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wine terms to use when wine tasting

Online Wine Dictionary

online wine dictionary of wine terms at merchant of wine

Are you learning about wine but overwhelmed by the new vocabulary that relates to wine? Wine can be intimidating anyway but when language you haven't heard before is added to the mix it can be a lot to understand. With our online wine dictionary of common wine terms you can comfortably grow your wine vocabulary and sound like an expert!  Read this guide and you'll be ready to start tasting new wines and using these wine terms.  Cheers!

Common Wine Terms

Acidity- This refers to the crispness of the wine.  Acidity is the fresh, tart or sour feeling created by the acids in the wine. 

Appellation-  Refers to the area where the grapes that make the wine were grown. Examples would be Napa Valley, Tuscany or Piedmont.

Aroma- Is something defined that can be picked up when smelling the wine like fruits, flowers, oak or smoke. 

Body- Refers to the sensation of richness that a wine produced in the mouth. Wine can be light, medium or full-bodied. 

Bouquet- Similar to smelling flowers, a bouquet is the collection of aromas that specific wine has. For example, a wine could have a bouquet of earth, cherries and smoke.

Blend- A blend is a wine that is produced with more than one grape variety. For example, a Bordeaux blend can be made with Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere grapes, while a “GSM” is a blend that contains Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. 

Complexity- Refers to the numerous flavors, tannins and aromas that work together to transform the flavor of the wine and create uniqueness.

Corked- This is not uncommon and it is a sad thing when you open a bottle and this has happened! Corked wine has been spoiled due to cork taint. Cork taint occurs when microorganisms come in contact with cork and instantly ruin the wine. Common odors of corked wine are wet newspaper, moldy basement, chlorine, or damp rags.

Decant- The act of pouring wine into a separate container for the purpose of either separating older wine from sediment or aerating wine to introduce oxygen.  The presence of oxygen will open up aromas and brings out flavors in the wine.

Depth- It refers to the aroma, taste, texture and finish associated to the complexity of the wine. 

Dry- A dry wine has no perceptible taste of sugar. 

Earthy- An earthy wine features a bitter or sour taste similar to grass, chalk, rocks, chocolate or soil. 

Finish- This is the taste that a wine leaves in the mouth after the wine is swallowed. This residual taste can often be sweet, crisp, tart, bitter, or smoky.

Fruity- Fruity wines have a presence of fruit in the aromas and taste of the wine. In the case of red wine, it could be berries, jams, or plums, while in the case of white wine, it could be peach, mango, or pineapple. 

Length- This is the amount of time that the flavors from the wine stay in the mouth after swallowing it. 

Maceration- A part of the winemaking process where the color, flavor and tannins are transferred from the grape skins to the grape juice (and eventually the wine!) 

Mature- A mature wine has reached the stage of peak of complexity and it is the ideal time to drink it.

Minerality- Is an aroma in wine that is not a spice, herb or fruit. Minerality can be associated with the smell of the soil after rain or the smell of chalk.

New World- This is used to describe wines grown outside of Europe and the Mediterranean (regions that are "new" to wine production). 

Oaky- This term is used to refer to the smell and flavors caused by barrel-aging techniques. When wine is aged in oak it can add butter, vanilla or baking spices flavors to the wine.

Old World- This is used to describe wines that are grown in Europe and the Mediterranean. Old world wines are made in the parts of the world with a rich wine-making history. 

Oxidized- Wine that has been overexposed to the presence of oxygen. Oxidization can cause a loss of color and flavor, generally browning in color and more bitter characteristics.

Sediment- Sediment can be found in red or white wine but is more common in red wine. It presents as purple or white flakes at the bottom of a bottle or glass of wine and can be a normal part of the aging process.

Sommelier- A sommelier is a knowledgeable wine professional trained in all aspects of wine service. This includes providing wine recommendations and creating food and wine pairings.

Structure- This refers to how well the wine is balanced in terms of fruit, alcohol, acidity, and tannins.

Sweet- A sweet wine is the opposite of dry wine. Sweetness in wine refers to the residual sugar left in the wine after fermentation.

Tannins- Tannins are the compounds in wines that add a bitter and dry feeling to the mouth, contributing to the wine’s body. 

Terroir- Refers to the land where the grapes are grown. Wine can feature characteristics from the earth of a particular region or vineyard.

Varietal- This is used to describe the type of grape used to produce the wine. Varietal wines are produced with a minimum of 85% of one grape type. Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir are all examples of varietals.

Vintage- A wine that is labeled as "vintage" refers to a wine produced with varietals of a particular harvest year. 


Armed with this wine dictionary of wine terms, you're ready to dive into the incredible world of wine! Dive in, have fun, and enjoy the experience.


If you're looking for an online wine store to buy wine from, Merchant of Wine online wine store has 500+ wines from around the world at incredible prices.  Check It Out HERE!

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