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Kismet Estate Winery
Kismet Winery
February 27, 2024 | Kismet Winery

9 Common Wine Terms and What They Mean

Are you new to the world of wine and find yourself getting confused by the array of terms used to describe different concepts? Don't worry; you're not alone! From "tannins" to "terroir," the language surrounding wine can seem like a foreign tongue at first. But fear not! In this guide, we'll break down some of the most common wine terms and what they mean, empowering you to navigate the wine aisle or wine list with confidence.

Let's start with a term that encapsulates the unique environmental factors that influence a wine's flavour profile. Terroir encompasses everything from soil type and climate to altitude and slope orientation. Essentially, it's the "sense of place" that gives a wine its distinctive character.

Ever taken a sip of red wine and felt your mouth dry out? That sensation is likely due to tannins. Found in grape skins, seeds, and stems, tannins contribute to a wine's structure, bitterness, and aging potential. Think of them as the backbone of many red wines, providing balance and complexity. Body When someone describes a wine as "full-bodied" or "light-bodied," they're referring to its weight and viscosity on the palate. Full-bodied wines, like Kismet's Cabernet Sauvignon, have a richer, more substantial mouthfeel, while light-bodied wines, such as our Pinot Grigio, feel more delicate and ethereal.

Acidity is what makes your mouth water when you take a sip of wine. It adds brightness, freshness, and balance to the overall flavour profile. Wines with high acidity, like Sauvignon Blanc, are refreshing and food-friendly, while those with lower acidity can feel flabby or dull.

Many wines, especially reds and certain Chardonnays, spend time aging in oak barrels, which impart flavours of vanilla, spice, and sometimes coconut or caramel. Oak aging can add depth and complexity to a wine, but it's essential not to overwhelm the fruit flavours.

The lingering impression a wine leaves in your mouth after you've swallowed (or spit) is known as the finish. A long finish is often a sign of quality, indicating the depth of flavour and complexity. Conversely, a short finish may leave you wanting more.

Simply put, the term "varietal" refers to a wine made primarily from a single grape variety. For example, a bottle labelled "Cabernet Sauvignon" must contain at least 75% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

The vintage of a wine indicates the year in which the grapes were harvested. It plays a significant role in determining a wine's quality and character, as weather conditions vary from year to year, affecting grape ripeness and flavour development.

Decanting is the process of pouring wine from its bottle into a separate vessel, typically a decanter, to aerate and separate sediment. It's especially beneficial for older red wines, allowing them to "breathe" and open up, revealing their full potential.

By familiarizing yourself with these common wine terms, you'll be well-equipped to explore the world of wine with confidence and curiosity, while also understanding what the heck we mean when explaining different wines in our Kismet Tasting Room! Remember, the best way to learn about wine is to keep tasting it!

Cheers to your wine journey!


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