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Wine Vocabulary and What It All Means

Time to learn what it actually means when people throw around terms like 'astringent' or 'bouquet.'
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Even for veteran oenophiles, wine talk can be daunting. And if you've had a bottle of wine introduced by a sommelier, you may have had similar feelings. Astringency, tannins, bouquet and nose are just some of the terms thrown around when it comes to describing a wine, and it can be hard to catch up when you don't know what each means.

While an answer can't be classified as right or wrong when it comes to describing how a wine tastes to an individual, there are certain words used in the wine world to describe specific notes, flavors and textures.

Here's a quick guide to some of the more commonly used terms of wine vernacular and what they really mean.

READ MORE: What is Biodynamic Wine?

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Astringent: Refers to the harsh, bitter and drying mouthfeel some wines have, usually caused by tannins, acid or both. Wines that are high in tannins will make your mouth dry up and pucker the same way a strong black tea would.

Tannic: Refers to a wine that's full of tannins, which is derived from the skin and stems of the grapes used in the wine, that leaves a bitter, dry and astringent taste in the mouth. It often has a misunderstood negative connotation tied to it, but it's imperative to balancing out the flavors of a wine.

Mouthfeel: How a wine feels on the palate and can be described as smooth, rough or silky.

Aeration: Refers to letting a wine "breathe" for a period of time. This allows oxygen to permeate the wine, which helps to round and soften up its flavors.

Nose: Used to describe the aromas and bouquet of a wine.

Aromas: The smells derived from the type of grapes used. For example, the aroma of a wine can be described as fruity, herbaceous or floral.

Bouquet: Unlike aromas, refers to the smells of the wine derived from the winemaking process—fermentation and aging—and can be describes as nutty, spicy or woody.

Finish: The lingering taste and textures that remain on the palate after a sip of wine.

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