Helping end wine snobbery
two glasses at a time!

Glossary

Posts by The Second Glass Citizen

ACIDIC

The term used to describe a wine that is very sour or tart and dominating the palate in an unpleasant way.

ACIDITY

Many acids are can be found in the grape before fermentation, and others occur afterward. Acids are usually associated with perceived freshness in wine, especially with white wines. Acidity is essential for ageability and longevity of wine. If there is too much acid in wine it is usually perceived as ‘sour’ or ‘vinegary’ and is then considered a wine fault.

ACRID

The term used to describe a bitter taste or pungent smell usually due to excess sulfur.

AERATION

The process of allowing a wine to ‘breathe’ in the open air, after swirling it in a glass, decanting it, or by merely removing the cork and letting the bottle stand before pouring.

AGGRESSIVE

The term used to describe a wine that’s harsh in taste or texture, usually due to high levels of tannin or acid.

AGING BARREL

A barrel, often made of oak, that is used to age wine.

ALCOHOL

Used to describe a wine that has too much alcohol for its body and weight, making it unbalanced. A wine with too much alcohol will taste uncharacteristically heavy and will be identified as ‘hot’ as a result. This quality will be noticeable in a wine’s aroma and aftertaste.

ALCOHOL BY VOLUME (ABV)

As required by law, wineries must state the alcohol level of a wine on its label. This is usually expressed as a numerical percentage of the volume.

AMARONE

A rich, higher-alcohol red wine hailing from the Veneto region in northern Italy; made primarily from Corvina grapes which have been dried on racks before pressing. See also Appassimento.

AMERICAN OAK

An alternative to French oak when making barrels. Marked by robust vanilla and strong cedar notes, it is used primarily for aging Cabernet, Merlot and Zinfandel, for which it is the preferred oak.

AMERICAN VITICULTURAL AREA (AVA)

A delimited, geographical grape-growing area that has officially been given appellation status by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in the United States of America. Usually identified as such on a winery’s label.

AMPELOGRAPHY

The study of grape varieties.

APPASSIMENTO

The process of drying grapes outdoors before pressing them in an effort to help concentrate the flavour. This drying process can last from days to many months. Best known for use in Italy for the production of Amarone and some Vin Santo, the same method is used in other countries.

APPEARANCE

A wine tasting term describing a wine’s clarity only; not a wine’s colour.

APPELLATION

Defines the area where a wine’s grapes were grown, such as Bordeaux, Okanagan or Russian River Valley for example. Regulation within appellations vary widely from country to country.

APPELLATION D’ORIGINE CONTRÔLÉE/PROTÉGÉE (AOC/AOP)

The French system of appellations. AOC/AOP regulations require that for a wine to be identified as an appellation in this system a wine must follow rules describing the area the grapes are grown in, the varieties used, ripeness, alcoholic strength, vineyard yields and the methods used in both growing the grapes and making the wine. The categories of classification in France are: Vin de France, Indication Geographique Protégée (IGP) and Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP), considered the highest classification for French wine.

AROMA

The term used to describe how a wine smells. This term is generally applied to younger wines, while the term bouquet is reserved for more aged wines.

ASTRINGENT

The term used to describe a rough, harsh, puckery feel in the mouth, usually from tannin or high acidity, that red wines (and some whites) have. When this harshness is apparent, the wine is said to be astringent.

AUSLESE

A German term meaning ‘select harvest’.

AUSTERE

The term used to describe a high-acid wine that lacks depth and roundness, a young wine that needs time to soften or a wine that lacks body.

AWKWARD

The term used to describe a wine that has poor structure or is not balanced.

BACKWARD

Used to describe a young wine that is not as developed as others of its type from the same vintage.

BALANCE

The term used to describe a wine where all its elements are harmonious and where no one area dominates. Acid balances against sweetness, fruit balances against oak and tannin and alcohol balances against acid and flavour. It is one of the most important characteristics of a wine and if you ever experience it, you’ll never forget it!

BALTHAZAR

An oversized bottle which holds the equivalent of 12 litres or 16 standard wine bottles.

BARNYARD

A wine tasting term usually used to describe a Pinot Noir. A wine whose bouquet is described as barnyard is usually earthy, with scents that remind the taster of a barn or farmyard. This is usually a positive trait but if it is overpowering, it can be considered a wine fault. It can occur naturally as a result of varietal characteristics and/or barrel aging but can also occur if unclean barrels or facilities were used in production.

BARREL

A hollow, cylindrical container, traditionally made of oak staves, used either for fermenting or aging wine, or both. It can also be called a cask.

BARREL FERMENTED

Denotes wine that has been fermented in barrels, or casks (usually 55-gallon oak barrels) instead of larger tanks.

BARRIQUE

The French term for a 225 litre Bordeaux-style barrel. A barrique will normally yield 24 cases of 12 x 750 ml bottle each.

BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU

The first Beaujolais wine of the harvest and usually a cause for celebration. The annual release date is the third Thursday in November every year.

BEERENAUSLESE

A German term meaning ‘select berry harvest’. Overripe grapes were individually selected from bunches that were affected by Botrytis Cinerea or Noble Rot.

BENTONITE

A type of clay used during the wine clarification process.

BIODYNAMIC WINE

Wines produced using principles of biodynamic agriculture.

BITE

The term used to describe a wine with a noticeable degree of acidity or tannin.

BITTER

One of the five basic tastes or senses, along with sour, salty, sweet and umami. A source of bitterness in wine can be attributed to tannin or stems. If the bitter quality dominates the wine’s flavour, it is then considered a wine fault.

BLANC DE BLANCS

A white wine, sometimes sparkling, made exclusively from white grapes, usually Chardonnay.

BLANC DE NOIRS

A white wine, usually sparkling, made from red grapes. The juice is squeezed from the red grapes and fermented without skin contact. The wines can sometimes have a pale pink hue.

BLEND

A mixture of two or more different parcels of wine prepared by winemakers to produce a consistent finished wine that is ready for bottling. This can include batches of the same or different varietal coming from different years or different vineyards, etc. Some laws dictate which wines can be blended together, and what can be subsequently printed on the wine label.

BLIND TASTING

The tasting of and evaluation of wine without knowing what type of wine is being tasted.

BLUNT

The term used to describe a wine that is strong in flavour and sometimes overly-alcoholic or hot, but also lacking in aromas and development on the palate.

BLUSH

A wine made from red grapes but which usually appears pink or salmon in colour because the grape skins were removed during the fermenting process before extra colour could be imparted to the wine. It is usually referred to as Rosé.

BODEGA

A Spanish term meaning ‘wine cellar’.

BODY

The perceived notion of weight of the wine on the palate. Usually, body is described in degrees using the terms light-bodied, medium-bodied or full-bodied and with some variations in between. A wine like Pinot Grigio is usually referred to as light-bodied, where an Australian Shiraz would most often be characterized as a full-bodied wine.

BORDEAUX

A large, popular wine-producing region in France with more than a dozen sub regions. Other meanings include a port city on the Garonne River in France, a red wine made mostly from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and a white wine made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

BOTRYTIS CINEREA

Also referred to as Noble Rot. A beneficial mold or fungus that attacks grapes under certain climatic conditions and causes them to shrivel, thereby deeply concentrating the flavours, sugar and acid. Some of the most famous examples come from Sauternes (Château d’Yquem), Alsace in France, Germany and Tokay from Hungary.

BOTTLE

A container with a neck that is narrower than the body and a mouth, usually made of glass due to it being nonporous and strong.

BOTTLE SHOCK or BOTTLE SICKNESS

Known by both terms, a temporary condition of wine characterized by muted or disjointed fruit flavours and sometimes discolouration, specifically browning, of white wines. It usually occurs immediately after bottling or if wines are shaken in travel. After several days the condition usually disappears.

BOTTLE VARIATION

The degree to which bottled wine of the same varietal, style and vintage can vary.

BOTTLED BY

Sometimes a wine has been purchased ready-made and has simply been bottled by the brand owner, or made under contract by another winery. When this occurs, Bottled By should be indicated on the label. If the label indicates Produced and Bottled By or Made and Bottled By it usually means the winery produced the wine from start to finish.

BOUQUET

The term used to describe the multi-layered perfume perceived by the nose. Usually, the term bouquet is used most appropriately when describing mature wines that have developed secondary aromas and complex flavours beyond basic young fruit and oak.

BRAWNY

The term used to describe a wine with hard, tannic and/or woody flavours.

BREATHE

The process of letting a wine open up via the introduction of air. See also Aeration.

BRETTANOMYCES

A wine spoilage yeast that produces taints in wine commonly described as barnyard or bandage.

BRIGHT

The term used to describe a wine that has high clarity and low levels of suspended solids. Usually used when referring to fresh, young wines with intense flavours.

BRILLIANT

The term used to describe the appearance of very clear wines with absolutely no visible suspended particulate matter. Not always used in a positive way as it can indicate a highly filtered wine.

BRIX

A standardized scale to measure the sugar content in grapes before fermentation.

BROWNING

The term used to describe a wine’s colour, and is usually a sign that the wine is overly-mature and therefore faded. It is considered an undesirable trait in young red or white wines, but less significant in older wines.

BRUT

A French term used to designate a relatively dry Champagne or sparkling wine and often the driest wines made by the producer

BUD BREAK

Bud Break is the first stage of the grape vine cycle and has occurred when a new, green growth appears on a grape vine.

BULK PROCESS

The Bulk Process is a method where sparkling wines receive their secondary fermentation in large tanks, rather than individual bottles as seen in the traditional Méthode Champenoise. It usually indicates that the sparkling wines are fermented in large stainless steel tanks and later drawn off into the bottle under pressure. See also Charmat Process.

BUNG

The stopper used to seal a bottle or barrel and more commonly referred to as a cork.

BURGUNDY

A prominent and extremely prestigious French wine region stretching from Chablis in the north to Lyon in the south. Pinot Noir is the principal grape used for red wines from the Burgundy region and Chardonnay is the principal grape used for white wines.

BURNT

The term used to describe a wine that has a smoky or singed quality on the nose or palate. It can also be used to describe grapes that are overripe.

BUTTERY

The term used Indicate an aroma of melted butter or toasty oak. It is also used as a reference to texture, as in a rich, oaky, buttery Chardonnay. See also Malolactic Fermentation.

CANOPY

The parts of the grape vine that are visible above ground, in particular, the shoots and leaves.

CANOPY MANAGEMENT

The range of practices used in vineyards to handle the vine canopy. This is done to ensure proper vine shape which will limit direct sunlight, aid in disease control and ensures an optimal growing environment overall.

CAP

Grape solids such as skins, pips and stems that rise to the top of a tank during the fermentation process. The cap is usually what gives red wines colour, tannin and weight.

CAPSULE

The plastic or foil wrapper that covers the cork and part of the upper portion of the neck of a wine bottle.

CARBONIC MACERATION

A winemaking practice of fermenting whole grapes that have not been crushed in a carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere. Usually, the weight of the upper layers of grapes in a vat will break the skins of the lowest layer and the resulting wine is both a product of carbonic maceration and traditional fermentation of juice.

CASK NUMBER

An arbitrary term sometimes used by a winery to identify a special wine or a specific production, usually found on a label. Sometimes referred to a Bin Number.

CAVA

Sparkling wine from Spain which is produced using the traditional Méthode Champenois.

CELLAR

An area used to store wine barrels and/or bottles for storage purposes or for aging. Many years ago wine was stored in underground cellars to ensure it stay in a cool and otherwise optimal environment. Today, modern methods of insulation, temperature and humidity control have transformed the need for underground cellars, making it possible for cellars to be above ground. See also Wine Cellar.

CELLARED BY

Usually means a wine was not produced at the winery where it was bottled but rather purchased from another source. This term is usually indicated on a wine’s label.

CELLARING

The act of storing wine in a cellar, either for aging or as a means of proper storage.

CHABLIS

A type of wine, a town in France and a wine region east of Paris known for its steely, flinty, minerally Chardonnay. They’re sssooooo good.

CHAMPAGNE

A sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France, made using the classic and traditional Méthode Champenois, which calls for secondary fermentation in the bottle. Only sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France can be called Champagne.

CHAPTALIZATION

A process used during winemaking where sugar is added to the must to increase alcohol content in fermented wine. This is usually done when grapes have not ripened adequately and more sugar is needed in order to boost the inadequate sugar levels to ensure alcohol levels are optimal in the resulting wine. This is a common practice in northern European countries where the colder climates may keep grapes from ripening, however, it is absolutely forbidden in other parts of the world, namely Italy, Southern France and California.

CHARMAT PROCESS

The Charmat Process, also known as the Bulk Process, is a method where sparkling wines receive their secondary fermentation in large tanks, rather than individual bottles as seen in the traditional Méthode Champenoise. It usually indicates that the sparkling wines are fermented in large stainless steel tanks and later drawn off into the bottle under pressure.

CHÂTEAU

The term used to identify a winery in the Bordeaux region of France, although the term is sometimes used for wineries in other parts of the world.

CHEWY

The term used to describe a wine that is extremely heavy, tannic and rich and is also extremely full-bodied.

CHIANTI

The most famous wine from Italy, made from the Sangiovese grape.

CIGAR BOX

The term used to describe a wine with a cedar-like aroma.

CLARET

The British term for a Bordeaux wine. Is also a generic term for a red wine that is similar in style to that of a Bordeaux.

CLARIFICATION

A winemaking process which involves the filtration and fining of wine to remove any suspended solids, thus increasing a wine’s appearance with regards to clarity.

CLARITY

The term used to describe a wine’s appearance, specifically the amount of undissolved matter that is visible to the taster’s eye.

CLASSICO

An Italian wine term referring to the smaller boundaries within a larger wine region. This is usually seen on labels of wine from the Chianti region to denote specific geographical locations of vineyards and/or wineries.

CLEAN

The term used to describe a wine that is fresh on the palate and free of any unpleasant tastes.

CLONE

A group of grape vines originating from a single, individual plant which has been propagated asexually from a single source.

CLOS

A French word used to describe a winery and/or vineyard that is enclosed by walls.

CLOSED

The term used to describe a wine’s bouquet or aroma, specifically, that the wine might have character but that character is not forthcoming on the nose or on the palate

CLOUDINESS

The term used to describe a wine’s appearance, specifically, a lack of clarity to the eye. Cloudiness is an acceptable trait for aged wines with sediment, but it can be a warning signal of protein instability, yeast spoilage or refermentation in the bottle for younger wines.

CLOYING

The term used to describe an extremely sweet or syrup-like wine lacking the balance that a combination of acid, alcohol and acceptable bitterness can bring.

COARSE

The term used to describe a wine’s texture, in particular, a wine with excessive tannin or oak. It is also used to describe harsh bubbles in a sparkling wine.

COLD DUCK

A low quality wine made of a mixture of red and white sparkling wines characterized by its high sugar content. Sometimes referred to as Baby Duck. It was most likely the wine that was in great abundance and flowing freely in the parking lot of your grade school or high school prom.

COLD STABILIZATION

A clarification process used in winemaking where wine is chilled to near freezing temperatures for several weeks in order to encourage the precipitation of tartrate crystals or other insoluble solids.

COMPLEXITY

The term used to describe a wine, specifically its combination of richness, depth, flavour intensity, balance, harmony and finesse.

CONCENTRATED

The term used to describe a wine that has a depth and richness of fruit which gives it a certain appeal and/or interest.

CONDITION

The state of a wine with regards to its appearance, nose, palate and quality.

COOPERATIVE

A winery jointly owned by many grape growers.

CORE

The term used to describe a wine’s change in colour, if any, specifically visible towards the center of a wine glass and described in contrast to the colour change, if any, visible towards the rim of a wine glass. For example, deep ruby core slowly fading to pink at the rim.

CORK

A wine bottle or barrel stopper made from the thick outer bark of a cork tree. An obstructive object in a wine bottle that comes between a person and eternal happiness.

CORK TAINT

The term used to describe a wine fault. A wine affected by cork taint has the undesirable, musty, off-putting moldy aromas and dry aftertaste and flavours attributed to a specific type of mold grown on chlorine bleached corks. See also TCA 2,4,6 – Trichloroanisole.

COULURE

A failure of grapes to develop after grape vine flowering has occurred. This occurs as a result of metabolic reactions within the vine as a result of weather conditions.

CRACKLING

A type of semi-sparkling, slightly effervescent wine. Also called Frizzante. An ode to this wine was recorded by Neil Diamond in 1970 titled ‘Cracklin’ Rosie’.

CRÉMANT

A type of sparkling wine made in France using the traditional Méthode Champenois, but not made in the Champagne region of France.

CRIANZA

A Spanish word used to refer to a Spanish red wine that has been aged in oak barrels for at least one year.

CROSS

A cross occurs when two varieties of the same species of grape vine cross, to make a new variety. A cross can be the result of human intervention or a natural occurrence. A popular example of a cross is Pinotage, made by crossing Pinot Noir with Cinsault.

CRU

A French term for ranking a wine and its inherent quality.

CRUSH

Once harvested but before grapes are pressed, they are crushed, meaning they are broken up so that the juice is released and allowed to macerate with the skins prior to and during fermentation.

CUVAISON

The French term used to refer to the period of time during alcoholic fermentation when the wine is in contact with the grape skins, pips and stalks so as to extract colour, flavour and tannin. See also Maceration.

CUVÉE

A wine blended from several vats or batches, or from a selected vat. Also used in the Champagne region of France to denote the juice from the first pressing of a batch of grapes.

DECANTER

A vessel, usually an ornamental glass bottle used to hold and serve wine, brandy or other spirits.

DECANTING

The process of slowly and carefully pouring wine from a wine bottle into a decanter in order to separate the sediment from the wine. If wine is decanted for purposes of aeration, once decanted the wine is left to rest before tasting.

DELICATE

The term used to describe light- to medium-body wines with good flavours.

DEMI

A small wine bottle that holds the equivalent of one-half a standard 750 ml bottle. See also Half.

DEMI-SEC

A moderately sweet to medium sweet sparkling wine. When used with regards to Champagne, it is a term relating to sweetness.

DENOMINACIÓN DE ORIGEN (DO) or DENOMINACIÓN DE ORIGEN PROTEGIDA (DOP)

Spain’s designation for wines whose name, origin of the grapes, grape varieties and other important factors are regulated by law.

DENOMINAZIONE DI ORIGINE CONTROLLATA E GARANTIA (DOCG)

Similar to DOC, with the G representing Garantita or Guaranteed. This certification is administered by the local producers but is even stricter than the DOC. DOCG wines are traditionally considered the best of the best, and the DOCG classification is reserved for a small portion of wines from Italy.

DENSE

A tasting term used to describe a wine that has concentrated aromas on the nose and palate.

DEPARTMENT

A wine district in France.

DEPTH

The term used to describe the complexity and concentration of flavours in a wine.

DESSERT WINE

A very sweet, low alcohol wine usually served at the end of the meal. In the USA, any wine with an alcohol content over 15% is considered dessert wine.

DEVATTING

The process of separating must from pomace, before or after fermentation. See also Drawing Off.

DIRTY

The term used to describe any offensive or otherwise foul, unexpected smells that can occur in a wine, including those caused by bad barrels, corks, or substandard practices followed during the winemaking process.

DISGORGEMENT OR DÉGORGEMENT

The removal of sediment from bottles that occurs as a result of secondary fermentation. Disgorgement is a step in the traditional process of sparkling wine production wherein frozen sediment is removed from the neck of the bottle.

DIURNAL TEMPERATURE VARIATION

The degree of temperature variation that occurs in a wine region over the course of day to evening.

DOSAGE

In bottle-fermented sparkling wines, a small amount of sweet wine that is added back into the wine bottle for top-up purposes once the yeast sediment that collects in the neck of the bottle is removed.

DOURO

A wine region in Portugal made famous from producing Port wines. Also, the name of a river in Portugal.

DOUX

A French word meaning ‘sweet.’ It is usually used to refer to the sweetest category of sparkling wines.

DRAWING OFF

The process of separating must from pomace, before or after fermentation. See also Devatting.

DRY

Wines with extremely low levels of or zero residual sugar.

DRYING OUT

The term used to describe a wine that is losing fruit, or sweetness in sweet wines, to the extent that acid, alcohol or tannin dominates the taste. At this stage, the wine will not improve.

DUMB

Describes a phase that a young wines undergoes when its flavours and aromas are undeveloped. See also Closed.

EARLY HARVEST

A wine made from early harvested grapes, usually lower than average in alcoholic content or sweetness as a result.

EARTHY

The term used to describe both positive and negative attributes in a wine. At its best, a pleasant, clean quality that adds complexity to aromas and flavours. At its worst, a rank or barnyard-like character that borders on or crosses into dirty.

EISWEIN

The German word for Ice Wine, a dessert wine made from grapes that were harvested and processed while still frozen. In Canada, it is called Icewine.

ELEGANT

The term used to describe wines of grace and balance.

EMPTY

A wine tasting term, similar to hollow, used to describe a wine that lacks flavour and/or interest.

EN TIRAGE

A French term used to refer to the period of time in which bottled sparkling wine rests in contact with lees generated during secondary fermentation. En Tirage is part of the traditional Méthode Champenoise process.

ENOLOGY

The science and study of winemaking. The American English spelling is Oenology.

ESTATE BOTTLED

A term once used by producers for wines made from grapes grown in the vineyards that were also owned by the winery. Today it means the winery either owns the vineyard or has a long term lease to purchase the grapes.

ESTATE WINERY

In the United States, a winery license which allows farms to produce and sell wine on-site.

ESTUFAGEM

A winemaking method of heating wine after fermentation to 60?C (140?F). This imparts a very specific taste profile, similar to what the wine would have acquired during prolonged sea voyage in the barrels in days gone by. Honestly. Used in production of the fortified wine, Madeira.

ETHYL ACETATE

A sweet, vinegary smell that often accompanies acetic acid. It exists to some extent in all wines and in moderation can be a plus. When it is strong it will smell similar to paint, and at this point it is considered a wine fault.

EXTRA DRY

A Champagne or sparkling wine with a small amount of residual sugar, meaning it is slightly sweet.

EXTRACT

Everything in a wine except for water, sugar, alcohol and acidity. This term refers to the solid compounds such as phenolics, glycol, glycerol, minerals, pectins, yeast and tannin. High levels of extract gives a wine more colour and body, which may be increased by prolonging the wine’s contact with the skins during Cuvaison.

FADING

The term used to describe a wine that is losing its colour, fruit or flavour, usually as a result of age.

FAT

The term used to describe the impression of a full-bodied or high alcohol wine with low acidity on the palate. Depending on the circumstance it can be either a good or bad trait.

FAULT

An unpleasant characteristic of wine as a result of a flaw occurring during the winemaking process or storage conditions.

FERMENTATION

The process by which yeast converts grape sugar into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide, thereby turning grape juice into wine.

FIELD BLEND

If a vineyard has planted several different varieties and the grapes are harvested together to produce a single wine, that wine is called a Field Blend.

FILTRATION

The process by which wine is clarified before bottling. See also Fining.

FINING

A technique for clarifying wine where bentonite (powdered clay), gelatin or egg whites are added to the wine to remove suspended solids. These additives bond to the sediment particles, causing them to eventually settle to the bottom, where they can be easily removed.

FINISH

A wine’s finish is the overall taste that remains in your mouth after you’ve swallowed the wine and its length and pleasantness of the aftertaste.

FLABBY

The term used to describe a wine that is lacking in structure on the palate, usually due to low acidity.

FLAGON

A glass bottle that normally holds approximately 2 litres of table wine.

FLAT

The term used to describe Champagne or a sparkling wine that has lost its bubbles, or petillance.

FLESHY

The term used to describe a wine that is soft in texture, with very little tannin.

FLINTY

The term used to describe an extremely dry white wine, usually Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre, reminiscent of flint struck against steel on the palate.

FLOR

The yeast used in and responsible for the character of dry Sherries in the south of Spain and Vin Jaune in the Jura region of France (where it is termed voile). A thin layer of flor develops naturally on top of the barrel during the aging process and it partially protects the wine from oxidation.

FLORAL

The term used to describe a wine that has the characteristic aromas of flowers. Usually used to describe white wines.

FORTIFIED

Denotes a wine whose alcohol content has been increased by the addition of brandy or neutral spirits.

FOXY

The term used to describe the unique character of many native American Labrusca varieties.

FRANCIACORTA

A Italian sparkling wine from the Province of Brescia within the region of Lombardy, with DOCG status.

FREE-RUN JUICE

The grape juice that escapes once the grape skins are crushed or squeezed prior to fermentation.

FRENCH OAK

Traditionally, the wood used for wine barrels which supplies vanilla, cedar and sometimes butterscotch flavours in wine.

FRESH

The term used to describe a wine having a lively, clean and fruity character.

FRIZZANTE

A type of semi-sparkling, slightly effervescent wine. Also called Crackling.

FRUIT FORWARD

A wine characteristic associated with abundance of fruit flavours as the first sensation occurring during the first smell and/or taste of the wine.

FRUIT SET

The term used to describe whether or not the flowers on a plant or tree produce fruit after pollination. Poor fruit set in a vineyard will result in little or no grapes on the vine.

FULL BODIED

The term used to describe the perception of wine on the palate. In this case, a full-bodied wine would have rich, complex flavours and high alcohol with a finish that lingers on the palate.

FUMÉ BLANC

A type of wine made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes, created by Robert Mondavi.

GRAFT

A technique used in the vineyard where the bud-producing part of a grape vine is attached to an existing root.

GRAN RESERVA

A Spanish term used for wines that are aged in wood and then bottled for at least five years prior to its release.

GRAND CRU

A French term meaning ‘Great Growth’ and used to describe the very best vineyards.

GRAPE JUICE

The pressed juice from grapes. See also Free Run Juice.

GRASSY

The term used during a wine tasting as a signature descriptor for Sauvignon Blanc, usually from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. It is considered a positive characteristic unless it is overbearing and pungent.

GREEN

The term used to describe the taste of unripe fruit

GREEN HARVEST

The trimming of unripe grapes to decrease crop yields, thereby improving the concentration of the remaining bunches. Many vineyard managers will harvesting of green (unripe) grapes in an attempt to increase the yield of quality grapes.

GRIP

The term used to describe a firmness of texture, usually coming from tannin, which helps give definition to the wine.

GROWN, PRODUCED & BOTTLED

The term used to describe a winery handling every aspect of wine growing and production.

HALF

A small wine bottle that holds approximately one-half of the equivalent of a standard 750 ml bottle. See also Demi.

HARMONIOUS

A wine term used to describe a wine that is well balanced, with no component obtrusive or lacking.

HARSH

The term used to describe a wine that is astringent, tannic or too high in alcohol.

HARVEST

The time in a vineyard that marks the end of grape growing season and requires all grapes be gathered for processing.

HAUT

A French term meaning ‘high’ and used to describe a wine’s quality as well as an estate’s or vineyard’s altitude.

HAZY

The term used to describe a wine with small amounts of matter visible on appearance. Not always a bad thing, a good quality wine is sometimes unfined and unfiltered.

HEADY

The term used to describe wines with high alcohol content.

HEARTY

The term used to describe the warm and sometimes rustic qualities found in red wines which contain high alcohol.

HEAT DAMAGED

The term used to describe a wine that has been exposed to excessive heat either while in transit or in storage. Heat damaged wine will also sometimes be described as Madeirized.

HERBACEOUS

The term used to describe the taste and smell of herbs in a wine. It is a positive trait for some wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, and to a lesser extent Merlot and Cabernet.

HOCK

A British term used for wines from the Rhine region of Germany.

HOGSHEAD

A wine barrel that holds approximately 239 litres or approximately 63 US gallons.

HOLLOW

The term used to describe a wine that is lacking in flavour.

HORIZONTAL WINE TASTING

During a Horizontal Wine Tasting, wines of the same varietal and vintage but are from different wineries, either locally or elsewhere in the world are poured side-by-side, tasted and compared. Keeping wine variety or type and wine region the same helps emphasize differences in winery styles or geographic/climactic condition effects on the grapes.

HOT

The term used to describe a wine that has too much alcohol for its body and weight, making it unbalanced.

HYBRID

The genetic crossing of two or more grape types to produce a new wine varietal. Mueller-Thurgau is an example of a hybrid.

ICEWINE

A Canadian dessert wine made from grapes that were harvested and processed while still frozen. Similar to German Eiswein, it is trademarked and written as a single word, Icewine, in Canada.

INDICATION GEOGRAPHIQUE PROTÉGÉE (IGP)

Recently created to replace the old classification of French Vin de Pays, IGP wines have no restrictions on grape varieties, blending or sourcing.

INDICAZIONE GEOGRAFICA TIPICA (IGT)

An Italian term meaning ‘Wine Typical of the Geographic Region’, it is the lowest ranking of the three categories of Italian wine regulated by Italian law.

INTENSITY

The term used to describe a wine’s appearance, aroma or flavour. When used for appearance, it is used to describe a wine’s concentration of colour. The more opaque the wine, the more intense the hue. When used for aroma and/or flavour, ‘intense’ is used to describe the marked characteristics.

JEREZ

A type of sherry produced in the Jerez region in the south of Spain. Can be made in the different styles, starting from very dry all the way to very sweet. Jerez is a protected name, like Champagne, and can be only used on the wines produced in the area surrounding the town of Jerez de la Frontera. Xeres is the Spanish spelling of Jerez and the two terms are used interchangeably.

JEROBOAM

An oversized bottle which holds the equivalent of 3 litres or 4 standard-sized wine bottles.

KABINETT

A German term for a wine of reserve quality, usually the driest of Germany’s best Rieslings and other varietals from the main harvest.

KOSHER WINE

Wine that is produced under the supervision of a Rabbi to ensure that it is ritually pure or clean.

LATE HARVEST WINE

Wine made from grapes that have been left on the vine longer, resulting in a higher sugar (Brix) level than normal. Usually indicative of a dessert wine or botrytized style of wine.

LEAFY

The term used to describe a wine that has a slightly herbaceous, vegetal quality reminiscent of leaves. Can be a positive or a negative trait, depending on whether it adds to or undermines the wine’s flavour.

LEES

Wine sediment that occurs during and remains after fermentation consisting of dead yeast cells, pips and other solids. Wine is separated from the lees by racking. See also Sur Lie.

LEGS

The viscous droplets that form and ease down the sides of the glass and are visible to the eye after swirled wine has settled in the glass. When perceived during a wine tasting, it is usually an indication that the wine may feel heavier in the mouth or feel hot on the palate due to higher alcohol content. Sweet wines sometimes display legs. Sometimes referred to as wine tears. See also Marangoni Effect.

LENGTH

The amount of time a wine’s taste and aroma endures on the palate after swallowing.

LIGHT-BODIED

The term used to describe the perception of wine on the palate. In this case, a light-bodied wine would have light, fresh flavours, have a lower alcohol content and not persist on the palate after swallowing

LIGHTSTRUCK

The term used to describe a wine that has had prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light, thereby causing a wet cardboard-like aroma and flavour.

LIMOUSIN

A type of oak from Limoges, France used to make wine barrels. See also French oak.

LINGERING

Used to describe the flavour and persistence of flavour in a wine after tasting. When a wine remains on the palate for several seconds after swallowing, it is said to be lingering.

LITRE (US – LITER)

A metric measure of volume equal to 1000 ml, or approximately 32 fluid ounces in the imperial system.

LIVELY

Describes a wine that is fresh and fruity.

LOIRE

A river in central France and a wine region in France famous for its Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc.

LOOK

The term used during a wine tasting in a casual sense when evaluating a wine’s appearance during a tasting.

LUSH

The term used to describe a wine that is high in residual sugar and therefore viscuous on the palate.

MACERATION

The contact of grapes skins with the must during fermentation where alcohol acts as a solvent to extract colour, tannin and aroma from the skins. See also Cuvaison.

MADEIRA

A fortified wine produced on the Island of Madeira in Portugal. Madeira is produced mostly from white grapes and in a variety of styles: from very dry to very sweet. Madeira is heated up during production using a method called Estufagem which extends the life of the wine, even after the bottle has been opened. See also Estufagem.

MADEIRIZED

When not referencing a Madeira wine, Madeirized describes a wine showing a Madeira-like flavour which usually means the wine has a ‘cooked’ aroma or taste, and usually means the wine is oxidized and therefore faulty. The term is sometimes used to describe white wine that has been kept long past its prime. In a positive way, it can also be used to describe the brownish colour and slightly sweet, somewhat caramelized and often nutty character found in mature dessert-style wines.

MAGNUM

A large bottle which holds the equivalent of 1.5 litres or 2 standard wine bottles.

MALOLACTIC FERMENTATION

A secondary fermentation occurring when the sharp malic acid in wine converts to lactic acid and carbon dioxide, thereby decreasing tartness and creating buttery aromas. One of the primary uses of malolactic fermentation is in the production of Chardonnay wines but is also used to soften reds such as Cabernet and Merlot.

MARANGONI EFFECT

When the surface tension varies on the inside surface of a wine glass, there is an imbalance of forces which in turn affect flow. This flow, seen once wine has settled after swirling is formally called the Marangoni Effect, but when used in the context of wine and its appearance during a wine tasting, it is referred to as ‘legs’ or ‘tears’.

MARC

French for fruit skin. See also pomace.

MASTER OF WINE (MW)

A global wine qualification (not an academic degree) conferred by The Institute of Masters of Wine, located in the United Kingdom.

MATURE

A wine term meaning ‘ready to drink’.

MEATY

Describes red wines with plenty of concentration giving them an almost chewy quality.

MEDIUM-BODIED

The term used to describe the perception of wine on the palate. In this case, a medium-bodied wine would have balanced flavours, have an alcohol content of approximately 13% and linger on the palate for a short to medium amount of time after swallowing.

MEDOC

A section of Bordeaux on the west bank of the Gironde Estuary, home of Margaux, St.-Estephe and Pauillac AOCs.

MERCAPTANS

The unpleasant odor of old sulfur, usually found in very old white wines.

MERITAGE

A term created by California wineries to describe Bordeaux-style red and white blended wines.

MÉTHODE CHAMPENOISE (METHODE TRADITIONELLE, TRADITIONAL METHOD)

A winemaking process where sparkling wines receive a second fermentation in the same bottle, thereby creating bubbles. All Champagnes and most high-quality sparkling wine is made by this process. See also Charmat.

METHUSELAH

An oversized bottle which holds the equivalent of 6 litres or 8 standard-sized wine bottles.

METODO CLASSICO

A process used by winemakers in Italy when producing sparkling wines. It is the same method as Méthode Champenoise.

MICRO OXYGENATION

The controlled exposure of wine to small amounts of oxygen implemented in order to reduce the length of time required for maturation.

MIDPALATE

An area within your mouth where complex secondary flavours are usually perceived.

MILLERANDAGE

With grapes on the vine, Millerandage describes when numerous small berries occupy the same bunch as those of normal size.

MIS EN BOUTEILLE AU CHÂTEAU

A French term meaning ‘bottled at the winery’, commonly used in Bordeaux.

MOELLEUX

A French term used to describe a wine of mid-level sweetness.

MOG

An abbreviation meaning ‘Material Other than Grapes’, meaning debris such as leaves or twigs have been unintentionally harvested with the grapes.

MOUSSE

The term used to describe the small, tireless string of bubbles found in a glass of sparkling wine or Champagne.

MOUTHFEEL

The various sensations – lush, thick, thin, round, lean, velvety – a wine can create while in the mouth.

MULLED WINE

Wine, usually red, that has been spiced and heated and is served in a mug usually during winter months. In part of Europe it is a traditional drink served at Christmas time.

MURKY

A wine tasting term specific to appearance, meaning turbid. Usually considered a wine fault.

MUST

The unfermented juice of grapes extracted by crushing or pressing, including pips, skins and stems.

MUST WEIGHT

The level of fermentable sugars in the must and the resultant alcohol content if all the sugar was converted to ethanol.

MUSTY

A wine term used to describe a moldy or mildew smell. This can occur as a result of a wine being made from moldy grapes, being stored in improperly cleaned tanks and/or barrels or contaminated by a low-quality cork.

NEBUCHADNEZZAR

An oversized bottle which holds the equivalent of 15 litres or 20 standard-sized wine bottles.

NÉGOCIANT

A French word meaning ‘trader’, common in the Burgundy region of France. A Négociant is a wine merchant who buys grapes and vinifies them, or buys wines and combines them, then bottles the result under his own label. Two well-known Négociants are Joseph Drouhin and Louis Jadot.

NEW WORLD

The wine producing areas outside of the traditional wine growing regions of Europe and North Africa.

NOBLE ROT

Also referred to as Botrytis Cinerea. A beneficial mold or fungus that attacks grapes under certain climatic conditions and causes them to shrivel, deeply concentrating the flavours, sugar and acid. Some of the most famous examples come from Sauternes (Château d’Yquem), Alsace in France, Germany and Tokay from Hungary.

NON-VINTAGE (NV)

Refers to a wine blended from more than one vintage. Most Champagnes and sparkling wines are non-vintage, and Sherry, NV Ports, specifically Tawny and Ruby

NOSE

The term used in the wine world to mean the smell or aroma of the wine. The nose of a wine is best sensed by smell just after you swirl the wine in your glass.

NOUVEAU

A style of red wines that are light, fruity and youthful and which are bottled and sold as soon as possible. Applies mostly to Beaujolais.

NUTTY

The term used to describe oxidized wines. Most times a wine fault, but some oak can impart nut qualities in which case it is a positive characteristic.

OAK CHIPS

Small pieces of oak wood used in lieu of oak barrels in fermenting and/or ageing wine.

OAKY

Describes the aroma or flavour quality imparted to a wine by ageing in oak barrels or casks. The term can be used in either a positive or negative way. The descriptors toasty, vanilla, cedar or smoky indicate the desirable qualities of oak, however, the descriptors charred, burnt or plywood describe its unpleasant side.

OENOLOGY

The science of wine and winemaking.

OFF-DRY

A slightly sweet wine in which the residual sugar is barely perceptible.

OLD VINE

Wine produced from vines that are conspicuously older than most in the vineyard.

OLD WORLD

The wine producing areas inside the traditional wine growing regions of Europe and North Africa.

ORGANIC

Grapes that are grown without the use of chemical-based fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.

OXIDIZED

The term used to describe a wine that has been exposed to air for an extended period of time and taken on a brownish colour, having losing its freshness and perhaps beginning to smell and taste like Sherry or Madeirized wine.

PALATE

The term used to describe the feel and taste of a wine in the mouth.

PASSERILLAGE

A French term to describe the process of drying grapes so their flavours and sugar become concentrated. Usually the grapes are left to shrivel on the vine long after harvest.

PEAK

A subjective wine term used to describe the time when a wine is at its best.

PERFUME

A wine term used to describe the robust, usually sweet and floral aromas of some white wines.

PETILLANCE

The term used to describe the presence and liveliness of small amounts of carbon dioxide gas, or bubbles, in sparkling wine. Also sometimes referred to as sparkle.

PETROL

The term used to describe the kerosene, vinyl or rubber markers found specifically on fine, aged Rieslings. This is not considered a wine fault.

Ph

A measure of the acidity: the lower the ph in a wine, the higher the acidity.

PHYLLOXERA

A small insect, sometimes called root lice, that dwells underground and kills grape vines by attacking their roots. An disastrous outbreak of Phylloxera was widespread in both Europe and California during the late 19th century, and returned to California in the 1980s.

PICCOLO

A wine bottle that holds approximately one-fourth the equivalent of a standard 750 ml wine bottle. Usually referred to as a single serving of wine. See also Split.

PIEDMONT

A wine region in northwest Italy known for its Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, Dolcetto and Moscato wines.

PINOTAGE

A hybrid of Pinot Noir and Cinsault that is grown and produced almost exclusively in South Africa.

PIP

Grape seeds.

PLONK

A British slang term for an inexpensive bottle of wine.

POMACE

The skins, stems and pips that remain after making wine. Also called Marc.

PORT

A sweet fortified wine, which is produced from grapes grown and processed in the Douro region of Portugal. This wine is fortified with the addition of distilled grape spirits in order to boost the alcohol content and stop fermentation.

POTASSIUM SORBATE

Used during processing, a wine stabilizer and preservative.

POTENT

A wine term meaning intense and/or powerful.

POWDERY MILDEW

A fungal disease that attacks grapes vines. It flourishes in environments with high humidity and moderate temperatures.

PRÄDIKAT OR PRÄDIKATSWEIN

A German wine classification meaning a wine has been designated as having superior quality. The different Prädikat designations in order of increasing sugar levels in the must are: Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein and Trockenbeerenauslese.

PREMIER CRU

A French term meaning ‘First Growth’, used in high-quality vineyards. The rank below Grand Cru.

PRESS WINE (or PRESSING)

The juice extracted under pressure after pressing during white wine production and after fermentation for red wine production. Press wine has more flavour and aroma, deeper colour and often more tannic than free-run juice.

PRIMARY AROMA

The term used to refer to the aromas from the grape itself.

PRIMEUR (EN)

A French term used for wine that is sold while it is still in the barrels. In English speaking countries it is known as Futures.

PRIVATE RESERVE

This term may signify a winery’s best quality wine but lacking a legal definition, it might be used merely to describe ordinary wines.

PRODUCED AND BOTTLED BY

This term indicates that the winery crushed, fermented and bottled at least 75% of the wine in the bottle.

PROOF

Refers to the alcohol content of a beverage.

PROSECCO

A sparkling wine from the Veneto region of northeast Italy.

PRUNING

The annual trimming back of grape vines remaining from the previous harvest.

PRUNY

The term used to describe a wine having the flavour of overripe grapes. Not necessarily a bad thing; it can add complexity in some cases.

PUCKERY

A wine term used to describe extremely tannic or very dry wines.

PUNCHEON

A wine barrel that holds approximately 318 litres or 84 US gallons.

PUNGENT

A wine term used to describe a wine that has a powerful aroma. Usually considered a wine fault and often times linked to a high level of volatile acidity.

PUNT

The indent found in the base of a wine bottle. There is an argument that punt depth is often thought to be related to wine quality, meaning better quality wines having a deeper punt.

QUALITÄTSWEIN

A designation of better quality German wines.

QUALITÄTSWEIN BESTIMMTER ANBAUGEBIETE (QBA)

A designation of better quality German wines from recognized viticultural areas. It formally represents the second-highest level of German wine.

QUALITÄTSWEIN MIT PRÄDIKAT (QMP)

A former designation for superior quality German wines. Thankfully, since August 2007 it’s been shortened to PRÄDIKATSWEIN.

QUALITY

This is an extremely subjective term in the wine world. To me, the way grapes are grown (viticulture) and how they are crafted into wine (vinification) are the two main factors that affect a wine’s quality. What you, yourself deem ‘of quality’ with regards to viticulture and vinification will decide if the wine you are tasting is a quality wine… in your opinion. I might not agree with you, but when it comes to wine, your opinion is all that matters.

RACKING

The process of drawing wine off the sediment, such as lees, after fermentation and moving it into another vessel.

RAISIN

The term used to describe a wine having the taste of raisins as a result of overripe grapes. Not always a fault, it can be enjoyable in moderation in some wines.

RAW

The term used to describe a wine that is undeveloped, high in tannin, alcohol and/or acidity. If you’re ever lucky enough to partake of a barrel tasting, the term ‘raw’ would be the best way to describe what you will be tasting.

REDUCED

A wine term used to describe a wine that has not been aerated, or exposed to oxygen.

REGION

An identified, designated and sometime legislated or controlled area where significant vineyards and wine production takes place.

REHOBOAM

An oversized bottle which holds the equivalent of 4.5 litres or 6 standard-sized wine bottles.

RÉMUAGE

A French term used to describe part of the Méthode Champenoise process where bottles of sparkling wine are turned and gradually tilted upside down so that sediment settles into the necks of the bottles. This is done in preparation for disgorgement or dégorgement. See also Riddling.

RESERVA

Spanish and Portuguese term for a reserve wine that has been aged in both oak and in the bottle.

RESERVE

A term given to wine to indicate that it is of higher quality than usual.

RESIDUAL SUGAR

A measure of the amount of sugar remaining in the wine after fermentation stops.

RETRO-NASAL PASSAGE

The airways that connect the nose and the mouth to the olfactory epithelium. While inhaling, airborne aromas and flavours are perceived here.

REVERSE OSMOSIS

A winemaking process used to remove excess water from wine.

RHÔNE

A river in southwest France surrounded by villages producing wines made mostly from Syrah; also the name of the wine region.

RICH

The term used to describe usually sweet wines that are substantial, full and with a pleasant bouquet and flavour. When used to describe dry wines, it usually means a wine with high alcohol and a complex bouquet and flavour.

RIDDLING

An English term used to describe part of the Méthode Champenoise process where bottles of sparkling wine are turned and gradually tilted upside down so that sediment settles into the necks of the bottles. This is done in preparation for disgorgement or dégorgement. See also Riddling.

RIM

Where the edge of a wine glass meets the wine is known as the rim. The rim is commented on, usually in contrast with the core, when describing colour variation during a wine tasting.

RIOJA

A popular region in Spain known for traditional red wines made from the Tempranillo grape.

RISERVA

An Italian term meaning the wine is from an exceptional vintage and has been aged for an extended period of time prior to being released.

ROBUST

A wine tasting term meaning full-bodied and intense. I use this term a lot when tasting Super Tuscans or California Cabernet Sauvignons.

ROSÉ WINE

Wines that are some variation of pink in colour, produced by shortening the contact period of red wine juice with its skins. Sometime, rosés are made by blending a small amount of red wine with white wine.

ROUND

The term used to describe a wine with a level texture.

RUBY

A style of Port that is generally sweet.

RUSTIC

The term used to describe wines made by old fashioned methods or tasting like wines made in an earlier era.

SABRAGE/SABREING

A ceremonial technique for opening Champagne or sparkling wine with a sabre.

SACK

An early English term for what is now called Sherry.

SALMANAZAR

An oversized bottle which holds the equivalent of 9 litres or 12 standard-sized wine bottles.

SANCERRE

An area in the Loire Valley known mostly for wines made from Sauvignon Blanc.

SANGIOVESE

The main grape varietal used for making Chianti.

SANGRIA

A type of punch made by combining red wine, brandy, sugar, chopped fruit and fruit juices.

SAUTERNES

A sweet white wine from the Bordeaux region of France made from Semillon grapes affected by Botrytis Cinerea and Sauvignon Blanc.

SEC

A French word meaning ‘dry’, except in the case of Champagne, where it means ‘semi-sweet’.

SECONDARY AROMA

The aroma or bouquet in wine derived from fermentation and oak aging

SECONDARY FERMENTATION

A term most commonly used to refer to the continuation of fermentation in a second vessel. For example, moving wine from stainless steel tanks to oak barrels.

Sediment

The solid matter that settles to the bottom of a wine barrel, cask or bottle. Sometimes called ‘dregs’.

SEKT

German sparkling wine.

SHERRY

A fortified wine that has been subjected to controlled oxidation to produce a distinctive flavour. It is available in variety of styles starting from light, Manzanilla and Fino, to heavy, Oloroso and Amontillado and then to dessert-style, Pedro Ximenez. Sherry is usually made using the Solera System. Sherry is the protected name under EU laws and can be only applied with fortified wines produced in Andalusia, Spain.

SILKY

The term used to describe a wine with an especially smooth mouthfeel.

SLOVENIAN OAK

A type of oak originating from Slovenia used for barrels. They seem to be the trend in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy.

SMOKY

A wine term used to describe the perception of oak from the barrel on the palate. A smoky quality can add flavour and an aromatic complexity to wine.

SMOOTH

This is not a wine tasting term. Don’t ever use the term smooth to describe wine during a tasting. There is no such wine term as smooth. It can however be used to describe a type of criminal. (RIP MJ)

SOFT

A wine term used to describe wines that are low in acid and/or tannin making them easy drinking.

SOLERA SYSTEM

A process used to systematically blend various vintages of Sherry. Different ages are blended together on a yearly or so basis by adding of the new wine to the oldest age container and subsequently moving the that wine into the containers with younger and younger wines. The result is a complex blend containing some wines that can be hundreds of years old.

SOMMELIER

The French term meaning ‘wine steward’, ‘wine expert’ and/or ‘cellar master’. An individual with a formal diploma or degree in wine studies and thus a high degree of wine knowledge.

SPARKLING WINE

A generic class of effervescent wine containing significant levels of carbon dioxide which produce bubbles. This generic term includes Champagne, Crémant, Cava, Franciacorta, Prosecco, Sekt and other types produced in various wine regions of the world. Sparkling wines are produced using traditional Méthode Champenois, Charmat or by other methods of carbonation.

SPÄTLESE

A German term meaning ‘late harvest’.

SPICY

The term used to as a descriptor for red or white wines indicating the presence of spice-like flavours such as pepper, cloves, anise, cinnamon or mint and which can be found in complex wines.

SPINNING CONE COLUMN

A device used to reduce the amount of alcohol in a wine by means of a form of low temperature vacuum steam distillation.

SPLIT

A wine bottle that holds approximately one-fourth the equivalent of a standard 750 ml wine bottle. Usually referred to as a single serving of wine. See also Piccolo.

SPUMANTE

An Italian word meaning ‘sparkling’.

STALE

The term used to describe a wine that has lost its fresh, youthful qualities.

STALKY

The term used to describe a wine whose aroma or bouquet includes leaf or hay-like aromas, or exhibits grape stems on the palate.

STANDARD

The term used to describe the common bottle size for most distributed wine today. A standard bottle of wine holds 750 ml.

STEELY

The term used to describe an extremely crisp, acidic wine not aged in barrels.

STELVIN®

A metal screw-on cap used as an alternative to cork for sealing wine bottles. Also called a “Screw Cap”.

STEMMY

The term used to describe a wine with a dominant stemmy aroma or astringency. This is usually caused by stems that have remained for extended periods of time during fermentation. It is an unpleasant trait.

STILL WINE

A general term meaning a wine that is not a sparkling wine.

STOVING

A production method of manually softening wine by exposing it to heat, thereby reducing its moisture content.

STRUCTURE

The way in which acid, alcohol, body, and glycerin interact and relate to a wine’s texture and mouthfeel. This term is commonly preceded by a modifier, such as ‘firm’ or ‘lacking in’.

SUBTLE

The term used to describe delicate wines with understated flavours and finesse. This is considered a positive trait.

SULFITES

Assorted compounds which are added to wine to prevent oxidation, spoilage and/or further fermentation by the yeast. The compounds most commonly used are potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite.

SULPHUR DIOXIDE

A substance used as a preservative during the winemaking process.

SUPER TUSCAN

Rich, robust red wines produced by maverick winemakers in Tuscany while thumbing their noses at the established DOC indigenous grape guidelines. These wines are usually made of a blend of superior examples of non-indigenous varietals including Shiraz, Merlot and/or Cabernet Sauvignon.

SUPERIORE

An Italian term used to denote a wine made with higher quality wine grapes and/or minimum aging restrictions during production prior to its release.

SUPPLE

A red wine tasting term used to describes a wine’s texture as it relates to body, oak and tannin. It is considered a positive characteristic.

SUR LIE

A French wine term meaning ‘on the lees’. Wine that are aged sur lie are kept in contact with the dead yeast cells and are not racked or otherwise filtered. Originating in the Burgundy region of France with Chardonnay, this technique is mainly used to enhance white wines. It is also practices in the Alsace and Muscadet regions of France, in Germany with Riesling and Pinot Gris and in California.

SWEETNESS OF WINE

This is occasionally defined by the level of residual sugar remaining once fermentation has ceased and how the wine tastes, however, sweetness of wine can also be measured by the amount of acidity and/or alcohol levels in the wine, the amount of tannin present and whether or not the wine is sparkling.

SWIRL

Agitating wine in a glass in a circular motion in order to draw oxygen from the air into the wine.

T BUDDING

Within a vineyard, a specific technique of grafting different grape varieties onto existing rootstocks.

TABLE WINE

A general term to describe any wine that is not sparkling or fortified and is usually used to describe a wine that is easy drinking, acceptable quality and reasonably priced.

TANNIN

A taste component of wine, usually red wines, which is perceived as a mouth puckering and/or drying sensation in your mouth. Tannin results from prolonged contact of the grape juice with skin, pips and stems and although some wine drinkers dislike tannin, some degree is both a desirable and essential component of a balanced wine. Tannin also acts as a preservative during the aging process of wine and tends to mellow out the longer the wine is cellared.

TART

The term used to describe a wine that is high in acidity. It is usually displayed in young wines as a result of their high acidity.

TARTARIC ACID

The principal acid found in wine.

TARTRATES

These harmless crystal deposits sometimes seen in a wine bottle are actually potassium bitartrate, a potassium salt of tartaric acid, the principal acid found in wine. These crystals occasionally form in the barrel, cask, bottle or on the cork during fermentation and aging. They are usually called Tartrate Crystals but are also known as Wine Diamonds.

TASTE

The sensation or flavour perceived in the mouth on contact with wine. Our sense of taste includes sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami.

TASTING FLIGHT

Refers to a selection of wines, usually between three and eight glasses, but can be many more depending on the formality of the tasting. Tasting flights are used for the purpose of sampling and/or comparing wines.

TBA

An abbreviation for the German term, Trockenbeerenauslese.

TCA 2,4,6 – TRICHLOROANISOLE

The principal cause of cork taint in a wine and denotes the presence of the chemical compounds 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) or 2,4,6-tribromoanisole (TBA) in a wine. Usually, it is transferred to the wine through the cork stopper but it can also be transferred via the cork stopper from airborne fungi present in a less-than-hygenic wine processing area. The presence of cork taint is considered a wine fault. See also Cork Taint.

TERROIR

From the French word meaning ‘earth’, it is the physical environment and geographical characteristics within which a given varietal grows and which is responsible for a wine’s unique personality. It is the combination of climate, geographical features or uniqueness, growing and harvesting methods of the area and soil that usually imparts a distinguishable perception on the palate that can therefore be reliably associated with that distinct location.

TEXTURE

The term used to describe the mouthfeel of wine on the palate.

THIEF

A long pipe-like apparatus used to remove a wine sample from a barrel or cask. Also called a pipe.

THIN

The term used to describe a wine that is lacking body and depth.

TIGHT

The term used to describe a wine’s structure, concentration and body, specifically, that the three qualities exist harmoniously.

TINNY

The term used to describe a wine that has a metallic taste on the palate.

TINTO

A Spanish word used to identify a wine that has had little or no oak aging.

TIRED

The term used to describe a lackluster, unimpressive wine.

TOAST

The degree of charcoal that is burned into the inside of wine casks, ranging from light to dark toast. Also, a call to a gathering of people to raise their glasses and drink together in honour of a person or thing, or to bid one another ‘good health’.

TOASTY

The term used to describe the flavour derived from the oak barrels in which wines were aged.

TOKAY

A dessert wine, popular around the world, produced in Hungary from dried Furmint grapes.

TROCKEN

A German word meaning ‘dry’.

TROCKENBEERENAUSLESE

A German term meaning ‘select dry berry harvest’. Because the grapes have been affected by Botrytis Cinerea or Noble Rot, the wine will be extremely rich and sweet. The term ‘Trocken’ in this case refers to the grapes being left to shrivel on the vine as opposed to the wine style.

TUN

An oversized wine cask that holds approximately 1000 litres or 252 US gallons.

ULLAGE

The unfilled space in a wine bottle, barrel, cask or tank. Also known as headspace,

UNOAKED

A wine term used to describe a wine that has been matured without contact with wood or oak, such as in aging in barrels. Also known as unwooded

VARIETAL

The varieties of grape from which the wine was made. For example: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc.

VEGETAL

Certain wines contain elements in their aroma and taste that might remind us of plants and vegetables. In Cabernet Sauvignon for instance, a small amount of green pepper is said to be part of the character of that varietal. However, when it’s dominates or if it presents in wines where it’s not supposed to, it is considered a wine fault.

VELVETY

The term used to describe a wine that has a silky texture. If you’ve ever tasted, or get a chance to taste a Viognier from the Rhone region of France, specifically Château-Grillet, the term velvety immediately springs to mind.

VENDAGE TARDIVES

A French term meaning ‘Late Harvest’. It refers to a style of wine where grapes are left to hang on the vine long after harvest, until they start to shrivel. This concentrates the sugars in the grape and changes the flavour.

VERAISON

A French term meaning ‘the onset of ripening in a vineyard’.

VERMOUTH

A fortified wine flavoured with as many as 40 herbs and spices, commonly enjoyed as an aperitif or used with gin or vodka in a martini.

VERTICAL WINE TASTING

During a Vertical Wine Tasting, wines of different vintages of the same wine varietal from the same winery are poured side-by-side, tasted and compared. Tasting varying vintages of the same type of varietal at a winery emphasizes the differences between the vintages.

VIGNERON

A French term meaning ‘vine grower’.

VIN

The French word meaning ‘wine’.

VIN DE FRANCE

Recently created to replace the classification of Vin de Table, this new AOP classification denotes a wine made from any vineyard or grape varietal in France, however, the varietal is usually not listed on the bottle. Don’t shy away from Vin de France thinking it’s a lesser wine in any way; there are many high quality and expensive examples available.

VIN JAUNE

A French term meaning ‘yellow wine’. A wine fermented and matured under a film of yeast called voile that protects the wine as it matures, similar to flor used in the production of Sherry in Spain.

VIN SANTO

A style of Italian dessert wine produced in Tuscany produced with late-harvest Trebbiano, Malvasia and occasionally Sangiovese grapes.

VIÑA

A Spanish word meaning ‘vines’.

VINE

he plant on which grapes grow.

VIÑEDO

A Spanish word meaning ‘vineyard’.

VINEYARD

An area where grape vines are grown for wine making purposes.

VINHO

A Portuguese word meaning ‘wine’.

VINHO VERDE

An extremely refreshing, young, effervescent white wine produced in Portugal that is perfect for sipping while relaxing on your patio in the summertime.

VINICULTURE

The science or study of grape production for wine and the making of wine.

VINIFICATION

The process where grape juice is produced into wine.

VINO

Both an Italian and Spanish word, derived from the Latin meaning ‘wine’.

VINO DE LA TIERRA (VDlT/IGP)

A quality designator of Spanish wine, including sparkling and fortified wines, that represents a higher quality than table wine. Vintage and varietals used in production can be stated on the label.

VINO DE PAGOS (VT)

A recent classification for Spanish wine applied to a single estate requiring that the estate may only use their own grapes for production. It differs from the Spanish Denominación de Origen (DO) or Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP) which governs entire wine regions.

VINTAGE

The year in which the grapes used to make the wine were harvested. In the case of Champagne or Port, where Non-Vintage or NV might appear on the label, it means the fermented juice from the different vintages has been blended together to achieve the consistent, Chateau-specific taste.

VINTAGE DATE

Indicates the year that a wine was made.

VINTED BY

When indicated on a wine label means the winery purchased the wine in bulk from another winery and bottled it.

VINTNER

A wine merchant, wine producer, wine proprietor or other individual who makes or sells wine.

VINTNER-GROWN

When indicated on a wine label means wine from a winery-owned vineyard situated outside the winery’s delimited viticultural area.

VINTNERS QUALITY ALLIANCE (VQA)

In Canada, the regulatory and appellation system which guarantees the high quality and authenticity of origin for Canadian wines made in British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Ontario.

VITICULTURAL AREA

Defines a legal grape-growing area distinguished by geographical features, climate, soil, elevation, history and other definable boundaries.

VITICULTURE

The cultivation, science and study of grapes.

VITIS LABRUSCA

A breed of grapes native to North America. An example is the Concord grape.

VITIS VINIFERA

The classic European wine-making species of grapes native to Europe. Examples are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, etc.

VOLATILE ACIDITY

The term used to describe a wine with an excessive and undesirable amount of acidity, which gives a wine a slightly sour, vinegary edge. It is dominates the wine, it is considered a serious wine fault.

WAITER’S FRIEND

A type of corkscrew that is popular and used commonly in the hospitality industry.

WINE

An alcoholic beverage made from grape juice that has been fermented and aged.

WINE & SPIRIT EDUCATION TRUST (WSET)

Established in 1969 and headquartered in London, England, the Wine and Spirit Education Trust is an awarding body whose qualifications are globally recognized as the international standard in wine and spirit knowledge. Today, approved Programme Providers deliver wine and spirit education in over 70 countries and in 19 languages.

WINE CAVE

Similar to a wine cellar; a large cave that is excavated to provide a cool location for storing and aging wine.

WINE CELLAR

An area used to store wine barrels and/or bottles for storage purposes or for aging. Many years ago wine was stored in underground cellars to ensure it stay in a cool and otherwise optimal environment. Today, modern methods of insulation, temperature and humidity control have transformed the need for underground cellars, making it possible for cellars to be above ground. See also Cellar.

WINE FAULT

An unfavorable characteristic in wine caused by either poor winemaking techniques, poor storage conditions or both.

WINE FRAUD

Any form of dishonesty in the representation, production or distribution of wine.

WINE LABEL

The descriptive sticker affixed to a wine bottle that is used to describe important information so the consumer can evaluate the wine prior to purchase. This information can include varietal type, vintage, winery name, alcohol content, classification, origin of the wine, etc. Some countries have strict laws on what can and cannot be printed on a wine label.

WINE LAKE

Refers to the continuing surplus of wine in the European Union that is continually produced over demand.

WINE TASTING

The sensory evaluation of wine encompassing appearance, colour, aroma, taste and mouthfeel.

WINE-PRESS

A device in which grapes are squeezed, usually comprised of two vessels: one for bruising grapes and the other for collecting the juice.

WINEMAKER

A person engaged in the occupation of producing wine or growing grapes specifically for wine production.

WINERY

A building or property that is involved in the production of wine.

XERES

The Spanish word for Jerez, as in Sherry. See also Jerez.

YIELD

The amount of grapes harvested in a particular year.

YOUNG/YOUTHFUL

The term used to describe a wine that has not yet matured but has been bottled and sold within a year of its vintage.

ZYMOLOGY

The science of fermentation.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This