Wine Tasting Terminology


Some helpful words to know and use in the tasting room.

ACIDITY » This is a quality in wine that provides tartness and pucker. Wines with high acidity will taste bright and fresh. White wines tend to be more acidic than red wines.

AROMA » Smell is an essential part of tasting and enjoying wine. The aroma — or “nose” — varies depending on the grape variety, where it is grown, when it is harvested, and more. Typical aromas include tropical fruits, berries, citrus, herbs, and flowers.

BODY » Wines are typically categorized as light-bodied, medium-bodied or full-bodied. Body describes the texture or weight of the wine on the palate. Fuller-bodied wines are generally higher in alcohol content.

ESTATE WINE » Wines labeled as “estate” must be made using grapes from vineyards owned by the winery. In addition, the wine must be made entirely at the winery — it does not leave the property during fermentation, aging, or bottling.

FINISH » This is the note that lingers on the palate after the wine has been swallowed. It’s an important factor in separating middling wines from quality ones. Fine wines will have a long-lasting, pleasant finish that leaves you wanting more.

TANNIN » Tannin is a naturally occurring polyphenol (a type of organic chemical) found in plants, seeds, bark, wood, leaves, and fruit skins. When it comes to flavor, tannins create a dry sensation on the tongue — think of unsweetened black tea. Most often found in red wines, they also add bitterness and complexity.

VARIETALS » This word describes wines made from primarily a single variety of grape. For example, a varietal wine is made from primarily Merlot grapes or primarily Chardonnay grapes. This is why a tasting room manager or sommelier might ask you which varietals you’ve enjoyed in the past. In short: Varietal is the wine, variety is the grape.

VINTAGE » A wine’s vintage indicates what year the grapes were picked. If you don’t see a vintage on the bottle, it might mean that grapes from different years have been blended to produce that wine.

We encourage you to develop a deep knowledge of the kind of wine you love. Take notes on the wines you taste, what you liked about them, what you did not like, and so forth. Keep track of where you visited, what you loved, and what’s next on your PA Wine Land itinerary.