Wine Words: Length and Finish

published Apr 2, 2012
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Length and Finish are words often used by wine tasters. What do they mean? And what words might you use to describe them? Length is a tasting term to describe how long the taste of a wine persists or lingers on your palate after you have swallowed (or spit, if tasting professionally) the wine…

Length is essentially, as it implies, a measure. A wine’s length may be described as long, moderate or short. In general, a long length is considered a sign of high quality.

A wine’s length differs from its finish (although the terms are often used interchangeably), in that, in my opinion, the finish is a more of a descriptive term. It describes the very last flavor or textural sensation left in your mouth after swallowing or spitting the wine. Terms I use to describe the finish of a wine include spicy, minerality, savory, sweet, bitter, hot, harsh, rich and so forth – essentially the same adjectives that you might use to describe flavor or texture of a wine.

Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW (Master of Wine), is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant.

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