Simple Guide to Common Wine Terms #1

by Jessica Harding

Spend long enough around a winemaker, a wine wanker or a truly committed wine drinker and you’ll want this layman’s dictionary for all that wine talk. 

While it’s clearly several hundred pages short of the before-promised dictionary, you’ve got to start somewhere… So here it is… The first of many instalments dedicated to taking the wank out of wine talk. 

Big thanks to Bo -  without whose explanations we'd still be up shit creek without a f-ing paddle.  

Nose - yep, when they say nose they mean smell - Nose is simply what wine smells like. To the experts, the aromas of the wine are the number one indicator of its makeup. 

Body - this is a common one: They’ll say it’s light / medium / full bodied. Body is how a wine feels in your mouth, weight wise.

Mouth feel - turning the wine-wank meter right up… When they say mouth feel they’re referring to the wine’s feeling of weight and texture in your mouth. Think water - clean, light and fresh, while a spoonful of honey - sweet, cloying and sticky… While more subtle in wine, the principles are the same. 

Fermentation - is the process of turning grapes into alcohol. Unless your name is Jesus and you’ve nailed the whole water to wine party trick - wine comes from fermenting grapes. During fermentation the sugar in the grape is eaten by active yeast, the by-product is alcohol, c02 and heat.

Inoculated yeast - is not a yeast with a covid vaccination certificate (too soon?) Actually inoculated yeast is just yeast that’s been added manually to grape must or juice, to start fermentation. Just like you’d add to bread dough if you’re feeling a bit too snazzy for Bakers Delight. Of course different types of wines use different varieties of yeasts. And there’s a lot of them. 

Natural fermentation - aka wild yeast, or spontaneous fermentation. Naturally occurring yeasts left to grow in the wine will ferment naturally. While riskier or less predictable, the lo-fi gang believe it’s the simple the best way to produce the best results.

Complexity - if a wine has so many smells and flavours you cant write down its considered complex, adding to wines complexity is as simple as adding a flavour.

Depth - A wine with depth has good length, density and roundness.

Length - in basic terms length is how long a wine tastes in your mouth.

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