You love to drink wine, but how much do you know about this beloved beverage? You may hear your friends speak about a wine’s “mouthfeel” or “body,” but what does all that even mean?

Wines and the winemaking process are complex, so there is plenty to learn. However, once you know the basic wine terms, you’ll sound like an expert. 

Aeration

Aeration is all about allowing the wine to oxidize by exposing it to air. Doing so will help release the aroma and open up the wine’s flavor. This is what someone means when they say “let the wine breathe.”

Alcohol by Volume (ABV)

ABV is the amount of ethanol in a wine expressed as a percentage. The range for unfortified wine is around 5.5% to 16%, whereas 15.5% to 25% is the ABV range for fortified wines. 

Biodynamic Wine 

This is a wine that was produced within a system of farming that takes a sustainable, holistic approach. Makers use no synthetic chemicals or additives to produce the wine, according to the guideline of the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association.

Body 

The body is how “thick” a wine feels on your palate; it refers to the weight and feel of a wine. Most often, full-bodied wines are higher in alcohol. 

Bordeaux 

This familiar wine term is an area in Southwest France (as well as any wine produced in this region) that is famous for both red and white wines, although reds are the most common and well-known.

Bottle Age

Quality wines age in the bottle before being opened. Some wines age for two to three years, while others age for decades. 

Brix 

Brix is the sugar content of wine grapes. This allows winemakers to test the potential alcohol content of wine before it is produced.

Burgundy 

A common red wine term, Burgundy is also a region in Eastern France. This area produces wines known as Burgundies. 

Chardonnay 

Chardonnay is a popular type of wine, as well as a grape. The greenish-white grape is a key ingredient in Champagne and other whites. 

Decanting 

Complementing the aeration process, decanting is when you gently pour wine from one container to another. Most commonly, the pour goes from a wine bottle to a decanter. This process also separates wine from the sediment. 

Dry 

Dry wines are the opposite of sweet wines. Dry white or red wines are the result when all residual sugar has been fermented. 

Earthy 

Earthy wines are those that smell of the earth, being reminiscent of the forest floor, mushrooms, or truffles. This is a desirable attribute that is common in older and Bordeaux wines. 

Fermentation 

This is the process that turns sugar into alcohol. 

Fortified Wine

Fortification occurs when a distilled spirit, often brandy, is added to a wine. This increases the wine’s alcohol content. 

Ice Wine 

Often enjoyed with dessert, ice wines are sweet, low-alcohol wines made from frozen grapes. 

Microclimate 

This encompasses the climate conditions that represent a specific, localized area. This area could be a certain region or even a single vineyard. 

Mouthfeel 

Mouthfeel defines the sensations you experience in your mouth when drinking wine (or eating food). For example, a wine may be sharp, smooth, or velvety. 

New Oak

Barrels are often reused when aging wine. New oak refers to a barrel that is being used for the first time. 

Nose

This is how a wine smells in a glass. It is another word for “aroma.” 

Nutty

“Nutty” wines are oxidized during fermentation or in the bottle, creating a nut-like scent. This is often a flaw. However, when paired with an “oaky flavor,” it can be a plus. 

Pinot 

Pinot refers to any white or black grape variety used to make Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir. Any other wine made with these grapes is also a Pinot. 

Sommelier 

A sommelier is a wine expert. To establish tasting and evaluation skills, as well as wine knowledge, and to become certified, sommeliers take courses and exams. 

Sulfites 

These are natural compounds in wines. However, sulfites can also be artificially created to prevent bacteria and yeast from growing, both of which can ruin the wine. 

Table Wine 

Some associate table wine with quality, but this is not always the case. Table wines are those intended for consumption during a meal, often falling in the range of 7% to 14% ABV. However, depending on where you live, table wine can mean different things. 

Tannins 

These are the natural compounds in wine that yield a dry, bitter, and astringent flavor. Red wines tend to be more tannic than whites. 

Terroir 

This is the natural environment where a specific wine is produced, taking into account the topography, soil, and climate, all of which influence the final product.

Varietal 

This is another term for a single grape variety. Examples include Chardonnay, Merlot, and Zinfandel

Wine Legs 

After you swirl a glass of wine, you may notice streaks on the sides of a glass. These streaks are wine legs, also known as wine tears. 

Wine Pairing 

A wine pairing involves the combination of food and wine to create the best eating and drinking experience. Cheese and wine are a classic, yet complex, pairing. 

Yeast 

This fungus eats sugar, turning grape juices into wine during the fermentation process. 

Sweet Oaks Has Wines That Are Sure to Impress

Now that you have the terms down, it’s time to get some wine!

Whether you’re hosting an upcoming event or would like to bring a red, white, or spectrum of wines to a tasting party, Sweet Oaks Wine offers exquisite varieties that are sure to please any experienced palate. 

Using some of the wine terms you’ve learned above, as well as the descriptions provided with each one, you are sure to wow your friends with your knowledge and enthusiasm. 

Shop all our wines here!

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