Wine Terms

Wine_term Definition
Wine_term Definition
Acescence Tasting term used to describe the taste characteristic given to wine by the presence of acetic acid (vinegar) in small amounts. It doesn?t take much. As little as 0.1 % acetic acid in most table wines will render it undrinkable.
Acetic Acid In simple terms, it?s vinegar. Acetic acid is one of the so-called volatile acids as it?s presense, even in small amounts can wreck the wine.
Advection Fog Advection Fog occurs when moist air passes over a cool surface. It is most common at sea and in coastal areas such as California.
Alliers Forested region in central France famous to wine makers and wine drinkers for the barrels, of the same name, that are a product of this region. The wood is prized for its tight-grained characteristics.
Altar wine Also know as sacramental wine, alter wine is one of the two elements absolutely necessary for the sacrifice of the Eucharist. Wines made for this purpose were allowed to be produced during the time of Prohibition.
American Hybrids Grape varieties that come about via the hand of man rather than nature produced in America by crossbreeding (usually crosses between one or more native American varieties and one or more European traditional wine varieties).
American Wine Any wine produced in any state from grapes grown in that state or in any other state or states. This is the most basic appellation name in the US.
Amoroso A dark and sweet type of Oloroso sherry. See Sherry.
Ampelography A book that describes the structural characteristics of various varieties of grape vines. Used for identification of vines in the field.
Amphora An ancient wine jar made of clay, with two handles on opposite sides near the top. Amphorae are periodically discovered at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, where they have lain for centuries, since the shipwrecks that left them there.
Angelica A sweet dessert wine, usually amber in color and lacking in distinctive flavor. It is produced from "any variety and every variety" in California because the Angelica label often is the final repository for odds and ends of leftover lots of wine. Historic
Argols Name given to raw cream of tartar crystals found in chunks adhering to the sides and bottoms of wine tanks.
Armillaria A soil fungus, harbored by oak roots which is particularly devastating to grape vines. If a grower plants new vineyard in a field, which had previously held oak trees, he must fumigate the soil prior to planting, lest the residual Armillaria (Oakroot Fung
Auslese German word meaning "selection." In German wine law, auslese has a specific meaning which requires that the wine be made only from selected bunches of grapes, riper than those others which were discarded.
Bacchus Roman god of wine. Not to be confused (though it often is) with Dionysus, who was the Greek god of wine before the age of Rome.
Beerenauslese Literally, "berry selection" in German. Beerenauslese wines are made from grapes that are picked individually rather than as whole bunches. All grapes on a given cluster or "bunch" do not normally ripen at exactly the same rates. Berry selection allows th
Blanc de blancs A Champagne term referring to white wine made from white (usually Chardonnay) grapes.
Blanc de noirs A Champagne term referring to white wine made from black (Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier) grapes.
Bloom The grape flower, or blossom. Also refers to the gray colored, powdery film that can be found on grapes in the field.
Brut A French term most often used in Champagne to denote a brand?s driest sparkling wine.
Bud break The action of buds swelling and beginning new growth in spring.
Bud Small swelling on a shoot or cane from which a new shoot develops.
Burgundy One of France?s classic wine regions. Burgundy offers white wine as well as reds which is confusing to some New World consumers who are accustomed to seeing Burgundy used as a generic term for red wine. Most of Burgundy?s whites are made from Chardonnay w
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Champagne Any sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France. By treaty, other European countries may not use the name for their sparkling wines. See Sparkling Wines.
Charmat Process A process for producing sparkling wine or champagne cheaply and in large quantities by conducting the secondary fermentation in large tanks rather than individual bottles. Eugene Charmat, a Frenchman, developed the process in 1910. It is widely used all o
Chloroplasts Oval, chlorophyll-bearing structures inside the cells of leaves which act as tiny factories to produce sugar for plant growth from CO2 (in the air) and water. The energy used for this conversion is sunlight, captured by the chlorophyll.
Claret Common name for the red wines of Bordeaux.
Clos In France, a walled or enclosed vineyard. The word is now used in other countries as part of a name for a winery or wine label.
Cru French word for growth. It refers to a vineyard of especially high quality, such as a classified growth or "cru classe." See Clos.
Crush The act of crushing (actually breaking the grapes as crushing is too violent) and destemming wine grapes just prior to fermentation. ?The Crush? is also a broad term used to identify the time of year the grapes are harvested.
Extra Dry In Champagne this term usually means "extra sweet." Surprise, Surprise. Only in Sherry can you rely on the term meaning that the wine is really dry. This is one of the confusions which surround wine for no good reason and which may cause some potential c
Fermented on the skins Statement made about a wine which was fermented with the juice and skins together. Separation and discarding of solids is done only after the fermentation is completed.
Flor "Flower." An unusual strain of yeast which is able to float on the surface of wine while growing and fermenting. Because this fermentation takes place in the presence of air, the flavor developed differs from that in normal (anerobic) fermentations. Acet
Floraison The flowering or bloom period of grape vines. This happens with most grape varieties in most regions about two months after bud break. New pinhead sized green berries form after floraison, then enlarge to become grapes.
Fortified wine Any wine to which brandy has been added in order to raise the alcohol content and improve stability. High alcohol dessert wines such as Port, Madeira, Malaga and sweet Sherries are normally fortified during fermentation in order to stop the fermentation w
Fume Blanc A name that has come to be synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc table wine. The best ones are dry but there are some nice Fume Blancs which are sweet. See Pouilly Fume.
Generic wine Blended wine of ordinary quality, without any varietal or other special characteristics. Everyday, low price wine. See Vin ordinaire.
Grand Cru French category of great vineyards.
Hospice de Beaune Famous charity hospital in the city of Beaune, which is the heart of Burgundy in France. The auction sale each year of wines of the Hospice de Beaune is perhaps the biggest wine event in Burgundy. The occasion brings dignitaries as well as wine merchants
Ice wine Wine made from frozen grapes. The grapes are pressed while frozen and only the juice (never the solids) is used in the fermentation. Ice wines are always sweet, usually light and also delicate.
Kabinett German classification for quality wines ranking just below spaetlese. Kabinett wines are relatively low in price, but sugar is never used in their production (which is a positive indicator for quality).
Knights of the Vine Wine brotherhood dedicated to the full appreciation of wine without snobbism. It was founded (and still headed) by National Grand Commander Norman Gates, Sacramento, CA. See Assemblage.
Manzanilla A specific type of Fino (flor) sherry. See Sherry.
Marsala The principle dessert wine of Italy, actually made in Sicily. It is similar to other fortified dessert wines but the taste is more raisiny and not so fruity as Ports or Madeiras.
Methode Champenoise The traditional bottle-fermented method for producing sparkling wines, including hand riddling and disgorging.
Noble Rot Common name for Botrytis cinerea, the famous fungus of more than a few fabulous dessert wines. See Edelfaule, Pourriture Noble.
Oenology Original Greek spelling of Enology, (now usually anglicized to Enology).
Oloroso One of the categories of Spanish Sherry. Olorosos are "bigger" and fuller in body, flavor and sweetness than Fino Sherries.
Palo Cortado A light, almost Fino-like type of Oloroso sherry. See Sherry.
Pinot Family of grape varieties. The most famous member is Pinot Noir, although its white fruited variant, Pinot Blanc, deserves special recognition as well. Incorrectly called "Pinot," the Chardonnay grape is not a member of the Pinot family.
Puglia See Apulia.
Sacramental Wines Wine used for sacramental purposes (as in Christian communion) by a church or its representatives. The need for sacramental wines caused many monasteries to grow vineyards and make wine down through the ages. Production of sacramental wines was the only r
Schlossabzug Term used on wine labels in Germany to indicate that the wine was bottled on the estate (Castle). It is equivalent to estate bottled.
Scuppernong One of the two major classes of native American grapes. The wines are too pungent in flavor for most wine aficionados. However, the wine still has its followers, especially among those who grew up with the taste around North Carolina. See Muscadine.
Sparkling wine Wine which contains enough carbon dioxide to render it effervescent. The word "Champagne" is reserved for sparkling wines made by a specific procedure (the methode champenoise) in the Champagne region of France. Most other countries honor this and do not
Spumante The Italian word for sparkling wine. Equivalent to sekt in German.
Still wine Wine which is not sparkling, ie, does not contain significant carbon dioxide in solution.
Tinto Spanish for red (wine).
Tonneau A historical standard of measure for wine in Bordeaux, the tonneau is equal to four standard barrels, or exactly 100 cases of wine at twelve 750 ml bottles each. The term is also used to mean an oversize barrel of unspecific size, since no actual containe
Varietal wine A wine produced primarily from a single grape variety and so labelled.
Vendange French term for the harvest season and also for the act of harvesting grapes.
Vermouth A fortified wine, red or white, which has been flavored by the addition of various herbs and barks (originally wormwood). Vermouth is used primarily as an aperitif.
Vin Ordinaire Just what it sounds like
Vinho verde A specific type of Portuguese wine which is noted for its youth, freshness and newness in the taste. These wines are always best if consumed young without aging. See Green Wine.
Vin Santo This is supposed to mean "wine for the saints," but it certainly seems to be one of the great sins of this world. It is a sweet dessert wine, made from dried Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes in Tuscany. The dried grapes are pressed, then the juice is allowed
Vintner Common term for anyone in the wine business. It was originally reserved for those who grew grapes and produced wine, but common usage to date includes anyone in wine, whether in sales, marketing or production.
Wein (pronounced vine) "Wine" in German.
Weingut (pronounced vyn-goot) A wine producing property in Germany.
Weinstrasse (pronounced vyn-strass-uh) "Wine road" in Germany. A tourist route which connects many wineries in a given area. An excellent way to spend part of your vacation in any wine country.
Wine The natural beverage produced by yeast fermentation of grape juice or must. Wine has a specific legal definition in (probably) all countries of the world.
Wine Institute A trade organization of winery members headquartered in San Francisco for the purpose of advancing the business interests of its member wineries. Wine Institute keeps its members constantly informed and advised on the political, legal and social status of
Winemaker The person in charge of winemaking in a winery. In some wineries, he or she is also called "production manager." The winemaker may be in overall charge of the whole (small) company -- or only the fermentation, aging and bottling of a single wine in a lar
Winemaster The chief winemaker within a given winery or wine company. Sometimes used as the equivalent to "brewmaster" in a brewery.
Winery A place where wine is made. A winery may be made up of one or more buildings or no building at all; it can be a cave or simply an open air assortment of tanks, barrels or other containers.
Wine Trade Common name given to the collective group of retailers, wholesalers, restaurateurs, wine salesmen and wine producers which make up the "wine industry."
Botrytis cinerea One of many molds which attacks grapes on the vine. Under the proper conditions this mold will often have a beneficial affect causing the grape to loose much of its water concentrating flavors and sugars. For this reason Botrytis cinerea, or simply Botryt
Bunch the term to describe a full cluster of grape berries; also used to describe any non-Muscadine grape, most often employed by winegrowers in the American southeast.
Carbonic maceration A process that allow grapes to ferment whole crushing under their own weight and the natural destruction of skin integrity during fermentation. The process was invented in the Rhone region of France but is most commonly used to produce Beaujolais Nouveau.
Chaptalization The process of adding sugars to the grape juice or must in order to fortify low grape sugars. It is something that winemakers are reluctant to speak about but it is common practice in several of the world?s prestigious wine regions. The practice is forbid
CIone a vine so produced to better adapt to climatic or geologic conditions. You will often hear in discussion of the grape of "the Roman?e-Conti clone of Pinot noir as opposed to the "Volnay" clone.
M?thode Champenoise literally, "(made by the) Champagne method" the classic, expensive and time-consuming way to produce Champagne and many other sparkling wines. It involves a secondary fermentation within a small (twelve ounces to one gallon or so) bottle.
Muscadine colloquial name for the sub-genus of the vitis family of plants that thrive in our southeastern regions. Scuppernong is the most well-known variety of Muscadines.
Phylloxera (vastatrix) Latin name for a vine-louse which nearly destroyed the European vineyards in the late 1800s. As a result, most new vineplants are grafted onto a phylloxera- resistant rootstock to ensure proper vine health and adequate bearing. Phylloxera remains a proble
Varietal term used to describe wines made totally or predominantly from a single variety of grape.
Barrel Fermented Wine (usually whites) fermented in, typically, 55-gallon oak barrels rather than neutral containers such as stainless steel. Barrel fermentation requires careful cellar attention, but can contribute to increasing the complexity and flavor of a wine by add
Clone Not just for sheep anymore... The offspring of grape vines that contains the genetic material of the parent. There are very many clones of grape varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir some may ripen earlier than others, produce a larger yield, or hav
Aestivalis see Vitus Aestivalis
Ah-So A wine opener with two parallel thin metal prongs that are wedged into the bottle on opposite sides of the cork. It looks a bit like a medieval medical devise but it works brilliantly on long and older corks.
Classico A term commonly found attached to Italian wines. Classico being simply translated to ?Classic? referring to the original district. For example, Chianti Classico denotes the area in the Chianti appellation that was originally determined and defined.
Italian Wine Laws DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) is the top of the pyramid. This designation is saved for the best of the best. The DOCG classification was created in 1963 along with DOC but not used until 1980. At present, only 24 wines have been
Consorzio Tutela Vini della Valpolicella An official organization whose expressed purpose is to promote the Valpolicella region. This Consorzio?s reach goes far beyond wine to include tourism, local products, and organizations.
Appassimento This is the process of drying grapes to concentrate sugars and flavors. Traditionally this was done on straw mats but now small crates or plastic trays are used. Some producers now uses temperature and humidity controlled rooms as opposed to the tradition
Superiore The designation is an add-on to a DOC name to denote a wine that adheres to a higher standard. However, in many cases it simply requires that the wine has a higher alcohol strength than what is simply required for the DOC.


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