If you’ve been looking to try out a new wine lately, you’ve probably noticed there are a lot of words and terms thrown around that may seem daunting or confusing, if not downright confusing. What does “corked” mean? What about “off-dry”? What about “chocolatey”, or “herbaceous”?
This week, I’m going to talk about a term that means different things to different people: linear. Its also known as the term “terroir”, and is a key component to pinot noir, the grape variety that makes this wonderful white wine. Linear vs. Terroir: Some people may be familiar with this term and what it means in wine, but I’ve noticed a few things about people’s use of the word. People will say “Oh, that wine is so good, its from a great producer, its got great terroir” and then, in the same sentence, will say “So, youre a wine-o-phile, right?” In other words, the term “ter
“Linear” is a term used in winemaking to describe wine that has a consistent, and usually pleasant, taste that the world of wine has come to associate with the term. So what does “linear” mean in winemaking?. Read more about wine taster and let us know what you think.
When it comes to wine terminology, the phrase “linear” may be perplexing.
The word is used in a variety of ways by wine experts, and the dictionary definition—“involving just one dimension; moving from one stage to another in a single sequence of steps”—is somewhat different from how it is used in wine.
When Jennifer Huether, MS, wants to tell the narrative of a wine from beginning to end, she uses the phrase.
“It usually indicates the wine is easy to me,” she adds. “From the time it touches your palate until the finish and lingering impact, there is just one distinct line.”
Similarly, Élyse Lambert, MS, compares the evolution of a wine’s taste to the evolution of music.
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“Wines, like music, may have a variety of tones and variances, while linear wines have just one tone,” she explains. “It’s the lack of depth and layers that makes me think of linear wine.”
So, what distinguishes one wine from another?
A significant role is played by winemaking. According to Huether, linear-tasting outcomes are common in Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, but winemakers may avoid this by using methods like lees contact, barrel age, fermentation, and malolactic fermentation. More tastes, aromas, and complexity are imparted as a result of these procedures.
“With a little attention, these ‘simple’ wines that don’t have a lot of aromatic characteristics or tastes may really develop into something magical,” Huether adds.
According to Lambert, a winemaker who works with young vines, great yields, and big output may produce linear bottlings. She can live with a wine with few layers if it’s cheap, but she expects more from higher-end bottles.
There’s another problem there. While the word “linear” may allude to the basic joys of a low-cost, easy-drinking wine, reviewers often use it to compliment highly regarded, high-priced wines such as Opus One and Gaja.
While the word “linear” may allude to the basic joys of a low-cost, easy-drinking wine, reviewers frequently use it to compliment highly rated, high-priced wines.
Madeline Puckette, cofounder of, recalls being surprised the first time she read the terms “linear” and “laser-like” in a critic’s review. However, she thinks they may be helpful, claiming that they depict highly particular taste sensations that people either like or despise.
“The terms ‘laser-like’ and ‘linear’ describe wines with tastes and textures that appear to strike the same place on your tongue or communicate a single-minded flavor,” Puckette explains. “‘Single-noted’ is arguably the least appealing aspect of this kind of wine, and ‘laser-like’ would be the ultimate plus.”
To put it another way, this phrase is not linear. Tasting notes are a kind of poetry for certain wine professionals. It is the taster’s responsibility to give context for what they say and why they say it.
On the 20th of July, 2021,
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a precise wine?
A wine that is made in a specific region, such as Napa Valley, and has a very high concentration of alcohol.
What is wine terminology?
Wine terminology is the language used to describe the various aspects of wine.
What is profile in wine?
Profile is a wine term that refers to the variety of grape used in a wine.
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