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Wine Tasting Descriptors (1 - 10)


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Austere
Austere means "severe or strict in manner, attitude or appearance". For a wine this is used to describe a wine which is quite wound up and tight or not showing lush, ripe fruit. This is not necessarily a bad thing as many young wines that are meant to age will be quite austere in their youth, showing abundant acid and/or tannin structure, but will open up nicely with age. This is approximately the opposite of "fruit forward", fruity, lush and/or opulent.
Bouquet
The perfume of a wine. A wine's bouquet is generally only described as such if the aromas are particularly complex, with many aromas in harmony, and/or floral. The aroma of a wine which is simple or not particularly pretty would not typically called its bouquet or perfume.
Cassis
One of the most common wine descriptions in tasting notes, cassis is a syrupy liqueur made with black currants. Often used to describe wines with a sweet aroma of ripe currants, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and other rich, dark grapes. Not to be confused with Cassis, the village in Provence on the French Mediterranean coast which produces a crisp, dry white wine.
Complex
A complex wine is one which has a plethora of aromas and flavors, generally harmonizing in a way that makes for a beautiful sensory experience. The best wines in the world are very complex when mature with many different facets of flavor and aromas. The opposite wine descriptions would be "simple" or one dimensional.
Concentrated
A concentrated wine is one which is richly flavored with a high concentration of flavor. This is the opposite of "thin", "watery", or "bland".
Corpulent
Corpulent literally means fat. While this is generally not used as a compliment when referring to a person, it is usually a compliment to a wine which is big and rich and has a round, full feel in the mouth. Usually used to describe very full-bodied wines.
Creosote
Creosote is a dark brown oil distilled from coal tar. It is also used to describe the build up of crusted, oily black material that forms in chimneys. It is used to describe a wine which has a tarry, smokey aroma resembling these things, usually rich red wines. This aroma can come from oak barrels used to age the wine if the oak was heavily charred prior to use.
Density
The density of a wine is how concentrated its flavors are. So a wine with a lot of density can also be said to be concentrated.
Depth
While depth can be used to refer to the density, size and concentration of a wine, it is more appropriately used to describe a sense of many layers of flavors and "stuffing" in the wine. The opposite of a thin or superficial wine, it is a wine which has layers of flavors to explore and a sense that it has a lot "hidden under its hood".
Elegant
One of the hallmarks of a great wine is its mouthfeel, or its texture in your mouth. Great wines generally have a well put together feel that has no hard edges. Elegant is one of the wine descriptions often used to describe a wine with a great mouthfeel, a wine that is pretty, complete and has no hard edges.
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