Folks in the wine business have an especially developed way of talking about their passion through wine slang. And wine menus and digital wine list descriptions follow suit. It makes sense; few subjects in food and beverage have as rich a history or devoted a following. Restaurants with great wine lists have their own language (you can also hear things like 86 meaning).
So here's a list of wine slang, including tasting and bouquet terms, that'll have you sounding like a sommelier in no time.
Acidic: A wine with high levels of acidity, typically manifests as tartness or crispness on the palate, along with mouth-watering feeling
Aeration: Wondering what does a wine aerator do? This is the process of exposing wine to air to trigger oxidation and evaporation, done by either letting wine rest in a glass, decanting it, or using a wine aerator
Aggressive: A wine with high acidity or tannins
Appearance: The clarity of a wine, not it's color, determined by the amount of suspended particles in a wine
Aroma: The smell of wine resulting from the grapes used in the winemaking process; fruit aromas, spice aromas, etc.
Backbone: Characterizes a full-bodied, structured, and tannic wine with noticeable levels of acidity
Bite: A high level of acidity of tannin
Bitter: One of the four basic tastes; some grapes are more bitter than others, some bitterness in wine comes from its tannin or stems (this is the same taste as bittters, a cocktail ingredient you can learn how to make bitters using a bitters recipe)
Bouquet: The smell of wine resulting from the winemaking process itself, often describing woody or funky flavors from the aging and fermentation processes, respectively
Brilliant: The appearance of a wine with no visible floating particles or sediment; completely clear
Burnt: Wine with a smokey, toasty character
Buttery: Wines with a smooth, warm texture
Chewy: Heavier, richer wines that are particularly tannic
Cork taint: A fault in a wine characterized by an overpowering musky, dank smell and a dull taste
Corkage fee: Cost added to a bill for bringing your own wine into an establishment to drink; often includes wine service for the bottle
Decanter: A glass or crystal vessel designed specifically to increase the amount of wine exposed to air to enhance a wine's flavor and aroma. Learning how to decant wine with a wine decanter is one of the best ways to elevate a wine experience. You'll also want to know how to clean a wine decanter to keep it in good condition.
Delicate: Another term for light- or medium-bodied wines
Depth: Wine with layers of flavors and sensations
Dry: A wine that's not sweet
Fleshy: Similar to chewy, notes a wine with a full mouthfeel
Floral: Aromas and tastes that resemble flowers
Fruit forward: Aromas or tastes that are primarily fruity
Full-bodied: A heavy, complex, and well-rounded flavor that lingers in the mouth, higher in alcohol content
Funky: A characteristic, typically of smell, derived from the yeast used in winemaking; also called "barnyard"
Grassy: A specific kind of herbaceousness
Green fruit: A characteristic referring to younger, brighter fruit, like melon and green apple, versus darker fruits like berries or plums
Heady: A wine with high alcohol content
Herbaceous: A taste or smell of herbs
Horizontal tasting: Wine tasting that surveys multiple producers of similar wines from the same vintage, i.e., multiple Sonoma County Sauvignon Blancs from 2012
Legs: The streaks of water that drips down the inside of a wine glass as the wine is swirled around
Length: The amount of time smells and tastes last after swallowing
Light-bodied: The opposite of full-bodied; wines with a more delicate mouthfeel with less alcohol
Lively: A wine with fresh, energetic characteristics, typically fruit-forward wines with above-average acidity
Lush: A wine with a soft mouthfeel, typically rich and sweet
Meaty: Similar to fleshy and chewy, a wine with a full, chunky mouthfeel
Medium-bodied: In between light- and full-bodied in both flavor profile and alcohol content
Mouthfeel: The sensations produced in the mouth by wine
Negociant: A wine negociant is an industry expert that purchases hihg-quality wine
Nose: How wine smells in the glass
Nutty: An aroma or taste similar to nuts
Oenology: The study of wine
Off-dry: Dry, but not entirely; a dry wine with a slightly sweet character
Open: Opening up a wine, or allowing a wine to open, is allowing it to aerate; can be done by simply pouring, using a wine aerator, or using a decanter.
Peak: The subjective ideal age of an individual wine
Rustic: A wine with earthy, hearty characteristics; like many wine terms, can be both good or bad depending on context
Savory: The opposite of a sweeter, fruit-forward wine; a wine with vegetal, earthy, dry characteristics
Smoky: A smoke aroma, imparted by the barrel aging process
Smooth: A soft mouthfeel, like buttery but not not necessarily with warm or oily characteristics
Soft: Similar to smooth, but with a more delicate character
Sommelier: The definition of sommelier is a wine professional trained in all aspects of wine service and food and wine pairing; certified by the Master Court of Sommeliers (after taking sommelier classes). You can watch a sommelier documentary to see exactly what they do.
Spicy: A wine with spicy taste and aroma characteristics; common spice profiles are black pepper, cinnamon, anise, clove, nutmeg, and ginger
Structure: The major elements that make up a wine's flavor profile: acid, tannin, sugar, alcohol, and body
Subtle: Understated aromas and flavors present in wine
Tannins in wine: Naturally occurring compounds in grapes that impart the bitter, dry sensations in wine; wines high in tannins are "tannic"
Tart: A sharp-tasting characteristic present due to high acidity
Toasty: A characteristic imparted from oak barrels during the aging process
Vegetal: A characteristic that brings to mind plant life and vegetation; herbaceous, medicinal, fresh
Velvety: A wine with a smooth, silky texture
Vertical tasting: Wine tasting that focuses on one bottling of wine from one winery over the course of time, i.e., tasting multiple vintages
Vinification: The process of turning grapes into wine
FAQ's on Wine Slang
What is Slang For Wine?
While there are plenty of wine slang terms about wine, there are less that refer to what wine is than there are about the qualities of wine. A few wine slang terms to name wine are vino, glogg, and, for fans of the show Community, no-no juice. Whatever name you choose, a wine, by any other name, still tastes great.
What is Cheap Wine Slang?
When it comes to cheap wines, the slang used to talk about it gets even goofier than no-no juice. A few key terms for cheap wine slang are space bag (the bag within boxed wine), cardboardeaux (another term for boxed wine), and plonk (a favorite for cheap wine, coming from Australian roots).
Where Does Wine Slang Come From?
Wine slang terminology comes from a mix of older roots of words, some words that have been made up by those who enjoy wine, and sommeliers who taste wine and call out specific information on the wine in slang that they come up with.