Harmony among the wine's components -- fruit, acidity, tannins, alcohol; a well-balanced wine possesses the various elements in proper proportion to one another.
Powerful in aroma and flavor; full-bodied.
Usually considered a fault in but characteristic of such wines as Amarone and certain other Italian reds.
The weight and texture of a wine; it may be light-bodied or full-bodied. Often refers to alcohol content.
A mold that attacks certain grapes, producing honeyed sweet wines like Sauternes and late-harvest Rieslings.
The complex of aromas that develops with age in fine wines; young wines have aroma, not bouquet.
Similar to good bloodlines and handling, as in racehorses; the result of soil, grapes and vinification techniques that combine to produce depth and distinctive character in a wine.
Term used to measure the sugar content of grapes, grape juice (must) or wine. Grapes are generally harvested at 20 to 25 Brix, resulting in alcohol after fermentation of 11.5 to 14 percent.
Term for dry Champagne or sparkling wine.
Descriptor for rich flavor and smoothness of texture, somewhat akin to the oiliness and flavor of butter. More often refers to oak-aged white wines than reds; many Chardonnays and white Burgundies are said to have buttery aromas and flavors.
Distinctive balance; fineness; elegance and flair.
Aftertaste, or final impression the wine leaves; it can have a long finish or a short one (not desirable).
Taut balance of elements; tightly knit structure; also distinct flavor.
Dull, lacking in liveliness; wine without sufficient acid.
How the wine tastes.
Fatness of fruit; big, ripe.
Dry, mineral character that comes from certain soils, mostly limestone, in which the wine was grown; typical of French Chablis and Loire Valley Sauvignon Blancs (Sancerre).
Aroma suggestive of flowers.
Developed ahead of its peers; also, when the fruit is prominent, it is said to be forward.
The "grapey" flavors of wines made from native American grapes, Vitis labrusca.
Aroma and/or flavor of grapes; most common to young, light wines but refers also to such fruit flavors in wine as apple, black currant, cherry, citrus, pear, peach, raspberry, or strawberry; descriptive of wines in which the fruit is dominant.
Great; of perfect balance and harmonious expression. The so-called "noble" grapes are those that produce the world's finest wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Riesling (some would also include Syrah, Nebbiolo and Sangiovese).
The smell of the wine; it may have a "good nose" or an "off-nose," meaning defective odors.
Nutlike aromas that develop in certain wines, such as sherries or old white wines.
Refers to finish, or aftertaste, when it ends abruptly.
Smooth, sinuous texture and finish.
Opposite of complex; straightforward.
Aroma and flavor sometimes associated with oak aging.
May refer to soft, gentle fruit in delicate wines, or to lack of acidity in wines without proper structure; used on a label occasionally to indicate low alcohol.
Sound, well structured, firm.
Sharply acidic or vinegary
Wines with bubbles created by trapped carbon dioxide gas, either natural or injected.
Having the character or aroma of spices such as clove, mint, cinnamon, or pepper.
Slight prickle of carbon dioxide, common to some very young wines; frizzante in Italy.
Firmly structured; taut balance tending toward high acidity.
Unyielding, closed; dumb.
Robust, powerful, big.
The way a wine is built; its composition and proportions.
Big, flavorful, full-bodied wines are said to have "stuffing."
Bold, vigorous flavor; full-bodied; robust.
An anti-oxidant used in making most wines; the fermentation process creates minute natural amounts.
Yielding in flavor; a wine that is readily accessible for current drinking.
Usually indicates the presence of residual sugar, retained when grape sugar is not completely converted to alcohol. Even dry wines, however, may have an aroma of sweetness, the combination of intense fruit or ripeness. Considered a flaw if not properly balanced with acidity.
A natural component found to varying degrees in the skins, seeds and stems of grapes; most prominent in red wines, where it creates a dry, puckering sensation in young reds of concentrated extract; mellows with aging and drops out of the wine to form sediment; a major component in the structure of red wines.