Wine Tasting Terms & What They Actually Mean!

If you're a steward/ess choosing a selection of fine wines for your yacht it helps to understand the peculiar wine tasting terms on the label. Many are apt descriptions, but it's not always easy to imagine the taste of a wine on your palate, or how to describe the flavours and sensations for your charter guests. 

Angular - A wine that hits your mouth in different places. Generally unbalanced and lacking in depth. Also has high acidity.

Buttery - A wine with buttery characteristics has been aged in oak and generally is rich and flat. Often has a cream-like texture that hits the middle of your tongue and has a smooth finish.

Bright - Bright wines are higher in acidity and make your mouth water.

Charcoal - A wine that tastes of charcoal is usually dry and high in tannins. Imagine a gritty feel with rustic flavour.

Chewy - This term describes the mouthfeel of the wine. Big, robust almost like a solid in your mouth. Common in a Shriaz or Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Cloying - A wine with a sticky or sickly sweet character that is not balanced with acidity.

Dumb - A dumb wine is also a closed wine, but basically a wine that just wont get any better.

Earthy - Earthy is a common description for that awkward green and unpleasant finish on a wine but may also be used positively to describe an aroma of fresh, rich, clean soil

Flabby - A wine without enough structure, particularly acid and tannin, to stand up to its other components can be described as flabby. It feels flat and without intensity and can even seem syrupy.

Green - Green describes a wine with too much acidity.


Heady - Describes a wine that is attractively high in alcohol.

Hollow - A wine that is lacking fruit.

Lively - A lively wine is usually a young wine with good acidity and a thirst-quenching personality. Fresh and opulent!

Meaty - Describes a wine with enough substance and flavors that it feels like you could "chew" it.

Musty - A wine with a "dank, old-attic smell" arising from processing moldy grapes or using dirty storage containers

Rich - Wines that are high in flavor and intensity of fruit.

Round - 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.

Steely - A steely wine has higher acid and more sharp edges.

Thick - Rich, ripe, concentrated wines that are low in acidity are often said to be thick.

Unctuous - When a wine is unctuous it is oily.

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