Norton Safeweb

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Wine Tasting Terminology Explained

Wine geeks throw around a lot of terms to make them look smart and to drive you crazy. Here's all you need to know about that nerdy jargon used by those know-it-alls.

I just want a #%&ing glass of Merlot!

Aftertaste - Means you've swallowed and are now waiting for the alcohol to kick in.
Alcohol - Why you drink in the first place--so you don't have to be responsible for your later actions. But really, tequila works much faster.
Aged - Some wines suck when you buy them so "they" (the experts) tell you to age the wine for a few years. Hopefully, by then you'll have forgotten who gave you the shitty advice.
Aroma - The smells you get from the fermented grape juice vs. Bouquet which is the smell from processing and aging. How do you tell what's an aroma and what's bouquet? Not sure. I mean is a fart an aroma or bouquet? I think you could make an argument either way.
Austere - In our childhood we all knew some authority figure who was strict and austere. So an austere wine will send a shiver down your spine.
Big - The opposite of elegant. So, big wines have too much, Elegant wines don't have enough--of something.
Body - Do you want a Big Bodied or an Elegant (and apparently skinny) wine?
Brilliant - No, this doesn't mean it's a smart wine. It means they've filtered all of the flavor out (those nasty aromas and maybe the bouquet, too).
Closed-in (or Dumb phase) - Oops, you opened the bottle too soon. Bummer. Hope you've got more.
Complex - A Complex wine can't decide what it wants to be so there's a little bit of everything.
Delicate - Trying to make a thin, lighter wine sound good.
Dry - No, I don't know how dry got to be the opposite of sweet either. I blame it on the French.
Earthy - Flavors left in the wine because the grapes weren't washed after they fell on the ground when being picked.
Fat - Remember that aunt who always wanted to hug and kiss you when you were a kid? She was fat and smelly, right? So fat wines tend to be perfumey to hide the sweat.
Full-bodied - Think Marilyn Monroe and you're going to like this wine.
Hard - Sorry ladies, but it's bad in this case.
Hot - This is also bad. No wonder wine terminology is so damn confusing.
Legs - Thick legs can mean hot. This is getting more difficult, huh?
Lush - What you become when you start your days with Chardonnay at 10 am.
Malolactic Fermentation - When buying Chardonnay you're supposed to ask about this so you sound like you know what you're talking about. If the salesperson calls your bluff and starts talking about titratable acidity just nod.
Nose - Well, if wine has legs and a body it can have a nose, too.
Oaky - Wine drinkers from Tulsa.
Rustic wines taste better here
Image from owensvalley
Overripe - Like moldy cheese, a two week old banana, or that homeless guy who hit you up for a quarter.
Plump - There's that aunt again.
Rich - What all wines aspire to be since they can't marry into it.
Rustic - Wines best consumed in a cabin in the middle of nowhere, preferably one made of logs with no indoor plumbing.
Structure - What every wine should have but no one can define.
Toasty - What you are after two bottles.
Varietal Character - Means Sauvignon Blanc tastes like Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot like Merlot, and hot dogs taste like beef, not turkey, damnit!
Well-balanced - What you aren't after two bottles.
Woody - I can't figure why some wine marketing genius hasn't combined hard, hot and woody into the descriptors of a wine aimed at females.