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Glossary of Wine Terms

terrior (tair-wah) * mouth-feel * dry farm * sur lie (soor lee)

What the heck do these words and phrases mean? It can be overwhelming and make you want to throw in the towel and drink Cold Duck for the rest of your life. Ok, do not do that. Learn instead, grow your knowledge and your palate. Here is a glossary with some terms that may help along the way.  Some of these descriptions are culled from the Wine School of Philadelphia dictionary.

Glossary, Descriptions and Terms

 

acidity — the liveliness and crispness in wine that activates our salivary glands

balance — a term for when the elements of wine – acids, sugars, tannins, and alcohol – come together in a harmonious way

body — a tactile sensation describing the weight and fullness of wine in the mouth.  A wine can be light, medium, or full-bodied.

complex — a wine exhibiting numerous odors, nuances, and flavors

dry —  refers to a wine that lacks residual sugar.  It is incorrectly attributed to tannins that can cause a puckering sensation in the mouth

finish  — the impression of textures and flavors lingering in the mouth after swallowing the wine. i.e. “a quick finish” or  “a lingering finish”

fruity — a tasting term for wines that exhibit strong smells and flavors of fresh fruit

mouth-feel — how a wine feels on the palate; it can be rough, smooth, velvety, or furry

oak/oaky — tasting term denoting smells and flavors of vanilla, baking spices, coconut, mocha or dill caused by barrel-aging

spicy — a tasting term used for odors and flavors reminiscent of black pepper, bay leaf, curry powder, baking spices, oregano, rosemary, thyme, saffron or paprika found in certain wines

structure — an ambiguous tasting term that implies harmony of fruit, alcohol, acidity, and tannins

sweet — wines with perceptible sugar contents on the nose and in the mouth

tannins — the phenolic compounds in wines that leave a bitter, dry, and puckery or parched feeling in the mouth

sur lie – Pronounced [soor LEE] –  It is the French expression for “on the lees.”

What are lees”?  Lees is the coarse sediment that settles at the bottom of the tank or barrel, which consists mainly of dead yeast cells and small grape particles that accumulate during fermentation. Sur lie aging is the process of allowing a wine to sit on the lees in order to extract beneficial textures and flavors.

What do I mean when I say “at the top” and “at the bottom” when smelling a wine?

Aromas that come off the wine linger at different levels in your wine glass. As you smell your wine move your nose around in the glass to get a complete picture of the enticing aromas of a particular wine. First, take a whiff at the top of your glass. Note what you are sensing. Now take a whiff in the lower portion of the glass. You may smell different aromas from the top of your glass then you will in the bottom. Note: If you are serving the wine “too cold” you may not smell anything until the wine warms up.

What do I mean by dry farmed?

“Dry farmed” is farming without irrigation. While irrigation may be used to get new vineyards started for about five years, they are eventually weaned off irrigation to survive on their own.  This type of farming produces smaller berries with a greater juice to skin ratio making for more flavorful wines.

 

 

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