Don’t know a Super Tuscan from a Chianti? Not sure how to talk about wine in a restaurant? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with this easy cheat sheet that will have you talking about wine like a pro in no time.
“Wine is like poetry in a bottle,” as author Robert Louis Stevenson says. It’s true that some people like to describe wine in elaborate ways. In Tuscany, we think that enjoying wine should be a sensory experience and you can describe what you see, smell and taste in your own words. Here is some guidance to help you.
Wine talking points
There are thousands of wines in the world and it’s impossible to know everything. As a result, experts usually focus on these characteristics of the wine:
Body. We use “body” to talk about the weight of the wine. Basically, this is how it feels in your mouth. Is it full-bodied, coating your palate like whole milk? Is it light-bodied, feeling more like water on your tongue? Or is it something in between? The texture of a medium-bodied wine would be more akin to 2% milk in this analogy.
You can also sound in-the-know by remarking on the color of the wine. A fuller-bodied wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon, tends to be darker in color and more opaque. Paler, more translucent colors, like you’d see in a Pinot Noir, suggest a lighter body and flavor.
Acidity and tannins. When the pros talk about white wines, they use words like “refreshing” and “crisp” to describe wines that have more acidity, while less acidic wines tend to be “smoother” and more “round”.
Red wines are all about the tannins. The tannins in the grapes will cause a dry or astringent feeling in your mouth. When you notice only a little of that feeling, you might say that the wine is “polished” or “elegant”.
Flavor. An easy way to start describing the flavors in wine is to look for fruity flavors. Also in white wine, you can talk about citrus fruit flavors like lemon or lime and not surprisingly, you’ll notice red fruit flavors in red wines. For example, the Sangiovese grapes in Chianti wine will create some “cherry or plum notes” as a matter of fact a wine like this is said to be “fruit-forward” because the fruity flavor dominates. As well as you may also remark on its “spicy” notes if you detect some pepper or oregano, or its “earthy” flavor if it reminds you of fresh-cut grass or farmlands.
Your secret weapon in wine conversation
A trick to talking about wine like a pro is to learn about a region that produces wine that you enjoy. You’ll pick up the lingo if you study the grape varieties and the styles of wine from that region. Naturally, we think that Tuscany is the perfect place to start! You can learn more about Tuscan wines, and enjoy tasting them too, by signing up for a class at the Florence wine school.