Winese – or how to speak to the liquor store guy

Wine has its own vocabulary. It can be ‘oaked’ have ‘nice legs’ and ‘finish’ for a long time. Understanding what some of these terms mean can help you describe what you are looking for in a wine. Or if you don’t care for it maybe you can explain to that nice waiter why he should take it back and bring something ‘better’.

I usually love a wine with quick legs. But I like my wines a little sweeter than most of my friends. I’m not a big fan of heavy, oaked reds. They smell like microwave popcorn to me and I can’t seem to get past that. They also leave my tongue and back of my mouth feeling dry. These are wines that have been aged in oak barrels. Naked Grape is a brand that is unoaked – and quite proud of it!

Wines can be full bodied. I would describe this as robust. If you have a wine with little body right after one with full body you’ll know it right away. It would be similar to comparing 100% OJ and a juice from concentrate. My hubby likes less body to his wines than I do.

A wine may come across as fat, flat, or flabby. It’s not wearing the wrong label for its bottle shape – it is lacking structure or acidity. If it is heady your wine has a strong bouquet and if it seems ‘thin’ it is probably light bodied.

Once you’ve swallowed it you are left with the ‘finish’. This is a better way to describe after taste than your average toddler would – but it’s the same thing. I am less concerned with after taste than I am with after feel. Very dry wines leave the back of my mouth feeling like it’s been vacuumed. Not my thing.

Once you can describe what you like and don’t like in common wine terms you will find it easier to get the right wine each time you venture out. Whether that’s to a winery, a restaurant or the liquor store.


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