We at northforker believe wine tasting experiences are as individualized as the tasters themselves.
Local tasting room managers often tell their customers that tastes and smells are incredibly subjective. Some suggest closing your eyes and letting your senses take in what they may.
Here is our glossary of tasting terms and we hope they help guide you through your next winery tour:
The liveliness and crispness of a wine.
The scent of the grapes and smell of the wine
Having a pronounced and specific impact on the olfactory sense. Aromatic wines might be herbal, floral, or spicy.
The elements of wine — acids, sugars, tannins, alcohol — coming together harmoniously.
Robust, intense, full-bodied, and high in alcohol.
A taste sense on the back of the tongue and mainly caused by tannins.
Describes the weight and fullness of a wine in the mouth. A wine can be light, medium or full bodied.
A tasting note that means a wine is sparkling clear.
A term designating a sparkling wine or Champagne that tastes extremely dry.
Tastes like butter.
Describes underdeveloped and young wines whose flavors aren’t coming through well.
Crude and simple.
When a wine exhibits myriad odors, nuances and flavors.
This refers to fresh, fruity ACIDITY, which is a highly desirable quality, especially for white wines. Synonyms: SNAPPY, TART, and BRISK.
Opposite of sweet. A dry wine causes puckering sensations in the mouth.
An odor or flavor reminiscent of damp soil.
The way a wine tastes after it has been swallowed; the lingering effects of a wine in the mouth.
When a wine smells and tastes like fresh fruit.
A pronounced and invigorating sensation on the palate.
Denotes the length of time a wine’s presence stays in the mouth.
Having a soft mouth feel.
The way a wine feels (as opposed to tastes) in the mouth; e.g., rough, smooth, velvety, furry)
How a wine smells.
The smells and flavors of wood, toast, and vanilla, which come from fermentation in good oak barrels.
A wine that is ready to drink
A spoilage condition caused by excessive exposure to air. Causes a wine to brown and lose its fruitiness and freshness. Deliberate exposure to oxygen is part of the character of some wines.
A desirable quality similar to oxidization that adds a nutty, earthy complexity. It is brought about in certain fortified wines and brandies by exposure to air or heat.
The dried-grape flavor that appears in wines made from overripe fruit.
Unfermented sugar that remains in a finished wine.
Simple, unassuming, and lacking in finesse or pretension. Rusticity can be charming in certain less expensive wines but is undesirable in expensive bottles.
Smooth; light in texture and mouth feel.
Lacking harshness; smoothly textured.
Characteristic of young red wines, tannins cause a puckery feeling in the mouth and can be product of the grape’s pits, stems, and skins, or of the oak in which the wine is stored.
A French word that refers to the influence that the combination of soil, climate, and situation have on the flavor of a wine.
The physical structure of a wine’s body. Wines can be thin, viscous, grainy, or silky. (See the related term MOUTH FEEL.)
A wine made completely or predominantly from one grape variety.
A specific type of grape. Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Blanc, for example, are grape varieties. The wines made from these grapes are called varietal wines.
Soft, thick, and smooth on the palate.
Smelling or tasting like vegetables. Some common vegetable scents and tastes include bell peppers, asparagus, and broccoli.
This guide was originally published in the spring 2013 Northforker Long Island Wine Press