Palate refers to the texture and taste of wine when it is the mouth. Acidic wines are often described as crisp or tart. Lean wines are light bodied and don’t have a lot of alcohol and tannins. They are often driven by acidity.
Tasting blind will minimize any prior opinions or stereotypes. You may be surprised to discover that less expensive wines taste better to you. Another important strategy for a beginner is to taste several wines side-by-side that shares at least one common variable. This could be the varietal, style, AVA of origin, or any combination of the three.
Another helpful strategy for an aspiring wine connoisseur is tasting with a friend that has superior knowledge. Questions can be addressed in an unintimidating environment.
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