Professional wine terms

Just the other day I had a customer chuckling over some of the words the professional wine guys were using to sell me wine. These folks are distributors from all over the state trying to sell everything from Napa Valley wines to wines from Argentina. My customer, a tourist from Washington got a kick over some of this jargon. Let me give you some of the "in" words used by some of these folks:

Sticky wine

This is a term used by wine professionals to describe dessert wines, or wines having more than — percent residual sugar. Many of these wines are wines with low alcohol but sweet fruit flavors and sugar. The thicker the wine, the more cloying the juice, thus the name "sticky."


This is a wine that has not come into its own. This might be a wine that cannot find itself, the wood has not integrated or the flavors have not "jelled." We find this type of wine just landing off the boat and (the wine) has been bounced around the water for a while. Allowing the wine to sit for some time will take this "dumbness" away.


Here is a wine that displays some "off" bouquet, a smell that is undefined but can be quite offensive. "Stinky" wines are wines that have more than one problem associated with them, such as a sulpher problem or bad oak. This layering of off flavors is the stinky variable.


A "sharp" wine is a wine that has real edges from the front of the palate to the very end of the taste sensations. This differs from an astringent wine in that the wine starts and finishes as well as has a middle of the palate which has never softened and remains more than angular throughout the entire experience.


Wines that are not mature or that have been picked early, way before being ripened can be very green to the taste. This taste can also happen with wine that shows too much dilution where there is not enough "grip" on the palate and where, at the same time, acids appear very pronounced on the palate.


One of my favorite terms. Palate grip is a tactile sense on the palate that puts a weight along the entire inside of the mouth. Ports will have the most "grip" of any wine and will coat the palate from front to back. Grip can also mean staying power on the palate as well. A thin wine, something without weigh, will not have grip.

Fruit Bomb

This is a John Wren, professional wine guy exclusive (well, he used the term way before the rest of us caught on) describing a wine that is very fruit forward, continues with tons of fruit on the palate and ends up not unlike a jar of Smuckers at the end of the palate. Fruit bomb wines are associated with Zinfandels from Lodi, Calif., Sutter Creek in Amador County and various other richly fruited wines around the world. Fruit Bomb wines are also wines that may display this enormous amount of fruit with a lack of acid in the finish.


Wines that have this kind of smell to them are wines that are very herbaceous and can smell like freshly mowed grass. Sauvignon Blanc is the white wine most associated with "grassy" although many white wines can have this smell as well. There are also Cabernet Sauvignon that can display grassy tendencies, most notably from the Monterey area.

Well, there you have the inside wine scoop on how to use the professional lingo.

See you next week!

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