If you’re reading this blog, you clearly like wine and want to learn more about it. Whether you’re a novice at wine-tasting or a pro, you’ve probably come across a bunch of terms that might be confusing – “bouquet” “mouth feel” and terms like that. Tasting wine is like learning another language. I’ve done a little translating for you so that you can feel more comfortable talking about what you’re drinking.

The first thing to learn is that wine tasting is an experience to many people. It is something to be savored and discussed. The great thing about it being an experience, though, is that it means nobody can tell you you’re wrong. If you try a wine and it smells like a freshly cut lawn to you and flowers to someone else, not to worry. You might be picking up on different things, or have different interpretations. Use whatever words come to mind, there is no correct answer here!

Have you ever noticed that many people pour wine into their glass, swirl the wine around, and then sniff the wine? Here’s what they’re doing: swirling the glass around aerates the wine, which enhances the smell (what they call “bouquet”). The next time you pour yourself a glass, give it a try!

If it’s a white wine, you might catch a light, fruity scent. Red wines smell more like berries, plums, or even chocolate! Sometimes there is even a woodsy odor, like cedar or pine needles. Spicy wines like zinfandels might make you think of ground pepper. Wine that’s been aged in oak barrels can have their own smell, like figs.

Once you take a sip, resist the urge to swallow right away. Try to move the wine around so that you can appreciate all the flavors. Think about how the wine smelled and then how it tastes. If it smelled like apple, does it taste like apple or something else? Does the taste bring out flavors that you missed in the scent? Sometimes you can better determine which flavor made up the fruity smell, and rich scents might taste like coffee or even tobacco.

Next, swallow the wine. Think about how it felt in your mouth as it went down. Did it feel crisp, light, spicy, or smooth? That’s the mouth feel, or feel, of the wine. Is there an aftertaste? If so, what kind? Does the flavor linger, or is it a new and different taste? That aftertaste is called the “finish” of the wine.

If you hear someone say that the wine has a good “balance,” that means it has a pleasant bouquet, a nice flavor, good feel, and a good finish. All of the elements are working together to make a quality wine, regardless of the color, brand, and price.

And that’s it: a quick introduction to some of the terms you’ll hear when people describe wine, and how to be one of those people! Now when you ask someone for a wine recommendation, you’ll understand what they mean as they describe it to you.