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Ruby Hill Winery
April 16, 2021 | Ruby Hill Winery

Wine Tasting from A to Z

Here at Ruby Hill Winery, we love to make wine tasting enjoyable and approachable for everyone. To help achieve that goal, we've put together a list, from A to Z, of a few of the words you might hear around the winery. What does it mean to call a wine "hollow" or to look at it's "legs"? Read on to discover (or review) some of the ABCs of wine tasting!

Astringency - a description of the feeling of wine in the mouth. An astringent wine will cause your mouth to pucker.

Body - a description of how “big” or heavy the wine feels in the mouth, usually described as full, medium, or light. 

Cuvée - a wine that is a blend of multiple varietals. Cuvée is also a description used to describe certain French sparkling wines. 

Dry - a wine with little to no sweetness. Dryness corresponds to the level of residual sugar, and may also be emphasized in wines with a higher alcohol content. 

Earthy - a wine with notes that are reminiscent of soil or other such aromas. The opposite of earthy is fruit-forward.

Flabby - a negative term for wine with little acidity and therefore no structure. Flabby may also describe sparkling wines that have gone “flat” and lost effervescence.   

GSM - the initials of a famous Rhône-style wine which incorporates Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvédre into a well-assembled blend. 

Hollow - a wine with flavor sensations at the beginning and finish, but lacking in the middle. Usually, hollow wines fall short due to a lack of fruitiness. 

Imperial - a very large bottle of wine containing 6 liters of wine. This bottle, also called a “Methuselah,” holds the equivalent of 8 standard bottles. 

Jeroboam - a large-format wine bottle similar to the Imperial, the Jeroboam is slightly smaller, holding 4.5 liters or 6 standard bottles. 

Kabinett - a German winemaking term that indicated quality wine made from the main harvest and set aside for later sale, similar to the term “Reserve” in English. 

Legs - a word to refer to the streaks of wine on the inside of the glass after swirling. Generally, prominent legs indicate a higher alcohol content.

Mid Palate - a term to refer to the “middle flavor” of wine, right between the first hit on the tongue and the finish after you swallow. 

Nose - a term for the first impression made through the wine’s aroma. Smelling your wine is referred to as “nosing” in some circles. 

Oaky - a family of flavors infused into wine by the oak barrels used for aging. Oaky flavors include vanilla, s’mores, butterscotch, and toast.

Primeur - a tasting that takes place straight from the barrel, before the wine has completed its aging process. In English-speaking countries this is also called a “Futures Tasting.” 

QPR - an acronym meaning “Quality-Price Ratio.” An incredible wine at an affordable price will have a high QPR. 

Riche - a French term used to refer to a very sweet wine, used especially to describe sweet sparkling wine. 

Silky - a term used to describe wines that feel soft in the mouth, generally with mild levels of acid and tannins. 

Texture - a tactile factor of wine usually described by how a wine feels in the mouth. Words like smooth, velvety, crisp, or steely are all textural descriptors. 

Unctuous - a positive descriptor for wines which are particularly weighty and rich or have a pleasantly full viscosity. 

Vintage - an indication of the year a wine’s grapes were harvested, usually stated before the varietal, such as “2016 Petite Sirah.”

Wine Tasting - an enjoyable experience of evaluating wine with all the senses, engaging scents, sights, textures, flavors and more. 

Xylem - a part of a grapevine’s structural anatomy that allows water and minerals to be carried from the root system out through the plant. 

Young - a wine that has not had a great deal of time to mature. Some wines are pleasant while young, whilst most need longer periods to age. 

Zymology - the science of fermentation, the biochemical process that turns nonalcoholic substances into something delicious.  

Hopefully, you're feeling confident and adventurous with these words in mind. Come by the tasting room to see if you can spot any of these descriptions in the wines you enjoy—and impress your friends with your skill! If you have a favorite wine word we missed, let us know on social media @rubyhilllwines.


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