What Qualities Make A Wine Elegant?

wine poured into glass
wine poured into glass - StockLite/Shutterstock

If you have ever been at a dinner or wine-tasting party and heard someone describe a wine as elegant, you may have assumed that they were simply using words to try and come off as fancy and well-educated. The truth is that the world of wine is vast and complex, and developing a vocabulary to effectively communicate in said world requires vernacular that you may not expect. Elegance is a term that is frequently used in wine expert circles, so if you want to expand your wine knowledge, read on to better understand what is meant when a wine is described as elegant.

Elegance refers not to one wine or trait in particular, but rather a group of traits that give a wine the label of elegant. Rather than focusing on a single characteristic, elegance qualifies how all of the wine's characteristics work together to create a specific drinking experience. The qualities of an elegant wine, from its flavor and aroma to its mouthfeel, are rooted in a place of subtlety rather than assertiveness. An elegant wine usually requires the drinker to pay close attention to pick up on minute complexities and how different tasting notes work together. Think of the various elements as the pastel colors of the wine world, rather than the loud neon colors that would be bolder wines in such an analogy.

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How To Buy And Pair Elegant Wines

rose red and white wine
rose red and white wine - Fstop123/Getty Images

If you think you would like to try drinking an elegant wine, there are several classic examples with which you can start. Those who enjoy a red wine will want to reach for a pinot noir. This light and acidic red wine has a brighter and more delicate fruitiness than reds like cabernet sauvignon, for example, which is a much bolder and heavier wine. Those who enjoy white wine, on the other hand, might prefer to select a chablis. Others who lie in neither camp can often find their favorite elegant wine by sipping a rosé.

When it comes to serving elegant wine with food, you can rely on the basic guidelines regarding these combinations. The refined and reserved traits of these wines are easily masked by intense, hearty dishes like savory steak or spicy curry, so you will want to save them instead for lighter, milder courses. We recommend opting for recipes such as this refreshing apple harvest salad or this elevated yuzu scallop crudo. Regardless of what you enjoy your elegant wines with, you might be the life of the party simply due to your familiarity with the jargon.

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