Wine Language, Learn About Wine



There are many words that can be used to describe wine's character. From a bottle of wine, you can get distinctive flavours, aromas, body type and style.
Professional wine tasters use these words to give wine a detailed character description. You can do the same.

Knowing these words and what they mean can be useful when discussing, describing, or buying wine.

Wine Style

Aromas - used to describe flavours and aromas in young wines

Bouquet - used to describe flavours and aromas in wines that have been aged

Body - can be light, medium, full, rich, bold, fruity

Sweetness - used to describe residual sugars in wine, can range from very dry to very sweet. Residual sugars are a by product of the wine making process, not added sugar as found in common soft drinks. Wine makers control the amount of residual sugar by controlling the fermentation process.

Some of the more common sweetness types in wine are:

brut, x dry - most common in sparkling wine styles,

dry - most common in white and red still wines and some sparkling styles,

medium dry, medium - most common in white still wine styles commonly known as an "off dry style". These wines have a bit of sweetness to them. Can also be found in some sparkling styles, rose styles, and some red still wines. Medium dry is considered less sweet than medium.

sweet, very sweet - most common in dessert wines, wines labelled as sweet or very sweet are commonly paired with sweets, desserts, fruit pies, custards. And, depending on the wines' notes, red sweet wines can be paired with beef like hamburgers. Sweet wines are also paired with many styles of cheese, both red and white wine types.

Rich - sense of sweetness but not excessive


Tannic- lots of tannins in the wine - like black tea taste

Supple- not overly tannic

Soft- not overly tannic

Smooth- soft tannins, pleasing texture

Round -good sense of body, not too tannic

Rough - coarse texture, usually young tannic wine

Leathery - red wines, high tannins, thick and soft taste

Hard - overly tannic wine

Firm - strong sense of tannins

Bitter - unpleasant tannins

Astringent - white wines that are overly tannic


Jammy - fruity rich but lacks tannins

Fruity sense of grape character

Big Wine Intense flavours or lots of alcohol in the wine

Hollow - lacks sense of fruit


Acidic -noticeable acidity

Cloying -not balanced with acidity

Crisp - pleasing acidity

Fresh - good acidity

Tart - high acidity

Fat - too much fat, not balanced by acidity in the wine

Flabby - lacking acidity

Sour - unbalanced acidity, excessive acetic acid


Vegetal - aromas and flavours vegetarian

Green - vegetal notes, reds with bell pepper or herbal notes, unripe grapes used

Grass - mowed grass, lemon grass

Herbal - aromas like herbs

Herbaceous - herb and herbal from the grape variety character

Earthy - aromas and flavours - earth, forest, mushrooms and can be dry on palate

Oaking and Malolactic Fermentation

Buttery - from malolactic fermentation, gives buttery texture

Oaky - has been oaked, has flavours of vanilla, sweet spice(nutmeg), creamy body, smoky, or toasted flavour

Vanillan- aromas of vanilla found in wine oak aging

Eugenol - Isoeugenol Spice and clove notes from oak aging

Furfurral - Methylfurfural Caramel and sweet aromas from oak aging

Guaiacol - Methulguaiacol Charred and smoky aromas from oak aging

Toasty - sense of charred or smoky taste from oak aging

Spicy -various spices: black pepper, cinnamon, from grape varietal, and some from oak influences

Oxidative - wine oxidatively matures, and gives flavours of nutty, biscuity, butteriness, and spicy notes.

Raisiny - usually red wines, use of overripe grapes

Reticent - not much aromas or bouquet character, perhaps because a young wine

Overall Character

Hot - overly alcholic

Finesse - high quality wine, well balanced

Elegant - has finesse and subtle flavours that are balanced

Expressive - good aromas and flavours

Depth - textured wine, complex wine, several flavours in wine

Aftertaste - the final taste of the wine, aka - the finish, longer finishes imply better quality and complexity of the wine; wines 10 sec - good, 20 secs - best.

Connected - ability to taste the wines terroir; place where wine grapes were grown- the soil, the climate, what makes the wine unique to its vineyard.


Oxidized - too much exposure to oxidation, sherry like odor

Vinegary - harsh vinegar aroma result of acetic acid

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