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What does a wine's finish refer to?

A wine’s finish refers to the impression that a wine leaves after it’s been tasted. A long finish is often seen as a sign of quality. The term ‘finish’ can specifically refer to the aftertaste, to how long the flavors last until they fade, and also to the textural impact (as in, if a wine has drying tannins or a crisp finish).

Why are some Bordeaux wines ranked as “first growth,” “second growth,” etc.?

This French wine ranking classification was created more than 150 years ago. In the Bordeaux Classification of 1855, wine brokers ranked the Châteaux on both their reputation and price and placed them in a ranking system from “first growth” down to “fifth growth”. Today, the classification remains in tact, and there are five “first growths” (Mouton-Rothschild, Lafite Rothschild, Latour, Margaux, and Haut-Brion). The rankings still have a big influence on the market and the first growths have a reputation for high quality and high price points.

What does “minerality” mean in a wine’s flavor or aroma profile?

Minerality is a difficult descriptor to explain, since it’s a non-fruit, non-herb, and non-spice related term. Many winemakers describe minerality differently – some explain it as the smell of wet concrete, while others compare it to crushed rocks and gravel, or
as a similar note to saline and flint. Others think of minerality in terms of the mineral from the soil that the grapes were grown in. As vague as the definition may be, it is generally understood that minerality directly relates to a wine’s origin and terroir – an expression of its particular place.

Originally published in our Wine Press' Wine Wizard, Ballard Lane Wines edition featured in our Gold Wine Club.