Basic Wine Tasting Terms to Know

At Ram’s Gate Winery, our experienced team of wine professionals know that starting your wine journey may be intimidating, which is why we provide an immersive and educational experience that empowers our guests to learn everything they need to know about their soon-to-be favorite wines. 

We also understand that learning which of the basic wine tasting terms to know can be overwhelming, so we have created a quick and fun guide that will allow burgeoning wine enthusiasts to understand wines on a more satisfying level. 

Levels, Profiles, and Finishes. 

There are four categories of basic wine tasting terms to know that describe the end-to-end wine experience. 

They include the:

  • Fruit Level
  • Sweetness Level
  • Body Profile
  • Finish

Let’s get started with the holy grail of all wine varieties: The fruit. 

The Fruit Level. 

Whether you drink red or white wine, sparkling wine or rosé, the fruit is what makes the bottle go-around. 

When describing the fruit level of wine, it can be:

  • Fruit Forward: Sweet, juicy, or ripe 
  • Savory: Earthy, high minerality, or rustic 

The Sweetness Level. 

When most people begin their wine journey, they often assume that red wines are less sweet than white, and make their selections accordingly. 

Here are a few quick tips to stave off any assumptions regarding the sweetness level by the color of the wine. 

  • Bone Dry: Bone dry wines contain the least amount of sugar and are available in varietals like Chianti Classico and Extra Brut Champagne. 
  • Off-Dry: Off-dry can be confusing, simply because the varietals are so different, and can often become sweeter than expected. Typically, off-dry wines are white and include Riesling or Gewürztraminer. 
  • Dry: Dry wines are both red and white, and include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah. 
  • Semi-Sweet: Semi-sweet wines are typically red and include a few crowd favorites like Malbec, Zinfandel, and Merlot. 
  • Sweet: Moscato, Ports, and Tawny Ports. 

Your palate—and the foods you pair your wines with—will determine which sweetness level is right for you. There is no wrong answer, so enjoy what you like!

The Body Profile. 

A wine's body describes how heavy or light it feels the moment you take a sip.

Light-bodied wines that are delicate and crisp include:

  • Pinot Grigio
  • Pinot Noir
  • Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc

Medium-bodied wines that are juicy and spicy include:

  • Cabernet Franc
  • Grenache
  • Sangiovese

Full-bodied wines that are rich, intense, and smooth include:

  • Bordeaux Blend
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Malbec
  • Merlot
  • Petite Syrah
  • Zinfandel

The Finish. 

What would wine tasting be without the finish?

The finish of a wine describes the taste left on the palate and in the back of the throat after it is swallowed. The finish can develop well after the wine is consumed, and may include sensory-driven adjectives like smoky, sweet, harsh, spicy, rigid, and citrusy. 

It is one of the most important parts of the experience and can make or break how you feel about a wine’s overall composition. What’s more, the finish is also a direct indicator of the wine’s quality. 

To learn more about our exciting wine collections, and gauge their fruit and sweetness levels, body and finish for yourself, reserve our open-air wine tasting experience today, or enjoy an informative virtual experience from home, join our wine club, or order online for delivery or curbside pickup today.