Califonia Bountiful

Wine 101: Wine terminology

How to taste wine like a pro

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Going into the tasting room of a winery can be daunting at first, especially if you're not familiar with wine terminology. But Jody Bogle of Bogle Vineyards in Clarksburg helps take the mystery out of some popular terms. Interestingly, she points out that many of them involve using anatomical attributes to describe wines. For example:

Nose: When you first put your nose into a glass of wine, what do you smell? For example, with a sauvignon blanc, you'll most likely smell green grass, citrus or lemongrass. The nose is a description of the aromas and bouquets of a wine.

Palate: This describes the feel of a wine on your tongue or palate. Drinking a chardonnay? You'll probably feel a silky-smooth texture. The palate of a wine refers to the flavors and sensations in your mouth as you first taste it. Is it dry or smooth? Sweet or a bit acidic? This all has to do with the palate.

Body: The body of wine is the "meat and potatoes" of wine tasting! Once you've established the smell (nose) and feel (palate) of a wine, what does it taste like? This is also described as weight, meaning how heavy the wine is on your palate. With a petite syrah, a wine known for having more depth or body to it, it is often described as voluptuous or luscious. Alcohol, tannin and acidity also play a part in a wine's body. Also, you can think of it as the difference between skim milk and whole milk: How light or heavy is the wine on your palate? This descriptor is also why wines are often described as being light, medium or full-bodied.

Legs: This refers to the wine that runs slowly down the inside of a glass after it has been swirled. Thicker, slower-moving legs mean a higher alcohol content of a rich wine. The way the legs fall usually has to do with the level of alcohol in the wine and the speed at which it evaporates. Thicker and slower legs can indicate a higher alcohol level.

When you're in doubt or confused by a certain term, Jody says to always ask someone who works in the tasting room. They're happy to help make your wine-tasting experience a happy, fun and educational one!

For more information about Bogle Vineyards, visit

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