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How To Be Successful...When Discussing Wine

Mindful Musing: How to talk about wine with the best of them.

"...good company, good wine, good welcome, can make good people." -William Shakespeare

You've read my spiel on what I think it means to be successful. I've expressed that to be successful means that you have attained a certain favorable or desirable outcome. That  success is simply goal oriented, and if you set a goal, and then attain it you may call yourself successful! 

Today's Goal ladies:  to be able to "talk good wine"

Why is it helpful to learn how to discuss wine?
  • Well, notably, many people perceive those who are educated about wine to be worldly, and cultured. (Cue Christian Grey)
  • Many people gift wines for engagement parties, showers, weddings, or even as a simple hostess gift.
  • Also, knowing how to describe what you like using proper wine terminology may aid your server in helping you choose a wine that is best suited for you; therefore, bettering your wine experience.
  • It will help you save money too. The last thing you want to do is spend $50 dollars on a bottle of wine, and you find it tastes just like the $6 boxed one, or worse you don't even like it.
The Idea: After a Fiction Writing Workshop, I decided to follow in the footsteps of Hemingway, and have a boozy lunch. The weather was beautiful, so I decided to wander to the Central Park Boathouse. Why not order a glass of wine, and sit by the water? Well, easier said then done, because of course I ordered the hardest wine to pronounce. Thank goodness I had the common sense to take French- I knew it would eventually come in handy. Once at the bar, I knew I wanted a wine that was light and refreshing. I also knew that it was too early in the day (2 pm) to drink Pinot Noir or Melbac (dry red wines). So, I ordered the Sacerre Cuvee Chavignol.

A couple of older lovelies, who were drinking Chardonnay (another white wine), asked me how it tasted. I gave it my best go:

"It has bite; it's crisp, and has an aftertaste of green apple"

The woman responded:

"Oh that sounds lovely, yours looks much grainier than ours. I have never tried it."

Grainy? Should I take offense to that? Not knowing what else to say I smiled politely and excused myself. She then called me back over and asked which wine I chose again, forcing me to practice pronouncing Sacerre Cuvee Chavignol.

Today, I lucked out. I used the little knowledge of wine I have to choose one I really enjoyed, but I have had the experience of choosing a wine which tasted horrible.  Hopefully it never happens to you! Below is a glossary of terms to use when describing the taste of wine.

Glossary of Terms

Acidic: The sour or tart taste of wine. Acidity contribute to the keeping ability of fine wines.
Astringent: A wine whose taste is bitter, mouth-drying, or puckery.
Bitter: If the bitter component of a wine is most dominant it is considered a fault.
Briary: A term used to describe a wine that has an aggressive "peppery" taste.
Buttery: A term used to describe a good white wine, especially Chardonnay.
Coarse: A wine-tasting term that refers to a rough or crude wine that is difficult to drink.
Corky: Unpleasant aroma and flavor of a moldy cork.
Creamy: Silk-like quality, the opposite of a crisp wine.
Crisp: A term used to describe a wine that has a pleasing tartness and acidity without excessive sweetness.
Dry: A tasting term used to describe the complete absence of sugar in wine. If it has slight sugar taste then you would say it tastes "off dry"
Earthy: Taste or smell suggests soil, mushrooms, or mustiness.
Flabby: Tasting term for a wine that is too low in acidity.
Flat: Similar to flabby, it lacks in both acidity and crispness.
Flowery: A tasting term to describe an aroma of fresh flowers.
Foxy: A tasting term used to describe the unique musky smell and taste of Concord grapes. 
Green: A tasting term that refers to wines made with under-ripe fruit.
Oaky: Excessive oak flavors in wine.
Peppery: Term used to describe spicy wines reminiscent of anise or cinnamon.
Ripe: Well balanced fruity and sweet wine.
Sharp: Excessively acidic
Smoky: A tasting term used to describe a wine that has clearly been oak-aged.
Sour: Similar to acidic
Tobacco: A tasting term used to describe red wines whose flavors resembled the taste of raw tobacco leaves.
Warm: Used to describe wine with high flavor of alcohol.
Weighty: A tasting term to describe a wine that is well-structured, and balanced but excessive in flavor.

Oh and before I forget...

Grainy: The deposits sometimes found in wine bottles, most often with older wines. Sediment is not a bad sign but in fact may indicate a superior wine. Grainy does not have to do with describing taste but the "Mouth" of the wine, in other words how it feels in one's mouth.

Using the new terminology I would describe the wine below as:

"Crisp-acidic, but not sharp, and well-balanced." Oh, and I learned grainy is a good thing!
Now all you have to do is the 4 S's
Swirl ,

Stay Lovely,
Editor and Curator

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