I rarely if ever use this word to describe wine, but according to Matt Kramer of Wine Spectator fame, it should be one of seven essential words to describe wine. To be fair, Matt has been published and I haven’t. Matt also has a pretty good gig at the Spectator, I work in the wine department at a grocery store. So, from most people’s viewpoint, he has better creds than myself. Good for him. I have wine street smarts, he has wine book smarts.
In the streets, layered is a fancy version of complex, and complex is much easier to wrap your mind around. A wine that is layered, would be a wine that has more to than alcohol and moisture. The opposite of layered would be simple, and I think any of us who have drunk enough know what a simple wine is.
A layered (complex) wine has more to it. It may have an initial attack of cherries and acidity on the front of the palate, evolving in the mouth with an expanded mid-palate featuring perhaps notes of chocolate, flowers and another fruit profile. Tannins would be involved in the picture and would be present underneath the flavors and more prominent on the finish. A layered wine would stop and make you think while you drink it, if that is what you like to do. Simple wines can be good, and enjoyable at the dinner table to wash down the meal. So can a layered wine. However, if you are into collecting wine and you have a small or large cellar (or just a place to store wine), you may want to search out layered (complex) wines. They will in most cases get better with a little more age on them.
It’s entirely up to you which words you want to use to describe a wine, whether it be layered or complex. I would be o.k. with interesting, because in the streets that is what a layered wine would be…Simply interesting. There really are no essential words for wine. Use whatever speaks to you, and never let anyone tell you differently. I for one, never used the words “fun” or “pretty” when it comes to wine. I do have acquaintances who love to use those very words, and I have asked them to educate me on what they mean. I now understand those descriptors and have been caught using them from time to time. That’s the way I roll.
Stan The Wine Man