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Wine Jargon – Learning the Wine Language

If you start to take wine seriously, you will soon be immersed in a world with its own language. The question, of course, is what are the terms being used and what do they mean?

Wine is often viewed as a snobby leisure activity. This is often due to the nature of the terms used. When a person says the “aromatic balance” is serene, one can’t help but be a bit intimidated. Well, this is the language of wine whether you like it or not. To fit into the crowd and improve you knowledge of wine, it helps to know some of the terms being used, so let’s jump right in.

Aerate – The process by which one introduces wine to oxygen upon opening it. One typically only aerates certain red wines, not white wines. There are exceptions to this rule, but one a few. Aerate is also referred to by the slang term “breathe.”

Attack – Many wonder how such a word could possible fit into the wine drinking lexicon, but it does. The attack of a wine refers to the first impression it makes when it enters your mouth. Generally, it is the first taste you get on the very tip of your tongue.

Crispness – The crispness of a wine refers to its sharpness. If a wine has a distinct, clean taste, it is crisp. The crispness of a wine is a factor of the acidity of the vintage.

Maturation – The maturation of a wine refers to how long the wine has been allowed to develop. The first stage of the maturation process is at the winery where the wine is stored in casks for a specified period of time. The second stage can be, but not necessarily, when you buy the wine and store it in your collection. Not all wines improve with maturation. Some are intended to be consumed soon after leaving the winery.

Tannin – No, it does not refer to sitting on a beach in Hawaii. Tannin is substance in the secondary elements of a grape such as the seeds, skins and stems. With red wines, these secondary elements are fermented with the grapes and tannin becomes influential in the taste of the wine.

Obviously, there are more than five terms you should learn for your wine drinking exploits. That being said, these are as excellent a place to start as any.

Xavier Moldini is with

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