Sure, you're not a wine connoisseur, but that doesn't mean you can't sound like one. Drop these wine terms casually in your conversations to impress your date.
While you can’t magically obtain all there is to know about wine; you can at least make it sound like you know what you’re talking about with the right wine terms. While it’s sad that people don’t know the basic wine terms for beginners when sipping the delicious grape-y juice, it’s worse when they use them incorrectly.
We’re here to help you avoid embarrassing yourself with a list of basic wine terms to know. This list includes the most common wine terms that any wine expert will know. Continue reading if you want to learn how to fake it ’til you make it!
How Do I Become a Wine Expert?
Drink…a lot… No, I’m serious. If you want to become a wine expert, you have to know the product. Luckily, that means drinking a lot of delicious wine.
Unfortunately, that’s not all you need to become an actual expert, but it helps. The steps to becoming an expert include the following:
- Develop Your Palate
- Drink Wine
- Do Some Wine Research
- Drink Different Wines
- Drink Fancy and Complex Wine
- Compare notes and learn about all the wines you’ve had
- Consider becoming a sommelier
Taking the time to develop your palate by trying all the many kinds of wine there are will help you become an expert. You will not only find what you like and what you don’t like, but you’ll be able to appreciate different characteristics of wine. If and when you succeed, you may find yourself becoming a wine snob!
Why Bother Knowing Wine Terms?
Whether you want to become a legitimate wine expert or you just want to fake it, you should know proper wine terms. Oh, and you should know how to actually use them because wine enthusiasts tend to notice when you start babbling about your full-bodied Riesling with great legs (*hint* that doesn’t make sense).
So, why should you bother knowing wine terms? Well, if you like wine, you’re not going to want to look like an ignorant peasant in front of your date and all of your fancy wine friends. And if you think they won’t care, trust us…they’ll notice, and you will be mocked.
How to Look Like You Know What You're Talking About
Before you can wow your date with your astounding wine vocabulary, you have to taste it, which means learning how to walk the walk. More accurately, you have to know how to swirl the swirl and sip the sip.
First, look at the wine, swirl it, and make sure your face appears contemplative. Next, stick your nose into your glass and take a big whiff (yes, we’re serious). Finally, take a noisy sip, swish the delicious grown-up grape juice in your mouth, and swallow.
How to Sound Like You Know What You're Talking About
If you don’t want to become a wine expert, but want people to think you’re a wine expert, then you have to be convincing in the way you speak about it, too. You have to learn how to pretend you know what you’re talking about. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to learn just a little bit about wine to throw the wine hounds off your scent.
We’re not going to overwhelm you with all of the wine connoisseur terms that are worth knowing. We’ll give you just enough wine terms for beginners to get by. Stick to the right words, and you’ll be able to hold your own amongst the wine hyenas.
Wine Terms To Know
We’ve narrowed down your vocabulary list from ‘you really should know this’ to ‘you can make it work.’ However, make sure you fully understand these words before using them in a sentence. If you screw it up, don’t tell anyone where you heard them.
The top types of acids found in wine are citric, lactic, malic, and tartaric acid. Acid accounts for sharp, sour tastes in wine. It also gives the wine a crispness that is known to activate the glands that cause us to salivate (that and the taste of delicious wine).
Relatively speaking, a wine can be light-bodied, medium-bodied, or full-bodied. A full-bodied wine feels heavy and full in your mouth. They also tend to have high alcohol percentages.
Complex wines are…complex, unlike common wine terms like this. They have a lot of different smells or tastes coming from them. A complex wine might not just taste like fruit, but also chocolatey or other flavors.
Earthy refers to the taste of the wine. Think of the way a forest smells, but without the gritty dirt. It sounds weird, but it’s delicious in the right wine.
Finish essentially refers to the after-taste of the wine. Once you’ve swallowed the wine, the taste of it lingers in your mouth and throat. Good wines have a flavor that sticks around for a longer span of time.
Jammy sounds like something a child would say, but it is one of our real wine connoisseur terms. It refers to the taste and/or smell of jam. It means the wine probably has some raisins or prunes in it to give it that aroma/taste.
If you really want to impress your date, this is one of our top wine terms to know. Swirling your wine will show you its legs, which refers to when the liquid runs down the inside of your glass as it settles. This is most common in red wines, and it’s caused by glycerin.
Nose is one of those common wine terms you really need to know to sound convincing. It’s a fancy way of talking about how the wine smell. Swap it out for the word “perfume”, and you’re good to go.
One of the basic wine terms for beginners is Tannins in wine, which are the non-juice parts of the grape that make it into the wine like the skin and stems.
Be Prepared With Your Fancy Wine Terms
Now that you have some fancy wine terms in your wanna-be wine expert arsenal, you’re ready to impress your date and all of your friends. Remember that the key is to use the terms correctly to be convincing. But, who knows, you may end up wanting to become a wine expert, and who could blame you?
To take your wine knowledge to the next level, head to our Wine & Cocktails section.
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