Do you ever find yourself in a situation where people are discussing terroir or vintage and wonder what horror movies and old clothes have to do with that sweet nectar called wine? Well, you’re not alone. Our studies suggest that 85% of people have no idea – nor care- about much more than whether wine is red, white or that weird in-between one. Well I may have made that statistic up…but the point remains! So, here is a list of things to help you look like you know about wine (without actually having to get a degree in viticulture):
1. What is terroir (pronounced Tare – wahr)?
Terroir basically refers to how the area where the wine’s grapes came from affect the flavor of the wine – e.g. the soil, climate, terrain and sometimes tradition, like how the winemakers ferment the grapes. A warm climate will produce wine which is sweeter, a cold climate will produce wine which is more acid.
2. What is the vintage? Why does that matter?
So a vintage wine is one which was made with grapes which were primarily grown and harvested in one specific year. Some vintages are considered superior to other depending on the conditions for grape growing in that specific year. So a wine from one vintage could cost a lot more than that same wine with a different year on the bottle because one year may have yielded better grapes than the one before.
3. What in the heck are tannins?
Tannins – or “Polyphenols” – are a compound which occur in grape skins, seeds and stems. They make wine feel dry. The dryer it makes your mouth feel, the more tanic the wine is.
4. What’s the main difference between white and red wine?
According to winegeek.com, the main difference besides the color is in the tannins: “Found mainly in red wines, they provide a dry, puckery sensation in the mouth and in the back of the throat”. White wine is made by fermenting only the juice and not the skins, so it isn’t very tanic.
5. So what exactly is a rose wine?
Rose wines are made from black grapes, just like red wine, but don’t turn fully red because the grape skins are removed from the juice after a few hours, so the juice only has time to get some of the color of the skins.
6. And finally, what are “legs”?
In wine, legs are the streaks or droplets which appear when you swivel the wine around in the glass. How slowly they move back down the glass is an indication of the alcohol levels in the wine. Of course, it’s much easier just to look at the label to find out the alcohol level, but if you want to sound like a woman in-the-know, legs are often referred to.
So there you go, a few basic points to help you navigate the scary world of wine-lingo and look like you know a little something about old red (or white or rose!)