By Motlagae Konyana
Have you ever found yourself in an uncomfortable situation where the people around you sound like they were born on a wine estate or come from families with a long legacy of whisky brewing? They mention words like peaty, and you think they talking about a new kind of veggie or a pair of sandals – when they are actually talking about whisky. To help you navigate those awkward situations we have put together a list of words that will help you understand what they are talking about.
WINE TASTING TERMS:
Aftertaste: The flavour(s) left after the wine is swallowed.
Aroma: Describes a simple, often fruity smell or flavour present in wine. Wines with very strong smells are described as aromatic.
Astringent: Critical term usually used for relatively tannic white wines.
Bouquet: The complex and multi-layered smells or flavours that are developed as a result of ageing of the wine.
Concentrated: Good extract and/or intense flavour(s).
Corked: Wine that has been spoilt and smells off- mould because the cork has been tainted.
Fruity: Describing wines with good fruit or, often as white wine, as a euphemism for slightly sweet.
Glycerol: Colourless, sweet-tasting element that can add to the impression of body.
Mellow: A euphemism for sweet.
Nose: Can be used as both noun and verb, as in ‘It’s a bit dumb on the nose’ and ‘Have you nosed this one?’ as part of tasting.
Powerful: High level of alcohol or extract.
Supple: Not too tannic.
Tannic: In wine, tannin is a textural element that makes wine taste dry. Tannin is a naturally occurring polyphenol found in plants, seeds, bark, wood, leaves, and fruit skins.
WHISKY TASTING TERMS:
Austere: Stern, severe, and plain in character.
Balanced: One flavor doesn’t over power the other flavor element
Big: Bold, dominant, hard to ignore flavors and presence in the mouth.
Body: Refers to mouthfeel.
Cerealy: Redolent of grain associations.
Cerebral: Complex and begging careful attention and analysis. Frequently also implies that such analysis is difficult.
Cask strength: More expensive, particle for particle, but if you’re willing to add your own water, you’re getting more whisky for the price. It’s a whisky bottled at the (high) it shows at which it came out of the barrel.
Chill filtration: When whisky gets cold, some of its fatty acids set, causing it to look cloudy and misty. Most makers filter them, even at the cost of slightly weakening the flavour.
Column still: The use of steam injection to strip the beer of alcohol and produces a cleaner spirit than a pot still does. Column-still whiskies don’t generally need as much ageing.
Palate: Two meanings. Means either the taste components of the malt, or the time period when the spirit is in one’s mouth.
Peat, Peaty: Peat is a fuel formed of compacted vegetative layers harvested from the moors. A peat fire has traditionally provided the heat to dry the malted barley used in scotch whisky production. A significant flavor element in many malts, this heavy, smoky, somewhat vegetative flavor is imparted by the distillery water having run over peat, the peat smoke used in the drying process, or both.