A Basic Guide To Wine Terminology

A Basic Guide To Wine Terminology

Callum Dooley3/11/19

Here at Elite Wine Refrigeration, it’s quite clear to see that we have quite the passion for wine. We stock a wide range of wine coolers to suit any wine drinker, from desktop mini coolers to freestanding units with a capacity of over 200 bottles.

For wine enthusiasts, all of the unique terms and phrases come as second nature at this point, but it’s not so easy for newcomers.

If you’re just getting into the wine drinking game, the phrases associated with wine can be very confusing and a little bit daunting. To help clear up any confusion, we’ve created a basic guide to some of the most used terms in the wine drinking world.


The “acidity” of a wine describes the fresh, tart or sour tastes left by the acids in the wine. “Acid” in wine helps to liven up the flavours and can actually prolong the aftertaste of the drink.

Achieving the correct level of acidity is important for any wine, as too much will make it taste sour and not enough will leave it tasting flat.


“Aftertaste” is the taste that is left on the tongue after sipping a glass of wine, and gives a true indication of what the drink actually tastes like. The acidity of wine will have an effect on the aftertaste.


The “body” of wine describes the fullness and weight in the mouth, and is often described as light bodied, medium bodied and full bodied.


The “bouquet” of wine is the sum of the wine’s aromas, and can often be a sign of quality. The overall smell of the wine after being poured into the glass is a key element to identifying the taste of the wine before actually taking a sip.


Letting a wine “breathe” is the process of exposing it to air for a certain period of time before serving it, allowing it to oxidise. By allowing the bottle to breathe, you can soften the flavours and release certain aromas before tasting.


A “complex” wine is a wine that changes flavour after you’ve tasted it, unravelling different layers as the wine stays in the mouth. Complex is a term that can be used for wines that have a mixture of changing characteristics.


“Decanting” wine is similar to letting it breathe but involves the process of transferring the wine from one vessel to another in order to release the true flavours of the wine.


The term “dry” is wine is usually used to describe a drink that has little or no taste of sugar, meaning the taste is not sweet.


The “legs” in wine refer to the droplets of wine that are left on the side of the glass after swirling, and indicates the level of alcohol in the wine.

Mouth Feel

“Mouth feel” is the sensation of wine in the mouth, and describes the textures of the drink. Wines can be smooth, rough, sharp, and even thick so mouth feel helps to identify the wine’s texture.


The term “nose” in wine means what you think, and is the aroma that a wine exudes and the scents that the wine produces when smelling.


When wine is “oxidised”, it means that it has been exposed to open air too much and the good parts of the wine have gone. Oxidisation can lead to a loss of colour, flavour and aroma, so finishing the bottles sooner rather than later is recommended.


A “palate” refers to the ability to identify characteristics of different wines, and can be developed through practise and drinking lots of different wines. Your palate is made up from your tongue, taste buds, inside of your mouth and your nose.


The term “sweet” in wine is the opposite of dry, meaning there is a definite taste of sugar in the drink, giving it that sweet taste.


“Tannins” are textural elements that makes wine taste dry, and are most commonly found in red wines. Tannins can add a taste of bitterness to wine, and you can usually taste them in the middle and front part of the mouth.


This one is a bit easier, but “vintage” refers to when the grapes were harvested for a bottle of wine, and not the year the wine was bottled.

You will often find that some wines need to be stored for an extended period of time before they can be properly enjoyed, and buying vintage wines is a passion for many wine enthusiasts.


And that’s our list! These are definitely not the only words that you will encounter in the wine world, but you’re definitely off to the right start.

For other interesting articles about everything wine, be sure to keep an eye out on the Elite Wine Refrigeration blog.

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