The key to describing wine well is to have options before you. Think back to when you used to take tests in school - which is easier - fill in the blank or multiple choice? The choices work better to create suggestions for you.
So here is your list of options we are going to discuss: Intensity, Structure and Flavor.
Your first option of intensity is a great question to ask yourself as you taste wine. Does it hit you over the head with its smells and tastes or is it more subtle and delicate? Is it harder to taste anything at all? By the way, if you want to know the steps of how to taste wine and how this will help you enjoy your wine more, watch my video on that.
Here I am going to give you more wine vocabulary for your use. So once you decide how intense that wine is - you could say it is a very intense or pronounced wine or a more subtle, less intense wine. The aromas, the taste and the finish all contribute to that general impression you get. With me?
Your second option to consider is what kind of structure is the wine. Some possibilities to consider are the tannins of the wine - is it very tannic, meaning it is a red wine that has that drying effect on your tongue the same as in black tea?
Does it have a lot of acidity, which you feel on the sides of your mouth and makes your mouth water like lemonade? Does your wine have light or full body - meaning is it heavy and coating in your mouth or more like water? I did a whole video to teach you about “body” in wine, so you can see the link for that here.
Sweetness is another factor to think about: Now I have found that sweet wines are very polarizing - people either love or hate them. Comment below with whether you love or hate sweet wines!
And finally, the 3rd option for your descriptors is flavor. You might wonder how on earth you can pick out that fresh picked gooseberry smell in your wine. It doesn’t have to be that complex. You can start by thinking about whether or not the wine tastes or smells like fruit.
Do you mostly get fruit flavors or something else? If yes for fruit - how ripe is that fruit? Is it more like tart cherry, a ripe cherry or a cooked one? These are all great descriptors for wine - I smell underripe, ripe or cooked fruit in my wine. You don’t even have to get more specific than that.
If not fruit, what category of smell is it - herbal, baking, floral, or vegetable smells?
You don’t have to cover all these categories - just take a moment when tasting to pause and think about is there anything remarkable about the Intensity, the Structure (meaning tannins, acidity, body or sweetness) or the Flavors. Any 1 of these categories gives you something to talk about and another way to describe what you do or don’t like when buying wine.
Now that you understand some of your options, you may want the crib sheet of all these multiple choice options so you can go out and practice. So I created an awesome Wine Description Chart that I will send you for free. Just click on the link here and I will send it to you.