Even if you have blissfully enjoyed wine for years without learning the vocabulary and tasting techniques boasted by oenophiles, you can very easily enhance your wine experience with a little knowledge. By learning the words associated with wine, you will be able to more accurately choose new wines that you will enjoy rather than haphazardly choosing things to try at random.
Bouquet and aroma are simply wine speak for how it smells. Before tasting wine, smell it. See if you can distinguish the aroma of the fruit, a spice or maybe even the oak barrel. A major part of wine enjoyment derives from the smell of it. To enhance the aroma before you taste it, swirl the wine in your glass to let it breathe more. The oxygen it encounters will open up the scent of the wine. Now you know why people swirl and sniff their glass before the wine even makes it to their lips.
Clarity and color go hand in hand. They typically will help you to determine how old a wine is. Darker reds and gold colored whites are more mature than clear reds and yellow or pale whites. Clear wines also indicate good quality. If you take time to notice the color and clarity of wine before you drink it, you will start to become more aware of what you enjoy and what you do not and will even be able to decide whether or not to try something based on how it looks.
The body of the wine refers to the weight of it or how it feels in your mouth. If you spoke about body in regards to fish, you would say that fish that flakes easily is light and fish that needs a knife to cut it is heavy. Light versus heavy is a great way to describe body differences in wine. Next time you are at a wine tasting, ask the representative which wine is lighter and begin with that. Focus on the weight of the light wine compared to the heavier one and see which you enjoy more.
When you taste a wine, there are so many things that can set it apart from another. The flavor of the barrel where it was aged; the fruit flavors and their intensity; how sweet or dry it is; and the acidity are all considerations in whether you like it or not. However, probably the most confusing characteristic is tannin.
Tannins are derived from the grape skin and seeds. They are much more present in red wines and especially un-aged, red wines. They are what give a wine a taste of bitterness and also what would make us pucker a little upon tasting a tannic wine, the astringency of it. Tannins add character and quality to red wines. It is often what sets apart those who enjoy red wines versus those who enjoy whites – the tannic quality they enjoy in their glass.
This is a very incomplete and basic beginning to understanding the complexities of wine. There are infinite things to learn and take into account if you want to spend the time doing so. A preliminary understanding of the terms that are batted about when wine is discussed though will help you tremendously as you try new wines and broaden your repertoire of wines you enjoy.