Wine lingo–descriptors

Over the next months, the column will intermittently visit wine lingo. This can be particularly helpful during final two months of the year when people indifferent to wine perk up for family feasts and holiday bonhomie.

Today—some wine descriptors.

Berries. Many wine descriptions include berry aromas and flavors. Wines are made from grapes—one type of berry—but grapes develop aromas and tastes that imitate other berries. The most common berry references include cherry, strawberry, blueberry, cranberry, blackberry, raspberry, and red and black currants. When in doubt, say the red wine reminds you of cherries.

Citrus/apple. Most whites taste of citrus (if acidic) or apples (if less acidic), although green apples sort of split the difference. When in doubt, randomly pick one.

Cassis. Generic for black and red currants, which are least fruit-like of all dark fruits. Indicates a seedy, gritty, tangy characteristic. Taste pure stuff in crème de cassis.

Dry. It may seem impossible for a liquid to be dry, but in wine lingo dry is lack of residual sugar. Dry can be no sweetness at all, but wine can be dry and still have impression of sweetness (see below). Also, dry often is misunderstood as tannin, the mouth-drying element in red wines, but dry has nothing to do with tannin.

Sweet. Technically refers to residual sugar, but most table wines do not have significant residual sugar. You have to go to dessert wines like Porto, Sauternes, sweet muscat, ice wine, Kabinett, Spätlese, and Auslese to encounter residual sugar. Ripe, fruity flavors, however, can fool your palate. This is flavor most people experience in table wines they call sweet even though the wine really is some version of dry. That said, some table wines do have sugar, even added sugar. Sweet sells.

Tasting notes:

Chloe Rosé Monterey County 2015: Will please those who enjoy white zin but want to step up in complexity and go a little drier. $12-17

Attems Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia IGT 2015: Excellent depth, supremely drinkable. $17-18

Viansa Reserve Heritage Red Blend Sonoma Valley 2013: Gently elegant, smooth, sophisticated. $40

Last round: I often decide to enjoy some wine to celebrate that fact I have some wine to enjoy.

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