If you've ever been to a wine tasting or perused the wine aisle at your local grocery store, you've likely come across wine tasting notes. These descriptions can seem confusing and intimidating, especially if you're new to the world of wine. However, understanding wine tasting notes can greatly enhance your wine-drinking experience. In this blog post, we will break down the elements of wine tasting notes and help you decode their language.
What are Wine Tasting Notes?
Wine tasting notes are descriptions of a wine's aroma, taste, and overall character. They are written by wine professionals, such as sommeliers, wine critics, or the winemakers themselves, to give drinkers an idea of what to expect. Tasting notes can be found on the wine bottle label, in wine review publications, or on wine-related websites.
The Elements of Wine Tasting Notes
Appearance: This describes the wine's color, clarity, and viscosity. Terms like 'deep ruby', 'pale straw', or 'bright and clear' are often used.
Aroma: This refers to the smells that arise from the wine. These can be divided into primary (from the grape variety), secondary (from fermentation), and tertiary (from aging) aromas.
Taste: This includes sweetness, acidity, tannin, alcohol, and body. It also includes the flavor notes, which can range from fruits and spices to earthy or mineral tones.
Finish: This is the aftertaste that lingers once you've swallowed the wine. A long finish is often a sign of a high-quality wine.
Overall impression: This is a subjective evaluation of the wine's quality and potential for aging.
Decoding Common Descriptions
Fruity: When a wine is described as fruity, it doesn't mean it's sweet. It refers to the presence of fruit flavors such as apple, berry, citrus, or tropical fruit.
Dry: A dry wine is one that has no residual sugar, meaning it isn't sweet.
Oaky: An oaky wine has been aged in oak barrels. This imparts flavors of vanilla, toast, caramel, or coconut.
Full-bodied: This refers to the weight and richness of the wine in your mouth. Full-bodied wines are often high in alcohol and flavor intensity.
Tannic: Tannins are compounds that come from the grape skins and seeds, or from oak barrels. They give wine a dry, puckering sensation.
Tips for Understanding Wine Tasting Notes
Practice makes perfect: The more you taste and read about wine, the better you'll understand tasting notes.
Don't be intimidated: Tasting notes are subjective. What's important is what you like, not what a critic says you should like.
Use a wine app: There are many great wine apps that can help you learn about different wine styles and decode tasting notes.
In conclusion, understanding wine tasting notes takes some practice, but it's well worth the effort. By learning this language, you'll be able to make informed choices about which wines to try and gain a deeper appreciation for the complexity and diversity of wine. Cheers!