3 Basic Wine Terms Every Wine-Lover Should Know

If you’re reading this, then you already know you’re an oenophile. If you love the taste of a nice red on your tongue, enjoy the sound of a cork popping out of a bottle, or get excited about trying a wine from a new region, then wine may just be your true love. That said, we can’t say knowledge isn’t a part of the relationship. The wine knows just how to fill you up and ease your mind, so shouldn’t you know a bit about it, too? To get you on the right track, here some wine terms every wine-lover should know with some of the best varietals for you to taste for yourself.

Body

Chances are you’ve heard a little bit about the term “body,” but this isn’t about the look of the bottle. The body of the wine refers to how the wine feels in your mouth (“mouthfeel” is another synonym). Body has three different categories: light-bodied, medium-bodied, and heavy-bodied. These are the ways in which you can think about how “deep” a wine looks and how easy it is to drink. Below you’ll find a few examples of wines from each category:

  • Light-bodied wines: riesling and pinot noir
  • Medium-bodied wines: pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc
  • Full-bodied wines: chardonnay and malbec

Tannin

Tannins are something you may often run into if you like red wine. These are the compounds that exist in a variety of elements around the world, but when it comes to wine, they’re found in the grape skins, seeds, and stems. During the wine production process, tannins are released from the grape, soaking into the juice. The longer they soak into the juice, the more are present in the wine. The easiest way to notice tannins in the wine is simply to take a sip. If you feel your mouth drying out, then tannins are present.

  • Tannin-filled wines: cabernet sauvignon, Syrah, and nebbiolo

Oaked

Hopefully, as a wine-lover, you know that the barreling step is one of the main aspects of the wine creation process. But what you may not know is that the barreling process can look different for every bottle of wine. That’s where oaked wines come in—these wines are aged in oak barrels rather than in stainless steel. The wine benefits from coming into contact with oak, which can enhance the color, mouthfeel, and flavor profile of the wine. Done properly, it can make your wine feel smoother and more buttery.

  • Oaked wine: pinot noir and some chardonnays

There’s always more to learn about wine, but these are the basic wine terms every wine-lover should know. It’s your first step to being even more of a part-time sommelier!

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