What Does ‘Lush’ Mean in Wine?

a psychedelic wine glass surrounded by normal wine glasses on a purple background
Illustration by Jose Berrio

While some hear the word lush and immediately think of one of the greatest shoegaze bands of all time, and others may associate it with someone who drinks too much, the term takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to wine.

Lush “describes wine that is juicy, plump and rich, but also has depth,” says Kari Brant, vice president and general manager of wholesale at wine importer and distributor Frederick Wildman & Sons. “Wines that are ‘lush’ aren’t necessarily unbalanced but often lead with their opulence and ripe fruit.”

A lush wine is generally fruit-forward and full-bodied with a velvety texture, the opposite of a more austere bottle.

Lush wine can be a bit polarizing. “I don’t often enjoy wines that I would describe as lush,” says Brant. “I look for wines that show precision, finesse, elegance and freshness.”

Lush or Lean? Wine Pros on What their Favorite Tasting Terms Really Mean

Wine sellers sometimes avoid the term due to its potential negative connotations.

Kilolo Strobert, the owner of Fermented Grapes in Brooklyn, stays away from the term entirely when describing wine and instead opts for words like supple or silky.

“I like to use ’supple’ the most as an almost exact replacement of ’lush’ when trying to describe different wines’ impression on the palate,” she says. “And I use ‘silky’ when describing an extremely pleasing wine texture or a fantastic mouthfeel.”

Within the wine trade, “the term is a bit taboo,” Brandt says, as buyers tend to prefer precise, fresh wines with balanced fruit and high acidity.

If you are looking to try a lush wine, you may want to pair it with grilled or aged meat. A lush wine also pairs well with honeyed goat or herb-infused cheese.

Some lush wines include certain Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as Super Tuscans like the Campo di Sasso Insoglio Cinghiale, a wine that Kilolo has loved for years and carries in her shop—although she would prefer to call it “supple” rather than “lush.” 

Published on July 12, 2022
Topics: Wine Terms