What’s in a word, a lot if you are trying to describe that “tingling sensation” on the tongue which was then followed by that milky thing and then tasted like that fruit which you just can’t put your palate on now. I am sure you have faced that dilemma in other fields too; when you couldn’t quite find the word to describe the situation, or pair of legs for that matter!
Well anatomy we shall handle another day but here are a few wine terms just in case you feel tongue-tied! I have also included some antonyms:
Acidic: Denotes high acid content in a wine, which makes them seem super sour, or tingly on the tongue. When used in a derogatory way, we may term the wine “Tart”. Acid is not a bad term but avoid using it, prefer to say “Racy” or “Crisp”. The opposite would be “Soft” or “Creamy”.
Aged/Evolved: The natural process which affects all aspects of a wine as it is held in barrels or bottles. Primary fruity aromas die and secondary dry fruit aromas and earthy and leathery aromas may evolve. The colour fades too. Any wine showing such signs is an aged wine. Ageing is not always a good thing; sometimes an aged wine may well be a dead wine! The opposite is a “Young” vibrant wine.
Tannic: That natural red wine constituent which gives the wine its astringency. It is the same compound as caffeine and it can be detected as a furry sensation which coats the tongue and inner walls of our mouth. Whites also can have some, mostly if oak-aged. If controlled, it adds a beautiful dimension to any wine. Out of balance, it is like trying to ride a hedgehog, blindfolded, through a sawdust storm with your tongue sticking out.
Finish: The lingering taste which persists once we have spat or swallowed the wine. To me, this is the most important thing in a wine (or any beverage). A pleasant finish, that is, one which is not mouth-jarring, or conversation-interrupting, is the sure-shot way to tell the ones with pedigree from the plebeian!
Robust: A wine which packs a punch, the Thwack! and the Ka-Pow! as last seen in Adam West and Burt Ward films (remember, Batman & Robin?) Normally they taste better with food but people who can do push-ups with their tongue (amongst other things) flaunt such “Jammy’ wines as an ‘evening apero’! They are not much for “Light” or “Soft” wines.
Rounded: A “Balanced” wine, which has all the constituents – attack, acid, tannins, aromas, flavour, finish, house rent allowance – in measured, correct levels. It is not “Over-powering” or “Mono-dimensional”. Rounded wines are more domestic pets and less dominatrix beasts.
Fruity: All wine is from grapes so when we say a wine is fruity it’s actually a tutti-frutti statement! The thing is that un-oaked (or mildly oaked, or young wines) may display a lot more juiciness and fruit flavour and these are termed as Fruity wines.
Oaky/Nutty: Ageing in oak evokes certain nutty, woody notes in a wine – in both whites and reds. This process also softens the acids and the tannins and makes the wine seem more complex and evolved than it chronologically is. Hence the film the “The ‘Nutty’ Professor”! OK, that was a bad one, even for me.
Dry: A wine with very little residual sugar, about less than 10gms/l. Most wines on any wine list are dry – from subtly dry to very dry, from bone dry to “This-won’t-go-down-my-throat-till-I-down-some-water”! Wines with more sugar, which will taste sweet even when sipped alongside kheer, or fruit custard, are called “Sweet” or “Dessert” wines.
Bouquet: The term used to describe the sum of all aromas in a wine. A bouquet can be fruity, floral, toasty… Even Juhu Chowpatty during a low tide has one, albeit a stomach-revoltingly unpleasant one.
Closed: A wine with no aromas. It may be too young (in which case, airing will bring out the aromas), or spoilt, or just plainly a result of bad-winemaking.
Fat/Fleshy/Chewy: Unlike the models of today, this denotes a wine with good body, aka “Full-Bodied” as against the contrary style of “Lean” wines. Yes, you may even add “Anorexic”, I don’t mind.
Heavy/Hot: A wine with high-alcohol which burns as you swallow it, even when at the right service temperature.
Off: A wine gone bad, aka “Corked” or, like your lover, “Tainted”. This is usually cork-induced combined with bad storage.
Hope that helps. Sorry if I went overboard with my silly puns. Oh, you never noticed?! Nevermind…