When in a wine shop (brick and mortar or online) looking to buy a white wine can always be confusing, especially if you are not familiar with the wine terminology. Wine bottles include short descriptions, vintage year and other important information you should know. Deciphering vague comes only with experience and you might leave the wine store with empty heads if you are not familiar with the basic wine terminology. Hence, you need to clearly understand the descriptions and know how to ask for a wine to meet your taste. Here is basic wine terminology you should familiarize yourself with.
Vintage is the year that the grapes were harvested, not the year the wine was produced, like most people believe. It is printed on the bottle and can be easily spotted. While most white wines are best consumed in the first few years after bottling, there are some wine varieties that taste better with time. As these wines age, they get a darker colour and contain fewer fruit characteristics.
In terms of sugar, wines are classified either as sweet or dry. These two terms refer to the amount of sugar that has remained after the fermentation process. While most red wines are dry, white wines can range from dry to sweet wines. Dryness is not related to bitterness or acidity, only to the amount of sugar present in the wine. Sweetness is commonly confused with fruitiness, but it shouldn’t, as it only refers to the specific flavours of the wine.
Acid is naturally present in every wine and it can either come as lively or crisp on the palate. It not only refreshes the palate, but it also provides a perfect contrast to rich foods. When buying a white wine, it is important to know what acidity level suits your taste best.
Oaked is a very common term and it refers to the time the wine has been fermenting or aging in a barrel. White wines that are left in a barrel to age, usually get baking spices, vanilla notes, butterscotch, toasted caramel, etc. To buy a white wine with a peculiar taste, look for an oaked wine that has been in a barrel for few years.
In wine terminology, variety is same as type of grape. Some of the most popular white wine varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, but there are thousands of less-popular varieties available in wine stores you can consider when buying a white wine. Each white wine variety has something special about it, whether it is the colour, sweetness, acidity or flavour.
The body of wine tells how does the wine feel in your mouth. To feel the difference in the body of the wine, compare a light Sauvignon Blanc with a rich and full-bodied Chardonnay. There are a lot of factors that affect the wine body, such as oak aging, sugar amount, etc.