Thursday, August 8, 2013

Racy With A Hint Of Cat Urine: Wine Jargon

You've probably heard the term jargon before, but you might not know what it really means. Jargon refers to technical terminology associated with a specific occupation, social group, or activity. It makes perfect sense that groups require their own subsets of language in order to communicate about things that are important and useful to them. If you're a musician, then you'll need to know musical jargon like crescendo or adagio, while a doctor would be more apt to use medical jargon like renal instead of just saying "kidney" like the rest of us. 

Three wine experts. The fish helps to clear the palate.
Today we thought it might be fun to look at a lesser known jargon, and wine tasting terminology seemed like the perfect choice. While some of us may limit our wine descriptions to simplistic terms like "bitter", "sweet", "red", and "white", others seem to have made an art form out of describing the flavors and aromas of various wines.

If you're going to try your hand at wine tasting, then you will need to know that a wine's bouquet refers to the layers of smells (also known as aromas) that can be perceived in it, while the finish (also known as aftertaste) is the taste it leaves on your palate when you've swallowed the wine after doing that funny swishing thing that wine connoisseurs do. The wine may also have undertones, more subtle aromas that lie in wait for you to discover. 

Below you'll find a small sample of some interesting wine terms we've come across, along with their definition for those of you who aren't as refined as a sommelier, a trained wine professional.

Aggressive - We're as surprised as you to learn that a wine can be aggressive. Apparently, this term is reserved for younger wines that have harsh flavors.

Voluptuous - This means it has a full body and rich texture, just like a woman?

Edgy - It's daring, in that it's notably acidic, but in a way that enhances other flavors in the wine. 

Foxy - Nope, it's not a sexy wine. Basically, it smells like fur. Also, earthy means it reminds you of earth. As in dirt. Really.

That thing around the sommelier's neck
is a tastevin, which helps him to
judge the maturity and taste of wine.
Fleshy - It would be much more entertaining if this term meant a wine tasted like flesh, but sadly, it means that fruit can be perceived in it. 

Barnyard - If you thought that foxy wine sounded bad, then prepare for the worst. From what we can tell this term isn't used much anymore, mostly because it means the wine smells like feces, which thankfully isn't very popular. We can't imagine why that scent would be desirable in a wine, but to each their own.

Hot - If a wine is hot, then it is "overly alcoholic".

Finally, what about our hypothetical titular wine that is "racy with a hint of cat pee"? Well, a racy wine is noticeably acidic, but in a good way that balances with the other wine components. As for cat pee, well, that's an aroma found in some Sauvignon Blanc wines from New Zealand. Here's one of many articles about it if you don't believe us. 

If you're a wine connoisseur who has detected some interesting aromas in your wine explorations, let us know about them in the comments below, and be sure to define your wine jargon!