Autumn is here, the leaves are falling and it’s starting to get chilly in Santiago! It’s also the perfect time of year to visit the large variety of wineries and wine festivals that Chile has to offer and enjoy a tasty glass of wine during the famous “vendimia” or wine harvest. Here’s a list of some common wine tasting vocabulary to help you describe the abundance of flavors you’ll experience when you take a sip of what Luis Fernando Olaverri called, “…the only artwork you can drink.”
Acidity: the fresh, tart and sour tastes which balance the sweet and bitter wine components
The acidity of this wine is very high.
To aerate or to breathe: when you open a bottle of wine and it’s exposed to oxygen, which makes the taste of the wine “softer” or less intense. We let a wine “breathe” or “aerate” to improve its flavors.
Let’s let the wine aerate before we drink it.
If you let if breathe for a while it will soften the flavor.
Aged: how long the wine has been in a barrel or bottle before it’s been opened. Some wine experts say the longer the wine has been bottled the better the taste.
This bottle of wine has been aged for three years.
Appearance: what the wine looks like: its color, whether it’s clear or hazy, etc.
Aroma: The smell of wine
The aromas of wine are more diverse than its flavors.
Balance: when acidity, alcohol, sweetness, body and tannins (for reds) complete each other harmoniously
Bitter: when a wine has a sharp, intense, acidic flavor (not sweet)
The trace of bitterness in this wine really compliments the other flavors.
Body: the feeling of the weight and fullness of wine in your mouth. People describe the body of a wine by saying it’s:
Light-bodied: wine that has an alcohol content under 12.5% (usually a white wine). Commonly these wines are considered crisp and refreshing (e.g. Prosecco, Vinho Verde and Riesling)
Medium-bodied: wine that is between 12.5% and 13.5% alcohol content (e.g. Rose, Pinot Grigio, French Burgundy and Sauvignon Blanc)
Full-bodied: wine that has an alcohol content over 13.5% (e.g. Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah/Shiraz, Zinfandel and Malbec). Most wines that are over 13.5% are red, Chardonnay is a white wine that’s commonly reflected as being a full-bodied wine.
Buttery: describes white wines, like chardonnay, that have a slight butter taste and smell
I love a good rich, buttery chardonnay!
Complex or complexity: describes a mixture of qualities like fullness, flavor and balance
This wine is complex (i.e. it has a lot of different combinations of flavors and aromas)
Crisp: a refreshing taste caused by the acidity of a wine which refers to the fresh, firm feeling in the mouth (usually used when talking about white wine with less fruit)
This is an elegant, but crisp wine.
Dry: having no taste of sugar (not sweet)
Would you prefer a medium or dry white wine?
Finish: impression a wine leaves when you swallow it
A wine’s finish includes not only its strength, but how long it lingers in your mouth.
Fruity: taste and/or smell that are related to a sweet, fruity flavor
This wine has a delicious fruity flavor.
Harvest: when the grapes are ready to be picked or removed from the vines
Every harvest we hire extra workers to help us. (noun)
We need to harvest the grapes when they are ripe. (verb)
Palate: the sensations perceive in the mouth while tasting
Acidity, alcohol, sugar, tannins combine to form the palate.
Wine pairing: Matching wine and food in order to balance the component of the food with the characteristics of the wine.
This pairing of the white wine with the fish really amplifies the shared flavor components.
Written by: Monica Jones