Winespeak: How to Talk About Your Wine

Hear it from Polina Bosca, sixth generation winegrower, and a trained oenologist.


Wine description is a very complicated discipline. However, when you’re scanning the wine list on the bar menu, or swirling your wineglass at a cocktail party, you’d like to say the right things. We help you get started.

If you’re a beginner, start with a slightly sweet and light wine. White wine and sparkling wines are lighter than reds.

Pick a glass: A perfect glass can make the wine even better. Hold a glass of white or sparkling wine by the stem and never on the cup. Holding it by the cup will transfer your body heat and warm up the wine. Serve/drink red wine at a slightly higher temperature to release the aromatic compounds.

Colour: To begin with, look at the colour of the wine and describe the tones—the yellow, red or pink that you see.

Smell: Smell the wine and check if it is harmonious—which means that it is pleasing to the senses—smelling the wine will help you sniff out any defects or staleness. Here, describe the smells you perceive, this could be floral, fruity (from yellow fruits to red fruits) or any other.

Taste: Sip the wine and swirl it in your mouth. Your taste buds will tell you if the wine is sweet, light, dry or fruity. Most dessert wines are sweet. A dry wine is made when the winemaker allows the yeast to eat/ferment all the grape sugar into alcohol, so it is not a sweet wine.

The Wine’s Body: A wine’s body is a marker of how it feels inside your mouth. The more the alcohol content in a wine, the more viscous it is, making it full-bodied. A low-viscosity wine is a light-bodied wine. Check the label--wines under 12.5% alcohol are referred to as light-bodied. Think refreshing white wine. Wines between 12.5% and 13.5% are considered medium-bodied, and above that, it is considered full-bodied. Take your pick and go on, raise a toast!

(With additional inputs from


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