Have you ever listened to someone describe a glass or vintage of wine and wondered what they meant by terms like “dry” or “full bodied”? Understanding the characteristics of wine will help you to find not only a type of wine that you love but a vintage too. So the next time you’re meeting friends for drinks at the local wine bar you will be able to understand more than just “white or red”. You can impress them with your wine knowledge and perhaps even discover a vintage or two that you love.
Sweetness: When someone describes wine as dry, they are usually referring to the level of sweetness. Your start to taste food and drink right at the tip of your tongue and that is where you detect sweet. If the tip of your tongue tingles it indicates the level of sweetness, generally dry wines are less sweet.
Tannin: This is one of the most misunderstood characteristics of wine and it is the hardest to explain. Tannin gets confused with “dryness” because tannin dries in your mouth. When there is phenolic compounds in wine it adds a degree of bitterness, phenolic compounds are found in the seeds and skins of the grape. Sometimes they can also be added through the aging process. Tannins can make wine taste almost herbal, it makes your wine more complex and it helps preserve the wine.
Acidity: Don’t confuse acidity with a higher alcohol content it is something completely different. Wines that grow in cooler regions of the world tend to have more acidity. These vintages of wine feel lighter almost like a spritzer, these types of wines aren’t as rich as those with less acid. If your glass of wine leaves your mouth feeling gravelly or like you bit into a tart piece of fruit then that wine has a lot of acidity.
Fruity Flavored: Wine has fruity flavors aside from the grapes. In some wines you can taste strawberry and others will taste more like blackberries. How fruity they are and what type of fruit they taste like indicate the region the wine is from. Fruit is sometimes added to wine to enhance the flavor and dark fruit go with reds while lighter colored fruits work with white.
Body: The body of a wine encompasses a number of different things such as age, vintage, where the grapes grew, alcohol content and how it was made.
There you have it, the most common characteristics of wine, now you can impress your friend with your knowledge of wine.