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Wine address

wine speech (GB)
vin discours (F)
discurso vino (ES)
discorso vino (I)
discurso vinho (PO)

Even in ancient times there was a language used by wine tasters to describe the quality of wine. In the Greek literature one has found about one hundred terms. Of course, there was no generally valid vocabulary, but a judgement was left to the imagination or the discretion of the individual. It was not until the beginning of the 18th century that a culture of this kind slowly began to develop in the wine scene. The French chemist Jean-Antoine Claude Chaptal (1756-1832) already used more than 60 expressions in his work "Art de faire, de gouverner, et de perfectionner les vins" published in 1807. Professor René Pijassou (1922-2007) of the University of Bordeaux, in his studies on the history of Médoc wines, collected all the expressions used at the time by estate agents and wine-growing estate owners (e.g. expressionless, flat, full-bodied, full-bodied, aftertaste, robust, round, velvety) and already established tasting rules.

Start of professional valuations

In the book "Topographie de tous les vignobles connus" by wine merchant André Jullien (1766-1832), there is a list of some 70 technical terms used to describe the qualities, defects and diseases of wines. For the first time, the term tannin and descriptive attributes such as astringent, balsamic, straightforward, annoying, sparkling, silky, solid and dry appear in it. In the "Dictionaire-Manuel du négoicant en vins et spiritueux et du maître de chai" by Édouard Féret from 1896 there were already 180 terms. The Scottish physician Dr. Alexander Henderson (1780-1863) is regarded as one of the first wine authors who attempted to create a general nomenclature that was also comprehensible to laymen. The book "Wine Tasting" by the English author Michael Broadbent (1927-2020), which has been reprinted again and again since 1960, is considered the standard work. Today there are about a thousand different terms in use.

Bekannte Weinkritiker: É. Peynaud, R. Parker, J. Robinson, M. Broadbent, H. Johnson

The type of wine description or the vocabulary used also results from the tasting reason. The famous taster Émile Peynaud (1912-2004) described this in his book "The High School for Wine Connoisseurs" as follows: "The chemist is looking above all for the analytical error, the law enforcement officer for the violation of the law, the oenologist for the development error, the winemaker for the character and the trader for what the market is looking for". In a professional wine evaluation, wine is tasted according to established rules, i.e. its quality and texture is analysed to the best of our knowledge. This is done in verbal and/or written form according to fixed rules or a grading in the form of a points system. The formulated evaluation is called "wine appeal", which clearly and comprehensibly reflects all subjective and above all as objective and comprehensible as possible impressions regarding colour, smell, taste and overall impression.

Classification into description groups

The descriptive adjectives used in wine evaluation or wine description can be divided into three groups. The first group of hedonistic terms such as the positively charged incomparable, fantastic, legendary, unique, delicious and wonderful are often used in brochures, but are objectively useless because they can mean everything and nothing. This does not mean, however, that a hedonistic assessment - especially in the private sphere - has no justification - and be it only in the short form "tastes" or "does not taste". However, this is of course unsuitable as helpful information for a consumption or purchase decision. Incidentally, the awarding of the Terravin seal "Lauriers de Platine Terravin" to wines in the Swiss Vaud is based on hedonistic criteria. However, the wines in question have already been selected as top wines on the basis of objective sensory criteria.

The second group, such as floral, fruity and fresh, for example, is far more suitable, but it also describes relatively imprecisely and vaguely and leaves too many possibilities of interpretation open. Because "fresh", for example, can refer to a high acidity(tartaric acid), to the fresh sparkling carbonic acid or also to the temperature of the wine (cellar fresh). These terms are therefore only understandable or unambiguous in the context of the description. Only the third group of exact terms of an analytical nature, such as aromas/tones of green grass, roses, nutmeg, tobacco and vanilla, as well as astringent, acid accentuated and long finish are also objectively comprehensible, because they are known and verifiable by everyone. They are recognised among experts as equivalent terminology and are generally valid. The aroma wheel developed at the University of California by the chemist Ann C. Noble is very helpful for laymen but also for professionals.


However, there is by far no internationally valid nomenclature with clearly defined terms. This fails because terms in a particular language are often used in a judgmental, i.e. positive or negative way. The vocabulary of professional tasters can vary considerably. Many terms have the same or similar meaning, which illustrates the difficulty of standardization. A good example is weighty, which can also be broad-shouldered, powerful, muscular or full-bodied. If there are already many similarities within a language, a normalization is almost impossible for different languages.

An evaluation will also reveal any defects; these terms are listed under wine defects. Sometimes the positive and negative meanings of terms overlap. A weakly pronounced horse sweat (a stinker), for example, need not necessarily be a wine defect, but on the contrary can even be perceived as pleasant. However, it is a phenomenon that there are more negative than positive terms. A distinction is often made between gustatory (taste), olfactory (smell) and trigeminal (sense of touch).

Wine description terms

There are countless terms, many of which are only used in certain countries or languages or even only locally. However, this list does not claim to be complete:

from degradation to azeotrope

from balsamic to creamy

from delicate to fruity

from garrigue to ginger

from vintage to mild

from powerful to oxidized

from sticky to sweet

from tobacco to future

The world's largest Lexikon of wine terms.

23.145 Keywords · 48.178 Synonyms · 5.311 Translations · 28.459 Pronunciations · 156.084 Cross-references
made with by our Experts. About the Lexicon


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