Diving into wine tasting can be quite daunting, especially if you’re just starting out. At times, you might know what a wine feels like and can describe its characteristics, but you might not hold the right vocabulary to describe the wine. Here are 8 of the most basic wine tasting terms you need to know, so when you’re at your next tasting, you can describe a wine like a pro. 

1. Balance 

The word ‘balance’ suggests that the wine’s three main components, namely fruit, alcohol, and acid, are working together harmoniously. For red wines, tannins are also considered an integral component to measure the balance of a wine. 

2. Body

Body is the textural impression created by a wine. It refers to the feeling of the wine in your mouth, its heaviness, and its viscosity. Full bodied wines fill your palate with texture and intensity like a Malbec. Meanwhile, medium bodied wines find a good middle ground like a nice Sangiovese. Light bodied wines like a Pinot Noir are usually refreshing.

3. Complex

Complex flavours and aromas are desirable features in a wine. The complexity of a wine can come from the primary aromas and flavours that come from grapes and the fermentation process. The complexity of a wine can also come from the combination of these with secondary and tertiary characteristics that come from post fermentation and the ageing process. 

4. Aromas

The aromas of a wine, as the name suggests, points to the smell of a wine. Some of the most common aromas in a wine are associated with fruit, herbs, flowers, earth, grass, tobacco, mocha, and chocolate. 

5. Acidity 

It’s no secret that the acidity of a wine plays a vital role in wine. It gives the wine freshness and zing. The more acidic a wine is, the more refreshing and mouth-watering it will feel as you drink it. 

6. Finish

The finish of a wine is the aftertaste it leaves on your palate once you’ve finished drinking the wine. The finish of a wine can ideally have a big impact on your wine drinking experience. If a wine leaves a lengthy, lingering aftertaste on your palate, it’s said to have a long finish. 

7. Tannic

Tannins come from the seeds, skin, and stem of a grape. White wines are usually devoid of tannins, but are an important component in red wines. Alone, they can taste bitter, but will give different results depending on how they’re blended with the other components of a wine. When a wine has harsh tannins and leaves a puckery feel in the mouth, the wine is described as ‘astringent’. When there are a moderate amount of tannins in the wine, leaving the mouth feeling dry, the wine is described as ‘firm’. And when there are fewer tannins in a wine, giving a smooth, velvety feel, it's known as ‘soft’.


Oak has one of the biggest influences on the flavour of a wine. It comes from the oak barrels a wine is aged in. The oak in a wine adds flavours and aromas of vanilla, cloves, coconut, cedar, and more. 

To learn more about wine, visit www.sonalhollandwineacademy.com 

Originally published August 16, 2022

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