The Language of Wine

language of wine - wine wrangler
Lose Your Frustration: Increase Your Wine Vocabulary

If you’re new to wine tasting, hearing more experienced tasters talk about wine can leave you wondering. Even experienced wine tasters can draw a blank when it comes to knowing every term that makes up the incredibly dense wine glossary. The best way to learn the language of wine is to go wine tasting and learn from the experts. However, while there’s no way we can give you a fair representation of the vast number of words used to describe and discuss wine in a single blog post, we picked 5 terms to explain in detail, so you could understand them, and add them to your tasting vocabulary. Here they are:

  • AVA: You’ve most likely heard this term before and it’s an important one, since it really does tell a great deal about the wines from any given region. Quite simply, the AVA is the recognized growing region, or geographic area, that a wine comes from and the AVA is an acronym for the American Viticulture Area. Wines from our region come from the Paso Robles AVA, but Paso Robles is part of a larger AVA—The Central Coast AVA.

  • Breathe: If you’ve ever wondered what people mean when they say that a wine needs time ‘to breathe,’ you’re not alone. Commonly used when talking about red wines, allowing a wine to breathe simply means exposing it to air so that its flavors can open up.

  • Color: Understanding color is important in identifying a wine, particularly when trying to denote its age. White wines grow darker with age and red wines take on an orange to reddish brown cast.

  • Legs: Funny to think of wine as having legs and  we certainly don’t mean that it can get up and walk off on its own. Instead, this term refers to the way the wine sticks to the inside of the wine glass after its swirled.

  • Tannins: Many people assume that only red wine has tannins, but in truth, tannins come from grape stems and skins and are present in all wines. Tannins are astringent and give wine structure and while they can give wine a ‘harsh’ flavor, they usually mellow with age.

Learning the language of wine takes time and a willingness to taste wines and talk about them with others. We’d like to help you develop your wine vocabulary by inviting you to go wine tasting with us—our guides are not only experts on wine, but on our area.