Demystifying 3 Common Wine Descriptors

The language of wine can be daunting, particularly to one who is new to the beverage… and the terminology.

Certain terms or phrases may mean one thing to one person and something entirely different to another. That’s why we try to be consistent in the way we use vinous verbiage – not only here on, but also in The Grapevine newsletter and in the Tasting Notes that accompany the bottlings shipped by the wine clubs of Vinesse.

But we still slip up on occasion, simply because our tasting panel consists of human beings with unique palates and who “experience” wine in very personal ways.

The perception of wine is part science and part art – just like the winemaking process – and it’s virtually impossible to get six or seven knowledgeable (and opinionated) people on the same page.

That said, we can offer some general definitions of three terms that are commonly misused or subject to varying interpretations, even among experts…

* Fruity – Many people think this word is a synonym for “sweet,” and while it can be, it more often is not. It simply refers to a wine with very prominent fruit flavors.

* Dry – This term often is thought of as the opposite of fruity but, again, that is a misnomer. A dry wine simply is one that has had virtually all of its natural sugars “burned off” during the fermentation process.

* Sweet – Some think this term equates with syrupy or overly sugary. With some dessert-style wines, it does. But more often, it simply means that some residual sugar remains (1 or 2 percent) following fermentation.

Posted in Wine in the Glass
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