Corkage, varietal and aeration, oh my! There is a lot of wine terminology to know.
Knowing the right terminology can help you describe what you like and order exactly the glass of wine you want — not to mention sound chic at a dinner party. You don’t have to be an expert to appreciate proper wine terminology. Here are some basics to get you started.
Varietal — a wine made solely from a particular grape. Examples include Syrah, Zinfandel and Merlot.
Blend — a blend of two or more varietals.
New world/old world — Old world wines are those produced in a specific region, typically Europe. Examples include Champagne, Bordeaux or Cabernet Sauvignon. New world wines are made from a particular varietal.
Corkage — a fee charged by a restaurant to open and serve a bottle of wine you bring with you. It is intended to cover service, supplies (such as the use of the glass) and the loss of revenue from wine sales. Fees vary widely by restaurant.
Mouth feel — how a wine feels in the mouth (smooth, velvety or rough).
Sediment — solids from the winemaking process that remain in a bottled wine. Sediment is usually removed before bottling but sometimes remains in the bottle. In older wines, sediment might form in the wine and can result in a bitter taste. Decant a wine containing sediment prior to serving.
Aeration — introducing air to wine, by such methods as decanting, swirling or using special aeration devices. This can improve flavor and aroma by releasing compounds such as sulfites and ethanol from the wine.
Vintage — the year in which grapes used to make wine are harvested. Grapes may be harvested and then aged in barrels, but the wine label should carry the year the grapes were harvested. The term is sometimes applied more largely to the effects of weather on the crop of grapes harvested in a particular year.
Sommelier — wine steward, typically employed by fine restaurants to serve wine. A master sommelier is one who has passed a strenuous exam covering various facets of wine knowledge, including theory, tasting and service.
Aroma — smells developed in a wine before and during fermentation.
Bouquet — smells developed in a wine after fermentation.
Nose — a term used to describe the aromas and bouquet of a wine during tasting.