A peppery quality of wine is usually noticeable in many Rhône wines that have an aroma of black or white pepper and a pungent flavor.
This term usually is more applicable to fragrant, aromatic white wines than to red wines. However, some dry white wines (particularly Condrieu) and sweet white wines can have a strong perfumed smell.
A winemaking technique of punching down the cap of grape skins that forms during the beginning of the wine’s fermentation. This is done several times a day, occasionally more frequently, to extract color, flavor, and tannin from the fermenting juice.
Rich, concentrated wines can often have the smell and taste of ripe plums. When they do, the term plummy is applicable.
Ponderous is often used as a synonym for massive, but to be more specific, a massive wine is simply a big, rich, very concentrated wine with balance, whereas a ponderous wine is a wine that has become heavy and tiring to drink.
Wines that mature quickly are precocious. However the term also applies to wines that may last and evolve gracefully over a long period of time, but taste as if they are aging quickly because of their tastiness and soft, early charms.
Wines produced from grapes that are overripe take on the character of prunes. Pruney wines are flawed wines.
Late-harvest wines that are meant to be drunk at the end of a meal can often be slightly raisiny, which in some ports and sherries is desirable. However, a raisiny quality is a major flaw in a dinner wine.
Wines that are high in extract, flavor, and intensity of fruit.
A wine is ripe when its grapes have reached the optimum level of maturity. Less than fully mature grapes produce wines that are underripe, and overly mature grapes produce wines that are overripe.
A very desirable character of wines, roundness occurs in fully mature wines that have lost their youthful, astringent tannins, and also in young wines that have soft tannins and low acidity.
A general descriptive term that denotes that the wine is round, flavorful, and interesting to drink.
A weak, feeble, watery or diluted wine lacking concentration is said to be shallow.
An undesirable trait, sharp wines are bitter and unpleasant with hard, pointed edges.
A synonym for velvety or lush, silky wines are soft, sometimes fat, but never hard or angular.
Some wines, either because of the soil or because of the barrels used to age the wine, have a distinctive smoky character. Côte Rôtie and Hermitage often have a roasted or smoky quality.
A soft wine is one that is round and fruity, low in acidity, and has an absence of aggressive, hard tannins.
Wines often smell quite spicy with aromas of pepper, cinnamon, and other well-known spices. These pungent aromas are usually lumped together and called spicy.
Dull, heavy wines that are oxidized or lack balancing acidity for freshness are called stale.
A synonym for vegetal, but used more frequently to denote that the wine has probably had too much contact with the stems, resulting in a green, vegetal, or stalky character to the wine.
A supple wine is one that is soft, lush, velvety, and very attractively round and tasty. It is a highly desirable characteristic because it suggests that the wine is harmonious.
The tannins of a wine, which are extracted from the grape skins and stems, are, along with a wine’s acidity and alcohol, its lifeline. Tannins give a wine firmness and some roughness when young, but gradually fall away and dissipate. A tannic wine is one that is young and unready to drink.
Sharp, acidic, lean, unripe wines are called tart. In general, a wine that is tart is not pleasant.
Rich, ripe, concentrated wines that are low in acidity are often said to be thick.
A synonym for shallow; it is an undesirable characteristic for a wine to be thin, meaning that it is watery, lacking in body, and just diluted.
Young wines that have good acidity levels, good tannin levels, and are well made are called tightly knit, meaning they have yet to open up and develop.
A smell of grilled toast can often be found in wines because the barrels the wines are aged in are charred or toasted on the inside.
Some red wines have the scent of fresh tobacco. It is a distinctive and wonderful smell in wine.
This type of oak comes from the forest of Tronçais in central France.
Rich, lush, intense wines with layers of concentrated, soft, velvety fruit are said to be unctuous.
An undesirable characteristic, wines that smell and taste vegetal are usually made from unripe grapes. In some wines, a subtle vegetable garden smell is pleasant and adds complexity, but if it is the predominant character, it is a major flaw.
A textural description and synonym for lush or silky, a velvety wine is a rich, soft, smooth wine to taste. It is a very desirable characteristic.
Viscous wines tend to be relatively concentrated, fat, almost thick wines with a great density of fruit extract, plenty of glycerin, and high alcohol content. If they have balancing acidity, they can be tremendously flavorful and exciting wines. If they lack acidity, they are often flabby and heavy.
A volatile wine is one that smells of vinegar as a result of an excessive amount of acetic bacteria present. It is a seriously flawed wine.
When a wine is overly oaky it is often said to be woody. Oakiness in a wine’s bouquet and taste is good up to a certain point. Past that point, the wine is woody and its fruity qualities are masked by excessive oak aging.