I subscribe to “James The Wine Guy” on Youtube, because he has pumped out a serious amount of wine review videos, and he is fun to watch (and a little funny). However, recently he put out a video in which he declares that he has never used the word “rounded” in his wine descriptors and he doesn’t understand what is being conveyed when other wine critics, or writers use this term. After watching it, I sort of understand his dilemma, although I have to say that it is an easier term to understand than he is claiming.
What is meant by rounded when describing a wine? Think about the opposite of rounded…It’s angular. When a wine is angular, it has sharp edges to it. The acids are high and the flavors take sharp turns (or angles) in your mouth. It has evident contrasts in flavors that take immediate shifts on your palate.
However, think of rounded as softer changes of flavors in the mouth. Instead of angles, it has curves and rounded edges that are not as easily noticed as changes. Some may use the word voluptuous, seamless or sexy, as a way to describe a wine that is full-bodied with a less angular feel on the palate. It doesn’t mean flabby, it means smooth and structured. Think about a corner in the road that is a 90 degree turn versus a 30 degree turn. One is sudden and abrupt whereas the other is easy to navigate. Wine can be the same way in the mouth.
Tannins can either be sharp and abrasive, like a 90 degree turn or approachable (rounded) like a wider, easier to navigate turn. Some prefer rounded wines, some prefer angular and some prefer something in the middle. That being said, using the word “rounded” in a wine descriptor is totally understandable and makes sense. Some writers will use this descriptor on specific aspects of wine, such as the tannins or acidity. Either way, what is being conveyed is a wine that is both smooth and structured at the same time.
Stan The Wine Man