The wine industry may seem to have a language of its own but then its origins can be traced back many thousands of years when modern language was in its infancy. Pioneers of various wine making processes gave their names to production methods and the names of towns, villages and grape growing regions were adopted as the names for various types of wine, buy canna wines with the Champagne region of France perhaps being one of the most famous. Learning a little terminology can help you immeasurably when researching your wine offers. Although we are only scratching the surface here, the following terms may be of use:
Appellation – The region of a country where particular wines are produced such as the Languedoc region of southern France or the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy.
Balance – The levels of acidity, fruit flavour/scent, tannin etc. in a particular wine. This tends to be more of an individual perception as everyone’s tastes and sense of smell is slightly different.
Chaptalization – The process of introducing sugar to grapes which are already fermenting with the aim of increasing the alcohol content of a wine.
Herbaceous – An aroma or flavour associated with wine where the grapes are grown in a cool climate, either on higher slopes or further north of the equator.
Kabinett – A German phrase used to describe high quality wine associated with the driest German Rieslings.
Legs – An enthusiasts term used to describe how the liquid adheres to the inside of a glass when it has been swirled inside the glass or tasted.
Nose – Also referred to as bouquet and used to describe a wine’s particular aroma.
Reserve – A term of American origin used to describe a high quality wine.
Steely – A term used to describe wine with high acidity that has not been aged in the barrel. Also described as crisp.
Tannins – Phenolic plant compounds. Grape tannins are found mostly in the skins and grape pits. Tannins are sharp-tasting and give structure to the wine. In more aged liquids, the tannins die off and the liquid becomes less sharp.
Vintage – Often mistakenly used as a term to describe a wine of great age, the term actually refers to a particular year or harvest in the wine business. All bottles have a vintage, be it 1895 or 2014.
There are, of course, many more terms used in the industry but through introduction to a few, you will invariably encounter and learn more. Do a little research and read some reviews written by budget wine connoisseurs with reference to the 5 S’s (see, swirl, sniff, sip and savour).