The Right Words about Wine

The Right Words about Wine

The Art of Wine Description

A glass of wine is an experience for all the senses. Its aromas, its bouquet, the colour reflections in the flowing deep red, vibrant pink, and bright yellow-gold. But within that sensuous realm, the characteristics of a wine are not always easy to put into words. What can be of great help is a basic knowledge of the common terms used within the language of wine, along with a little practice.

What the Eye Sees
Before the scent or the aromas of the wine are even perceived, its visual impression grabs our attention. But within this context, the colour spectrum to be described extends beyond just white to red. The red wine varieties cover a broad range of colour nuances, from light copper to dark purple. White wines may range in colour from light green to golden yellow and amber.
It’s likewise important to describe the luminosity and intensity of the colour (light, dark, deep), the clarity (veiled, clear, brilliant) of the liquid, and the viscosity (watery, thick) of the liquid. The latter is examined by swirling the wine in the glass.

What the Nose Smells
Just as the colour reflections of a wine are frequently defined at first (or second) glance, the scent might require a bit more experience. At this point, a step backwards may be beneficial because: How to smell wine? Fragrance aromas unfold best if you swirl the glass slightly and hold it at an angle while smelling, so that the surface area is maximized. In this way, a general impression can be formed: does the wine smell restrained or intense? Experts can also use their sense of smell to make considerations about the wine’s level of maturity and complexity (from simple to multi-layered). And they may also categorize the scent, that is, classify it more precisely and compare it to familiar aromas.
Wines can leave an impression with fruity scents, such as of berries or citrus fruits, and they can also captivate with floral notes, such as of violets, leafy herbs, or elderberry. The smell can lean toward mineral, chemical, spicy, or even animal-based (leather, wool). Wines aged in small oak casks can also possess toasted aromas.

What the Mouth Tastes
The grand finale of wine tasting and description is, of course, the taste. A wine can shine with sweetness (from dry to sweet) or acidity (from bland to lively). It is also necessary to describe its juiciness: a juicy wine glides down the palate easily, without being harsh, rough, or dull. If a wine is rich in tannins – which naturally occur during the winemaking process– it will be perceived as more tart.
Wine connoisseurs also note the finish of wine at the last moment of tasting, that is, the sensation it leaves in the mouth: is it short, medium, or long?

And what's the overall verdict on the wine that has been tasted? It can certainly be kept simple without the need to rely on any expert technical terms: from basic to outstanding!
© Photo: IDM Südtirol-Alto Adige/Patrick Schwienbacher
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