Basic Wine Terms You Need To Know!

written by Fred Mwithiga 7th August 2015

Basic Wine Terms You Need To Know!

With wine culture well on it’s way to becoming a lifestyle for more people in Kenya, our wine guide couldn’t have come at a better time. It is extensive enough for beginners to learn a lot from and enthusiasts to appreciate.

Kenyans undoubtedly love their beer and even whisky. But can the same be said for wine? While the local wine culture isn’t even close to peaking, social interest is certainly higher in 2015 than it has ever been, and soon, it is bound to become a lifestyle for many, and our wine guide is right in time to steer things in that direction.

Wine has been produced for thousands of years with the earliest winery being traced to Armenia. In Kenya, the first grape wines were experimentally made in 1985 and since then, wine has been produced in Naivasha, Rift Valley and the Yatta Plateau. International brands still dominate this market however, due to better brand awareness among the target consumers, better distribution networks and even better variety and storage period. It is also no secret that Kenyans have an affinity for sweet wines. This wine guide will open doors to so much more and once you walk through, we hope you never look back.


Planning on becoming a wine enthusiast?
Here are the basic enological wine terms you’ll need to get familiar with!


Wine drunk before a meal to stimulate one’s appetite


French term referring to where wine grapes are geographically grown.

Dessert wine

In the UK, a sweet, low alcohol wine. In the US, any wine with over 15% alcohol.


The rivulets of wine that race down the sides of a glass when swirled. The higher the alcohol content, the thinner the legs.


A wine expert.


Wines made from a single grape variety.


The year the grapes for the wine were picked.

Basic Wine Terms You Need To Know!

Nosing wine


The pleasant and distinctive smell of wine. It is generally applied to younger wines, with the term bouquet being reserved for more mature ones.


The smell or aroma of the wine, best sensed just after you swirl it in your glass.


An aroma/flavour in both red and white wines that develops from the aging in oak casks.

Basic Wine Terms You Need To Know!

Tasting wine


Sensations like crispness and liveliness felt along the insides of the mouth (with good wines). If it is lacking, wines become flat or flabby.


The impression of how light or heavy a wine feels in your mouth. Being full bodied therefore means the wine has a robust and very rich feel.


Wine that is pleasant and agreeable, without any off-putting flavours or aromas.


Wine with no sweetness in taste. The opposite is sweet, except in sparkling wines where dry means sweet.


Describes a wine that is generally medium bodied and well-balanced.


The aftertaste left in your palate after swallowing the wine. A full bodied and well balanced wine will for instance have a long finish and vice versa.


This refers to the textural characteristic that makes wines taste dry. It is actually the chemical compounds in grapes that affects taste, colour and aging potential of wine.


Sharp taste of acidity in wines.


Containing elements (flavours, alcohol, acidity) in harmonious proportions.


Process of swirling wine in a glass to let it open up due to exposure to the air.

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