Use This Basic Wine Vocabulary to Sound Like Pro

When learning a new language, there’s a balance between knowing what you’re talking about and having confidence in what you’re saying.

Same goes for the language of wine. To help make you appear like a pro at your next after work happy hour, we’ve rounded up basic wine terminology to help you describe your wine a little more throughly. While these words will get you started, there is a mastery that comes from regular practice or study. Luckily, there are plenty of classes available in Toronto that make the study of wine feel more like a party than anything – take iYellow’s Wine School class for instance. Our classes let you discover your wine confidence as you sip and pontificate these wine words like a pro, while also being led through a structured tasting of 6 wines and cheese pairings from the Cheese Boutique.

Take a trip around the world without ever leaving the6ix. Learn something new about Spain or PortugalDiscover France, experience a California {wine} Love, sip iYellow Fall Favs, taste New Zealand Wines, or go back to the basics with the epically popular Wine 101 class. Either way, you are sure to be well-versed in wine words that will have you sipping like a pro in no time. Use promo code ‘wineschool’ for $10 OFF (limited tickets available per class on a first come, first purchase basis while quantities last).



AROMA – Referring to a wine’s scent, aromatic wines tend to have a fragrant and floral bouquet on the nose. There are many great aromatic whites, including Riesling, Moscato and Gewürztraminer.

MOUTHFEEL – A wine’s texture is revealed through how it feels in your mouth. Some descriptive examples of mouthfeel may include dry, soft or smooth. Try to think of these things the next time you have a glass of wine – you’ll better understand the concept if you taste it for yourself.

TANNINS – Tannins can be found in almost any red wine. They help give a good red wine mouthfeel and are the backbone for ageing well. You can also taste tannins. When you sip tea that’s been over-steeped. Wines can taste tannic, meaning they possess a strong tannin.

VARIETAL – Varietal refers to the variety of grape that is used to make a wine. Examples of this include single varietal wines, such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. The opposite of a single varietal is a blend.

VINTAGE – This is the year that the grapes were grown. Some wines are vintage wines, meaning they come from one specific year. Non-vintage wines include grapes harvested from different years blended into one bottle.

BODY – All wine has a body. Think of the weight of the wine on your palette. It can be light – medium- or full-bodied – typically this can be discovered by the legs of the wine after swirling, tasting the wine, analyzing its mouth-feel and savouring the finish.

LEGS  – If you like to swirl your wine (as any good wine love should), you’ve more than likely noticed the wine running down the inside of your glass. These drops, called legs or tears, are indicative of alcohol and sugar content, as well as the wine’s body. The slower the legs run down your glass, the more alcohol, sugar and body.

BALANCE  – Balance refers to the proportion of acidity, sugar, tannins, alcohol and oak. A great wine will have a very balanced taste.

The next time you’re at a party, on a date or entertaining a client, bring your out your new wine vocabulary to look and sound like a professional! Better yet, bring them to wine school class with you!

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