It’s a minefield out there. Fortunately help is at hand. Harry Haddon has given us a list of wine terms and what they mean. So say this, not that…

Say This

“Acidity” – bite a lemon. Or, take a sip of wine, swallow, put your chin on your chest. Feel that saliva? That’s acidity at work. this is why wines with higher acidity (Champagne, Sauvignon Blanc) are great appetisers, they get the saliva flowing.

Not That

“Ooh that’s bitter!” While pulling a cat face.

Say This

“Breathing”- This is good to do. It is also helpful with wines. Wine needs some time to ‘open up’, to expose itself, letting you take in all its aromas and flavours. This works by exposing the wine to air. Just popping the cork won’t really do as so little wine is in contact with air. Decanters are great. I use a vase. No need to be poncy.

Not That

“Releasing the dragon.”

Say This

“Just pour me another glass of something will you.”

Not That

“Minerality” – A made up word used to describe wines. Wine anoraks like to use it and argue about what it means. Some people say wet pebbles, others say it’s like licking a spoon. Is it the soil? Sulphur compounds? Magic?

Say This

“Structure” – How the wine is built. Tannin and acidity are the major materials here. A wine with no structure tastes flabby, flat, and loose. It’s like saying: the guy with the solid six-pack, he’s got structure; the fat bastard on the couch, not so much.

Not That

“Texture.” Unless of course you mean texture.

Say This

“Texture” – Pretty straight forward really. Imagine sipping some water. Now imagine sipping some milk. Feels different, that’s texture. The way that acids, sugar, and tannins act on your mouth will create the textures.

Not That

“Structure.” (see above)

Say This

“Tannin” – Same thing you feel in your mouth if you drink really strong tea.

Not That

“Dry mouth.”

Say This

“Damned marketers.”

Not That

“Terroir” – The place of a wine. Where it comes from. It is a combination of geology, geography and climate and how this makes a certain wine typical of one place. It translates, roughly as ‘a sense of place’. It is a complex idea, debated in the wine industry. It is an important concept, but used more to sell wines than understand them.

Say This

“Vintage” – The year the grapes used for a wine were harvested. Most wines are vintage, this makes them easy to sell to hipsters.

Not That

“I had that bottle – on vinyl.”

Read a Q&A with Harry Haddon, here