5 Wine Terms for the Non-Sommelier

Cork 1.jpgSometimes wine can be a confusing topic, especially when you’re not an expert and especially especially when you’re new to the topic. But there are some terms you should know, regardless of your level of expertise. Here are 5 terms you should know when talking wine.

  1. Terroir – You’ve heard this term a million times, but do you know what it really means? Here’s the quick def.: everything that affects the grapes during the growing period, from the soil to the climate to the water. When someone says the vintage was good, what they really mean is that everything concerning the terroir came together to create near-perfect wine grapes.
  2. Tannins – The stuff in red wine that dries out your mouth like you’ve just sucked on a piece of wood. If you like that characteristic, you’ll love Cabs, Nebbiolo and Tempranillo. Tannins also contribute to the aging potential of wines.
  3. Dry – Speaking of dry, this term describes the sweetness of a wine, which is a little confusing when you throw tannins in there. Just know: dry is on the same scale as sweet, just on the opposite end. The more sugar that is converted to alcohol during fermentation, the more dry the wine. This term can be used for both red and white wines.
  4. Bordeaux – This is both a blend and a region in France, which you probably already know. Bordeaux, France, is known to produce pricey, high-quality wines. Wines that are Bordeaux blends can only be made with 5 grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot; Cab Sauv and Merlot usually claim the largest percentage in these blends. Bordeaux blends can come from anywhere, but you won’t see that statement on bottles from outside of Bordeaux.


    A vineyard in Bordeaux, the region

  5. Estate-bottled – This wine is completely produced on one property; the grapes, vinification and bottling all occurs at the same place. That means, grapes aren’t shipped in, bought, borrowed or otherwise received from any other vineyard or winery.

Get to know these terms, get to love these terms, then go out and buy some wines that exhibit these terms!


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