Simple Guide to Common Wine Terms #2

by Thomas Robson

Part 2 of MoBo Vino’s super simple guide to common wine terms offers some of the basic lingo & wine talk you need to weasel your way through a wine tasting with the pros.

If you missed part 1 of this super simple guide you can check it out here… 

Acidity - think lemon high acid and a banana low acid. Grape varieties have different acid profiles but other influences can include climate (a wine’s acid will be higher in a cool climate and lower in a warmer climate), soil (different soils affect acid build up) and time of picking (picked early will be higher in acid, picked later will be lower.)

Acid is generally tasted in the front and sides of your mouth and gives wine its life. It might be described as, prickly, electric, sharp, soft, low, medium or high.

Complexity - if a wine has so many smells and flavours you cant write them all down its considered complex. Adding to a wine’s complexity is as simple as adding a flavour. 

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

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

Tannin - Once you know what Tannin is, you will never forget it. It’s like riding a bike. Ever bitten into a banana skin you can't get open and had that mouth furring bitter texture? Well that’s tannin. Tannin is what’s left over after winemakers have crushed grapes. It can be described as powdery, grippy, chewy or grainy. Tannins are more pronounced when young and break down over time giving a wine length and elegance. 

Grip - grip refers to how the tannins grip to your mouth, usually coarse or fine tannins can be expressed as grippy, they linger in mouth.

Phenolics - Phenols and tannin go had in hand but in a winetasting environment we use the term phenolics to describe a white wine that has had a little skin contact, giving it a slight grip. Basically for us, white wine tannins are referred to as phenolics.

Drive - drive describes the attack of the wine; how quickly the flavours accelerate through the palate. 

Reductive - a wine that has seen little oxygen in the winemaking process can smell of hydrogen sulfide, think rotten eggs or volcanic rock. This usually blows off with time in the glass.

Oxidative/oxidisation - a wine that has been affected by exposure to oxygen - like an apple left out to brown - might have aromas of bruised apple or over ripe fruit. This is often unwanted but can be used as a winemaking technique in a select number of wine styles.

Funky - you might hear someone talk about a wine having funky characteristics… Think of a really stinky cheese; the wine has characters of yeast and forest floor; it could also be a bit reductive and have some whole bunch.

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