I don't mean that horrible moment when you've finished your wine and you're looking to see if there is any left in the bottle.
Finish and Length are used in wine a lot and most people think they are the same thing but they are actually fairly different.
The finish refers to the last impression you have of the wine. The acidity, tannins, and alcohol all contribute to the finish of wine and can be described in a massive variety of ways – you are only limited by your vocabulary.
Smooth, soft, spicy, sharp, velvety, juicy, - you can go on and on and even use words like luxurious, velvety, or opulent if you so desire.
The acidity can give a pleasantly crisp finish and the tannins can give a textural finish; the alcohol can give a spicy tingle. But the fruit and character from the grape varieties and the winemaking techniques will all add to the finish – think dried fruit, smoke, sweet spice, fresh citrus fruit – all of these can persist on the palate to make a very long finish wine that we want to go back to over and over again.
The length of a wine refers to how long the pleasant characteristics (or the finish) last after you have swallowed the last drop (of the mouthful, not the bottle).
We measure this in short, medium, and long.
The longer the finish the more positive reaction we will have to the wine. Although it doesn’t necessarily mean that the wine is of bad quality if it has a short length – it really all depends on the style of wine we are drinking.
But it will indicate that a wine is not complex or suitable for ageing. Some wines are designed to be simple in character and would therefore have a short length.