Do you like drinking wine, but feel intimidated (scared, insecure) by the wine vocabulary? That’s ok! When you’re getting into the world of wine, there is a lot of new wine vocabulary to learn, such as bouquet, body and finish. It can be a lot, even for native speakers of English! With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of wine vocabulary to learn if you’re interested in wine and want to learn more about the world of wine. There’s nothing to be afraid of when it comes to wine vocabulary in English, and we’re sure that at your next dinner party, you’ll be able to speak knowledgeably (intelligently) about wine.
A wine flight
A wine flight has nothing to do with an airplane, although it may sound like that! A flight of wine is a group of similar wines, usually about three to eight different wines, that are put together for a tasting. A wine tasting allows you to try different wines to compare and contrast (see the similarities and/or differences) the wines in the flight. If you ever go to a winery for a tasting, they will usually arrange (put together) a wine flight of the wines they make so you can try their whole range of products.
- This is a flight of all the red wines we make here at the winery. Would you like to try them?
- Can we order a flight of wine? We would like to try a few different kinds.
You may have heard of a bouquet of flowers, but do you know about a wine’s bouquet (aroma)? In a similar way to flowers, the bouquet of a wine has to do with the different scents and smells developed by a wine as it ages. The bouquet only develops as a wine matures (gets older) and has to do with where the wine ages (either in a barrel or a bottle). Different containers give wines a different bouquet. An oak barrel, for example, will give a wine a vanilla or clove notes. If the wine is still young, the smell of the wine is usually referred to as the nose or the aroma.
- With this wine, you may smell some nutty aromas on the bouquet.
- This wine is very young, so it hasn’t developed a bouquet yet.
When you talk about a wine’s body, you’re not talking about how shapely it is, but rather how the wine feels in your mouth. Wines have a light body, a medium body, or a full body. A good way to think about the differences in body is to think about how skim milk, whole milk, and cream feel in your mouth. There are big differences that you can feel! If a wine is full-bodied, it has more alcohol in it, making it thicker than a light-bodied wine.
Which kind of wine do you prefer? Light-bodied, medium-bodied, or full-bodied?
- We would like a bottle of Merlot. We prefer to drink full-bodied wine.
- It’s very hot out today, and I would like to drink a light-bodied wine. I don’t want something that’s so heavy. Do you have a lighter wine?
What kind of impression (idea, opinion) do you have of a wine after you have tasted it? This is the finish of a wine. A wine’s finish is the texture of a wine, its aftertaste, and how long the flavors last on your tongue before they fade (go away). If a wine has a long finish, meaning that the taste lasts for a long time, it is considered to be a high- quality wine.
- This wine is full-bodied and has a long finish. It is one of our best wines!
- I bought a very cheap wine yesterday, and it has a very short finish. It wasn’t very good.
When you talk about red wines, you’re very likely to hear a very particular wine vocabulary word — tannins. But what are tannins? Tannins come from the skins, stems, and seeds of grapes, and are what make a wine bitter. Tannins are usually found in red wines, as white wines are typically sweeter. Tannins are what make a wine taste dry.
Tannins aren’t only found in wine, but also in tea, dark chocolate, nuts, cinnamon, and other fruits! Many things that have a slightly bitter or dry taste have tannins in them.
- I really like dry red wine, so I prefer wines that have more tannins.
- We usually let a red wine “breathe” (sit out in the air) before drinking it so that the tannins aren’t as strong.
Once you’ve learned all this new wine vocabulary, it’s finally time to enjoy the wine! Before you drink wine, you will usually toast with the people you are drinking with. A toast may be a short speech, you may clink your glasses together, or you may just say, “cheers!” A toast is traditionally a short speech about the good health of the people drinking together and may be funny or filled with innuendo (have a double meaning). What are some of your favorite toasts?
- At the wedding, the groom gave a lovely toast about how much he loves his new wife.
- The guests toasted each other, clinked their glasses, and took a sip of wine.
There is definitely a lot to know about wine! Did you find this wine vocabulary helpful? Do you have some knowledge about wine? Share with us in the comments below!
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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and likes to learn about wine. Learning different wine vocabulary is a great way to learn new things in English!