Barbera - Italian from Piedmont. Deep ruby red, dark berry fruit flavors Light tannins, high acidity

Brunello - From Sangivese grape, deep dark fruits and nice full tannins. Many Cab fans like the finish on this, some may not like the aroma, earthy

Cabernet Franc - Used to blend Bordeaux styles, Fruity, green, herby tasting, only need a pinch to add a punch to a blend. You should feel a little green on the mid palate

Cabernet Sauvignon - The Big Dog. Dark ruby garnet colors, even a heavy purple too. Taste Black Cherry, plums, tobacco, cedar, anise, oak, Jammy. Tannin should be long lasting. Nose fruit forward and dark, some oak and earth.

Charbono - Deep dark cherry flavor. soft tannins, not widely grown any longer. Its worth a try if you can find it

Chardonnay - Made Napa famous, flavors of fruit Pear, Apple, Figs, melons, lemon, peach, Grapefruit, butter scotch. Can be buttery and Oaky also can be dry. Wide range of styles here

Chennin Blanc - Mostly used in blending, simple citrus and peach flavors. light and crisp. Not a lot going on with this unless you want a simple daytime glass

Dolcetto - An Italian wine from Piedmont, soft fruits and licorice/ anise nose. Light tanin and finish

Fume Blanc - Think Sauvignon Blanc

Gewurztraminer - Dry white wine that can be sweet and crisp.

Grenache - Fruity flavors, some light spice, no real finish here can be too floral. Great to blend

Merlot - Forget that movie. Merlots can really be different. Big fruits and tannins or Soft fruit cherries not black with a light tannic finish or that movie wine where all is soft fruits, tannins etc. Because the first usually has a lot of Cabernet in it, they tend to be a smart buy for Cab fans.

Mourvedre - Mid body wine, with some spice to the berry. Often used to blend

Petite Syrah - Nothing Petite about this wine, Big dark peppery fruit and tannins

Pinot Grigio - A colorful white that is soft and perfumy

Pinot Noir - From black cherries to Strawberry, currants. Spicy nose to an earthy nose. Terrior is really going to make a difference here. Some Pinot will be light floral, some will have that funk or water over rocks aroma.

Riesling - Dry, floral wine. With Citrus fruits, and some peach. Typically the minerals will come out as will the high sugar content and acidity.

Sangiovese - Its whats in most great Italian wines. The middle of the road fruits and spice makes it a great blender. It can take the edge off many Cabernets.

Sauvignon Blanc - Crisp, clean maybe a little green. Typically inexpensive buys are just fine. served cold its a simple white table style wine. Many have gone to stainless only to keep the oak out.

 Shiraz / Syrah - No difference here, Dark black color and should be peppery. Also dark berry flaovors mixed with some spice and nuts. Good ones are smooth with a nice soft tannins. Bad ones tend to be all spice and pepper.

Tempranillo - The biggie from Spain. Dark red, with a plum floral nose. You may get a smokey flavor or a casis. Many times in Rioja this is blended to make great Spanish wines.

Viognier - This is a typical French grape. Floral and spicy. Tend to lean on the spicy for some

Zinfandel - Intense. Big fruit raspberry, cherries, plunns they can really be different, big tannins and nose. Known to be high alcohol in years past. But modern day cabs can have just as much. Also known in years past for being extreme in its components flavors. Many are more palatable to the general public. It has lost some of its cool, maybe

Other Terms

Acid - That tart flavor in wine. It balances the wine. You have to have it, maybe you feel it on the side of your tongue. 

Alcohol - Sometimes called heat, gives the wine body. Without it, its just grape juice.

Backbone - When the wine is structured well the acid is well balanced.

Big - Used generally when the wine has lots going on. Big Fruits and Tannins. Todays Napa Cabernet tend to strive for this more than French wines.

Body - How it feels in the mouth, texture. Alcohol is big player here. You can feel hanging on in your mouth too.

Burnt - Smells like something is burnt, this is not good. Toss it.

Chewy - BIG BODY, like you want to chew the wine. Some how it feel thick and full to you

Clean - Doing nothing wrong. Smooth across the palate. 

Closed - Aroma and flavors have not come out yet. May need decanting or time. Basically its hard to smell and taste.

Corked - When you get that musty room smell of bad wood. Cork is tainted and the wine can be tossed. Screw Cap perhaps?

Dry - No residual sugars, need that sugar to balance the wine

Earthy - Water over rocks nose, trees, sometimes too much oak. French wine and Oregon Pinots for example tend to have more of this

Finish -  Whats left in the mouth after you swallow. The stuff you pay for!

Forward - Something that stands out most "Fruit Forward" Meaning the fruit is most prominent. 

Fruit bomb - The balance is heavy toward fruit, generally easy to drink for most. Fruit forward, hey we just read that above...

Funk / Funky - Used mostly as a negative to "Earthy" not a dance

Green - Usually you taste the greenness from stems or it may need time to open or in the cellar. Chew on a vine, you'll get the picture

Inky - Very Dark, black almost. Opaque. OK, you cant see through it.

Jammy - Feels and tastes juicy like jelly. Think Grape Jelly

Musty - Usually implies corked or has an old worn out taste, its gone. Can still be drinkable if:  its real old, sentimental, cost a lot or nothing else around

Nose - The aroma you get when you put your "nose" in the glass. And yes put the old schnoze right in the glass.

Oaky - The oak barrel gives off a certain change in flavors 

Oaky Red - Vanilla and herbs are common. Little toast

Oaky White - Can show a tropical fruit, I get Pears a lot

Oxidized - When wine and air mix in the bottle, can turn brownish a little can be ok in an older wine. Just not generally favorable

Short - Usually talking about the length of finish. Not what we pay for

Soft - Low acidity easy to drink less expensive bulk wines intentionally do this to make it easy to drink. You know in a jug, in a box with a fox on a rug? what?

Tannins - What makes the mouth pucker, astringent. Some love it some not, but big reds have to have it. I love it!

Terroir - Associated wine feature of a particular vineyard or region. Where its grown, specifically to a hillside or part of a vineyard.

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