Wine-Tasting Terms for the Fruit Level

look swirl smell taste to detect fruity flavors

Learn basic wine-tasting terms, such as those on the Fruit Level.

Using wine-tasting terms is most useful when you pop the cork on a wine that has been properly aged. When flavors are developed to perfection, aromas and depth of taste make wine-drinking a distinct pleasure. To be a true wine connoisseur, you don’t have to own your own wine cellar with a wine cooling unit, though you may need a wine fridge. The right temperature and humidity are, after all, important for wines in storage. What is essential is knowing wine-tasting terms in their four categories, which are: The Fruit Level, The Sweetness Level, The Body Profile, and The Finish. Mastering terms in the Fruit Level is a great start.

Storage and the Fruit Level

When wine is opened at the optimal time, it is usually very fruity. As time continues to pass, the wine becomes more tannic and less fruity. Tannin is a naturally occurring polyphenol in fruit skins, leaves, seeds, and plants. The characteristics of tannin in wine are astringency, complexity, and bitterness.

Most wines made today are best without aging. Anyone who prefers a powerful fruitiness in wine may prefer to drink young wines. A wine fridge is recommended to keep wine at the perfect 58-degree temperature and at a modest level of humidity, approximately 70 degrees.

If wine gets too hot for too long, it loses its wonderful fruitiness, other flavors, and aroma.

Wine Terms in the Fruit Level

There are rich, light, dry, and sweet wines; and all of them have a fruit level. There are two sub-categories in the fruit level, those being “Fruit Forward” and “Savory.”

Fruit Forward

A wine that has dominant flavors in the realm of sweet fruit is fruit forward. This doesn’t refer to sweetness but rather the fact that the wine is bursting with the aroma of sweet fruit. These wines might be described as:

  • Fruit-driven
  • Flamboyant
  • Sweet tannin
  • Juicy
  • Ripe
  • New World Style
  • Extracted

Jammy is a term typically used to describe Zinfandel and other wines with high alcohol content. Higher sugar levels in wine result in higher alcohols and full, ripe flavors and jammy tones.

In red wine, fruit forward varieties might also be described by any of these flavors: Maraschino cherry, sweet raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, prune, candied fruit, baking spices, vanilla, toffee, black raisins, and sweet tobacco.

In white wine, fruit forward flavors may be described as any of the following: Mandarin orange, baked apple, sweet Meyer lemon, mango, sweet pineapple, ripe pear, crème brûlée, vanilla, cantaloupe, caramel, and ripe peach.


Wines in the fruit level that are savory have qualities that are basically the opposite of fruit-forward wines, although they are still loaded with flavors of fruit. The difference is that savory fruit flavors are in the bitter-sour-tart spectrum. Wine-tasting terms for savory wine include:

  • Rustic
  • Food-friendly
  • Old world style
  • Bone dry
  • Earthy
  • Herbaceous
  • High minerality
  • Stemmy
  • Vegetal
  • Closed
  • Stalky
  • Elegant

In red wine, savory varieties might also be described by any of these flavors: Green bell pepper, black currant or cassis, olive, rhubarb, wild strawberry, bilberry, mulberry, peony, dried herbs, game, leather, tobacco, underbrush, gravel, wood smoke, sage, sour cherry, and charcoal.

In white wine, savory flavors may be described as any of the following: Lemon, quince, green apple, bitter almond, lime, green papaya, chervil, apple skin, grapefruit, jalapeno, flint, grass, and gooseberry.

Are you looking forward to detecting the fruit in your next bottle of wine? Once you get into the pleasures of wine drinking, the next thing that typically happens is that you need plenty of storage. Whether you need a wine fridge or have a wine cellar complete with cooling unit that you have been needing to make good use of, knowing wine terms will make you one step closer to being a bona fide wine connoisseur.