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Decoding Wine Talk 101

So, you like drinking cheap wine in your pyjamas and your only criteria for picking it out is based on two factors – price and alcohol content. If you can relate, don’t stop reading (unless you’re under 19!!) because understanding “wine talk” will be your greatest weapon in life. It seems complicated but arming yourself with this wine knowledge makes a world of difference between being a broke student and the right to call yourself a ~wine connoisseur~. Below is a list of some easy-to-remember jargon that will help you get started on your wine journey.

1. Varietal Name

A “varietal” wine might lead you to believe that it contains a variety of ingredients – on the contrary, it actually means that it’s a one-grape wine! The most common grape varietals that most of us have come across are: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and pinot noir for the reds, and chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and Riesling, which are the whites.

2. Dryness

Yet another wine term that has nothing to do with its meaning! Dryness refers to the sweetness of the wine. Wait, there’s more! Some wines have sweet iterations due to residual sugar content. Champagne has its own dryness scale, with extra brut, to brut, to extra-dry, then sec, demi-sec, and doux – the sweetest. If you want to be confused further, “demi-sec” means half-dry, but it’s pretty low on the dryness scale. Riesling also has its own scale, but it contains a word called “Trockenbeerenauslese” so I’m going to skip this part for now.

3. Body

Describes the weight of wine on your palette – I assume determining the body is a skill that comes with experience. Full-bodied wines tend to be “powerful”, and light-bodied wines more delicate. If you can BS an entire essay, you can totally be a wine body expert.

4. Quality

What makes expensive wine expensive? The answer lies in the way the grapes are grown, which is called viticulture, how they are made into wine via vinification, and the year the grapes were picked. How can you taste these features? I have no idea.

Well, that turned out to be more complicated than anticipated. However, this is also a chance for you to try as many varieties (or varietals) of wine as you want because wine connoisseur status needs to be earned.

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