How to Sound like a Wine Sommelier

You don’t have to be a trained sommelier on paper to express intelligent thoughts about vino! Whether you prefer a full-bodied Shiraz or a mild Sauvignon Blanc, there are a few queues to keep in mind for your next discussion.

With a little help from the experts, you’ll sound like a pro in no time! Here are a few simple words to keep in mind when it comes to talking about wine at your next private dinner party or casual tasting.


Wine with residual sugar can naturally be described as “sweet.” With the exception of Moscato and some Pinot Grigios, sweet wines are typically dessert wines. A nice glass of Port or Sherry is the perfect complement to a multi-course gourmet meal.

Keep in mind that “sweet” should be used when you want a flavor along the lines of syrup or fruit juice. “Sweet” is different from fruity.


This is the most common word used to describe wine, which means it’s the most difficult to actually understand. When a novice wine drinker describes the wine they like as “dry,” it’s likely they’re referring to the tannins — the tongue-smacking dryness you experience after a sip.

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of wines are actually classified as dry. The correct way to use the buzz word is in reference to wines without any residual sugar. Reserve the word “dry” for when you request a white or sparkling wine that you want to make sure isn’t dessert.


That pucker we described earlier comes from grape skins that add complexity and body to many wines. This is a great word to use when you want the literal feeling of dry mouth after each sip.

Great examples of high-tannin wines are Syrahs and Cabernets, while low- to medium-tannin wines like Pinot Noir offer a milder flavor profile.


Wines aged in oak barrels pack vastly different flavors than wines aged in stainless steel barrels. Oak aging barrels produce wine with flavors of caramel, smoke, vanilla, coffee, tobacco and chocolate.

Not all oak-aged wines come out the same. Test a few oak-aged wines to tune your senses to recognize the varying flavor profiles.


Unlike “sweet” wines, fruit-forward wines may be dryer in flavor but boast hints of citrus or other fruit flavors. If you’re looking for a bright wine with flavors opposite to oak, request a fruit-forward wine.

When you say “fruit-forward,” equate the description with a fruity jam. A common example of a fruit-forward wine is Zinfandel.


Completely the opposite descriptor to tannin. Highly acidic wines leave your mouth physically wet and salivating, similar to lemonade.

Order Riesling if you’re in the mood for something acidic. This is one of the more difficult descriptors to grasp, so we recommend broadening your understanding by sampling many different types of acidic wines. Start with a high acid wine like Riesling and work your way down the spectrum to Chardonnay.

The More You Sip, The More You’ll Know

Wine knowledge takes practice! One of the main perks of sampling wine as a casual drinker opposed to a practicing sommelier is that you swallow every sip you take. That’s a big plus in our books! Bring your desire for a better understanding of wine to North Beach Fish Camp. We have an expertly curated wine list and pros on staff to guide you through our different wines.


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