Because School Is Cool: A Wine Vocabulary Lesson.
When I think of full-bodied, I think of Beyonce, but, apparently wines can be full-bodied too. With the Virginia Wine Expo just weeks away (February 26, 27 and 28!), I figured it was time for a wine vocabulary refresher. In this effort, I whipped out my Wine for Dummies book to give us some guidance. After reading this, hopefully you’ll be able to describe the many wines you’re sampling with the best of them. I’ll cover the four basic taste sensations: sweetness, acidity, tannin and body:
- Sweetness: Remember that in the wine world, dry is the opposite of sweet. You can classify your wine as dry, off-dry (somewhat sweet) or sweet. Don’t confuse fruitiness with sweetness (fruit flavors designate fruity – you can smell fruit flavors, sweetness is something you can taste with your tongue). Here’s a tip from Wine for Dummies: “When in doubt, try holding your nose when tasting the wine; if the wine really is sweet, you’ll be able to taste the sweetness despite the fact that you can’t smell the fruitness.”
- Acidity: All wine contains acid – but, acidity is usually a term saved to describe white wines. “Crisp” white wines have a good amount of acidity. Other wines may feel softer, with lower acidities, these can be referred to as “smooth or mellow.” If there’s too little acidity, a wine can be referred to as “fat or flabby.”
- Tannin: I went over tannins in my previous post. Tannin is a substance found in the skins, seeds and stems of grapes – there’s traces in all wines, but this is a term reserved for red wines. Wines for Dummies explains, “Have you ever taken a sip of red wine and rapidly experienced a drying-out feeling in your mouth, as if something had blotted up all your saliva? That’s tannin.” Tannins in red wines can be described as astringent, firm or soft. And here’s another tip from Wine for Dummies regarding the difference between differentiating tannins and acidity: “Pay attention to how your mouth feels after you’ve swallowed the wine. Acid makes you salivate (saliva is alkaline, and it flows to neutralize the acid); tanning leaves your mouth dry.
- Body: Wines are typically referred to as light-bodied, medium-boding or full-bodied. A wine’s “body” describes the weight and the size of the wine in your mouth. The thicker, or heavier the wine, the more body it has.
The wine vocabulary lesson is now over. Check back later this month for a post giving details on what to expect from this year’s Virginia Wine Expo. Until next week, cheers!
By Kristina Headrick Amongst hordes of wine loving Virginians, I was lucky enough to to attend the 6th Annual Wine Expo this past Saturday. Hosted at the massive Greater Richmond Convention Center, the event benefited FeedMore, Central Virginia’s core hunger relief organization. More than a collection of wineries, the event featured vendors selling specialty foods, art, [...]February 26, 2013
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