Wine Lingo Debunked

It’s one thing not knowing how to pronounce the names of wines and feeling like a fool when ordering your chosen drop, but understanding wine lingo can be a whole different story. Whether you’re a keen wine drinker or just starting to delve into the world of deliciously fermented grapes, getting to know the language and the meanings behind it can make a big difference to your experience and help you on your journey to discovering what really tickles your fancy when it comes to the wonderful world of wine. Terms like tannins and terroir can instill quite a bit of fear when you’re reading them on the menu or hearing it from a wine expert, but becoming an expert is easier than ever with our guide on wine lingo debunked. So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

Wine Taste Terms

Taste, being one of our most heightened senses, is something we come across a lot when we talk about wine. When we describe what we can taste at a basic level when drinking wine, usually terms like fruity or bitter spring to mind. However, there are a whole host of jargony words used to describe the taste of wine that naturally go over many people’s heads. We’re here to explain them to you.

Oaked Wine

Much like it sounds, oaked wine is a term used to describe wine that has been aged in oak barrels. These barrels infuse flavours and aromas into the wine that give off notes of vanilla, butter, and sometimes coconut in white wines, while red wines commonly have hints of baking spices or vanilla. It also tends to enhance the colour of the wine, as well as soften and round out flavours.

Corked Wine

While it may sound fancy, it’s far from it. Corked wine, believe it or not, doesn’t mean it’s soaked in corks. In fact, it’s actually an incredibly unpleasant taste and an indicator that the wine process has been a failure and will often smell like something as awful as wet dog or soggy, mouldy cardboard. Trust us, you’ll know about it if you taste it.

Balanced Wine

Again, this is not the kind of wine you drink while walking across a tightrope, instead, it actually describes how the levels of acidity, sweetness, tannin, alcohol and body interact. The idea is that a wine is defined as balanced when all of these elements work in unison to create a beautiful flavour. At the same time, taste is really an objective thing so it can come down to each individual person’s perspective on what a balanced wine tastes like.

Herbaceous Wine

Think of an abundance of greenery and fresh herbs on the palette – that’s what a herbaceous wine tastes like. While herbaceous wines can be made from grapes grown in a wide range of climates, they’re generally grown in cooler climates where all that green goodness is flourishing.

Beefy Wine

An odd one to say the least, when people describe the flavour of wine as beefy, it actually means that it has big flavour with lots of texture and not a whole lot of that fruity essence. Big wine is also another way to say the same thing.


This one is another common wine term that gets tossed around and refers to the unique smells and flavours of rocks or cement. The reason the grapes gain this flavour is due to being grown in conditions where the soil is rich in minerals and rocks which inevitably give the wine that flavour.

Winemaking Process Terms

There are so many different ways in which wines are processed in the cellar, and the terms to describe those processes can generally be just as confusing as those that describe their taste.


This term essentially means the year the grapes were harvested. Vintage wines are, as you would expect, tend to be older wines, but they can cover a real variety of time periods.


A type of wine that is made by leaving the sediment from the fermentation process in the wine. Lees is the sediment made up of grape matter, yeast cells, seeds, stems, and pulp. By leaving the wine on its lees, it can develop a richer body and creaminess – often used in the production of white wines.


Fining is a process used to filter the wine by catching any solids and removing all of the particles that could potentially make the wine cloudy, and is done by adding egg white, gelatine or clay.


Here is where all the juice and skins from the grapes are fermented together to create extra colour, tannins and aromas – a process commonly used to create skin contact or orange wine.

Geography Of Wine Terms

As the title suggests, this is where terms are used to describe where and in what climate the grapes are grown for winemaking.


Pronounced “tear-woah”, this term is derived from the French language and describes how the combination of the climate, soil, winemaking process and a bunch of other factors contribute to the outcome of the wine and how it tastes.


Pretty self-explanatory, the provenance of a wine characterises the source, storage and life cycle of a wine and tells the story of where it comes from and how it’s been stored and cared for. Depending on the provenance of a wine, the cost can get particularly pricey and is a big drawcard for high flyers. It’s fair to say after going through this list of wine terms debunked, you can consider yourself to be quite the expert and will never have to worry about choosing the wrong wine as a result of not understanding its qualities. So whether you want to show off your knowledge or delve a little deeper into the world of wine, you’re now prepared as ever! Disclaimer The material and information contained on this website is for general information and entertainment purposes only. You should not rely upon the material or information on the website as a basis for making any business, legal, health or any other decisions. Whilst we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct,  THE ITALIAN WINE SHOP LTD makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such material is, therefore, strictly at your own risk. THE ITALIAN WINE SHOP LTD will not be liable for any false, inaccurate, inappropriate or incomplete information presented on the website. Certain links in this website will lead to websites which are outside the control of THE ITALIAN WINE SHOP LTD. When you activate these, you will leave the THE ITALIAN WINE SHOP LTD website. THE ITALIAN WINE SHOP LTD has no control over and accepts no liability in respect of materials, products or services available on any website which is to the extent not prohibited by law, in no circumstances shall THE ITALIAN WINE SHOP LTD be liable to you or any other third parties for any loss or damage (including, without limitation, damage for loss of business or loss of profits) arising directly or indirectly from your use of or inability to use, this site or any of the material contained in it.