Monday, June 28, 2010

Wine Words

This past cave ouvertes was an adventure. Biking through the vineyards, meeting a family, staying for dinner, friend crashing the bike. It was ultimately a good day. These are a few words for the next tasting:

Ten Worthwhile Wine Words

The following 10 words are simple, straightforward and readily understandable. I've also listed the wine(s) that you're likely to be offered by a sommelier or retailer if you use them to describe the wine.

Crisp—a fresh, bright generally young wine with perceptible acidity. Wines like Sauvignon Blanc (from all over the world) and Italian whites like Vermentino, Verdicchio and Arneis fall into this category, as well as Alabarinos from Spain and Chablis from France.

Fruity—a wine with a pronounced fruit flavors and aromas that may be completely dry or "off-dry" (which is to say "perceived as sweet.") Rieslings, Muscats and Gewurztraminers are among the fruitiest wines and Zinfandel and Gamay are among the fruitiest reds.

Grassy—a wine with an herbal character; a classic term to describe Sauvignon Blanc.

Hearty—this is a word used almost exclusively to describe red wines like Syrahs and Malbecs that are fairly substantial in terms of structure and tannins.

Oaky—this is pretty much as it sounds; an oaky wine has a pronounced oak character. It's most often used to describe Chardonnay and Cabernet, though it could describe any wine where the oak is the most dominant feature.

Rich—wines that are viscous, weighty and lush like Chardonnay and Viognier are generally referred to as "rich," as are reds with a lot of extract and flavor like Cabernet, Syrah and Merlot.

Soft—wines that are round and fairly fruity with low or well-integrated tannins and fairly low acidity. The word applies to certain whites, such as Semillon, and reds, such as Gamay and Grenache.

Spicy—this word is associated with the Syrah grape ("peppery" is another) that's grown in the Rhone Valley, Australia and various parts of the world including California and Washington.

Supple—this is usually what people mean when they say they like a "smooth" wine. It's applicable to wines with fairly soft tannins and texture such as a Pinot Noir.

Velvety—this word is all about texture. It generally characterizes a wine that is rich and supple as well. See suggestions above for "supple" and "rich."