This is a new series called Wine Words, a glossary in the works that breaks down the barrier between those in the wine know and those who have no idea what the hell everyone's talking about. A new word will post every Wednesday and will cover anything and everything from a grape name or region, to a winemaking or tasting term. If you have a recommendation or request, please leave it in the comments.
Finish (n.) Tasting Term
I typically include the term "finish" when writing about a wine, usually with a qualifier like long or excellent. Finish refers to the last impression a wine makes on the palate. It might be long (10 to 12 seconds) or very long (20 plus seconds). It might be hot, meaning there's a spike of alcohol at the end, which is technically a fault and better suited to whiskey. The finish can be dry, very dry or sweet, for example.
Here's the skinny: The length of a wine's finish is key to judging the overall quality of a wine. This is not about whether or not you like the wine. You can like Taco Bell, but you can't argue the food and its ingredients are high quality.
Cheat sheet: The longer the finish, the higher quality the wine.