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Wine Terminology

Updated: Jul 1

Have you ever been in a situation where "experts" start speaking in jargon (using terms and obscure formulations) and you immediately feel out of place?

This is completely unnecessary and doesn't make anyone an expert. A true expert can explain a complex topic in a way that everyone can understand. Since we are diving into the topic of wine, I have compiled a general “wine dictionary” for your convenience. You can save it and use it whenever the opportunity arises, even if it's just to show off your knowledge of a tricky word.

If you find a term that needs more explanation or should be added to the dictionary, I would greatly appreciate your feedback.

By the way, here are a couple of phrases you should avoid using in wine circles if you want to maintain your reputation (or your health):

The Aromas

Once, at a winery tasting, our photographer was asked, “What do you smell?” She answered, “Well, wine.” Such an answer can hurt the winemaker. Instead, it's more tactful to say: "The wine has pronounced aromas of citrus fruits, lemon, and green apple." Don't worry if you don't recognize anything yet; with practice, your tasting skills will improve.


When describing wine, use terms like "light," "interesting," "intense," or at worst, "bad" or "good." Never say wine is delicious—save that for lemonade.


Still wines are usually dry, and acidity is a characteristic of wine. Instead of saying “this is so sour” or “oh sweet,” you could say, “The wine is refreshing with high acidity but has a balanced taste,” or “This dessert wine amazes with the richness of fruit aromas.”

Don't Call All Sparkling Wines Champagne

Only wine from the Champagne region can be called champagne. Other wines have their own names: Prosecco, Cava, Cap Classique, Crémant, Asti, or simply “magnificent sparkling.”

Sleeping Poet

Wine is wine. It might have magical, intriguing qualities, but it smells like bread and toast, not “freshly baked, rosy buns from my grandmother’s oven in the village.” It might have the aroma of mown grass, but not “on a warm summer evening, feeling a light breeze from the sea, sitting by the fire.” Stick to straightforward descriptions.

Body Positive

Tastes change. You might prefer Bordeaux today and white wine tomorrow. Describe what you are drinking accurately. If a wine is bad, say it's bad, but only if it truly lacks balance, aromas, or has a harsh alcohol taste. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s bad. You might be surprised—this particular wine could become your favorite one day.

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In general, the golden rule is: think before you speak. What do I want to say? Will it benefit me or anyone else? Will it make the world a better place?


Written by Viktoria Sinelnikov WSET certified wine expert, CEO of Hidden Tastes

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