Wine Terminology

December 28, 2021

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Sure, you can sip the sip, but can you talk the talk when it comes to Missouri Wines? Since your glass didn’t come with a glossary, here are some terms to help you learn your way around the tasting room.

Acidity: (n.) The tart or sharp flavors naturally found in wine, which balances the sweet or bitter components.

Aging: (v.) Holding wine in barrels, tubs or bottles under certain conditions after fermentation to develop complex flavors.

Alcohol by volume (ABV): (n.) The amount of alcohol in a wine after fermentation. Noted on the bottle as a percent.

Blend: (n.) A wine created by mixing varietals to create interesting flavors.

Body: (n.) The “weight” of wine on your palate or the perceived thickness of a sip when you drink it. It’s affected by the wine’s alcohol content, sugar levels and dissolved solids. To better understand the difference in body, think about different types of milk and how they feel in your mouth, from skim milk to whole milk.

Brix (°Bx): (n.) The measurement for sugar levels in wine grapes; helps winemakers determine the amount of alcohol wine will have after fermentation.

Decant: (v.) The act of exposing wine to oxygen before drinking it.

Dry: (adj.) A wine that is not sweet.

Fermentation: (n.) The process during which yeast converts natural sugars into alcohol.

Finish: (n.) The lingering impressions, tastes and flavors that remain or evolve after you swallow a sip of wine; aftertaste.

Fortified: (v.) Wines that have additional alcohol added after fermentation.

Mouthfeel: (n.) The physical sensation you feel when the wine is in your mouth, some examples include smooth or velvety.

Nose: (n.) The aromas or smell of a wine, which influence its flavor. In mature or complex wines, it may be referred to as the “bouquet.”

Red wine: (n.) A wine produced from dark-colored grapes. These wines can range in color from purple to deep red.

Residual Sugar: (n.) The natural sugars in wine left over from the grape following fermentation, often abbreviated as RS.

Rosé: (n.) A wine made from red grapes but only fermented with the grape skins for a limited time, which results in its signature pink color. Sometimes called a “blush.”

Sparkling wine: (n.) Wine bottled with enough carbon dioxide to make the drink bubbly or fizzy.

Sweet: (adj.) Wines with residual sugars that make them sweet to taste.

Tannins: (n.) Natural, bitter compounds found in wine, tea and cacao. They can have a drying sensation on the palate. Wines high in tannins are described as “tannic.” Generally, red wines are more tannic than white wines.

Terroir: (n.) The French term for “earth;” used to describe the natural environment where wine grapes were grown, including the soil, the land and the climate. It affects the taste of the wine.

Varietal: (n.) A specific type of grape. Wines made from a specific varietal often share tasting notes common with that type of grape. An example of a Missouri varietal is Norton.

Vintage: (n.) The year the wine grapes were harvested. It’s printed on the bottle.

White Wine: (n.) A pale yellow to golden-colored wine that is often fermented without the grape skins.

Never fear being lost in the complex language of wine. With these terms under your belt, you'll be well on your way to navigating the world of wine.