Most terms used in discussions of wine tasting are self-explanatory, but some are down-right confounding. Here’s an A-List of the GOOD adjectives!

Aromatic: Plenty of aromas and flavors, usually spicy or flowery, Beefy: Full-bodied, strapping, flavorsome, usually used to describe reds, Creamy: Wine of quality, refers to both the flavor and the texture, Crisp: Fresh and positively refreshing, Elegant: Graceful, refined, artfully made, Fat: Full bodied with high glycerol/sweetness, Finesse: High quality, Firm: Good tannin and/or acid, Fleshy: Well rounded, with no “edges”, Forward: More mature than expected, Fragrant: Delectable/pleasant smell, Heavy: In fortified wine, means full-body, Herby: Reminiscent of grass, herbs, leaves, Long: Taste that’s lasting and enjoyable, Mouth-Filling: Satisfying rich texture with flavors that fill the entire mouth, Meaty: Richly flavored, full-bodied, Penetrating: Intense aromas and flavors, Perfumed: Pleasing fragrance/scent, Rich: Possessing flavor depth and breadth, Robust: Full-bodied, sturdy (usually reds), Scented: Perfumed, fragrant, Silky: Smooth texture, indicating quality, Smooth: Applies to texture only, indicating no tannin or acid are “interfering”, Soft: Soft mellow flavors, not textures, Solid: Plenty of substance, full bodied, Steely: Firm, sinewy character (Chablis and other quality young French wines), Supple: Smooth, round, no hard edges, Tangy: A lively aftertaste (in white wines, sherry and Madeira), Vegetal: Earthy, rather than leafy and herbaceous (in mature burgundy, red and white), Velvety: Similar to silky, but more rich, Zesty: Lively, zippy character.

Wondering why I used the word “confounding” earlier? Some examples:

It’s good to be fat, meaty or fleshy, but wine should NOT be flabby. It’s O.K. to be heavy if you’re a fortified wine, but not if you’re any other wine type. Vegetal and herby are alright, but wine should never be stalky or woody. Being a long wine is a good thing, but it shouldn’t be short, lean or thin. Yes, wine-speak can be confounding!

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Tracie Burket
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