As for the terms met with in tasting circles, a wine is said to be hard when there is a lot of tannin in it; tannin comes from the skin of black grapes, important in lengthening the maturing period, as in Clarets, which may take twenty or more years to reach their peak. Bouquet (or ‘nose’) is the aroma — ’the sweet, clean, pleasing and discreet fragrance which none but the better wines have as a gift’, as it has been expressed. ‘Body’ does not necessarily suggest alcoholic strength; it refers to the amount of the various dissolved substances in the wine, including tartaric and malic acids, tannin, proteins and salts. ‘Clean’ denotes a pure wine with no unpleasant taste. A ‘well-balanced’ wine shows complete equilibrium among elements of aroma and taste.
Colour, texture and taste
Many words are purely descriptive of colour, texture and taste. Though it takes an expert to separate the constituents and to assess what a very hard young wine may be like in ten or even twenty years’ time, amateurs can get a lot out of tasting. Often enough the tasting notes of connoisseurs are far from frighteningly technical and could well be equalled by the earnest student. For instance, smooth or velvety are words often used to denote good texture, harsh and rough, bad texture. And simple, rustic, comparisons in bouquet and taste are often made with, for example, raspberries, hazelnuts, violets, peaches and blackcurrants.