Have you ever found yourself selecting a bottle of wine based on the fanciness of the label or the sophistication of the name? Or ever struggled to understand the terms "full-bodied" or "earthy" when reading a wine menu? Worry not as we're here to help you decode wine descriptions to truly appreciate the drink. In this article, we've rounded up the 40 most common wine descriptions and what they really mean. So, the next time you're at a restaurant or in a wine shop, you'll be better equipped to choose the perfect bottle for your taste.
Aromatic: It means the wine has a complex and distinctive aroma that’s intense enough to be noticed
even before drinking it.
Balanced: A wine that’s neither too acidic nor too sweet, but rather has an elegant balance of both.
Bold: A full-bodied wine with strong, intense flavors.
Buttery: It refers to the creamy texture of the wine that's usually associated with the flavor of butter.
Chewy: A wine that feels rich and full-bodied in the mouth, usually described as chewy.
Clean: A well-made wine with a crisp, refreshing taste and no off-flavors.
Complex: A wine with a multitude of flavors and aromas, often described as layered or multidimensional.
Crisp: A clean, refreshing wine with high acidity that makes your mouth water.
Dense: A wine that’s full-bodied and packed with intense flavors.
Earthy: A wine that smells like earth, soil, or mushrooms, usually found in red wines.
Fruity: A wine with vibrant flavors of fresh fruits like berries or cherries.
Full-bodied: A wine that feels dense and weighty in the mouth with a long finish.
Herbal: A wine with flavors and aromas of herbs, such as rosemary or thyme.
Jammy: A wine with intense flavors of cooked fruits, often used to describe red wines.
Juicy: A wine that’s refreshing and gives a sense of drinking fruit juice.
Lively: A wine with bright acidity and lots of energy in the mouth.
Meaty: A wine that tastes like meat, usually found in red wines.
Mellow: A wine that’s smooth and easy to drink, with subdued flavors and aromas.
Mineral: A wine with flavors and aromas reminiscent of minerals like graphite or limestone.
Oaky: A wine that has been aged in oak barrels, giving it flavors and aromas of vanilla, caramel, or toast.
Peppery: A wine with the spice flavors of black or white pepper.
Plush: A wine that feels soft and plush in the mouth, often associated with plush tannins.
Refined: A wine that’s elegant, smooth, and sophisticated.
Robust: A wine that’s full-bodied and intense, with a strong flavor.
Round: A wine that feels smooth and well-balanced in the mouth.
Rustic: A wine with untamed, earthy flavors, often used to describe red wines.
Smoky: A wine with flavors and aromas of smoke, often found in red wines.
Soft: A wine that feels gentle and easy to drink, with subdued tannins.
Spicy: A wine with the flavors of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or clove.
Structured: A wine that’s well-balanced and has a good framework of tannins, acidity, or alcohol.
Supple: A wine that feels smooth and flexible in the mouth, usually associated with supple tannins.
Syrupy: A wine that’s thick and sweet, almost like syrup.
Tart: A wine with high acidity that makes your mouth pucker.
Toasty: A wine that has been aged in toasted oak barrels, giving it flavors and aromas of toast or bread crust.
Velvety: A wine that feels smooth and rich in the mouth, like velvet.
Vibrant: A wine with fresh and lively flavors, often with high acidity.
Viscous: A wine that’s thick and syrupy, often the result of high alcohol or sugar.
Warm: A wine that feels warm and cozy when drinking, usually associated with high alcohol.
Zesty: A wine with flavors and aromas of zest, such as citrus or lime.
Zippy: A wine with high acidity and lots of energy in the mouth.
As a wine lover, understanding wine descriptions is the key to selecting your perfect bottle. Whether you prefer a full-bodied robust wine or a light and fruity one, there's a wine description for every taste. We hope this list of the most common wine descriptions has helped you decode the jargon so you can truly savor your next glass of wine. Happy wine-tasting!