When on your Niagara-on-the-Lake wine tour you may hear wines being described with words such as earthy and balanced. To a wine-novice, this may sound unappealing, although once you learn the wine lingo – you will understand that these words are describing a great wine! Being aware of what popular wine lingo means can help you to understand what certain labels mean, ask more in-depth questions and follow along with ease. Understanding the basics of wine terminology can help to improve your overall experience during your Niagara wine tour.

The Lingo


The amount of acidity found in a certain wine. A wine with balanced acidity would be described as fresh, where as a wine lacking in acidity would be described as flat or thin.

Aftertaste or Finish

After you’ve had a drink of wine there will be a lingering taste in your mouth afterward. This is known as the aftertaste. This can also be referred to as the finish of a wine.


How the wine smells is what’s referred to as the aroma. Aroma is generally used to describe younger wines, while the term “bouquet” is used to describe the scent of older wines.


The combination of fruit, tannins, and acidity are what creates the overall balance of the wine. If your wine has a perfect combination of the three, then it can be referred to as well-balanced.


A blend is a wine that is created using more than one type of grape. Each grape brings complexity to the final result. A common blend is “Meritage”, which is a blend, in any combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot.

Blind Tasting

During a blind tasting, you will not know the varietal, year or style of wine you’re tasting. You will have the chance to experience, evaluate and guess the wine with no prior knowledge.


The body of a wine refers to how thick or thin it feels in your mouth. If the wine feels thick and rich during consumption, then it would be referred to as “heavy body” and if it felt light and thin in your mouth it would be a “light body” wine.


Complexity depends on the overall combination of the wine and is used to describe the different aromas and flavours. The more complex the wine is, the more variation of unique tastes and aromas it has.


If a wine is described as dry, chances are it’s not very sweet. In fact, a dry wine usually has less than 0.5% of sugar. If you tend to prefer drinks that are less sugary, a dry wine might just be for you.


Earthy wines refer to two qualities, how earthy a wine tastes refers to the kind of soil that the grapes were grown in. For example, if the soil is rich then the wine will result in a mineral-like quality.


If the wine label indicates that the wine is estate or estate-bottled, then it means that the grapes were grown and bottled at the vineyard. This term is regulated by VQA Ontario.


How fruity a wine is describes how strong the taste of fruit (such as berries, apple or stonefruit) is. A wine being fruity doesn’t necessarily mean it is sweet, a dry wine can have a fruity taste.

Oaked, Unoaked or Stainless Steel

Describes the material of the container that was used to store the wine while it aged, prior to bottling. If the wine is oaked, it generally alters the overall taste of the wine and can sometimes even overpower it. If you are looking for a much cleaner taste, opt for unoaked or stainless steel wines.


This is the one bit of lingo you must know! Your palate is unique to you and helps to determine what flavours you like best. There is no right or wrong with the taste of different wines, it all depends on what your palate enjoys the most. Personal preference is key to what makes drinking wine and wine tastings so special.


A wine with a higher amount of sugar is referred to as a sweet wine. Sweet wine is the opposite of dry wine. A popular sweet wine in Ontario is Icewine!


Tannins are a compound found inside of the skin and stems of grapes that can leave an add body to wine. These tannins leave behind a dry-mouth feeling and generally fade with age.

Old Vine

Grapes that are used to make wine and come from an older section of vines in the estate’s vineyard. These vines can range in age from 15-40 years! Make sure to inquire about old vine wines during your Niagara-on-the-Lake wine tour.


Vintage indicates the year that the grapes were harvested to create the wine. Harvest happens in the fall months of September and October for table wines, and in December or January for Icewines.

Book a Wine Tour Today

Now that you know a variety of wine terminology, are you ready to book a Niagara Falls wine tour? Contact Niagara Vintage Wine Tours today to get started and experience award-winning wines across the Niagara region and learn from industry professionals. Contact us at 1-866-628-5428 to learn from the number one rated Niagara wine tour company as reviewed on TripAdvisor.