Glossary of Wine Terms

A to DE to PQ to Z
  1. A
    A naturally occurring component of every wine; the level of perceived sharpness; a key element to a wine's longevity; a leading determinant of balance.
    The end product of fermentation; technically ethyl alcohol resulting from the interaction of natural grape sugars and yeast; generally above 12.5 percent in dry table wines.
    A highly regarded wine region in eastern France renowned for dry and sweet wines made from Riesling, Gewuerztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and others.
    A succulent higher-alcohol red wine hailing from the Veneto region in northern Italy; made primarily from Corvina grapes dried on racks before pressing.
    Appellation diOrigine Controlee, a French term for a denominated, governed wine region such as Margaux or Nuits-St.-Georges.
    A scent thatis a component of the bouquet or nose; i.e. cherry is an aromatic component of a fruity bouquet.
    American Viticultural Area; a denominated American wine region approved by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
  2. B
    The Roman god of wine, known as Dionysus in ancient Greece; a hybrid white grape from Germany.
    The level of harmony between acidity, tannins, fruit, oak, and other elements in a wine; a perceived quality that is more individual than scientific.
    Barrel Fermented
    A process by which wine (usually white) is fermented in oak barrels rather than in stainless steel tanks; a richer, creamier, oakier style of wine.
    French for 'barrel,' generally a barrel of 225 liters.
    A juicy, flavorful red wine made from Gamay grapes grown in the region of the same name.
    Beaujolais Nouveau
    The first Beaujolais wine of the harvest; its annual release date is the third Thursday in November.
    Blanc de Blancs
    The name for Champagne made entirely from Chardonnay grapes.
    Blanc de Noirs
    The name for Champagne made entirely from red grapes, either Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier, or both.
    The process whereby two or more grape varieties are combined after separate fermentation; common blends include Cotes de Rhone and red and white Bordeaux.
    A wine made from red grapes but which appears pink or salmon in color because the grape skins were removed from the fermenting juice before more color could be imparted; more commonly referred to as rose.
    Spanish for winery; literally the 'room where barrels are stored.'
    The impression of weight on one's palate; light, medium, and full are common body qualifiers.
    A city on the Garonne River in southwest France; a large wine-producing region with more than a dozen subregions; a red wine made mostly from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc; a white wine made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
    Botrytis Cinerea
    A beneficial mold that causes grapes to shrivel and sugars to concentrate, resulting in sweet, unctuous wines; common botryt's wines include Sauternes, Tokay, and German beerenauslese.
    The sum of a wine's aromas; how a wine smells as a whole; a key determinant of quality.
    The process of letting a wine open up via the introduction of air
    A scale used to measure the level of sugar in unfermented grapes. Multiplying brix by 0.55 will yield a wine's future alcohol level.
    A French term used to describe the driest Champagnes.
    A prominent French wine region stretching from Chablis in the north to Lyons in the south; Pinot Noir is the grape for red Burgundy, Chardonnay for white.
  3. C
    Cabernet Franc
    A red grape common to Bordeaux; characteristics include an herbal, leafy flavor and a soft, fleshy texture.
    Cabernet Sauvignon
    A powerful, tannic red grape of noble heritage; the base grape for many red Bordeaux and most of the best red wines from California, Washington, Chile, and South Africa; capable of aging for decades.
    Grape solids like pits, skins, and stems that rise to the top of a tank during fermentation; what gives red wines color, tannins and weight.
    Spanish for 'cellar,' but also a Spanish sparkling wine made in the traditional Champagne style from Xarello, Macabeo, and Parellada grapes.
    A town and wine region east of Paris known for steely, minerally Chardonnay.
    A denominated region northeast of Paris in which Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes are made into sparkling wine.
    The process of adding sugar to fermenting grapes in order to increase alcohol.
    Arguably the best and most widely planted white wine grape in the world.
    French for 'castle;' an estate with its own vineyards.
    Chenin Blanc
    A white grape common in the Loire Valley of France.
    A scenic, hilly section of Tuscany known for fruity red wines made mostly from Sangiovese grapes.
    An English name for red Bordeaux.
    Pronounced 'Cloh,' this French word once applied only to vineyards surrounded by walls.
    A key determinant of a wine's age and quality; white wines grow darker in color as they age while red wines turn brownish orange.
    A winery owned jointly by multiple grape growers.
    A wine with musty, mushroomy aromas and flavors resulting from a cork tainted by TCA (trichloroanisol).
    A Spanish term for a red wine that has been aged in oak barrels for at least one year.
    A French term for ranking a wineis inherent quality, i.e. cru bourgeois, cru classe, premier cru, and grand cru.
  4. D
    The process of transferring wine from a bottle to another holding vessel. The purpose is generally to aerate a young wine or to separate an older wine from any sediment.
    Denominacion de Origen
    Spanish for 'appellation of origin;' like the French AOC or Italian DOC.
    Denominazione di Origine Controllata
    Italian for a controlled wine region; similar to the French AOC or Spanish DO.
    The process by which final sediments are removed from traditionally made sparkling wines prior to the adding of the dosage.
    A sweetened spirit added at the very end to Champagne and other traditionally made sparkling wines. It determines whether a wine is brut, extra dry, dry, or semisweet.
    A river in Portugal as well as the wine region famous for producing Port wines.
    A wine containing no more than 0.2 percent unfermented sugar.
  1. E
    A term used to describe aromas and flavors that have a certain soil-like quality.
    The science of wine production; an enologist is a professional winemaker; an enophile is someone who enjoys wine.
  2. F
    The process by which sugar is transformed into alcohol; how grape juice interacts with yeast to become wine.
    The process by which wine is clarified before bottling.
    Part of the clarification process whereby elements are added to the wine, i.e. egg whites, in order to capture solids prior to filtration.
    Fortified Wine
    A wine in which brandy is introduced during fermentation; sugars and sweetness are high due to the suspended fermentation.
    Fumé Blanc
    A name created by Robert Mondavi to describe dry Sauvignon Blanc.
  3. G
    A red grape exceedingly popular in the Beaujolais region of France.
    A sweet and spicy white grape popular in eastern France, Germany, Austria, northern Italy, and California.
    A vineyard technique in which the bud-producing part of a grapevine is attached to an existing root.
    Gran Reserva
    A Spanish term used for wines that are aged in wood and bottles for at least five years prior to release.
    Grand Cru
    French for 'great growth;' the very best vineyards.
    A term used to describe underripe, vegetal flavors in a wine.
    A hearty, productive red grape popular in southern France as well as in Spain, where it is called Garnacha.
    Grüner Veltliner
    A white grape popular in Austria that makes lean, fruity, racy wines.
  4. H
    A French word meaning 'high.' It applies to quality as well as altitude.
    A metric measure equal to 10,000 square meters or 2.47 acres.
    A metric measure equal to 100 liters or 26.4 gallons.
    An aroma or flavor similar to green; often an indication of underripe grapes or fruit grown in a cool climate.
    A term used to describe a wine that doesnit have depth or body.
    The genetic crossing of two or more grape types; common hybrids include Mueller-Thurgau and Bacchus
  5. I
    Ice Wine
    From the German eiswein, this is a wine made from frozen grapes; Germany, Austria and Canada are leading ice wine producers.
  6. J
    An oversized bottle equal to six regular 750 ml bottles.
  7. K
    A German term for a wine of quality; usually the driest of Germanyis best Rieslings.
    A wine made according to strict Jewish rules under rabbinical supervision.
  8. L
    Grape types native to North America such as Concord and Catawba.
    Late Harvest
    A term used to describe dessert wines made from grapes left on the vines for an extra long period, often until botrytis has set in.
    Heavy sediment left in the barrel by fermenting wines; a combination of spent yeast cells and grape solids.
    A term used to describe how wine sticks to the inside of a wineglass after drinking or swirling.
    A river in central France as well as a wine region famous for Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Franc.
  9. M
    The process of allowing grape juice and skins to ferment together, thereby imparting color, tannins, and aromas.
    A fortified wine that has been made on a Portuguese island off the coast of Morocco since the fifteenth century.
    Stemming from the word Madeira, this term means oxidization in a hot environment.
    A bottle equal to two regular 750 ml bottles.
    A hearty red grape of French origin now exceedingly popular in Argentina.
    Malolactic Fermentation
    A secondary fermentation, often occurring in barrels, whereby harsher malic acid is converted into creamier lactic acid.
    A section of Bordeaux on the west bank of the Gironde Estuary known for great red wines; Margaux, St.-Estephe, and Pauillac are three leading AOCs in the Medoc.
    A lauded red grape popular in Bordeaux and throughout the world; large amounts of Merlot exist in Italy, the United States, South America, and elsewhere.
    Crushed grapes about to go or going through fermentation.
  10. N
    A red grape popular in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy; the grape that yields both Barolo and Barbaresco.
    A French term for a person or company that buys wines from others and then labels it under his or her own name; stems from the French word for 'shipper.'
    Synonymous with bouquet; the sum of a wine's aromas.
  11. O
    A term used to describe woody aromas and flavors; butter, popcorn, and toast notes are found in 'oaky' wines.
    Grapes grown without the aid of chemical-based fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides.
    A wine that is no longer fresh because it was exposed to too much air.
  12. p
    An indication of a wine's acidity expressed by how much hydrogen is in it.
  13. P
    A voracious vine louse that over time has destroyed vineyards in Europe and California.
    An area in northwest Italy known for Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, Dolcetto, and Moscato.
    Pinot Blanc
    A white grape popular in Alsace, Germany, and elsewhere.
    Pinot Gris
    Also called Pinot Grigio, this is a grayish-purple grape that yields a white wine with a refreshing character.
    Pinot Noir
    The prime red grape of Burgundy, Champagne, and Oregon.
    A hybrid between Pinot Noir and Cinsault thatis grown almost exclusively in South Africa.
    A derogatory name for cheap, poor-tasting wine.
    The mass of skins, pits, and stems left over after fermentation; used to make grappa in Italy and marc in France.
    A sweet, fortified wine made in the Douro Valley of Portugal and aged in the coastal town of Vila Nova de Gaia; variations include Vintage, Tawny, Late Bottled Vintage, Ruby, White, and others.
    Premier Cru
    French for 'first growth;' a high-quality vineyard but one not as good as grand cru.
    The process by which grape juice is extracted prior to fermentation; a machine that extracts juice from grapes.
    Primeur (en)
    A French term for wine sold while it is sill in the barrels; known as 'futures' in English-speaking countries.
    The annual vineyard chore of trimming back plants from the previous harvest.
  1. R
    The process of moving wine from barrel to barrel, while leaving sediment behind.
    A Spanish term for a red wine that has spent at least three years in barrels and bottles before release.
    A largely American term indicating a wine of higher quality; it has no legal meaning.
    A river in southwest France surrounded by villages producing wines mostly from Syrah; the name of the wine-producing valley in France.
    The process of rotating Champagne bottles in order to shift sediment toward the cork.
    Along with Chardonnay, one of the top white grapes in the world; most popular in Germany, Alsace, and Austria.
    A well-known region in Spain known for traditional red wines made from the Tempranillo grape.
    French for "pink" and used to describe a category of refreshing wines that are pink in color but are made from red grapes.
  2. S
    An area in the Loire Valley known mostly for wines made from Sauvignon Blanc.
    A red grape native to Tuscany; the base grape for Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Morellino di Scansano, and others.
    A sweet Bordeaux white wine made from botrytized Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
    Sauvignon Blanc
    A white grape planted throughout the world; increasingly the signature wine of New Zealand.
    A fortified wine from a denominated region in southwest Spain; styles include fino, Manzanilla, oloroso, and amontillado.
    The Australian name for Syrah; also used in South Africa and sparingly in the United States.
    A term used to describe a wine with an especially smooth mouthfeel.
    The Spanish system of blending wines of different ages to create a harmonious end product; a stack of barrels holding wines of various ages.
    Technically a wine steward, but one potentially with a great degree of wine knowledge as well as a diploma of sorts in wine studies.
    A term used to describe certain aromas and flavors that may be sharp, woody, or sweet.
    A quarter-bottle of wine; a single-serving bottle equal to 175 milliliters.
    A term used to describe an extremely crisp, acidic wine that was not aged in barrels.
    A term used to describe harsh, green characteristics in a wine.
    Super Tuscan
    A red wine from Tuscany that is not made in accordance with established DOC rules; often a blended wine of superior quality containing Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Merlot.
    A term used to describe smooth, balanced wines.
    A red grape planted extensively in the Rhone Valley of France, Australia, and elsewhere; a spicy, full and tannic wine that usually requires aging before it can be enjoyed.
    A plump white grape popular in Bordeaux and Australia; the base for Sauternes.
  3. T
    Table Wine
    A term used to describe wines of between 10 and 14 percent alcohol; in Europe, table wines are those that are made outside of regulated regions or by unapproved methods.
    Phenolic compounds that exist in most plants; in grapes, tannins are found primarily in the skins and pits; tannins are astringent and provide structure to a wine; over time tannins die off, making wines less harsh.
    The most popular red grape in Spain; common in Rioja and Ribera del Duero.
    A French term for the combination of soil, climate, and all other factors that influence the ultimate character of a wine.
    A dessert wine made in Hungary from dried Furmint grapes.
    German for 'dry.'
  4. V
    A wine made from just one grape type and named after that grape; the opposite of a blend.
    A large wine-producing region in northern Italy.
    Vin Santo
    Sweet wine from Tuscany made from late-harvest Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes.
    A particular year in the wine business; a specific harvest.
    A fragrant, powerful white grape grown in the Rhone Valley of France and elsewhere.
    The science and business of growing wine grapes.
  5. Y
    Organisms that issue enzymes that trigger the fermentation process; yeasts can be natural or commercial.
    The amount of grapes harvested in a particular year.
  6. Z
    A popular grape in California of disputed origin; scientists say it is related to grapes in Croatia and southern Italy.
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