Describing Wine Minerality

I once wrote an article in McHenry County Magazine's Leisure and Recreation issue about Summer wines. Oh, how I miss Summer when it's 2 degrees outside.  In the article, I discussed the term minerality. There are many differences of opinion from the wine community when describing this term. Some describe its attributes in characteristic form while others describe it as a mouth-feel.  Without being too diplomatic, I concur on both points, however there does not seem to be a definitive answer on this subject but to anyone who speaks the language of wine, its just simply an understood term.

Here are some descriptors that jump out at me when I taste a wine that I would describe as having a nice level of minerality.  Flintiness, slate, wet rocks, crushed stone, salty mist from the sea, mouth watering sensation, effervescent, crisp and lively.

Minerality, in my opinion, seems to be more noticeable in wines that are not heavily oaked, stand out more in young white wines than in bold reds, and that are aged or fermented in stainless steel tanks. 


Foods that seem to pair well with these wines are often soft light cheeses, a pear salad, and most certainly shellfish, especially oysters.  Summer is a great time to enjoy these wines. Think Spanish rose, cava, albarino or Italy's prosecco. These wines are refreshing and festive and are a great addition to a hot day on the patio with friends and some light appetizers.  Wishful thinking will not bring Summer here any faster therefore I'll drop a few raspberries in a glass of cava or prosecco and serve it to friends as a "welcome to my home" starter beverage served in a flute. 

Laura Ribando, Contributing Editor & Writer

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