Wish you could walk into a wine store and explain what you wanted? Now you can.
Photo by Jim Franco
ROUND Think plump, full and juicy.
LEAN/CRISP OR BRIGHT It’s more acidic, like a lemonade.
RIPE Lots of fruitiness. Period.
TANNIC A dry, puckery, astringent sensation in your mouth.
BIG Bursting with fruit, tannins or alcohol. (Just know which one of those you’re really after.)
HOT Mucho alcohol. Enough said.
LIGHT Not just in color. This means smooth and delicate.
GREEN Made from grapes that didn’t reach optimal ripeness.
MASCULINE Think Bordeaux. Something that reminds you of tobacco and leather.
FEMININE Flavors of raspberries and violets,common in Beaujolais.
FLORAL White wine that smells of flowers rather than fruit, typical of Torrontes, a grape variety.
TROPICAL Just what it sounds like. Pineapple, mango, papaya, oh my!
HERBACEOUS Smell those aromas of grass, mint, lemongrass. Just to name a few.
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Grape GlossaryCabernet Sauvignon
: The quintessential red wine grape, producing full-bodied flavor and relatively high levels of tannin. Many of the world’s priciest wines are made primarily of Cabernet.Pinot Noir
: Lighter-bodied than Cabernet and often a bit fruitier, wines made of Pinot Noir have been especially popular in recent years (think Sideways).Merlot
: Smoother than most Cabernets but fuller-bodied than most Pinot Noirs, their mellowness and medium body means they’re often versatile with food.Zinfandel
: Full-bodied and full of jammy fruit flavors, Zinfandel wines are strongly associated with California, one of the only regions to grow the grape heavily.Syrah
: This grape—which is called Shiraz in Australia—usually creates wines that are tannic and full-bodied with a peppery quality.Sangiovese
: Italy’s signature grape, it produces wines that are medium-bodied and very “quaffable” (wine snob speak for easy-to-throw-back).Gamay
: Mostly found in France’s famous Beaujolais, Gamay creates wines that are light and ultra-fruity.Temperanillo
: This Spanish grape is used to make full-bodied, flavorful wines that go down easy.Malbec
: Once a low-profile grape, Malbec is now a star varietal in its own right. It’s popular in South America and creates wines with a gentle bite and soft berry flavors.Grenache
: This grape (called Garnacha in Spain) is low in tannins and slightly sweet. It’s common in wines from the Rhone region of France, and blends with other grapes to make more complex wines.
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