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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What sound-related adjectives are commonly used as wine descriptors?

—Samantha, New York

Dear Samantha,

The word “note” first comes to mind. It’s used quite often to describe a flavor or aroma in a wine, most often a subtle quality. More specifically, sometimes a wine might have “bass notes” or “top notes” in their descriptions.

There are plenty of other musical terms I see used to describe wine. “Harmonious” is the most obvious and, similarly, if the flavors are well-balanced, I might describe them as being a “chorus.” Sometimes flavors “crescendo” or “diminuendo” (a musical term that means “decrease in intensity”), especially on the finish. An exuberant wine’s flavors might “sing.” Wines with bright or nervy acidity are sometimes called “high-toned.” We call a great wine or winemaker a “rock star.” There are lots of ways that terms originally used to describe music have been appropriated into winespeak. Feel free to get creative and come up with your own, too!

—Dr. Vinny

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