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What Does “Fresh” Mean When It Comes to Wine?


Fresh wine is an expression that is sometimes used to describe wine that many do not know the meaning of. If you already have your best wine tote filled with new selections to try, and you want to learn more about how to describe wines, this article can provide you with basic info that might be of use.


What does fresh mean?

Fresh is a term that is utilized in the world of wine to describe two aspects of a wine – its taste, and its finish. However, it is worth pointing out that this adjective does not have a clear meaning that is easy to grasp.

For instance, when somebody uses the word fresh, he/she might refer to the fact that the wine has been recently unscrewed and that, consequently, this is apparent when it comes to its taste. By comparison, a wine that has been opened for a long time has a duller taste. 

Secondly, the term also means that the wine has a certain acidity that is often associated with the age of the wine. Usually, a bottle of fresh wine has a fruitier taste that is easy to spot that makes one’s mouth water due to the acidity. Most wine tasters utilize the word fresh to describe this exact taste. 

The history of the word

The word fresh utilized to describe wine is rather recent. In recent years, many European winemakers have started to utilize the term when talking about their wines. While the taste in acidity in wine was a symbol of the wine’s poor quality, recently, winemakers try to achieve this characteristic in the wine that they make. 

Yet, it is worth pointing out that a fresh wine is not just a wine that is acidic. In fact, freshness refers to the mouthful and the character of the fruit that can be tasted in the wine. To sum it all up, fresh wine has to have a type of acidity that is pleasant. To create a fresh wine, winemakers have to pay attention to a wide range of aspects. 

They have to avoid harvesting the grapes too late, they have to ensure that the wine is not overly oxidized during the manufacturing process, and they have to avoid over-extraction when it comes to the taste, color, and tannin of the wine. As you can imagine, to make a fresh wine, a winemaker has to possess the needed skill and know-how. 


Wine tasting

Even though the activity of tasting wine has been around for centuries – let’s not forget that Plato and Aristotle were some of the first to describe and classify wine, the term tasting was introduced in 1519. The methodology of wine tasting, however, was created in the 18th century.  

When tasting wine, there are four tasting stages that one has to have in mind – the appearance, the aroma of the wine “in glass”, the sensation generated by the wine in the mouth, as well as the finish, or the aftertaste of the wine.

After taking into account these four stages, a wine taster often describes a wine by speaking about the complexity, or the character of the wine, its potential, and its possible faults. While it is expected for a wine to be tasted independently, it is common for wines to be tasted alongside other wines. To avoid impartiality, wine is often served blind. This means that the taster never knows what wine he/she is tasting. 


Vertical vs. horizontal wine tasting

The two main ways of tasting wines are known as vertical and horizontal tasting. Vertical tasting refers to the act of tasting a wide array of wines, from different years with the purpose of identifying their distinct vintage differences. 

Horizontal tasting refers to the opposite. That is, wines from the same year are tasted during the same tasting session and they are compared. 

The selection of wines utilized during a tasting session is called a tasting flight. On average, sommeliers use between three and eight glasses of wine. Yet, in some cases, up to 50 glasses are utilized. 


Wine descriptors

Wine tasting descriptors are words utilized by sommeliers to define the aromas and the taste of wine, as well as its quality. Because one’s experience of each wine is individual, as it is derived from the sommelier’s olfactory senses, it should come as no surprise that the wine tasting descriptors are utilized subjectively by each sommelier. 

On average, there are somewhere around 120 common wine terms that are utilized when describing the basic characteristics of a wine, including its fruit level, acidity, and tannin. 

There are four main wine descriptors that one needs to consider when describing wine. The first of them is sweetness. Sweet wine is the opposite of a dry one. 

Secondly, one has to consider the acidity of the wine. Acidity is usually an important descriptor when talking about white wines. The opposite of an acidic wine is a fat wine.

Thirdly, tannin is the bitter sensation you feel when drinking red wine. As a rule of thumb, darker red wines have a higher tannin and, thus, a somewhat bolder taste. Although white wine might also have tannin, its backbone so to say is its acidity.

Finally, the body of a wine refers to its weight or viscosity. While a full-bodied wine is one that feels thick, and that coats the side of the glass as you enjoy it, a light-bodied one has a consistency that is similar to that of water. 

Another aspect that is always considered when describing wine is the flavor. If you are a novice, it is recommended that you assess the flavor of a wine by using relatable flavors that you are familiar with such as flowery, fruity, smokey, spicy, or earthy.

If you want to get a good grasp of how these aromas feel, you should go to your local wine store and ask for different types of wine, such as a wine that is smokey or spicey. This way, you’ll soon learn the differences. 


How to become a wine connoisseur

If you want to become a hobbyist wine connoisseur, it is recommended that you start by tying a new bottle of wine per week. As you taste the wine, you try to fully taste it and to describe it using the descriptors that we have presented. 

Provided that you do so regularly, you will eventually feel comfortable using these terms and you’ll be able to fully enjoy the experience. Another thing that you can do is to take up a class for wine tasting. These classes are specially designed to provide novices such as yourself with the foundation that you need for wine tasting and evaluation of wine.

Even though some argue that there are some benefits of drinking wine regularly, it is widely recommended that one consumes wine in moderation. The main reason why wine can help one’s health has a lot to do with the fact that this beverage is packed with antioxidants and that it has anti-inflammatory effects. 

Some studies have shown that drinking wine in moderation can have a positive effect on one’s cardiovascular health, gut health, blood pressure, and many more. However, heavy drinkers are also more likely to develop fatty liver disease, health problems, strokes, mental conditions, pancreatitis, and cancer.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use was responsible for no less than 88,000 deaths between 2006 and 2010. So, precaution is advised. 


Some wine-firsts

The history of wine is difficult to present as historians argue that this much-beloved alcoholic drink was not invented, but rather discovered by chance. There is evidence that a wine-like beverage was drunk in 7000BC in China, and in 6000BC in Georgia. The first to talk about the craft of making wine were the Phoenicians, who later on popularized the process in ancient Italy and Greece. 

The first winery recorded in documents was in Armenia, in 4100BC, and the first to utilize wooden barrels for the storage of the beverage were the Romans, in the 3rd century. Interestingly enough, the first wine bottles used to keep the wine were made in the 17th century. 

Champagne was invented in 1697 by a French monk named Dom Perignon. Just like other inventions, champagne was discovered by accident and it was first called the devil’s wine. At first, this bubbly drink was considered an error. 

In 1844, another Frenchman created the muselet that prevented the corks from blowing. Champaign became popular in the famous Belle Epoque that stretched between 1871 and 1914. At the time, the drink was considered a luxury and it was a symbol of modern life. 



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