Every once in a while, our Analytics team has a Wine Down Wednesday (or Thursday or Friday…) where we chat over a glass of wine either in the office or at the restaurant across the street for Happy Hour.  I’m no wine connoisseur, but I do like to sound like I know what I’m talking about when it comes to tasting my wine. I believe the name of the game is #fakeittillyoumakeit. The key here is knowing your wine vocabulary. Now I can’t tell you how wine is made, the different kinds of grapes, or where the wine comes from, but I can tell you how over 15,000 reviews describe wine, and thus increase your wine vocabulary.

If you are new to wine, take note of how to describe your wine, what flavors are mentioned, and how people feel towards their wine.  Pretty soon, you’ll sound like an expert, even if you aren’t. If you are a wine connoisseur, see if your palate compares to what most reviewers like and dislike about their wine.

Grab yourself a glass of wine and let’s go!

1. What are the most commonly used wine descriptors?

“Smooth” was used 17% of the time in wine reviews.  “Full”, “light”, and “sweet” were used over 10% of the time.  Other common descriptions include “fresh”, “dry”, “fruity”, “rich”, “rough”, “crisp”, and “complex”.  These descriptors are specific to wine and will help broaden your wine vocabulary.

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 2. How would you describe your favorite wine?

Adjectives such as “yummy”, “delicious”, “luscious”, “brilliant”, “balanced”, “refreshing”, and “smooth” are some of the top descriptions with associated average ratings of 4.5 stars and up.

3. What kind of wines do you NOT like?

When words like “rough”, “sharp”, “tart”, “bitter”, and “earthy” were used, the associated average ratings tended to be lower than 4.0 stars.

4. What flavors are in your wine?

Unlike some beers, wines do not have any added flavors. These are just the flavor profiles that wine connoisseurs use to describe their wine.  The most common flavor mentioned was that of oak in wine reviews.  After that citrus, apple, cherry and lemon were all mentioned in 2% of wine reviews.

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5. What are your favorite flavors in wine?

Hazelnut, apricot, chocolate, coffee, orange, lime, and honey are all highly rated flavors in wine with associated average ratings at 4.3 or higher.

6. Least favorite flavors in wine?

Tobacco, pear, apple, leather, grass, cranberry, and grapefruit were all rated with 4.1 or lower associated ratings. Have you ever had a wine with these flavors? Did you like it? Or are you similar to these reviews and agree that these are not highly desired flavors?

7. How do you make a decision on what to buy?

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Taste is first and foremost mentioned in 1 out of every 4 wine reviews. The second factor is price, which was mentioned in 1 out of every 5 wine reviews. The wine’s value and finish are mentioned in 1 out of every 10 reviews.  Reviewers were not impressed when they described their wine as “cheap”, “corked”, or that it had an “aftertaste.”  On the other hand, “value” and a “special occasion” carried the highest associated average rating above 4.3 stars.

8. What are the most common sentiments towards wine?

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These are your more generic terms like “great”, “good”, and “disappointed” that we see in all reviews regardless of the product category. “Good” is mentioned in 1 out of every 4 reviews.  “Great” is mentioned 23% of the time in wine reviews with an associated average rating of 4.47 stars. Other commonly used sentiments are “enjoy”, “best”, “nice”, “ok”, “excellent”, “recommend”, “love”, “disappoint”, “favorite”, and “perfect.”

9. What terms do you use when you have positive feelings toward a wine?

“Amazing” had the highest associated average rating at 4.81 stars. ”Incredible”, “superb”, and “fantastic” were not too far behind at 4.7+ stars when these sentimental keywords were used.

10. Negative feelings?

Reviewers used words such as “disappoint”, “bad”, “harsh”, “awful” and “terrible” when they were not satisfied with their wine.

With all of these insights from wine reviews, now you are equipped to write your very own!

How about a fun mad-lib review to complete this post? [Please do not use this as your review.]

What an amazing ___type of wine___!

This is a smooth and __positive adjective__ wine with hints of plum, __flavor__, and __flavor__.  It does have a bit too much flavor_ for my taste though.  I’ve had other wines that were too __negative adjective__, but this one is perfect.  I love the way it tastes and it has a great _positive quality_. I will definitely be buying this _positive sentiment_ wine again!