How sweet a wine tastes is probably something you will notice right away and some wines may actually have a fruity character. The opposite of sweet would be dry, and wines can be classified as dry, off-dry (or semi-sweet), or sweet.
Acidity is something that is more important for white wines than red wines. It’s what gives white wine that crisp fresh taste. The terms for the level of acidity in the wine are crisp, for high acidity, and soft, for low acidity.
This is sometimes confused with acidity, but where acidity was important for white wines, tannin is a major characteristic of red wines. Tannins come from the skin and stems of the grapes, which give red wine its dark color. Tannin can have a bitter, dry taste and can make the wine astringent, firm, or soft.
This is a term for the density of the wine. Some wines, especially reds, seem heavier and fuller. Depending on density, there are three wine categories: light-bodied, medium-bodied, or full-bodied.
Balance is a combination of four elements of wine that make up its structure: sweetness, acidity, tannin, and alcohol. A good wine will have a taste that has a nice combination of all four characteristics. Depending on your personal palate, you may perceive some wines to be more unbalanced. For example, someone who normally dislikes bitter tastes will say that more astringent wines are unbalanced.
Length describes how long you taste the wine. The taste of a wine may leave your mouth right away or linger for a minute. Usually better quality wines have more length and are called long, whereas other wines with less length are called short.
Depth is a subjective quality of wine that describes how concentrated the flavor is. Deep wines tend to have a multi-dimensional flavor profile and are associated with higher quality. The opposite of a deep wine is a flat wine.
Length and depth are two aspects of complexity, but it also includes other characteristics. Complex wines, also associated with high quality, will leave you finding new flavors each time you taste them, making for a challenging, yet exciting tasting experience. Complexity can also refer to wines that have several different aromas.
Finish is the final impression that a wine gives you. It’s also known as the aftertaste. The finish of a good wine should be flavorful, but not too “hot” from the alcohol content, nor too bitter from the tannin. The quality of the finish is also determined by the length and complexity of the wine.
While not a flavor exactly, typicity can be an important thing to think about when tasting wine. This term refers to the standard set of flavors that a wine normally has. Classic, high-quality wines are usually truer to their standard typicity.