Acetic. Sour vinegary odor--volatile acidity, too much can make wine undrinkable.
Acid. Sharp, tart effect of green fruit of young wine on both the nose and tongue.
Aftertaste. Relates to how long one can smell and feel the wine in the mouth after it is swallowed. Common terminology is "short", "lingering", and "long".
Age. Length of time a wine has existed, often taken as a sign of quality. However, "old" wines are not always "good" wines.
Aroma. Perfume of fresh fruit--diminishes with fermentation and dissappears with age to be replaced by the bouquet.
Astringent. Rough-puckery taste sensation caused by excess tannin, especially in young wines-diminishes with age in bottle.
Balanced. Having all natural elements in harmony.
Big. Full of body and flavor--high degree of alcohol, color and acidity.
Bitter. Self-descriptive--sign of ill health caused by inferior treatment; e.g. excessive stems during crush or metal contamination.
Body. Term used to describe how the wine feels in the mouth. The feeling is caused by dissolved solids in the wine. A wine may be "light-bodied", or thin as opposed to "heavy-bodied", or thick.
Bouquet. Encompasses all smells found in a wine, including aromas from the grape varietals and winemaking charateristics like oak or buttery flavors. Often referred to as the "nose" by wine judges.
Brilliant. Bright and sparkling--opposite of dull and cloudy.
Brut. The driest-style Champagne.
Clean. A well-constituted wine with no offensive smell or taste.
Clarity. Wine should have a clear color, should not have cloudiness or visible particles.
Cloudy. Unsound condition of a hazy-dull looking wine.
Cloying. Too much sweetness and too little acidity.
Coarse. Rough texture, little elegance.
Color. Wine reflecting proper color of variety; e.g. Vidal Blanc should not be brown, Norton should be a deep purple.
Corky. Disagreeable odor and flat taste of musty cork.
Crisp. A wine with refreshing acidity.
Demi-Sec. The sweetest-style Champagne.
Depth. Rich, lasting flavor.
Dry. Completely lacking sugar or sweetness--not to be confused with bitterness or sourness.
Earthy. Distinctive taste that the soil of certain vineyards gives to their wines.
Estate-Bottled. Wine that is made, produced, and bottled by the owner.
Extra Dry. Less dry than brut Champagne.
Fermentation. The process by which grape juice is made into wine.
Finish. Taste that wines leave in the end, either pleasant or unpleasant.
Flabby. Overly soft, almost limp, without structure. In white wines, is often due to high pH.
Flat. Dull, unattractive, low in acidity--in sparkling wines: wine that has lost its sparkle.
Flinty. Steely, dry wine, with an odor, and flavor reminiscent of gun flint.
Flowery. Flowerlike bouquet, appealing to the nose.
Fortified Wine. A wine that has additional neutral grape brandy that raises the alcohol content, such as Port and Sherry.
Foxy. Pronounced aroma and flavor in wines from native American grapes found usually in grape juices and jellies.
Fruity. Aroma and flavor from fresh grapes found usually in young wines.
Full. Having body and color--often applied to wines that are high in alcohol, sugar and extracts.
Green. Harsh and unripe with an unbalanced acidity that causes disagreeable odor and raw taste.
Hard. Tannic without softness or charm--can mellow with age.
Harsh. Excessively hard and astringent--can become softer with age.
Hydrogen Sulfide. Disagreeable odor reminiscent of rotten eggs--if smell does not disappear after pouring wine, indication of faulty product.
Light. Usually young, fruity, acidity and a little carbon dioxide.
Long. Leaving a persistant flavor that lingers in the mouth, often a sign of quality. Refers to the finish of the wine.
Made and bottled by. Label statement on U.S. produced wine that indicates at least 10% of the wine has been produced by the bottler.
Musty. Disagreeable odor and flavor caused by storing in dirty casks, barrels or cellars; moldy.
Nose. The term used to describe the bouquet and aroma of wine.
Oxidized. Having lost freshness from contact with air. In white, color appears brown.
Residual Sugar. An indication of how dry or sweet a wine is.
Ripe. Full--tasting of ripe fruit without a trace of greeness.
Sharp. Excessive acidity--defect usually found in white wines.
Short. Leaving no flavor in the mouth after initial impact.
Smoky. Self-descriptive of particular bouquet.
Smooth. Of silky texture that leaves no gritty rough sensation on the palate.
Soft. Suggests a mellow wine--usually low in acid and tannin.
Spice. Definite aroma and flavor of spice from certain grape varieties.
Style. The characteristics of the grapes and the wine.
Sulphur Dioxide. A substance used in winemaking as a preservative.
Sweet. Having high content of residual sugar either from grapes themselves or from added sugar or from the arrested fermentation.
Table Wine. In the United States, any wine with less than 14% alcohol content.
Tannic. Mouth-puckering taste of young wines particulary reds--too much tannin makes wine hard, but also preserves it longer--aging in the bottle diminishes the tannin.
Tannin. A natural compound that comes from the skins, stems, and pips of the grapes and also from the wood that wine is aged in.
Tart. Sharp, with excessive acidity and tannin--may be necessary to give long-lived wines their long life.
Thin. Lacking body and alcohol--too watery to be called light, and will not improve with age.
Varietal Wine. Wine labeled for the variety of grape from which it was predominantly or entirely made. Good examples would be Indiana "Seyval Blanc" and California "Cabernet Sauvignon".
Velvety. Mellow red wine with smooth, silky texture leaving no acidity on the palate.
Vintage. 95% grapes in bottle from marked year (effective 1983).
Watery. Thin and small without body and character.
Woody. Odor and flavor of oak due to long storage in barrels.
Yeasty. Smelling of yeast in fresh bread.