Want to impress your friends but don't know anything about wine? Fret not. Let us at Boozeat show you some of our favourite wine terms and how to throw them around correctly.
Now, imagine you have a glass of wine in hand. First, take note of its colour and give it a swirl. Next, raise your glass to underneath your nose and prepare to throw your first fancy wine term.
"Bouquet" in layman terms, is the smell of the wine. Bouquet is used because there are several layers of aromas present when nosing wine rather than a singular smell.
If you notice a citrusy aroma, you may describe the wine to have a "zesty bouquet". If you notice more fruit forward notes, try a "bouquet of ripe fruit and berries". If you are able to pick up some spicy, earthy notes, go for a "herbaceous bouquet".
Once you've nailed the first poetic description of your wine's bouquet, take a sip and let it swirl in your mouth before swallowing.
Among the first things you'll notice is how dry the wine is. The level of "dryness" describes a key characteristic of wine that is quite easy to nail - the dryer the wine, the lower its sugar content.
Most wines can be described as "dry" or "off dry". Use the latter if you notice just a tiny hint of sweetness. On the other end of the spectrum, dessert wines like ice wine and Moscato fall into the "sweet" category.
Another thing you'll notice about the wine is its weight as you hold it in your mouth. This is described as the wine's "Body". Light-bodied vs full-bodied can be likened to evaporated milk vs full cream milk. In wines, alcohol content largely determines its body.
As wine covers the surface of your tongue, the "Acidity" of the wine becomes quite noticeable. In layman terms, acidity is how sour the wine is. The term acidity is more precise in describing the bright crispness you feel at the sides of your tongue when tasting wine. In many wines, acidity is pleasant and enjoyable, often described as "bright" or "crisp".
Moving on to the actual taste and flavour of the wine you're tasting, the best way to describe these flavours are by "varietal character". This isn't exactly a term to throw around, but something important to understand nonetheless. Most wines we come across are varietal wines, which means they are made from a single named grape variety.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Pinot Noir are the popular red wines you can find almost everywhere in Malaysia, while Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are the popular whites.
There are many more types of wine grapes out there, but knowing the characteristics of these favourites will help you dish out more accurate descriptions of the wines you taste. Here is a breakdown of generally accepted characteristics:
Cabernet Sauvignon - Full-bodied, blackcurrant, blackberries, tobacco, plum, black cherry, spice. Shiraz - Full-bodied, black cherry, leather, roasted nuts, pepper, spice, earth, floral. Pinot Noir - Light-bodied, Silky, acidic, red fruits, floral, black fruits, berry, herb, cherry. Sauvignon Blanc - Light-bodied, green apple, lime, pear, passionfruit, bell pepper, basil, lemongrass. Chardonnay - Full-bodied, citrus, starfruit, apple, butter, spice, round, bright acidity.
Most of the time, we won't be able to detect all of these notes precisely unless we have an expert palate. The key is to use your imagination, and you may just discover interesting notes which you never thought you would.
We hope this article helps you understand wine a little more and heightens your own appreciation of this glorious drink. All the best in sharing this enjoyment with your friends! If you're looking for some great options, check out our wines page and pick up a few for your next house party. Delivery is free for orders above RM80.