Acidity: The amount of particular citric, lactic, malic and tartaric acids in the wine. It typically imparts a tart or sour taste. Dryer wines tend to have less total acid levels than sweeter wines.
Acrid: A term used to describe a wine with a high acid content. Typically found in lesser expensive red wines. Tends to lend a biting dry feeling.
Aftertaste: The taste of the wine after it has been swallowed. Can be described as harsh, hot, soft and lingering, short, smooth, tannic, or nonexistent.
Aroma: The particular smell of the wine.
Assertive: A wine with a bold, typically more full-bodied, taste.
Attractive: A term mused to describe a fresher lighter style of wine.
Balanced: A wine that has its various qualities in a ratio that no single one dominates. A balance of acidity, sweetness, tannins, and other flavors.
Barnyardy: A negative term used to describe the smell of a wine as similar to a barnyard.
Big: A bolder more full-bodied wine. May have hints of alcohol in the taste.
Bite: Characterized by a high amount of acidity or tannins.
Bitter: One of the four basic tastes. Bitterness typically comes from tannins. A tannic wine will have a bitter taste. It should not dominate the flavor but can compliment sweet wines. The tannins that cause bitterness can mellow over time. Well aged wines should not have any bitterness to it.
Body: The “feel” of the wine in your mouth from the combined affects of the tannins, sugar, and alcohol.
Bouquet: Similar to Aroma but usually is used to describe the smell of an aged wine.
Buttery: Refers to both flavor and texture of a wine. It used often to describe a good Chardonnay.
Chewy: Used to describe wines that are heavy in tannins.
Closed: A negative term describing a lack of aroma or flavor.
Complete: Typically describes a full-bodied wine with a pronounced finish.
Complex: A positive term used to describe a wine that has many layers of flavors and a great balance of character.
Corked: A negative term used to describe wines that have had their normal flavor pattern interrupted presumably by a bad cork. Maybe a cork that was not properly sterilized. Characterized by a musty taste or smell.
Crisp: A term used to describe younger wines with good acidity.
Delicate: A term used to describe lighter weighted wines with good flavor.
Dense: A term used to describe a wine that has concentrated flavors and aromas.
Depth: A term used to describe the complexity and concentration of flavors in a wine. Quality wines tend to have greater depth.
Developed: A term used to describe a wine that has aged/matured.
Dirty: A negative term that describes any undesirable odors or tastes that come from a poorly made wine.
Earthy: A term that describes a wine whose taste has hints of soil. This is not necessarily a negative term. Red wines are often described as having earthy tones, especially ones high in tannins.
Elegant: A term used to describe a quality wine of grace, balance and beauty.
Empty: Flavorless and uninteresting.
Fading: A term used to describe a wine that is losing quality, usually as a result of age.
Finish: Similar to aftertaste but can also be measured in length. The longer the finish remains the better the quality is considered.
Flabby: Lacking acidity.
Flat: A term used to describe a wine that is too low in acidity. This is worse than a flabby wine. Could also refer to a sparkling wine that has lost its bubbles.
Flinty: A term that describes a smoky aroma or taste. Typically used to describe young white wines.
Fruity: A term that describes a flavor of wine that has more prominent fruit or berry-like flavors. Usually accompanied by a sweeter undertone.
Graceful: A positive term used to describe a wine that is subtle and pleasing.
Grapey: A term that describes a basic flavor of grapes.
Green: A term that describes a flavor of wine derived from unripe fruit. It also refers to wines that can have a greenish color or young wines such as a Riesling.
Full-Bodied: A bolder presence in the mouth. You can taste the flavors and alcohol.
Heady: A term that describes a wine with higher alcohol content.
Herbaceous: A term that describes a wine with the taste or smell of herbs.
Legs: The rivulets that form on the sides of the glass when the wine is swirled. These can be used to evaluate the alcohol content of the wine. The more pronounced the rivulets, the higher the alcohol content.
Length: The amount of time the flavors persist after swallowing. Measured in seconds, usually anywhere from 10 to 50 seconds. The longer the better the quality.
Murky: A term that describes a wine with a cloudy color. Like that of unfiltered wines.
Musty: A term that describes a wine with a moldy smell.
Neutral: A term used to describe a wine that is neither particularly good nor bad.
Nose: The combination of aroma and bouquet. Describes the total olfactory sensation.
Oaky: A term that describes a wine with the aroma or taste of oak. Since many wines are aged in oak barrels, this flavor can come from the aging process.
Oxidized: A negative term that describes a wine that has gone stale typically through the process of being exposed to air.
Palate: The affect the wine has on the sensations in your mouth. Comes from the body, taste, and finish.
Pedestrian: A negative term used to describe a wine that is less complex and plain.
Peppery: A term that describes a wine with a spicy taste found in a Gewurztraminer or Shiraz.
Perfumed: A term that describes a wine with a delicate bouquet typically consisting of extra sugar.
Potent: A term used to describe a more intense wine. Could also refer to a wine higher in alcohol content.
Quaffer: A wine that you would be more likely to drink rather than sip. This is also used to describe a person who drinks wine.
Robust: A term used to describe a more full-bodied vigorous wine.
Round: A term used to describe a wine that is a well-balanced wine in fruit, tannins and body.
Seductive: A term used to describe a wine that is appealing.
Short: A term used to describe a wine whose taste do not remain after swallowing.
Simple: Opposite of complex. Can often be an inexpensive or younger wine that has not aged.
Smoky: A term that describes a wine with a subtle wood-smoke aroma. This can come from oak fired barrels through the aging process.
Soft: A term used to describe a wine that does not have a big impact on the palate. Often used to describe the acidity, tannins, or alcohol levels.
Spicy: A term that describes a wine with the presence of any various spice flavors such as anise, cinnamon, cloves, mint and black pepper.
Supple: A term used to describe a wine that is generally indicative of potential quality but is lacking in aggressiveness.
Sweet: One of the four basic tastes. Typically derived from the presence of residual sugars or glycerin.
Tannin: A term that describes a wine with a dry sometimes bitter sensation, with flavors of leather and tea.
Tart: A term that describes a wine with a sharp taste derived from high acidity.
Thin: A term used to describe a wine that lacks body and depth.
Toasty: A term that describes a wine with flavor or aromas of oak, toffee, cinnamon, or cloves. Used often in descriptions of white wines.
Velvety: A term that describes a wine with a silky smooth texture and rich flavors. Usually lower in tannins.
Zesty: A term that describes a wine that is invigorating.