How to read tasting notes (medium-bodied red wines)

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What wine has the scent of cigar box? Is it a good thing if the flavour of a wine is "tightly knit"? Let's have a look at some terms that are used to describe midium-bodied red wines.

• velvety - a deep, rich smooth looking colour that always denotes very good ripeness at vintage time

• firm - Reserved and with potential to develop, a positive description, not to be confused with "hard", which is generally negative

• berry fruits - small red fruits, covering the berry, cherry and the currant families. Individual red varietals tend when young to be dominated by one or two of these red fruits

• cedar wood / cigar box - cedar wood is a characteristic of semi-mature and mature Cabernet-dominant wines especially from the Medoc, owing more to the style of wine than to oak ageing. Cigar box is similar - found in many Cabernet & Merlot wines

• tightly knit - flavours that are firmly woven together, not loose or diffuse, shows good potential for development

• backbone - an essential element for a well-structured wine

• tannins - substance existing in the skin and pips of a grape that is necessary for the long development of a red wine. Tannin can also be obtained from the oak barrels in which such wines are matured

• structure - a sense of solidity that has more to do with each element holding together than with weight

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