16 Wine Phrases and What They Mean in English
This piece originally appeared on VinePair.com.
One of the most difficult aspects of being a casual wine consumer is that it can often seem like the enthusiasts are speaking a completely different language, and while that language may also be in English, to most people it’s anything but. The problem with this is that usually it’s the enthusiasts who are selling us the wine we so desperately want to enjoy, but because of the language disconnect, we’re left wondering what that phrase they just used actually means while standing there nodding our heads.
For those of us lost in translation, just as we explained the meaning of 20 wine words most people don’t know, here are 16 wine phrases translated to plain English, so we’re all speaking the same language.
1. “Pop and Pour”
The wine is ready to drink right out of the bottle. No need to decant, it drinks incredibly well the minute you pop the cork.
This bottle is a true “pop and pour,” perfect for a party.
2. “Lay It Down”
No you’re not putting the wine down for a nap, this means it’s a bottle you want to age.
This is a great bottle, but I’d lay it down for a bit because it will definitely get better.
3. “Let It Breathe”
If you let the wine decant, the tannins should soften and it will open up.
We should let the bottle breathe before drinking it.
4. “Blow Off”
Sometimes when you first open a bottle, there can be odd smells of sulfur and other gaseous odors that dissipate once you let the wine sit in the glass for a few minutes. This can also be said when the wine seems to be high in alcohol.
This wine tastes delicious, but I think we need to let it blow off first.
5. “Butter Bomb”
A Chardonnay that is over-oaked.
This Chard is a real butter bomb.
6. “Come Of Age”
Often said in relation to a wine region that was once not in vogue, but is one that all the hipsters are now super into. It’s the spot from which to drink wine. Often said as if the wine from that region wasn’t good until the critics discovered, or rediscovered, it.
The Jura has really come of age.
7. “This Wine Is Hot”
Said when a wine is high in alcohol. It’s hot because you can almost feel the alcohol fumes burning the tips of your nostrils.
Man this California Zin is hot; let’s wait and see if it blows off.
8. “The Wine Is Dead”
When a wine seems to have little flavor, or is full of flavor initially but then that flavor seems to dissipate either while you swallow it or the longer it sits in the glass, it is said to die.
This wine smells amazing, but when I taste it nothing is there; I think it’s dead.
9. “Bottle Shock”
When wine undergoes a long journey, say from Europe to America, or is bottled quickly and then reopened, it can undergo a temporary change that causes it to shut down for a brief period, giving little aroma or flavor. This is called bottle shock.
Bummer, I think this wine is experiencing bottle shock, better wait a few months before opening another bottle.
10. “Entry Level”
A winemaker’s affordable bottle that’s meant to show off their style and approach causing you to get hooked and hopefully move up a tier level.
This is a great entry level bottle; I want to try more from this winery.
11. “Flying Winemaker”
A winemaker that travels around the world making wine in different regions and consulting at different vineyards.
Jean Pierre is a flying winemaker. If he consults, your wine turns to gold.
12. “Horizontal Tasting”
When you taste different bottles of the same variety of wine (e.g., Cabernet) from the same vintage (e.g., 2010) and region (e.g., Bordeaux).
You haven’t truly seen how great the 2005 Bordeaux vintage was until you take part in a horizontal tasting.
13. “Vertical Tasting”
This is similar to the above, but this is a tasting of bottles of the same type of wine that are all made by the same winery (e.g., a specific Cabernet made by the winery) in different years (e.g., 2000, 2001, and 2002 version.
I just came from a vertical tasting of Opus One. It was mind-blowing.
14. “International Variety”
A grape that is grown on every continent where grapes are grown.
Merlot and Cabernet are true international varieties.
15. “Late Harvest”
Grapes that are picked later in the season allowing them to ripen longer. It usually means the wine will be sweeter.
I love late harvest wines; they’re so sweet and delicious.
16. “Cult Wine”
A wine that has a following among enthusiasts that usually drives up the price and makes it hard to buy.
You can’t get this wine unless you wait on a list for years, but this Cult Cab is worth it.