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Jargon: Uncorking the complicated terminology of the wine industry

Welcome to another episode of Jargon, the show from Digital Trends that deciphers the complex jargon of various industries into words and concepts the rest of us understand. We’re live each week on Tuesdays with a different set of jargon from a new industry.

On this episode, host Myq Kaplan attempts to drink in some wine knowledge with Dustin Wilson, master sommelier, who spills the tea (spills the rosé?) on the oft-confusing jargon of the wine industry. From body to bouquet, from tannins to terroir, from Cabernet to coolers, we’ve got you covered.

Jargon discussed on this episode:

  • Body – The body of a wine has nothing to do with its taste, but the way the wine clings (or doesn’t) to the side of the wine glass, and “what it feels like — the weight, texture,” Wilson notes. The body of wine is often described as “full” or “light.”
  • Bouquet – Wilson readily admits he doesn’t care for the term “bouquet.”  “It’s kind of a snooty word,” he says, “but it’s referring to aroma.” Wines usually have a medley of aromas that build its bouquet, and Wilson suggests paying attention to all the different smells you encounter at a place like a grocery store — the spices, the fruits — to help develop a good sense of smell to help parse the bouquets of the wines you choose.
  • Viscosity – When using the term viscosity, “we’re looking at how thick the wine is, which is usually a factor of the alcohol or sugar” in the wine, says Wilson.
  • Tannins – Usually found more in red wine, tannins are “naturally found in grape skins and oak barrels,” says Wilson.  “When you drink a red wine and it dries your mouth out, that’s tannins.”
  • Terroir – While it’s difficult to find a one-to-one translation, “’Terroir’ is a French word that means ‘everything surrounding the vine,’” says Wilson.  “It’s not just the soil, but the weather, slope, cool air that might be blowing, or a river that has some sort of influence.” All of that plays together to form the terroir of an individual wine. Terroir can be described broadly, as in a region, or down to very specific places, such as a certain plot within a vineyard.

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