Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Basic Wine Vocabulary

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Ever heard the word “effervescent” and had no idea what it means? What about “tannins” or “fruit-forward”? These are all words that wine experts throw around and expect the buyer to understand without any explanation, even though it’s like a foreign language. I am here to break all of these terms down for you so that you don’t have to feel stressed the next time you walk into a wine shop. Buying wine should be fun and easy! 

Let’s start with the basics. “Fruit-forward” and “earthy” are two terms used often to describe the flavors of the wine. “Fruit-forward” does not mean sweet, as people often think, but it is used for wines with a fruity taste; for example raspberries, blackberries or cherries. Wines from California, Spain and Argentina are often very fruit forward. On the other hand, “earthy” is used to describe wines that are the opposite of fruity — wines that have clove and spice flavors. Wines from Chile, France, and Austria are often earthier. 

Another term you should know regarding wine is “body.” Body is used to describe the weight of the wine in your mouth. An easy example to explain this would be to relate “body” to milk. Skim milk is like light bodied wines, whole milk is medium bodied, and cream is heavy bodied.

Tannins” are next! Tannins are bitter compounds that can be found in nature. In wine, they come from grape seeds, grape skins, and wood. They provide texture and weight to the wine and leave a coating on your mouth. The best way to describe them would be like the drying sensation you feel in your mouth when you are drinking green tea.

Dry” refers to wines that are not sweet. The majority of wines are actually dry.

Finish” is used to describe the sensation in your mouth after you have swallowed the wine. Is there a sweet or bitter flavor left in your mouth? That would be the finish.

And finally, “effervescence” refers to wines that are not sparkling but have a slight tingle to them. These wines have a mild touch of fizz. 

Ok so now that you know what these terms mean, let’s practice! After opening a bottle of Milan Nestarec’s Forks and Knives Red, you might say that it is fruit forward, light bodied, and slightly effervescent… Now you give it a try!





Cassidy Rose Gyetvan is an actress, casting director and sommelier based in Los Angeles. She has worked at numerous wine shops and restaurants around LA and her taste focuses on natural and unique wines.


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