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Wine Terminology

The following list is an introduction to the language of wine flavour and aroma; you
can learn more:

acetic The taste and smell of vinegar.
acidity The tarty taste of acid in the wine.
aftertaste The flavour that remains in your mouth after you have swallowed the
wine.
anthocyanins The pigment in red wine grapes
appellation A system by which some European countries seek to maintain quality
and product image for their wines. It specifies the areas of land that may
be used for grape-growing, which cultivars may be used, the maximum
yield and the minimum alcohol content of the wines. Australia does not
have this type of legislation.
aroma The ‘bouquet’ or fragrance of a wine.
astringent The mouth-puckering effect caused by tannin in the wine.
balance The way flavours such as fruit, acid and alcohol combine.
big wine A rich and full-bodied wine, high in alcohol and tannin, that will improve
greatly with age.
body Similar to balance. A full-bodied or well-rounded wine is rich and
complex with a well-balanced combination of acid, sweetness and
alcohol.
botrytised Under certain conditions the growth of botrytis cinerea mould on ripe
bunches of grapes can take a form known as ‘noble rot’. This desiccates
(dries) the grapes and enhances the sweetness and flavour of dessert
wines made from them.
bouquet The fragrance of the wine.
broad A wine of no particular definition.
buttery Describes either the colour or flavour of a wine.
citrus The smell and flavour of citrus fruit, such as lime, lemon or grapefruit.
cloying Excessively sweet.
corked A mouldy unpleasant taste or smell caused by a faulty cork or unclean
barrels used in storage.
crisp A pleasant, tarty or acid taste often associated with young wines.
depth The measure of fruitiness.
dessert wine A sweet or fortified wine.
dry A wine whose sugar has mostly been converted to alcohol during
fermentation.
earthy A rich and loamy smell or taste.
finish Aftertaste. A wine that has good finish lingers in the mouth.
flabby or flat A dull wine lacking in acid and flavour.
flinty The smell of dry rocks being struck.
floral An aroma of citrus blossom, violets or other flowers.
fortified wine Wine which has had grape spirit or brandy added to it.
fruit Flavour of fruit. Both sweet and dry wines can exhibit fruit.
grass See herbaceous. Common in wines made from Sauvignon Blanc.
hard A wine with excessive tannin in it.
herbaceous An aroma of herbs, leaves or grass. A varietal character found in many
Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc wines.
jammy An aroma of stewed fruit.
legs The rivulets of wine that run down inside the glass after it has been
swirled. Rich wines high in alcohol show greater viscosity (ropiness).
length See aftertaste.
lively Fresh and fruity. Usually applied to good young white wines with good
acidity.
mellow Well-aged, soft wine
mousy An unpleasant, flat, vinegary ‘off’ smell or flavour due to bacterial
infection.
mouth-filling Big and rich.
musky Pleasant spicy or earthy smell.
musty Undesirable smell of mould. See corked.
nose See aroma.
oaky The vanillin flavour and aroma of oak, particularly from new oak barrels.
open Ready to drink. Flavours and aromas can change quickly and improve
after the wine is opened and in contact with the air.
oxidized Deterioration due to the wine being exposed to air during ageing.
Oxidized wines eventually become brown and smell bad.
pepper The smell and taste of cracked pepper.
perfumed A fragrant aroma.
pH The measure of acidity in a liquid. A pH less than 7 is acid; 7 is neutral and
above 7 is alkaline. In a wine a pH between 3 and 4 is acceptable.
pungent A strong earthy smell.
rich A full,well-balanced wine, usually with high alcohol content.
room temperature Around 18°C.
rough A coarse wine, usually with excessive tannin or acid.
rounded A full-bodied wine with good balance.spritzy A small amount of effervescence, not desirable in still (non-sparkling)
wines.
structure The completeness of the wine, showing competent wine-making.
tannic A dry and astringent taste due to tannin. It occurs more often in red
wines than in white, and depends on the amount of time the wine stays
in contact with grape skins, seeds and stems or in oak barrels.
terroir The type of soil, drainage and climate affecting vine growth and the
finished wine.
thin-bodied Lacking in body and flavour.
toasty The flavour of toasted oak in the wine.Depending on how lightly or
heavily the inside of the oak barrel is toasted, flavours range from woody
to vanilla to spicy and smoky accordingly.
varietal The distinctive characteristics of a wine made from a single grape variety.
woody An exaggerated or excessive flavour of oak.
yeasty Wine matured in contact with sediment containing dead yeast cells can
smell or taste of yeast. Usually considered undesirable except in some
sparkling wines.

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