It’s really tough to buy wine when you don’t know how it will taste. When you’re choosing a wine either in the store or at a restaurant, you’re left with a wine description to base your decision on. The description provides an idea of what the wine will taste like. The writing on the back of a bottle is to sell the wine, so I’ve compiled 8 wine descriptions and I’ll tell you what they actually mean.

  • Acidity

Wines that are high in acidity will taste fresh and crisp. Red wines typically have more tart fruit characteristics, but since they have more tannins and oak additions, the acid levels may be less noticeable. White wines, on the other hand, can be described using characteristics similar to citrus flavors. Some of the wording I have used includes lemon curd, key lime pie, and candied lemon.

  • Buttery

A wine that is described as buttery has been aged in oak and is rich with less acidity. A buttery wine will likely have a creamy texture and strike the middle of your tongue like oil or butter leaving you with a smooth finish.

  • Cassis

Cassis refers to the least fruity of all dark fruits. If cassis is mentioned, think of a seedy and gritty character of black currant. To further understand this I would recommend trying an actual black currant, as I've found that most people have never tried the fruit.

  • Creamy

Creamy is a popular descriptor for white wines and sparkling wines that are fermented in aged oak. For champagne, creamy is a characteristic associated with famous bottles of bubbly. Look for a creamy Chardonnay if you like buttery. Look for creamy in Cabernet Sauvignon if you like a smooth red wine.

  • Crisp

Crisp is a word used to describe white wines more often than not. A crisp wine is typically one that has a higher acid level. These wines are great anytime, but it is perfect on an outdoor patio on a hot day.

  • Dense

In an effort to pare down a lengthy description of flavors and characteristics of wine into one word, dense is used. Dense is a word you’ll often see used for bold red wines like a Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Petit Verdot. Keep in mind, this isn’t usually a positive characteristic in other wines and implies that wine is handicapped.

  • Toasty

I love a good toasty wine! This is the ultimate non-grape influencer of flavors in wine. For white wine, it’ll add a buttery and vanilla flavor. For red wine, it adds anything from spices, chocolate, tobacco, leather, to vanilla.

  • Silky

Silky is the red-wine equivalent word to creamy with white wines. If you like the feeling of silk sheets then you’ll enjoy a silky finish on your tongue.

I hope this gives you a better ability to read between-the-lines in wine descriptions and helps your pick out wines that you love!

- Cheers, Natalie