Wine Terms

ABBOCCATO
Italian for “lightly sweet”. This refers to wines which contain low amounts of residual sugar.

ABOCADO
The Spanish term for “semisweet”.

ABSTEME
A person who does not drink wine. Also known as a teetotaler.

ACETIC
A term used to describe wines that have have excessive levels of acetic acid.

ACETIC ACID
All wines contain acetic acid – (ie: vinegar). Normally the amount is insignificant and may even enhance flavor. At a little less than 0.10% content, the flavor becomes noticeable and the wine is termed acetic. Above 0.10% content is considered a strong fault.

ACETIFICATION
The process of wine turning into vinegar.

ACETONE
Term used to describe wines that exhibit a sharp but slightly sweet and/or fruty smell.

ACID
Occurs naturally during the growing of grapes and the fermentation process. In proper proportion, acids are a desirable trait that give the wine character. The three main types of acid are: tartaric, malic, and citric.

ACIDIC
A term used to describe a tart or sour taste in the mouth when total acidity of the wine is too high.

ACIDITY
A term used on labels to express the total acid content of the wine. The acids referred to are citric, lactic, malic and tartaric. Desirable acid content on dry wines falls between 0.6% and 0.75% of the wine’s volume. For sweet wines it should not be less than 0.70% of the volume.

ACIDULOUS
A very young wine with a high level of acidity.

ACRID
This term refers to a wine that is unpleasant. It tastes rough and/or tart.

ADVECTION FOG
Coastal fog which forms in shallow layers when warm, moist air is cooled from below, usually by passing over cold water. This type of fog is typical forms along west coasts areas of the world’s continents in summer. California, Chile and France are all wine growing regions whose climate is tempered by advection fog. This is condition is believed to greatly improves wine quality.

AERATION
Allowing a bottle of wine open or breathe before it is consumed with the purpose of releasing the bouquet and flavor components while softening the wine. This can be accomplished by decanting or swirling a wine in a glass. This practice is often used on young or inexpensive wine.

Also can be defined as allowing oxygen to mix with the wine during fermentation (in a controlled way), also happens during some of the barrel aging. This tends to soften a wine.

AFTERTASTE (FINISH)
Term used to describe the taste left in the mouth after swallowing the wine. Both character and length of the aftertaste are part of the total evaluation.

AGE/AGEING
All wine is aged from a few weeks to many decades.

Barrel ageing is a lengthy process designed to impart flavors into the wine.

Bottle ageing allows the wines to soften and various components within the bottle to harmonize. After a certain point the wine will reach its peak and begin to decline in quality.

AH-SO
Two pronged devise use to open wine.

ALCOHOL
Ethyl alcohol, a chemical compound formed by the action of yeast (natural or added) on the sugar content of grapes during fermentation.

ALCOHOL BY VOLUME
Wineries must (by law) state the alcohol level of a wine on its label. For table wines the law allows a 1.5 percent variation above or below the stated percentage as long as the alcohol does not exceed 14 percent. Thus, wineries may legally avoid revealing the actual alcohol content of their wines by labeling them as “table wine.”

ALEATICO
A wine grape used for sweet dessert wines because of its pungent, Muscat-like flavor.

ALIGOTE
Grape variety producing a white wine grown mainly in Bourgogne. The Bourgogne Aligoté is a pleasant wine designed to drink young.

ALLIERS
Forest region in central France from which oak barrels of the same name are created. The wood is known for its tight grain.

ALSACE
The best grape varieties used in the production of Alsacien white wines are Gewürztraminer, Muscat, Tokay, or Riesling.

AMADOR
Name of the primary viticultural county in California’s Sierra foothills. The area is known for producing Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc.

AMARONE
Dry Italian wine made from the must of air-dryed berries.

AMERICAN OAK
A popular alternative to French oak for making barrels. Known to impart strong vanilla, dill and cedar notes, it is used primarily for aging Cabernet, Merlot and Zinfandel. It is occasionally used for Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. It is most popularly used in American and Australia wineries. American Oak barrels cost significantly less then French Oak barrels.

AMPELOGRAPHY
A book used for the identification of vine varieties in the field.

ANGELICA
Historically sold as a sacramental wine for the Christian rite of communion this sweet wine is typically amber in color and lacking in distinctive flavor. It is produced from any variety in California because it often is the final repository for odds and ends of leftover lots of wine.

ANTHOCYANINS
Extracted during winemaking they are responsible for the color of red wines (Pigments that are red, blue and purple). In time the purple of red wines changes to brick red as the anthocyanin molecules join together and eventually drop out as a bottle crust.

ANGULAR
The total effect of dominant, tart-edged flavors and taste impressions in many young dry wines. This has opposite meaning to round, soft or supple.

ANTIOXIDANTS
Chemicals that prevent fruit, must, or wine from oxidizing. The most important is ascorbic acid

AOC
Appellation d’origine controlee. – French Government body that regulates wine

AMPELOGRAPHY
The study of grape varieties.

APERTIF WINE
Traditionally, aperitifs are vermouths or other similar wines flavored with herbs and spices. Usually served before a meal.

APPEARANCE
This term refers to a wine’s clarity, not the wines color.

APPELLATION
The specific area a wines origin. It can refer to a region, such as Bordeaux or Burgundy however it often refers to an even more tightly defined sub-region such as Médoc (Located in Bordeaux).

APPLEY
A smell or aroma. Ripe apples describes a full, fruity, clean smell associated with some styles of Chardonnay wine. Fresh apples does the same for some types of Riesling. Green apples, however, is almost always reserved for wines made from barely ripe or underipe grapes. Stale apples applies almost exclusively to flawed wine exhibiting first stage oxidation.

APPROACHABLE
A drinkable wine, ready to enjoy.

ARAMON
A European wine grape best known not for its wine quality but for its original use as a parent in producing the hybrid rootstock AXR-1. AXR-1 was the predominately used rootstock in California’s coastal counties during the mid to late 1900′s until a new biotype of the Phylloxera root aphid appeared. That biotype was able to attack and kill AXR-1 grapevines, and AXR-1 is no longer recommended for use in commercial vineyards.

ARGOLS
Name given to raw cream of tartar crystals found in chunks adhering to the inside walls or bottoms of wine tanks. It is the primary source of the world’s cream of tartar which is used for cooking.

AROMA
The intensity and character of the aroma can be assessed with many descriptive adjective. Usually refers to the particular smell of the grape variety. The word “bouquet” is usually restricted to describing the aroma of a cellar-aged bottled wine.

AROMATIC
Descriptive term for wines of markedly flowery, spicy or grapy character.

ASCESCENCE
This is the term used to mark the presence of acetic acid and ethyl acetate. Detected by sweet and sour, sometimes vinegary smell and taste along with a sharp feeling in the mouth.

ASSEMBLAGE
The blending of wine components to form a final product for bottling, for aging, and for sparkling wine production.

ASSERTIVE
A wine that us upfront and forward.

ASTI / MOSCATO D’ ASTI
Sweet sparking wine made in Piedmont, Italy.

ASTRINGENT
Usually attributed to high tannin content. It is a description of wines that have a rough, puckery taste. Tannic astringency often will normally decrease with age.

ATMOSPHERE
A unit of measure for that defines pressure inside a bottle of Sparking Wine. 1 Atmosphere equals 14.7 pounds per square inch (the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level in the world). Commercial sparkling wines commonly contain 4 to 6 atmospheres of CO2 pressure at room temperature.

ATTACK
The initial impact of a wine. If not strong or flavorful, the wine is considered “feeble”. “Feeble” wines are sometimes encountered among those vinified in a year where late rain just before harvest diluted desirable grape content.

ATTRACTIVE
A criticism of expensive wines.

AVA
American Viticulture Area … Used by the US Government to define specific wine growing region within the United States.

AUSBRUNCH
The famous wine style of Austria, and a specialty of the town of Rust on the Neusiedler.

AUSTERE
Usually used in description of dry, relatively hard and acidic wines that lack depth and roundness. These wines may soften with age. The term often applied to wines made from grape varieties grown in cool climates or harvested too early in the season.

AURORE
A hybrid grape variety produced in the 19th century by French nurseryman Albert Seibel and still used, especially in the eastern U.S. for sparkling wine production. Sometimes spelled Aurora.

AUSLESE
German word meaning “selection”. In German wine law, Auslese has a specific meaning which requires that the wine be made only from select grapes, riper than those bunches that were discarded.

AWKWARD
This term describes a wine that has poor structure and is clumsy or out of balance.

AZIENDA AGRICOLA
Italian term for an estate making wine exclusively from its own grapes.

BACCHUS
The Roman god of wine.

BACKBONE
This term is used to denote those wines that are full-bodied, well-structured and balanced by a desirable level of acidity.

BACKWARD
Describes a wine that retains youthful characteristics despite considerable aging. This usually indicates that it will take longer to reach maturity and requires even more aging in the bottle or barrel. Opposite of forward.

BACILLUS
Living organism, which attacks the parasite fungi on the vines.

BACO NOIR
A French hybrid wine variety, used primarily in the eastern US for dry, red table wines.

BACTERIAL
A tasting term often used by wine judges to describe wines with unpleasant, but ill defined off odors or flavors.

BADEN
A wine region in Southwest Germany

BAG IN A BOX
Wine retailed in quantities of a liter or more. The box has a tap and often a soda siphon which slows the oxidation of the remaining wine.

BAKED
A negative term describing a wine that has been exposed to heat giving it a stewed taste.

BAKING
In wine this term refers to the process of producing “Sherry” by deliberately oxidizing a wine through heating and aerating it for a period of several weeks. It is not uncommon for the process to take place over a 4 to 6 week period at 135 degrees F (57 degrees C).

BALANCE
Denotes harmonious balance of wine elements leaving no one part dominant. Acid balances the sweetness; fruit balances against oak and tannin content; alcohol is balanced against acidity and flavor. Wine not in balance may be acidic, alcoholic, flat or harsh.

BALLING
The name of a density scale for measuring sugar content in water solutions. Since grape juice is primarily sugar and water, the balling scale was used for a quick and easy “sugar analysis” of juice. The original Balling scale contained a slight inaccuracy however. Dr Brix (pronounced bricks) discovered that and corrected it. Today the Brix scale is in actual use, but the terms Balling and Brix often are spoken of as if they were identical. The Balling (Brix) scale is simplicity itself: Each degree is equivalent to 1 percent of sugar in the juice. For example, grape juice that measures 15.5 degrees on the Balling or Brix scale contains approximately 15.5% sugar.

BALTHAZAR
An oversized bottle which holds the equivalent of 12 to 16 standard bottles.

BANDOL
Wine region in Provence between Ciotat and Toulon

BANYULS
Wine growing region in the extreme South of France near to Spain, reputed for its naturally sweet wines.

BARRIQUE
French for “barrel,” generally a barrel of 225 liters (25 cases of wine)

BARBARESCO
Italian red wine which comes from the Piedmont region. Wine is made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes.

BARBERA
A red wine from Piedmont, in Italy, and which comes from the grape variety of the same name.

BARNYARD
A smell in wine that is similar to a barnyard or farmyard.

BAROLO
Italian red wine produced in the village of the same name, in the Piedmont region, near Turin. Wine is made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes.

BARREL
A container of various sizes, usually made of wood, most typically oak. New barrels give more flavors to the wine, how long a barrel is toasted for, where the oak comes from and who coopers (makes) it, all affect the final product.

BARRELING (BARRELING DOWN)
The action of putting the wine in barrels and sealing them for aging.

BARREL FERMENTTION
As implied, a method of fermentation done in barrels. Fermenting a wine, especially a white wine, in small oak barrels rather than large stainless steel tanks can noticeably affect the wine’s flavor and texture. In particular, a wine can become more creamy, round, buttery and toasty after being barrel fermented.

BASKET PRESS
A wooden press used in the early days of Australian winemaking (and by some winemakers for certain wines today). This press is used to press the grapes to extract the juice, and colour from the skins.

BATF
United States Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms. The Federal agency that regulates the production and sale of alcoholic beverages in the US.

BATONNAGE
The lees (deposits) left after fermentation are stirred to ensure oxygen in the barrel is carried directly to the bottom, preventing development of any faults in the finished wine aroma.

BAUME
A system used to measure specific gravity, which indicates the sugar of unfermented grape juice. 1° Baumé is roughly equivalent to 1% alcohol when the wine is fully fermented.

BEAD
A term used to describe the bubbles in sparkling wine.

BEEFY
Term for reds meaning solid or chunky.

BENTONITE
Special clay which acts as a fining agent for the wine, in order to avoid the formation of a sediment in the bottle.

BEERENAUSLESE
The Pradikat Q.m.P. category defined by the German Wine Law, literally meaning “selected berries”. It’s made with botrytized grapes for an intense, sweet wine.

BERRY
Common name given to an individual grape.

BERRYLIKE
Equates with the ripe, sweet, fruity quality of blackberries, raspberries, cranberries and cherries.

BIG
Generally positive this term refers to the overall flavor of a wine that has full, rich flavors. “Big” red wines are often tannic. “Big” white wines are generally high in alcohol and glycerin. Sometimes implies clumsiness, the opposite of elegance.

BINNING
Storage of newly bottled wine or Champagne in bins — for bottle aging prior to labeling and shipping to market.

BIN NUMBER
See also cask number.

BIODYNAMIC CULTIVATION
An organic approach to viticulture, influenced by the theories of Rudolph Steiner. It’s the most ideological of the organic systems and includes elements of astronomy.

BITE
A marked degree of acidity or tannin. An acid grip in the finish should be more like a zestful tang and is tolerable only in a rich, full-bodied wine.

BITTER
One of the four basic tastes. A major source of bitterness is the tannin content of a wine. Some grapes – (Gewurztraminer, Muscat) – have a distinct bitter edge to their flavor. If the bitter component dominates in the aroma or taste of a wine it is considered a fault. Sweet dessert wines may have an enhanced bitter component that complements the other flavors making for a successful overall taste balance.

BLACK ROT
Fungus disease of grape vines

BLACKCURRENT
A pronounced smell of blackcurrant fruit is commonly associated with certain Rhône wines. It can vary in intensity from faint to very deep and rich.

BLANC DE BLANC
French for “White of whites,” meaning a white wine made of white grapes, such as Champagne made of Chardonnay.

BLANC DE NOIRS
French for “White of blacks”, white wine made of red or black grapes, where the juice is squeezed from the grapes and fermented without skin contact. The wines can have a pale pink hue. E.G., Champagne that is made from Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier.

BLEND
The combining of different lots of wine to make a final wine with certain characteristics. A wine may be a blend of different grape varieties (such as a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, for example), or it may be a blend of the same grape variety from different vineyard sites. In most cases, the goal of blending is to create a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts.

BLIND TASTING
Tasting wines with the labels hidden.

BLOOM
The grape flower, or blossom. The term also refers to the time of grape flowering in the spring.

BLUNT
Strong in flavor and often alcoholic, but lacking in aromatic interest and development on the palate.

BLUSH
A wine made from red grapes which appears to be pink or salmon in color because the grape skins were removed from the fermenting juice before more color could be fully imparted; more commonly referred to as rosé.

BODEGA
Spanish for winery. Literally meaning: “the room where barrels are stored.”

BODY
The effect on the taster’s palate usually experienced from a combination of alcohol, glycerin and sugar content. Often described as full, meaty or weighty.

BORDEAUX
One of the worlds most famous wine growing regions. Located in France north of Paris. Wines from this area are called “Bordeaux”. Red wines from Bordeaux are primarily blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. White wines from the region are usually blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

BOTRYTIS
“Botrytis Cinerea”, (AKA: Noble Rot) a fungus that attacks grapes in humid climate conditions, causing the concentration of sugar and acid content by making grapes at a certain level of maturity shrivel.

BOTTLE FERMENTATION
A method used in the production of sparkling wine and Champagne, when the second fermentation takes place in the bottle.

BOTTLE MATURATION
Maturing the wine in the bottle as opposed to tank or barrel.

BOTTLE READY
Describes a wine that has aged enough to be ready for bottling.

BOTTLE SICKNESS (BOTTLE SHOCK)
A temporary condition characterized by muted or disjointed fruit flavors. It often occurs immediately after bottling or when wines (usually fragile wines) are shaken during travel/shipping. A few days of rest will usually resolve any issue.

BOTTLE STINK
A stale, somewhat stinky odor that sometimes exists when a cork is first withdrawn from the bottle. This condition usually disipates quickly.

BOUQUET
The aroma of a wine. Term generally restricted to description of odors from poured bottled wines.

BOUTIQUE WINERY
Small winemakers producing wines in small quantities with great care and generally high prices.

BRAWNY
Term used mainly to describe young red wines with high alcohol and tannin levels. Certain red wines from Amador County, California, can be examples. The mild epithet “tooth-stainers” is sometimes applied to this style of wine, denoting respect for strength.

BREATHE/BREATHING
When a cork is removed from the bottle and the wine is exposed to outside air, the wine begins to “breathe”. This continues as the wine is poured into another container, such as a wineglass or decanter, the admixture of air seems to release pent-up aromas which then become more pronounced, in many cases, as minutes/hours pass.

BREED
Term reserved for wines from the best grape varieties, the so-called “noble grapes”. Denotes wines judged to have reached classical expectations of aroma, balance, structure and varietal character.

BRIARY
Denotes a wine having an aggressive, prickly taste best described as “peppery”. Sometimes combined with the adjective “brawny” to characterize a young red wine with high alcohol and tannin content.

BRILLIANT
Very clear (and transparent in white wines) appearance with no visible particulates or suspensions. May be sign of flavor deficiency in heavily filtered wines.

BRIGHT
Used for fresh, ripe, zesty, lively young wines with vivid, focused flavors.

BRIX
Named for A F W Brix, a 19th century German inventor, it is a measurement system used to determine sugar content of grapes and wine. A reading of 20 to 25 deg. Brix is the optimum degree of grape ripeness at harvest for the majority of table wines. A quick conversion method for users requiring Specific Gravity units of measurement is to take the Brix reading, deg. Brix (as Sucrose, for which most refractometers are calibrated), and multiply by 0.00425 and then add 0.9988 to the resulting number. This will give a close approximation to the equivalent figure for the S.G of Sucrose at 20 deg. C. Ex: A Brix reading of 18 equals S.G. 1.074. Using the conversion technique above gives a figure of 1.075 which is close enough for most users.

BROWNING
Denotes aging in a wine. Young wine color tints show no sign of such “browning”. If possessed of good character and depth, a wine can still be very enjoyable even with a pronounced “brown” tint. In average wines this tint, seen along the wine surface edge in a tilted glass goblet, normally signals a wine is “past its peak”, although still very drinkable.

BRUT
French term for ‘Dry’. Refers to dry Champagne or Sparkling Wine. The authorities in the Champagne region of France use this term to denote added sugar.

BUD BREAK
The action of new vine buds swelling, opening and beginning new vine growth in spring.

BULK
Wine by the barrel.

BUNG
The primary closure for barrels, hammered into place with a wooden hammer. Bungs are normally made of hardwood. When bungs are to be removed and replaced repeatedly, winemakers use bungs made of silicone rubber.

BUNHOLE
The hole in the side of a wine barrel through which the barrel is filled and emptied. In barrel manufacturing, coopers always use at least one very wide barrel stave somewhere in the group of staves making up the circumference of a barrel.

BURGUNDY
One of the worlds most famous wine growing regions. It is located in eastern France southwest of Paris.

BURNT
Describes wines that have an overdone, smoky, toasty or singed edge. Also used to describe overripe grapes.

BUSH VINES
Bush type vines found in some areas of South Africa and Australia that are not cultivated on wire frames. They have a short trunk on which the shoots are arranged in circular fashion. Also referred to as Gobelet Trained Vines.

BUTT
A large wine barrel, usually just over 100 gallons in capacity. Normal barrel sizes have approximately 50 or 60 gallon capacities, depending upon where they were made. European barrels are normally about 60 gallons in size while American barrels are traditionally only 50 gallons.

BUTTERY
A descriptor used to describe the smell and flavor of melted butter in a wine. It refers not only to flavors but also texture or mouth feel. Describes taste sensation found in better white wines, particularly Chardonnay.

CABERNET FRANC
The somewhat leaner sibling of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc is often grown in the same places and is usually blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Cabernet Franc often has a unique violet aroma and a slightly spicy flavor.

CABERNET SAUVIGNON
Often called the “King” of red grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon is, along with merlot, are the famous grapes of Bordeaux, it is also grown in other renowned wine regions throughout the world including California, Italy, Australia, and Chile. Cabernet Sauvignon possesses an impressive structure along with deep, rich cassis flavors.

CAMBIUM
The layer of active, living tissue under the bark and phloem tissue of a grape vine. New woody cells (xylem tissue) form at the inside of cambium as it grows, while new phloem and bark cells form at the outside edge. The effect of this growth is to increase the diameter of the trunk or cane of a vine by adding exactly one “growth ring” to the diameter.

CANE
The mature shoot of a vine. If the color is green, it’s a shoot; if the color is brown, it’s a cane.

CAP
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 The floating solids (skins and stems) in a tank of fermenting red wine. The floating solids bind together forming a thick mat which must be wetted at least daily during fermentation of red wine in order to extract the maximum amount of color and flavor from the skins into the wine. Failure to wet the cap during fermentation usually produces lighter, less flavorful and less tannic red wines, which have a shorter shelf life.

CAP STEM
The small length of stem that connects each individual grape berry to its bunch.

CAPACITY
The quantity, as opposed to quality, of grapevine growth and total crop produced and ripened.

CAPITEUX
Wine with a high alcohol content, warming

CAPSULE
The protective covering over the cork and neck of a wine bottle

CARBOHYDRATE
The technical name for a class of compounds composed of carbon along with hydrogen and oxygen in their 2:1 ratio of water. Carbohydrates are made by grapevines and used to store and move energy around inside the vine. Sugar is the soluble (mobile) form and starch is the insoluble form of carbohydrate in vines.

CARBONIC MACERATION
Fermentation of whole, uncrushed grapes in a carbon dioxide atmosphere. In practice, the weight of the upper layers of grapes in a vat will break the skins of the lowest layer; the resultant wine is partly a product of carbonic maceration and partly of traditional fermentation of juice.

CARON DIOIXIDE (CO2)
A heavy gas that occurs naturally in air. It gives carbonated drinks their bubbles and, as dry ice (frozen CO2), it is used to keep things very cold. Vine leaves produce sugar from CO2 and water, using sunlight as their source of energy. This sugar is the ultimate source of energy used by the vine for growth and grape production.

CASK
Any wooden container used for wine aging or storage. The term includes barrels, puncheons, butts, pipes, etc.

CASK NUMBER
A meaningless term sometimes used for special wines, as in Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cask 23, but often applied to ordinary wines.

CAT PISS
Term used to describe flaw in wine – smell of cat urine.

CATAWBA
An American hybrid wine grape grown in the eastern United States wine regions and used to make sparkling wines, rosé and very fruity white wines.

CAVA
The name for Sparkling Wine from Spain.

CAVE
An underground enclosure/tunnel with access from the surface often used to store wine because of stable temperatures and humidity levels.

CAYUGA WHITE
An American hybrid wine grape grown in many eastern U.S. wine regions. Cayuga White produces wines of greater delicacy than Catawba.

CEDAR/CEDARWOOD
Aroma component often found in fine red wines.

CELLAR
Any area where wine is stored

CENTRAL COAST
An appellation located along the coast of California well south of San Francisco but well north of Los Angeles. It refers primarily to Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, although small parts of Alameda, San Benito. Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties are legally included. Although well south of California’s “North Coast,” the Central Coast contains major vineyards with the coolest summertime climates in the whole United States!

CENTRAL VALLEY
The common name for the San Joaquin Valley, the largest wine growing region in California. Known for quantity not quality the Central Valley produces over 85% of California’s annual wine gallonage.

CEPAGES NOBLES
French term for the group of “greatest grape varieties” used in winemaking.

CENTURION
A wine variety developed at the UC Davis campus by crossing Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Carignane. The intention was to produce a Cabernet style wine that could be grown in the Central Valley. Carignane and Grenache are well suited to the Central Valley climate, but Cabernet Sauvignon requires a cooler growing location. As in the case of Ruby Cabernet, it was thought that the result of the cross might retain the quality of Cabernet wine and the viticultural characteristics of the other two varieties. Centurion hasn’t yet seen widespread acceptance, but the variety is a definite improvement over most traditional Central Valley varieties.

CHABLIS
White wine from the Chablis area of France. Made from Chardonnay grapes.

CHAMBRER
Act of leaving a wine in a room which is not directly heated, with the intention of raising its temperature to about 14-16°. This is suitable for most red wines.

CHAMPAGNE
The famous sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France, about 90 miles northeast of Paris. Champagne is generally a blend of three grapes – two reds, pinot noir and pinot meunier, and the white being chardonnay. It is made by a labor-intensive method known as methode Champenoise in which the secondary bubble-causing fermentation takes place inside each individual bottle. Made in a variety of sweetness levels, Champagnes range from bone-dry to sweet. The most popular of these is Brut. The sweetness levels are as follows: Extra Brut: very, very dry, O to .6% residual sugar. Brut: dry, less than 1.5% residual sugar. Extra Dry: off-dry, 1.2 to 2% residual sugar. Sec: lightly sweet, 1.7 to 3.5% residual sugar. Demi-Sec: quite sweet, 3.3 to 5% residual sugar. and Doux: sweet, more than 5% residual sugar. Most Champagne firms make at least three categories of wine: non-vintage, vintage, and prestige. The vast majority of the Champagne produced each year is designated non vintage (that is, the blend may contain wines from several different vintages). The wines in a vintage Champagne come only from the year designated on the label.

CHANCELLOR
A French-American hybrid wine grape grown throughout the eastern US. It produces a fruity, medium bodied, red wine.

CHAPTALIZATION
The practice of adding sugar to grape juice (must) prior to fermentation. This is also known as sugaring. This is allowed in some areas of the world that have difficulty bringing grapes to full maturity (alcohol levels).

CHARDONNAY
The worlds most popular white grape varieties. Very easy to enjoy thanks to its full, round body and buttery, appley flavors laced with toastiness.

CHARACTER
A wine with refined, distinguishing qualities.

CHARBONO
A red wine grape originally from Italy but now grown elsewhere as well. It produces full-bodied, often tannic wines, highly prized by some; yet it hasn’t achieved widespread acceptance around the world.

CHARMING
A comment applied to wines that don”t quite fulfil the first expectations. Means detecting a slight flavor lightness. Sometimes used to describe wines made from the Chenin Blanc grape styled after a type of wine originating from the Loire region of France.

CHARMAT MEDTHOD
The method of putting bubbles in wine by adding sugar to a sealed tank, letting the second fermentation take place, and transferring to a bottle under pressure. Less expensive and time consuming than Methode Champenoise.

CHARNU
Very rough wine

CHATEAU
French for castle. It is an estate with its own vineyards.

CHENIN BLANC
This is the exclusive grape of all white wines coming from the Loire Valley.

CHEWY
Refers to a high total tannic component of a wine. Figuratively, one cannot swallow this wine without chewing first.

CHIANTI
A scenic, hilly section of Tuscany known for fruity red wines made mostly from Sangiovese grapes

CIGARBOX
Near synonym for “tobacco” aroma detected in the nose, especially if a “cedarwood” component is present. Spanish cedarwood is the traditional material for making cigar boxes.

CITRUSY
Describes aroma and flavor reminiscent of citrus fruits. Most common is a perception of “grapefruit” content. Most often detected in white wines made from grapes grown in cooler regions of California or other countries.

CLARET/CLAIRET
In England, “Claret” refers to English-style Bordeaux or wines from Bordeaux. In France “Clairet” is a particular Bordeaux that is produced like red wine but the must stays in contact with the skins for the first 24 hours during its making.

CLARIFICATION
Clarification of wine, helping to stabilize it. An agent is added to the wine that binds with cloudy substances and other unwanted particles and settles on the bottom with them as sediment.

CLASSICO
Defined geographic zones in Italy from where the grapes of a ‘Classico’ must come.

CLIMAT
A term used in France, particularly in Burgundy, to describe a vineyard site by its climatic a geographic characteristics.

CLONE
A group of vines originating from a single, individual plant propagated asexually from a single source. Clones are selected for the unique qualities of the grapes and wines they yield, such as flavor, productivity and adaptability to growing conditions.

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.

CLOSED
Describes wines that are concentrated and have character, but are shy in aroma or flavour. The term implies that a wine may open up and show better.

CLOSED TOP TANKS
Fermentation tanks with permanent tops. These always have doors or vents in the top to facilitate cleaning and for monitoring fermentations.

CLOUDY
Noticeable cloudiness is undesirable except in cellar aged wines that have not been decanted properly. A characteristic of some unfiltered wines showing the result of winemaking mistakes and often possessing an unpleasant taste.

CLOYING
A sweet wine without a sufficient amount of acidity to balance the sweetness will often taste so sweet as to be cloying.

COARSE
Usually refers to texture, and in particular, excessive tannin or oak. Also used to describe harsh bubbles in sparkling wines.

COLD STABLIZATION
A clarification technique in which a wine’s temperature is lowered to 32° F, causing the tartrates and other insoluble solids to precipitate. A clarification technique in which a wine’s temperature is lowered to 32° F, causing the tartrates and other insoluble solids to precipitate.

COMPLETE
A full-bodied wine rich in extracts with a pronounced finish

COMPLEX
Almost a synonym for breed. Possesses that elusive quality where many layers of flavor separate a great wine from a very good one. Balance combines all flavor and taste components in almost miraculous harmony.

COMPOUND BUD
The normal type of bud that appears at each node along a vine shoot or cane. It contains not one but three separate, partially developed shoots with rudimentary leaves in greatly condensed form. Usually, only the middle one grows when the bud pushes out in the spring. The others break dormancy only if the primary shoot is damaged or other abnormality occurs.

COOKING WINE
Generally describes an inferior wine that would not be drunk but used for cooking.

COOPERAGE
Describes any container used for aging and storing wine – includes barrels and tanks of all sizes

COPIDA
A type of glass used for Sherry in Spain, but also used by wine tasters.

CORK
A cylinder-shaped wine closure cut from the bark of a cork-oak tree. Cork is especially well suited for this purpose because of its waxy composition, inertness and springiness.

CORKED
Wine that has an unpleasant “wet cardboard” taste/smell. It is caused by a chemical changes in the wine caused by inadequately sterilized cork stopper inserted at bottling source. The term used to describe a wine that has been spoiled in the bottle by a cork that was, itself, previously spoiled by mold growth during processing. The spoilage inside the cork had not been visible at the time the winery used it to seal the bottle – otherwise they wouldn’t have used that cork. It only becomes detectable by smell and taste after the bottle is opened for serving. This is the reason that sommeliers pour a small amount of newly opened wine for “checking” by the host at the dinner table prior to serving the other guests. There is no other valid reason for checking the wine before pouring.

Cork tainted wine can range from an absence of fruit that leaves the wine muted, to undrinkable corked wine that reeks of moldy cardboard. A chemical called 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole, TCA for short, is the cause of cork taint. TCA arises from mold growing on or very near a natural cork after chlorine had been used to bleach and sanitize it. TCA is harmless but has a potent, musty, moldy smell and can give wine a bitter taste. Concentrations of TCA as low as 3 parts per trillion can taint a wine! Based upon the number of bad bottles we experience, I put the number at about 2% – 3% here in the United States. It used to be much higher before the cork companies began to use better processing methods and cork analyses.

CORKY
A corky (or “corked”) wine has an unpleasant odor and flavor of musty, moldy cork. It is very reminiscent of the smell of a mildewed cloth that has been allowed to sit without drying. The primary cause of this off odor is a compound called TCA (for tri-chlor-anisole, which is produced by mold growth on the corks during aging and processing at the factory). There is no known way to repair or recover the original flavor from a so-called corked wine. Throw it away and open another, especially if you’re at a restaurant where they recognize the off flavor and will replace it free. Restaurateurs sometimes say this is one of the reasons that fine restaurants charge too much for the wines they serve. Wineries virtually always replace corked wines free on the word of the restaurateur.

COSECHA
Spanish for Vintage – year of production.

COVER CROP
A crop other than vines planted in the vineyard to benefit the soil.

CREAM OF TARTAR
A natural component of grape juice and wine. The chemical name is potassium bi-tartrate. Removed from wine as a by-product, cream of tartar is used in cooking and as a component of baking powder.

CREMANT
A category of champagne or sparkling wine that contains less carbonation than standard champagnes or sparkling wines. Cremant Champagnes are usually quite light and fruity.

CREAMY
Refers to “silk-like” taste component of wines subjected to malolactic fermentation as opposed to the “tart/crisp” taste component of the same wine lacking the treatment. Almost a synonym for “buttery”. Opposite of “crisp”.

CRIANZA
A Spanish term for a red wine that has been aged in oak barrels for at least one year.

CRISP
Wine has definite but pleasing tartness, acidity. Generally used to describe white wines only, especially those of Muscadet de Sevres et Maine from the Loire region of France.

CRU
A French term for ranking a wine’s inherent quality, i.e. cru bourgeois, cru classé, premier cru and grand cru.

CRUSH
Harvest season when the grapes are picked and crushed.

CRUSH TANK
The wine tank that receives the newly crushed must — pumped there directly from the crusher.

CRYOEXTRACTION
The practice of artificially replicating the natural conditions necessary to produce sweet white Ice Wine (Eiswein).

CUVEE
Many producers in the Rhône Valley produce special, deluxe lots of wine or a lot of wine from a specific grape variety that they bottle separately. These lots are often referred to as cuvées.

CULTIVAR
An “in word” among some academic viticulturists (but not commercial wine people or the wine drinking public). Cultivar originally was intended to mean a “cultivated variety,” but is now in such regular use that some say the word for varieties that are not cultivated, as well. Since this can be misleading and is, in any case, superfluous, many texts on viticulture do not use the term widely. Nevertheless, you still hear it spoken with an impressive voice in the highest teaching circles. Use of this term is yet another way for you to gain a little “one-upmanship” among your wine friends if you can pull it off. Say it with a somber and slightly hushed tone, eyes slightly down, preferably while holding your hands in front with each of the fingertips on one hand touching the tips of the corresponding fingers on the other hand. They’ll think you know.

CUTTING
A piece of grape vine, usually 10 to 20 inches long, cut from a dormant vine in wintertime for use in propagating new vines in spring. Cuttings are taken only from last year’s growth (never two-year old wood) and are a convenient way to store and handle the vine buds. It is the buds on the cutting that have the ability to begin new vine growth next year. Grafted or budded properly, each bud can become a new vine that is genetically identical to all the other vines from the original vine. See Clone, Wrotham Pinot.

DARK FRUIT
Describes a wine as having the taste of Dark Fruit such as Black Berries or Black Cherry.

DE CHANUNAC
French American hybrid wine grape named for a pioneer winemaker from eastern Canada. De Chaunac wines can be very, very good or easily forgotten, depending on where and when the grapes were grown.

DECANTING
A method by which cellar-aged bottled wine is poured slowly and carefully into a second vessel, usually a glass decanter, in order to leave any sediment in the original bottle before serving. Almost always a treatment confined to red wines. The traditional method uses a candle flame as the light for illuminating the neck of the bottle while the wine is passing by. The low intensity of the light is ideal for viewing since it does not strain the eyes. Care must be taken NOT to allow the flame to heat the wine while performing this ritual.

DELICATE
Any wine demonstrating somewhat mild, but attractive characteristics. Occasionally used to describe well-made wines from the so-called “lesser grape” varieties.

DEMI-SEC
In the language of Champagne, a term relating to sweetness. It can be misleading; although demi-sec means half-dry, demi-sec sparkling wines are usually slightly sweet to medium sweet.

DENOMINACION ESPECIFICA
A classification in Spain that guarantees the production process for a wine. It does not guarantee the region of origin.

DENSE
Describes a wine that has concentrated aromas on the nose and palate, desirable in young wines.

DEPOSIT
In white wines, this is generally a trace of colourless tartaric acid which has no taste and is in no way dangerous. On the other hand, in red wines, the same deposit generally contains a bitter tannin and a pigment; it should be left as it is in the bottle so as not to disturb the wine.

DEPTH, DEEP
Refers to a premium wine that demands more attention, it fills the mouth with a developing flavor, there are subtle layers of flavor that go “deep.”

DESSERT WINE
Any of a class of sweet wines, usually fortified to higher alcohol content, which are served with desserts or as after dinner drinks. Common dessert wines are Ports, Sherries, Muscatel, Madeira, Today and Angelica

DILUTED
Signifies that the wine has been diluted (mixed) with water.

DIONYSUS
Greek god of wine and revelry. See Bacchus to avoid confusing the two Gods.

DIRECT
Everything present in this wine is immediately obvious.

DIRTY
Describes any of the undesirable odours that can be present in a wine that that was poorly vinified. A characteristic imparted by improperly cleaned barrels or various other processes performed incorrectly. Usually detected first in a wine by the smell of the cork stopper or from a barrel sample. Not to be confused with corked wines where the stopper is thought to be responsible.

DISGORGEMENT
A step in the traditional process of sparkling wine production wherein frozen sediment is removed from the neck of the bottle.

D.O.C. (Denominazione D`Origine Controllata)

The Italian system of laws regulating about 250 different wine zones. Italy’s D.O.C. regulations are roughly equivalent to France’s Appellation d’Origine Controlle (see AOC).

DOLCETTO
Pleasing red grape variety of the Piedmonte region of northern Italy, that produces a light, fruity wine. Dolcetto literally means ‘little sweet one’, and likely stems from a quality of the grapes rather than the wine that is not sweet.

DOMAINE
French word for a wine – growing estate.

DOSAGE
In bottle-fermented sparkling wines, a small amount of wine (usually sweet) that is added back to the bottle once the yeast sediment that collects in the neck of the bottle is removed.

DOWNY MILDEW
A fungal disease of grape vines, which kills the affected tissue. The disease is native to eastern North America and has spread to Europe and most other regions of the world. It does not occur in California because of the low humidity and lack of summer rains. Don’t get smug, California; you have Powdery mildew. In every variety except Wrotham Pinot!

DOURO VALLEY
Area of Portugal known for producing the worlds greatest port wines.

DRAIN HOPPER
A crush tank fitted with a screen to make free run juice separate quickly from the skins and stems in freshly crushed white grape must. By closing the drain valve for a specified time, the winemaker can “macerate” or allow contact between juice and solids for some varieties, if desired.

DRAINED POMACE
In a crush tank, the solids left over after the juice has been drained off. This pomace is primarily skins with a small amount of stem bits.

DRY
Dry/Off Dry: Little or no sugar = “dry”, slightly sweeter = “off dry”.

DRY POMACE
In a red fermenter, the solids left over from draining the new wine off after fermentation.

DRYING OUT
Losing fruit (or sweetness in sweet wines) to the extent that acid, alcohol or tannin dominate the taste. At this stage the wine will not improve.

DUMB
A dumb wine is also a closed wine, but the term dumb is used more pejoratively. Closed wines may need only time to reveal their richness and intensity. Dumb wines may never get any better.

EARLY HARVEST
Denotes a wine made from early-harvested grapes, usually lower than average in alcoholic content or sweetness.

EARTHY
Covers situations where a “mother-earth” component is present. Earth is soil-dirt, but an earthy wine is not dirty as in “DIRTY” above. The term appears to be applicable to wine thought, by some, to be made from certain young varietal grapes obtained from vines planted on land previously used for growing vegetables containing components which “marked” the soil in some way. European tasters use the term in a broader sense to describe “terroir” characteristics.

EASY
Undemanding but pleasant, doesn’t require good taste, just tastes good.

EGG WHITE
Left over albumin obtained by discarding the yolks from eggs. Used in fining red wines after barrel aging to remove excess (usually bitter) tannin.

EISWEIN
Just like it sounds in English ‘ice wine’, the German term also refers to a rare sweet wine made from late-harvested grapes that have frozen on the vine. British Columbia and Ontario also produce delightful ice wines

ELEGANT
What to say when there is great balance and grace in the wine, but you can’t quite find apt words of description. Almost a synonym for breed.

ELEVAGE
Term used in France that refers to what a winemaker may do to his/her wines in the process between fermentation and bottling.

EMPTY
Flavourless and uninteresting.

EN TIRAGE
A French term for the period of time a sparkling wine has rested in the bottle in contact with the yeast sediment from the secondary fermentation

ENOLOGY
The science of winemaking.

ESPUMANTE
Portuguese term for sparkling wine made by the traditional Portuguese method.

ESTERS
Aromatic flavor compounds which give fruits, juices and wines much of their fruitiness.

ETHANOL
The type of alcohol produced by yeast fermentation of sugar under ordinary conditions. Chemically, C2H5OH. The alcohol in alcoholic beverages is always ethanol.

EUCALYPTUS
A term sometimes used to describe the characteristic in the bouquet of Cabernet Sauvignon grown in warm climates

ERINOSE
Sickness caused by very small insects which only destroy certain varieties of vine plant.

ESSENCE
Two meanings:
Refers to “odor kits” containing vials of representative flavor essence.
Used occasionally by wineries to describe a late harvest, sweet red wine. Most frequently appears on bottle labels for Zinfandel red wine made from grapes picked at 35 deg. Brix or higher sugar content.

ESTATE BOTTLED
A term used on wine labels to indicate a wine that is made 100% from grapes growing in vineyards owned by the winery or in vineyards which the winery leases under long-term contract. The vineyards do not need to be contiguous, but they must be in the same appellation.

ETHYL ACETATE
A sweet, vinegary smell that often accompanies acetic acid. It exists to some extent in all wines and in small doses can be a plus. When it is strong and smells like nail polish, it’s a defect.

EXTRA DRY
A common Champagne term not to be taken literally. Most Champagnes so labeled are sweet.

EXTRACTED
Refers to the coloring imparted to wines during the fermentation process by the skins of the grapes used. Can also occur in the further step known as “maceration” where new wine is allowed to steep with the skins again. This second step usually results in a “highly extracted” style of wine, deeply colored with strong flavors and tannin. Rose”s, (aka “blush” wines), are normally made by limiting contact with the skins, the opposite of “extraction”.

EUDMEIS
Microscopic butterfly which destroys the grape.

FADING
Describes a wine that is losing colour, fruit or flavour, usually as a result of age.

FAT
Fills the mouth in a positive manner. The wine “feels” and tastes a little obvious and often lacks elegance but is prized by connoisseurs of sweet dessert wines. Not quite desirable in a late harvest Moselle Riesling, but appropriate in a classic Sauternes. Fatness/oiliness is determined by the naturally occurring glycerol – (a.k.a glycerin) – content in the wine.

FERMENTATION
The process by which grape sugar turns into alcohol and carbon dioxide

FIELD BLEND
When a vineyard is planted to several different varieties and the grapes are harvested together to produce a single wine, the wine is called a field blend.

FILTERED
Wines that have had suspended particulates resulting from the fermentation process removed. Important for future clarity and stability of a wine.

FINED
Use of various materials for clarifying wines. These materials precipitate to the bottom of the fermentation process vessel carrying any suspended particulate matter with them.

FINING AGENT
A pure substance that may be added to wine for the purpose of removing some undesirable natural component that occurs in excess. For example, immediately after fermentation, red wines may contain excess tannin, which makes the wine too bitter or astringent. This can be removed by adding a very small amount of a protein such as egg white or gelatin. The protein attaches itself to the excess tannin and precipitates, falling to the bottom of the wine tank where it is later removed by decanting (racking).

FINESSE
Delicate and elegant wine

FINISH
As in “this wine has a (whatever) finish” or aftertaste

FINISHING
The last steps in processing a wine just before bottling, and may include bottling. Often, this includes fining, blending and filtration or centrifugation.

FINO
Term found on some Sherry labels to denote the winery’s lightest and driest Sherries.

FIRM
Attacks the palate with acid or tannic astringency. Suggests that the wine is young and will age. Nearly always a positive comment and very desirable with highly flavored foods.

FLABBY
Lacking acidity on the palate.

FLAT
Opposite of “firm”. Usually indicates very low acidity, so tasting insipid and lacking flavor. Often refers to a sparkling wine that has lost its bubbles

FLESHY
Refers to both body and texture. A fleshy wine tastes fatter than a meaty wine, exhibiting some excess oiliness if too pronounced. Often suggests great smoothness and richness.

FLINT/FLINTY
Synonym for “stoney”. Derived from French phrase “gout de pierre a fusil”, literally a smoky, whiff of gunflint, almost acrid taste. These terms are presumably metaphorical approximations based on the flavor sensations allegedly present in wines made from grapes grown on a limestone/silica rich terroir. “Flinty” describes an initial evaluation indicating a young white wine made from cool region grapes under cold fermentation conditions. Characterized by high acidity, a tactile “mouthfeel” that is filling and yet has a flavor sensation that is cleanly “earthy”.

FLORAL/FLOWERY
Suggests the aroma or taste, usually aroma, of flowers in wine. “Floral” usually employed as an adjective without modifier to describe attributes of white wine aromas. Few red wines have floral aromas.

FLURBEREINIGUNG
A reorganization of the West German wine industry in the mid-20th century, affecting over half the total planted vineyards. The vineyards were re-parcled in order to make them easier to run.

FORTIFIED WINE
A wine with brandy or other spirits added, such as port or sherry

FORWARD
Opposite of “closed-in” or, as used by some, backward. Means presence of “fruitiness” is immediately apparent. Usually employed as a term denoting that the wine is in peak condition and on its plateau of maturity.

FOXY
Common descriptive word used to note the presence of the unique musky and grapey character attached to native american Vitis. labrusca grapes such as the Concord or Catawba varieties. The term “fox” has traditionally been a pejorative name given by grapegrowers to the fruit of a feral, ie. reverted to the wild species, cultivar grapevine. The earliest known reference to a “fox” grape occurs in the first part of the 17th century, specifically applied to cultivated North American grapes, and seems to refer to the unexpected results obtained from planted seeds, a notoriously unpredictable method of reproduction. The word itself may be an early corruption of the french word “faux”, (ie. false). Some also claim the word is derived from the french “gout de renard” meaning, in all senses of the phrase, “taste of fox”. The aroma and flavors defy verbal description. The best way to imprint “foxiness” in the memory is to mentally compare the flavor of fresh Concord grapes and any fresh California table grape. Most people find the juice or jelly from the Concord grape quite sprightly and delicious. In dry table wines the fermented flavor result is considered by many to be obtrusive and even quite disagreeable.

FREE RUN JUICE
The juice that escapes after the grape skins are crushed or squeezed prior to fermentation.

FRESH
The wine has a lively fruity acidity, maybe a little bite of acid, as found in youthful light reds, rose”s and most whites. All young whites should be fresh. The opposite is flatness, staleness.

FRUIT BOMB
An informal wine term often applied to wines produced from very ripe grapes that emphasize lush fruit flavors combined with soft, low acid structures

FRUITY
A fruity wine has an “appley”, “berrylike” or herbaceous character. “Fruitiness” usually incorporates the detection of a little extra sweetness as is found in really fresh grapes or berries.

FULL-BODIED
As opposed to “thin” or “thin-bodied”. Fills the mouth, has a winey taste, alcohol is present, the wine has “weight on the tongue”.

FUNKY
Defies precise definition. Appears to be a 1970s cannabis culture derived word sometimes used by N. American west coast winetasting reviewers when describing vegetal/ yeasty/yeastlike aromas so complex that individual identification is difficult. Can have positive or negative connotations depending on context.

FUTURE (En Primeur)
Wine purchased before it is ready for release, that is delivered at a later date.

GASSY
A sensory evaluation term describing a wine that contains residual carbon dioxide left over from the fermentation. Not unpleasant in most white wines, but distinctly undesirable in reds because the CO2 can exaggerate their tendency towards bitterness.

GAMEY/GAMELIKE
Descriptive term for one of the flavors/aromas considered particular to Burgundian style Pinot Noir red wines. Reminiscent of taste and flavor associated with cooked wild duck and other “gamey” meats. Thought to be caused by contamination with “brett” – (brettanomyces strain of yeast). Sometimes referred to as “animale” by french winemakers or “sweaty saddle” by Australians. Considered a major flaw when flavor is overly-pronounced.

GEWURZTRAMINER
A sweet and spicy white grape popular in eastern France, Germany, Austria, northern Italy and California

GLYCERIN/GLYCEROL
Gives a sweet taste on the tongue tip. Higher concentrations are found in high-alcohol and late-harvest wines, leading to sensations of smooth slipperiness giving a sense of fullness to the wine body. Is a natural by-product of the fermentation process.

GOUTTE
In the making of red wine, one talks about a “Vin de Goutte”, a wine drawn directly from the barrel, in other words it is obtained before the pressing of the wine harvest. It is the opposite of “Vin de Presse” which is poured from the press.

GRACEFUL
Describes a wine that is subtly harmonious and pleasing.

GRAFTING
Process of reproduction of the plant, by grafting a branch on a selected root stock in order to development a solid vinestock.

GRAND CRU
French for “great growth”. This term often is used for outstanding wines in Burgundy and Alsace, it refers to the specific group of superior vineyards.

GRAND RESERVA
Spanish classification. Red wines are aged at least two years in small wooden barrels and then an additional three years in tank or bottle before being sold. Whites remain in the bottle at least six months, then four years in the tank or bottle.

GRAPPA
A digestive liqueur produced in Italy

GRAVES
A region inside the larger Bordeaux region of France, named for it’s gravelly soil, and known mostly for red wines as well as Bordeaux’s classic dry, whites

GRENACHE
A hearty, productive red grape popular in southern France as well as in Spain, where it is called Garnacha

GRAPEFRUITY
Grapefruit flavors are characteristic of cool-climate Chardonnays and Sauvingnon Blanc.

GRAPEY
Content has simple flavors and aromas reminiscent of a certain type of fresh wine or table grape. Used by some as adjective alternate for “foxy”.

GRASSY
Slightly vegetal-tasting undertone often part of the overall character of Sauvignon Blanc and some other grape varietals. Sometimes refered to as “gooseberry”. In minute presence it can enhance flavors and as it becomes more dominant it loses its appeal.

GREEN
Strictly applied refers to the taste of wines made with underipe fruit. More loosely used it refers to some white wines, especially Riesling, possessing the greenish colour tint indicating youth. This does not necessarily mean the sour and/or grassy taste of unripe fruit content as well.

GRIP
Refers a tannic red wine

GROSSLAGE
A German wine-law designation meaning ‘large vineyard’. It is used to describe a group of individual vineyards whose fruit may be assembled into a wine sold under the Glosslage name

GROWTH
A term for a particular wine or type of wine. Translation of Cru.

GRUNER VELTLINER
A white grape popular in Austria that makes lean, fruity, racy wines.

HALBTROCKEN
Refers to the German term ‘half dry’, characteristic of wines intentionally made with less than the typical amount of residual sugar.

HALF BOTTLE
Holds 375 milliliters or 3/8 liter.

HARD
High acidity and/or tannin content leading to a sensation of dryness in the mouth, a degree of puckery-ness. Common in young red wines suitable for aging.

HARMONIOUS
Well balanced, with no component obtrusive or lacking.

HARSH
Very astringent wines, usually with high alcohol component, often have this rough, rustic taste characteristic. May become more tolerable with aging but also may not be worth the wait.

HAUT
A French word meaning “high.” It applies to quality as well as altitude.

HAUT MEDOC
Major sub-region within the Medoc region of Bordeaux, that produces many great red wines.

HAZY
Refers to wines with slight particulate content when viewed against the light. Occurs most often in unfiltered or unfined wines where there is no need to worry. If the haziness is intense enough to cause loss of clarity however it may indicate a flawed wine.

HEADY
Used to describe the smell of a wine high in alcohol.

HEARTY
Most often applied in description of full, warm qualities found in red wines with high alcohol component. Examples are found in the sturdier so-called “jug wines”, some California Zinfandels, lesser French Rhone or Algerian red wines and in the occasional lesser Australian Shiraz.

HECTARE
A metric measure equal to 10,000 square meters or 2.47 acres.

HECTOLITER
A metric measure equal to 100 liters or 26.4 gallons

HEDONISTIC
Hedonistic wines can be criticized because in one sense they provide so much ecstasy that they can be called obvious, but in essence, they are totally gratifying wines meant to fascinate and pleasure at its best.

HERBACEOUS
Adjective used in description of wine with taste and aroma of herbs, (usually undefined). Considered to be a varietal characteristic of Cabernet Sauvignon, and to less extent, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

HERMITAGE
Considered one of the best wines produced in the Rhone, usually red and made from Syrah grapes. It is told that a white was also produced by a Crusader who returned from the Holy Land coveting Syrah vine stock and declaring that he would war no more, it was time to plant a vineyard and his would be hermitage.

HOCK
British term for German wines produced in the Rhine region. The term originates from the town of Hochheim in the Rhine Valley.

HOLLOW
Missing middle between “attack” and “finish”. Caused by too many grapes on insufficiently pruned vines. If very noticeable, called “empty”.

HONEYED
Apples to ripe wines, sweet or dry that have a taste or aroma of honey.

HORIZONTAL TASTING
A structured tasting of wines, of the same style or grape, from different regions or countries all from the same vintage.

HOT
Defines a wine high in alcohol and giving a burning sensation on the palate.

HYBRID
In viticulture, a cross between two different species or varieties of grapes, with the purpose of creating a new grape variety with especially desirable characteristics.

HYDROMETER
Instrument for measuring the sugar content of the must.

HYDROMETRY
Rate of humidity in the air. At optimum conservation of a wine the level of hygrometry in the cellar should be about 70%.

ICE WINE
Wine made from frozen grapes. The grapes are pressed while frozen and only the juice (Not the Frozen Water) is used in the fermentation. Canadians originated the process and own the trade name.

IMPERIAL
An oversized bottle holding 4 to 6 liters; the equivalent of eight standard bottles.

INCRUSTATION
The formation of a crust on the wine, in particular with port.

INKY
Refers to the slightly metallic flavors that can be present in some red wines.

INTERNODE
The section of a grape vine stem between two successive nodes or joints on the vine shoot or cane.

INTRICATE
A term used to describe a wine with underlying complexities of bouquet and flavor

JAMMY
A term often encountered in descriptions of California Zinfandel and Merlots. Refers to the natural berrylike taste of this grape.

JEFFERSON, THOMAS
The Third president of the U.S and wine lover extraordinaire. Grape grower and winemaker, he went to his grave puzzled that the European grape cuttings he planted did not thrive in the U.S. as they did in Europe. He tried for more than 30 years and finally settled on certain native grape varieties which could stand the harsh new world climate.

Jefferson never knew that a microscopic, native American pest now known as the Phylloxera root aphid was killing his European vines. Jefferson believed that table wine is a temperate beverage as opposed to ardent spirits, which he avoided. His was a strong voice favoring low taxes on table wines and high taxes on intoxicating liquor.

He is best known to winemakers for his quote: “No nation is drunken where wine is cheap; and none sober, where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the common beverage.”

JEROBOAM
An oversized bottle holding the equivalent of six bottles. In Champagne, a jeroboam holds four bottles.

JUG WINES
Common name given to wines sold at modest prices in 1.5-liter size or larger containers.

JURA
Wine region named for the Jura Mountains of eastern France (near the Swiss border). Many different wine types are produced in the Jura region although the region is not considered large. Best known of the region are wines from the town of Arbois — which is also the birthplace of Louis Pasteur. Vin Jaune is probably the most typical wine from the area. It is unlike other French table wines in that its flavor is reminiscent of Spanish Sherries and Vin Jaune wine is often very long lived. Sherries are very long lived themselves, since they owe some of their flavor to a small amount of oxidation. Thus, continued small amounts of oxidation during aging doesn’t hurt the flavor or keeping quality of Sherry, unlike the case with table wines.

KABINETT
A German term for a wine of quality. Usually the driest of Germany’s best Rieslings. The most basic of the Pradikate of the Q.m.P. category as defined by German Wine Law.

KOSHER
A wine made according to strict Jewish rules under close supervision.

LAGARE
Large, low granite vat which has a capacity of 110 hectolitres, traditional vignification container for Douro wine.

LATE HARVEST
Indicates grapes that are picked as late as possible in the season for maximum sugar content. Usually associated with botrytized and dessert-style wines.

LAMBRUSCO
A fizzy, usually red, dry to sweet wine produced from Lambrusco grapes in regions of northern Italy.

LANGUEDOC
A wine producing region in Southern France.

LEAFY
Somewhat analogous to “vegetal”. Desirable in minute detectable amounts, if adding to notes of complexity in the wine.

LEAN
More body would be good, sort of thin in the mouth, often too much astringency, sometimes a compliment for certain styles.

LEES
Sediment and yeast found in a barrel or tank during and after fermentation. Increasingly, winemakers are using the old technique of aging the wine on the lees to increase complexities in the aromas and flavors. “Sur Lie” is the French term for a wine left on the lees.

LEFT BANK
The side of a river that is to your left if you position yourself in the middle of the river and look downstream. In Bordeaux, this would be the side that contains the Medoc.

LEGS
Term used when referring to the liquid rivulets that form on the inside of a wineglass bowl after the wine is swirled in order to evaluate the alcohol concentration present. Usually the higher the alcohol content, the more impressive the rivulets appear because of reduced surface tension effects. Valuable technique when used in “blind” tasting competitions.

LEMONY
Descriptive of a somewhat acidic white wine. These wines contain flavors reminiscent of that fruit. Apart from that, may be well balanced in all other respects, sometimes with a touch of extra sweetness.

LENGTH
How long the total flavor lasts in the back of the throat after swallowing. Counted in time-seconds, known as “caudilie”. Ten seconds (caudilie) is good, fifteen is great, twenty is excellent and fifty is superb. Almost a synonym for the term finish, as in “this is a wine with an long, extraordinary finish”.

LIBRARY WINE
Older vintages offered for sale in small quantities (often times by the winery itself).

LIGHT
Low alcohol and/or sugar. Since about 1981 a wine containing fewer calories per comparable serving than a regular glass of wine has been legally designated as such. Used as a tasting term, “light” is usually a polite expression meaning “watery”.

LIGHTSTRUCK
A condition that can occur in wines (especially delicate wines) when they are exposed to ultra-violet light rays for too long a time. It is a flaw that has been described as having the smell and taste of wet cardboard.

LIMOUSIN
A type of French oak cask from the forest of Limoges, France. Limousin is known for ita looser, more open grain wood.

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

LITER
Standard unit of measure in the metric system:
1 Liter = 1.054 US Quarts
1 US Gallon = 3.785 Liters

LIVELY
Almost a synonym for fresh. Implies detection of barely discernible spritzyness. Most often used to describe white wines.

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

LOUCHE
A wine troubled by the presence of suspended particles which cause it to be cloudy.

LONG
A desirable trait in any fine wine. Long (or length) relates to a wine’s finish, meaning that after you swallow the wine, you sense its presence for a long time. (Thirty seconds to several minutes is great length.) In a young wine, the difference between something good and something great is the length of the wine.

LUSH
Describes impression of wines with high amounts of residual sugar. Adjective often used in describing sweet dessert wines.

MACERATION
During fermentation, the steeping of the grape skins and solids in the wine, where alcohol acts as a solvent to extract color, tannin and aroma from the skins.

MACON
The Mâcon Appellation is located in Southern Burgundy, on the right bank of the Saône River, North of the city of Mâcon. The soils there are granite with chalky underlying rocks. The white wines are made from the Chardonnay grape as are all the great white burgundies.

MADERIA
A fortified wine from the island of Madeira which belongs to Portugal but is located off the west African coast. Historically famous, the wine drunk by the founding fathers of the United States to toast the signing of the Declaration of Independence is reported to have been Madeira. The very best Madeiras are made from four white grapes: sercial, verdelho, bual, and malmsey, which give the four styles of Madeira their names.

MADERIZED
Distinctive brown color in wine due usually to period of air exposure. Regarded as synonym for oxidized. Originates from the taste and appearance of fortified Madeira wines.

MADIRAN
A small but well known appellation in in the Languedoc region of France that produces robust red wines.

MAGNUM
An oversized bottle that holds 1.5 liters. Equal to two standard bottles. This size is the most popular of all large format bottles.

MALBEC
A hearty red grape of French origin now exceedingly popular in Argentina.

MALIC
Describes the green apple-like flavor found in young grapes which diminishes as they ripen and mature.

MALOLACTIC FERMENTATION
Secondary fermentation occasionally detected in bottled wines. Its action converts the naturally occurring Malic acid into Lactic acid plus Carbon Dioxide gas. Reduces total acidity by this action. Since the gas is contaminated with undesirable odors, if it remains trapped in the bottle it becomes a minor fault unless allowed to dissipate. Malolactic fermentation is a commonly used technique for reducing the sharpness of cool climate Chardonnays and the Lactic acid component gives an admired creamy” or “buttery texture.

MALVASIA
One of the most ancient of Italy’s white-wine grape varieties and it said by some to be a member of the Muscat family, which is often blended with other grapes, including the traditional Chianti; also seen as a 100 percent varietal. As finished wines Malvasias vary widely in style and color, from crisp, bone-dry whites to rich.

MANHOLE
Large opening in the sidewall of a wine tank through which spent pomace or lees is removed after the wine is racked (drained) off. Cellar workers can enter through the manhole for tank cleaning.

MARSALA
These are fortfied wines from the western tip of Sicily. As with Sherry and Madeira the flavor comes from oxidation. The various quality levels for Marsala are:
Fine – 1 year of aging and 17% alcohol (The lowest level)
Superiore – 2 years of aging and 18% alcohol
Superiore Riserva – 4 years of aging
Vergine – 5 years of aging and it cannot have concentrated must added
Vergine Riserva – At least 10 years of age these wines are dry and somewhat austere and usually served as an aperitif.

MARECHAL FOCH
A French hybrid grape used to make red wines, mostly in the Eastern United States.

MARGAUX
One of the most well known sub regions of the Medoc region of Bordeaux, France.

MARSANNE
Vine from which white wine is made and which is found above all in Provence, Savoie and Algérie.

MASH HEATING
To soften and ferment the grapes by steeping them in a liquid heated to around 158 degrees F before fermentation. This releases pigments from the skins; not typically used with high value wine.

MASSIVE
In great vintages where there is a high degree of ripeness and superb concentration, some wines can turn out to be so big, full-bodied, and rich that they are called massive.

MASTER OF WINE
A title bestowed by the Institute of Masters of Wine which was founded in 1953 in England,and is an exclusive organization requiring those qualified to pass a rigorous three-day exam. Part of the exam includes blind-tasting about 36 wines with the aim of correctly identifying them. A person with this title may put the abbreviation M.W. after his or her name.

MATARO
Spanish name for Mourvedre.

MATURE
Wine which is ready to drink now.

MATCHSTICK
Describes the odor of Sulphur Dioxide gas, described by some as similar to the smell of “burnt matches”, found in minute amounts very occasionally trapped in bottled white wines. Dissipates with airing or decanting.

MEATY
With much body as though you could chew it. The reference is to lean meat, so indicates less body present than fleshy.

MEDIUM- DRY
The term refers to a sweet Champagne

MEDOC (pronounced may-doc)
Red wine district within the Bordeaux region of France.

MERISTEM
Region of active growth in a grapevine, made up of meristematic cells that divide to form new cells during growth.

MERISTEMATIC TISSUE
The actively growing tissue of a grape vine. Meristem cells are located in the cambium, shoot tips, buds, root tips and flower. Meristematic tissue is composed of thin-walled actively growing cells that form new cells by dividing.

MEAGER
Lacks body and depth. Has definite feeling of flavor dilution. Seems to occur in some select varietal wines vinified from grapes subjected to late season rain, although there are other explanations as well.

MELANGE
Blend of different varietals.

MELLOW
Soft, smooth without harshness.

MERCAPTANS
An unpleasant, rubbery smell of sulfur. This is mainly encountered in very old white wines.

MERITAGE
An invented term, used by California wineries, for Bordeaux-style red and white blended wines. Combines “merit” with “heritage.” The term arose out of the need to name wines that didn’t meet minimal labeling requirements for varietals (i.e., 75 percent of the named grape variety). For reds, the grapes allowed are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Malbec; for whites, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Joseph Phelps Insignia and Flora Springs Trilogy are examples of wines whose blends vary each year, with no one grape dominating.

MERLOT
The most widely planted grape in Bordeaux, merlot, a red grape, is also grown in most of the same places as cabernet sauvignon. And in fact, the two are often blended. Because merlot in general has somewhat less tannin than cabernet sauvignon, it often feels softer on the palate. Its flavors often run to mocha and boysenberry. Also produces fine red wines in California, Chile, Australia, Argentina, Israel and in many other regions. They tend to age a little faster in the bottle, making the wine somewhat faster to attain drink ability in your cellar.

METHODE CHAMPENOISE
The method by which real Champagne gets its bubbles, i.e. the secondary fermentation takes place within the bottle. French term, developed in the Champagne region, used to describe sparkling wine made via the classic method of secondary fermentation taking place naturally in the individual bottle.

METHUSELAH
An extra large bottle holding 6 liters. This is equivalent of eight standard bottles.

MICROCLIMATE
Refers to the climate within a small, defined area, possibly different from the area directly surrounding this area that can dramatically affect the character of the wine produced there

MID-PALATE
When you take a sip of good wine there is often a sequence of flavor and texture impressions, of which the mid-palate is the impression registered as you hold the wine in your mouth for a moment but before you swallow.

MILDEW
Grapevine disease. Can be devastating but is usually controlled by dusting the vines with sulfur or spraying with organic fungicides. The two major types of mildew are Powdery mildew, which occurs in (low humidity) California and Downey mildew, which occurs in (higher humidity) Europe and other wine regions of the world.

MINERVOIS
In the Languedoc wine region which produces fairly inexpensive, fruity red wines.

MINTY
Sometimes refers to an aroma from certain Cabernet Sauvignon wines grown in warm climates.

MISE EN BOUTEILLE
French term which literally means: put in bottle.

MISE EN BOUTEILLE AU CHATEU
French term meaning estate bottled. It has some legal significance and referring to a wine produced and bottled at the property where the grapes are grown.

MOG
Material Other than Grapes, in reference to the various debris that is often harvested along with the grapes, especially when harvesting by machine.

MONOCEPAGE
This term describes a wine made totally of one specific varietal.

MONOPOLE
Used to denote a vineyard owned exclusively by one proprietor, the word monopole appears on the label of a wine made from such a vineyard.

MORSELLATED
Many vineyards are fragmented, with multiple growers owning a portion of the same vineyard. Such a vineyard is often referred to as a morsellated vineyard.

MONTEPULCIANO
Red grapes from the Abruzzi region of Italy used to produce medium to full-body wines with good structure and color, such as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. It is also the official grape used in Rosso Cónero and Rosso Piceno.

MOSCATO
The Italian word for Muscat, referring to the family of white wine grapes used to produce still and sparkling, medium sweet to sweet wines.

MOSEL
The scenic river valley in Germany, a tributary of the Rhine and the source of some of the best German white wines produced from Riesling grapes.

MOUUSEUX
French term used to describe sparkling wine made by the Charmat Method – a method where sparkling wine is made in bulk in sealed tanks and then bottled under pressure.

MOUTH FEEL
How a wine feels in the mouth and against the tongue.

MOUTH-FILLING
Wines possessing intense flavors which seem to affect every sensory nerve in the mouth. Usually slightly high glycerin component, slightly low acid.

MOURVEDRE
A late ripening red grape variety widely planted in southern France, Spain and Central California that is rich in color and extract producing dark, fruity wines that are sometimes said to have earthy bouquets, likened to tree bark. This grape is often used for blending.

MULED WINE
Any red wine, served hot, that has been mixed with any combination of sugar, fresh orange or lemon, even fresh apple, spices, usually including cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

MURKY
More than deeply colored; lacking brightness, turbid and sometimes a bit swampy. Mainly a fault of red wines.

MUST
The unfermented juice of grapes extracted by crushing or pressing; grape juice in the cask or vat before it is converted into wine.

MUSCADET
A light, dry, French white wine made from grapes of the same name, sometimes said to have a slightly musky, cantaloupe quality and typically served with seafood.

MUSCAT
Ancient, aromatic white wine grape with a very extended family and said by some to be the ancestor of most other vitis vinifera grapes, which produces fruity, softly perfumed wines, some fine Italian sparkling wines and some enticing dessert wines from Austria and other parts of the world.

MUSTY
A wine that displays unpleasant “mildew” or “moldy” aromas. Results from improperly cleaned storage vessels, moldy grapes or cork.

NAPA
A town (and county) are 50 miles northeast of San Francisco. The Napa Valley is United States most well known wine growing region.

NEBBIOLO
A grand vine from Italy, whose wines are fine and tannic. Barolo and Barbaresco are made of 100% Nebbiolo.

NEBUCHADNZZER
A giant wine bottle holding 15 liters. Equal to 20 standard bottles.

NECTAR
During ancient times, nectar was the drink of Greek gods. Today we speak about nectar for wines of exceptional quality. Dessert wines are often refered to as nectar.

NERVEUX
Sharp and acidic wine

NERVOUS
Describes a wine that has a good amount of alcohol and acidity in balance.

NET
Pleasant and refreshing wine, without a “false” taste.

NEUTRAL
Describes a wine without outstanding characteristics, good or bad.

NEGOCIANT
A French wine merchant that buys grapes and vinifies them, or buys wines and combines them, bottles the result under his own label and ships them. Particularly found in Burgundy. Two well-known examples are Joseph Drouhin and Louis Jadot.

NEVERS
One type of French oak used for wine barrels. Similar to Alliers in that both come from central France and both woods are tight-grained as opposed to Limousin, which has a looser, more open grain.

NOBLE ROT
Common name for Botrytis cinerea, the famous fungus of more than a few fabulous dessert wines.

NON-VINTAGE
Blended from more than one vintage. This allows the vintner to keep a house style from year to year. Many Champagnes and sparkling wines are non-vintage. Also, Sherry and the nonvintage Ports, the tawnies and the rubies.

NORTH COAST
A viticultural area in California comprising all the grape growing areas of Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Solano, Lake and Marin Counties.

NOSE
Synonym word for “aroma” and includes “bouquet”. Strictly applied it refers to the totality of the detectable odor, (grape variety, vinous character, fermentation smells), whether desirable or defective, found in a wine. One would speak of a mature wine as having a “varietal aromas, flowery bouquet and hint of vanilla oak combining to give a balanced nose”.

The sense organs of the human nose can be educated by the use of purchased odor comparison kits.

NOUVEAU
Indicates young, immediately drinkable wine.

NOVELLO
Term for Italian wines that are retailed soon after the harvest.

NUTTY
Table wines that have been exposed to air display this aroma which resembles that of certain sherry wines. Considered a flaw by some in red wines, but a desired flavor component in certain white wines by others.

OAK
Wood used for barrels. Oaky refers to the flavors that using oak imparts to wine. Oak barrels can also impart many varied flavors into wine such as: vanilla, anise, coffee, bell peppers etc.

OAKY
The taste or aroma of freshly sawn oak. A wine, especially a red, is considered as correctly “oaked” when the “nose” carries a bare whiff of vanilla aroma. Sometimes oak flavors overpower other component wine flavors in which case it is considered overoaked. Oak flavor is introduced from contact with storage barrels made from that wood. New oak barrels contribute stronger flavor to a wine than older storage barrels. The “oaky” components encountered include “vanillin”, and so-called “toasty”, “charred” or “roasted” elements. The three others derive from the “charring” of the barrel that occurs from heating the broad iron rings which hold the barrel staves in place after contraction and the flaming of the interior.

OBOVOID
One of the six main shapes of a wine grape. The obovoid shape looks like a cross between an oval and a pear shape. The other 5 wine grape shapes (terms) include: Oblate (flat at the ends), Oviod (egg shaped), Spherical (round), Ellipsoidal Elongated (a stretched oval), Ellipsoidal (oval).

OCTAVE
A small barrel with a capacity varying between 54.5 litres and 81.8 litres (in general 63.6 litres).

OFF
If a wine is not showing its true character, or is flawed or spoiled in some way, it is said to be “off.”

OFF-DRY
Not quite a dry wine; refers to a very slightly sweet wine where the residual sugar is only faintly perceptible.

OIDIUM
French name for the fungal vine disease “Downey mildew.”

OILY
Describes the vaguely fat, slippery sensation on the palate in contact with the combination of high glycerin and slightly low acid content. Mostly encountered in high quality Chardonnays and late harvest sweet wines.

OLOROSO
Spanish term meaning ‘fragrant’, and one of the two broad categories of Sherry, that are typically dark and full-bodied.

ONCTUOSITE
A full, mellow, rich wine.

OPEN-UP/OPENING-UP
Some bottled cellar-aged red wines possess the peculiarity that, when the cork is first pulled and the wine poured, the full flavors do not immediately make an appearance. However, after the passage of several minutes in an open glass goblet, the wine develops unsuspected flavor characteristics that can verge on the sublime. This phenomenon is referred to as “opening-up”. Conversely, these flavors can disappear just as fast in just 30 minutes, leaving a subsequent impression of a flat, stale, “over-the-hill” and/or mediocre wine.

OPTIMA
German grape variety used primarily in a blend but can sometimes be found as a varietal.

ORDINAIRE
From “vin ordinaire,” the term means any common wine of everyday quality. Some people think that Ordinaire is a notch higher than “Plonk” on the quality scale. I don’t know that it makes any difference.

ORGANIC
Grapes grown without the aid of chemical-based fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.

ORVIETO
The name of an ancient town in Umbria, Italy that produces a dry white wine.

OVERIPE
A grape precondition necessary for making certain styles of Californian Zinfandel wines. Left on the vine to dry in the sun, certain grape varietals will develop the desirable “raisiny” character and concentrated sugar necessary for making specialty wines such as the Hungarian “Tokay”.

OVER CROPPED
A vine that carries more crop than it can reasonably ripen. Vines that aren’t pruned drastically enough tend to set too much crop. Wine produced from fruit of an over cropped vine is always poorer in quality than if the crop were normal size. An over cropped vine can be corrected, if it’s done in time, by simply thinning the crop in late June or early July. The grower sends in a crew to cut off from 10 to 40% of the over cropped fruit while it is small and green. The remaining fruit will develop and ripen correctly.

OWC
Original Wooden Case. The wooden box the wine was shipped in.

OXIDATION
The chemical reactions involved in combining oxygen with wine to produce “oxidized” changes in the flavors and color of the wine. In table wines, oxidation is almost always undesirable, and irreversible. Once ruined, the wine stays ruined. Oxidation can be defined as any adverse change in wine flavor, stability and/or color caused by excessive exposure to air.

OXIDIZED
Flavor term to describe a wine that has suffered excessive oxidation through exposure to oxygen. During oxidation, wines lose their original fruitiness and take on a darker color, eventually becoming quite brown and taking on a Sherry like, “vegetable soup” flavor.

PASO ROBLES
Wine growing region in Central California most noted for the high quality of Rhone Varitals.

PASTEUR
Louis Pasteur, the “father of modern winemaking and pasteurized milk. He correctly identified yeasts as the causative organisms for fermentation and developed a heat process (Pasteurization) for stabilizing wine, milk and other liquid foods from spoilage. Pasteur wrote, “Wine is the most healthful and hygienic of beverages.”

PASSITO
An Italian wine-making process whereby harvested grapes are dried before being pressed to concentrate the sugars prior to fermentation.

PAUILLAC
Name of a village in the Haut-Medoc area of the world famous Bordeaux region in France.

PALATE
The feel and taste of wine in the mouth.

PASSITO
Italian method of making wine from dried grapes (raisins).

PEAK
The time when a wine tastes its best–very subjective.

PEDESTRIAN
Plain. Wine of little character.

PENEDES
A Spanish wine district near Barcelona with a good reputation, home to the Torres winery.

PEPPERY
Term almost solely applied to “spicy” wines, such as Gewurztraminer among the whites, or the red Rhone Syrah and Australian Shiraz wines. Is a component which can almost be described as pungent in quality, being reminiscent of anise, cinnamon etc.

PEREQUITA
A red-wine grape grown in southern Portugal that produces, hearty, medium-bodied, robust reds.

PERSISTENT
Wine of which the taste remains in the mouth.

PERFUMED
Synonym for “floral”. Implies also a degree of extra residual sugar.

PH
A measure of the intensity of the acidity (hydrogen ions) in grape juice and wine. pH is often a better measure of acid balance in a juice than is the total acidity.

PHENOLICS
Substances extracted from the skins of grapes tat provide the color and texture of red wine.

PETITE CHAMPAGNE
No relation to Champagne it comes from the second region of Cognac.

PETILLANT
Lightly sparkling, or crackling, possibly only realized as a slight prickly sensation on the tongue.

PETITE SIRAH
A red grape variety, most widely grown in California, not to be confused with the true Syrah of the Rhone Valley of France.

PETIT VERDOT
Red wine grape variety most often grown in Bordeaux and used for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon.

PHOTOSYNTHESIS
The biochemistry that manufactures carbohydrates (sugars) in green tissue of living plants from CO2 and water. The CO2 enters leaves directly from air and the water comes up from the roots. The reaction uses sunlight as its energy source and it is catalyzed by chlorophyll.

PHYLLOXERA
A vine disease caused by an aphid attacking the roots. Originally from America (where native vines were resistant) this disease has caused widespread global damage. New vineyards are being planted on American resistant rootstock grafted with ‘vitis vinifera’ grape varieties.

PIEDMONT
An area in northwest Italy (near Turin) known for Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, Dolcetto and Moscato.

PIGEAGE
A winemaking technique of punching down the cap of grape skins that forms during the beginning of the wine’s fermentation. This is done several times a day, occasionally more frequently, to extract color, flavor, and tannin from the fermenting juice.

PINOT BLANC
One of the white grapes of the pinot family that includes pinot grigio (also white) and the red grapes pinot noir and pinot meunier. While some pinot blanc can be found interspersed with chardonnay in the vineyards of Burgundy, the grape is more renowned in Alsace. In North America, California boasts several top producers of pinot blanc, though the grape is not widely grown. Pinot blanc often has flavors similar to chardonnay, though the wine is generally lighter in body and somewhat more delicate.

PINOT GRIGIO
Like pinot blanc, one of the white grapes of the pinot family, and like riesling and gewьrztraminer, pinot grigio loves cold climates. The most renowned pinot grigios come from the northernmost regions of Italy, especially those regions that border the Alps, as well as Alsace, where it is known as pinot gris or, confusingly, as “tokay.” In the U.S., Oregon is emerging as the top state for delicious lively pinot gris’ with light almond, lemon and vanilla flavors.

PINOT MEUNIER
Red wine grapes originating from the Champagne region of France and used for blending with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to add a certain fruitiness to champagne. Recently the Pinot Meunier varietal is being grown and marketed in Oregon.

PINOT NOIR
One of the most renowned red grapes in the world for its supple silky texture and mesmerizingly earthy flavors. Pinot Noir, like Riesling, requires a cool climate and in fact, its ancestral home is the Burgundy region of France. The grape, which is very difficult to grow and make into wine, is also grown in Oregon and California, but rarely elsewhere.

PINOTAGE
A hybrid between Pinot Noir and Cinsault that’s grown almost exclusively in South Africa.

PLEIN
Wine having more taste, body and alcohol than average.

PLONK
A derogatory name for cheap, poor-tasting wine.

PLUMP
Less than “fat”, but otherwise nearly a synonym.

PIPE
A large barrel or cask used for storing, transporting or aging wine, especially dessert wine. Pipes vary in size between about 110 and 140 US gallons.

POMACE
The pomace is the residue of the harvest. It contains stems, skin and pips. It can be distilled to obtain raw brandy.

POMEROL
French Village on the right bank of the Dordogne, where some noteworthy Merlot-based red wines are produced.

PONDEROUS
Even less balanced than a “hearty” or “sturdy” wine. The sole impact is one of high alcohol and “body” character. Little or no acid/tannin content. An everyday red wine, similar to a french “vin ordinaire” country wine sold by alcohol content, can be an example.

POTENT
A term used to describe a wine that is intense and powerful.

PORT
A fortified wine of Portugal, also known as Oporto. Very richly flavored and sweet. There are a number of different styles: tawny – aged in wooden barrels, rather than the bottle, the age (10 years etc.) refers to the average age of the wine in the barrel: colheita – refers to a port of a single vintage that has been aged in wooden barrels: vintage- port of a specific year that is aged in the bottle; late bottled – aged in the barrel but not for as long as a tawny port; ruby – about three years old, sweet and ruby red colored, usually fruity and ready to drink.

POWERFUL
Close to being a synonym for BRAWNY.

PREMIER CRU
French for “first growth;” a high-quality vineyard but one not as good as Grand Cru.

PRESS WINE
The juice extracted under pressure after pressing for white wines and after fermentation for reds. Press wine has more flavor and aroma, deeper color and often more tannins than free-run juice. Wineries often blend a portion of press wine back into the main cuvée for added backbone.

PROOF
Scale for measuring and expressing the alcohol content of high alcohol liquids. Proof is never used for wine. The proof of a liquor is twice its alcohol content, i.e., 80 proof = 40% alcohol. Since wine is always much lower in alcohol than the range commonly used for proof, the term has no use in wine production and is not used on wine labels.

PRIMARY FRUIT
The recognizable fruity overtones of a young wine where distinct berry or cherry influences are present – wines can lose primary fruit as they age picking up other qualities that come with the maturation process.

PRICKLY
A wine with slight residual gas in it. Usually attractive in light young whites, but in reds it is often a sign of refermentation in the bottle or bottling of the wine prematurely.

PRIORATO
Wine region of northeastern Spain, near Barcelona that produces hearty, dark red wines.

PRIVATE RESERVE
This description, along with Reserve, once stood for the best wines a winery produced, but lacking a legal definition many wineries use it or a spin-off (such as Proprietor’s Reserve) for rather ordinary wines. Depending upon the producer, it may still signify excellent quality.

PROVENCE
Wine region of southeastern France, boasting an enviable Mediterranean climate, and well known for dry rosés and fruity red wines.

PRUNEY
Overripe, sun-dried grapes can induce an undesirable pungent quality into table wines; sometimes compared to “the taste of dried prunes”.

PRUNING
The annual vineyard chore of trimming back plants from the previous harvest.

PUCKERY
Synonym for Astringent. Describes a highly tannic and very dry wine.

PUMPING OVER
The act of pumping wine out from a bottom valve of a fermenting tank up onto the top of the fermenting mass in the same tank to keep the floating “cap” of skins wet. This is necessary during fermentation of red wine in order to achieve complete extraction of color and flavor from the skins.

PUNGENT
Having a powerful, assertive smell linked to a high level of volatile acidity.

PUNT
A deep indentation found in the bottom of many wine bottles. The earliest origins of the punt are lost to us but punts are believed to be for strength of the bottom of the bottle (especially with sparkling wine) or in order to form a stable (non-rocking) bottom in the hand-blown bottles. Whatever the beginnings, a punt is unnecessary today and is used as a marketing tool. Modern glass technology allows bottles to be made that do not require a punt for strength or stability. Many consumers view wines in punt bottles to be of higher quality than those in bottles without punts.

PURE YEASTING
Uses cultured yeast for fermentation to convert the must in the wine. Its reactions are more predictable than the ‘spontaneous’ yeast in grapes; whose fermentation can be difficult to control.

QBA (QUALITÄTSWEIN BESTIMMTER ANBAUGEBIETE)
The German wine law enacted in 1971, that guarantees the consumer a particular level of quality.

QUAFFER / QUAFFABLE
A wine to drink (not sip). An average wine.

QUALITATSWEIN
German term for a higher quality wine with a designation of origin, in contrast to a simple table wine.

QUINTA
The Portuguese word for a vineyard, farm or estate.

RACKING
Traditional method of wine clarification. Sequential transfer of wine to several containers, each transfer leaving behind some particulate matter.

RACY
Sharp acidity usually found in young white wine.

RAINWATER
Generic name used for a medium-dry style of Madeira, whose origin is a little sketchy but thought to have come from 18th century England

RAISINY
Mildly rich flavor due to excessive heat in the growing area which dries out grapes still on the vine. Considered a fault in most dry table wines.

RANCIO
Word normally used to describe a flavor perception found in tawny brown, wood-aged and heated fortified wines such as some “Madeira”. Refers to the peculiarly blowsy overly-ripe fruit aroma, analogous to overipe bananas, admired in Port-style fortified wines but considered a fault in dry table wines where the detectable presence of oxidized components is frowned on for the most part.

RAW
Young and undeveloped. A good descriptor of barrel samples of red wine. Raw wines are often tannic and high in alcohol or acidity.

RECIOTO
A most usually sweet wine from the Veneto region of northeastern Italy, made from very ripe grapes.

REDUCED
Commonly used to describe a wine that has not been exposed to air.

REIMS
A city in northeastern France. Along with the town of Epernay, Reims is the center of the Champagne region.

REFINED
Term for well-balanced wines. Mostly refers to reds, such as Zinfandel, that normally turn “powerful” in the barrel. Almost a synonym for elegant.

REHOBOAM
Oversized bottle equivalent to 4.5 liters or six regular bottles.

REMUAGE
A process used in the making of Champagne whereby the sediment is removed after secondary fermentation in bottle.

RESERVA
A Spanish and Portuguese quality grade for the wines of particular vintage meeting specific requirements. Spanish reds must have min aging of 36 months, whites 24 months. In Portugal, the alcohol content must be 0.5% above the prescribed minimum levels.

RESIDUAL SUGAR
Percentage, by weight or volume, of the unfermented grape sugar in a bottled wine.

RETSINA
A dry white wine made in Greece, mostly from the Savatiano grape, to which pine resin has been added.

RHINE
Famous wine river in Germany. The common name given to all German wines produced from vineyards near the Rhine River.

RHEINGAU
A German wine region along the Rhine River, highly regarded due to the very nature of the steep vineyards most of which face due south.

RHONE
A river in southwest France surrounded by villages producing wines mostly from Syrah; the name of the wine-producing valley in France

RHONE VARIETY WINES
A grouping of 22 related varietals.

RIDDLING
The process of rotating Champagne bottles in order to shift sediment toward the cork. AKA remuage in French.

RIM
Refers to edge of wine surface as seen through a ballon (goblet) style wineglass held at an angle of about 30-40 deg. from the vertical and viewed against white piece of paper or cloth using natural light. Used in evaluation of wine age. In blind tasting is about the only way to get an informed perception about the probable life and/or condition of the wine from that date on.

RIPASSO
A unique Italian wine-making process in which the wine made during the current vintage is saved, put atop the pressed grapeskins and other particulate residue in the vats just used and allowed to ferment further with the skins and other grape residue, thereby acquiring additional flavor and body.

RIPE
Favorable adjective bestowed when the varietal characteristics of the grape are optimally present in a well balanced wine. Ripe-tasting wines tend toward being slightly more fruity and sweet than otherwise normal wines.

RICH
Giving a full, rounded flavor impression without necessarily being sweet. Richness supplied by alcohol, glycerin and oak vanilla nuances in dry wine. The sweeter wines qualify for this adjective if also characterized by ripe, fruity flavors.

RIESLING
The renowned white grape of Germany, Austria and the Alsace region of France. The grape loves to grow in cold climates and when it does, it can exhibit exquisite delicacy and elegance with light peachy/minerally flavors.

RIGHT BANK
The bank of a river that is to your right if you position yourself in the middle of the river and look downstream. In Bordeaux, this would be the bank containing Saint Emilion and Pomerol.

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

ROBUST
Vigorous, full with a lot of heart, a big scaled wine.

ROOM TEMPERATURE
Room temperature is defined as 69-73 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperture is generally to warm to serve red wine.

ROTTEN EGG
Smell of hydrogen sulfide gas in wine. Thought to be a characteristic imparted by certain yeast strains. A decided flaw.

ROUGH
Flavor/texture is coarse. Acidity and/or tannin are predominant and unpleasant.

ROUND
Describes flavors and tactile sensations giving a feeling of completeness with no dominating characteristic. Almost the same as fat, but with more approval. Tannin, acid and glycerin are sufficiently present but appear as nuances rather than distinct flavors.

ROSE
French for “pink,” and used to describe a category of refreshing wines that are pink in color but are made from red grapes.

ROSY
A pink wine which can be made from any number of red grape varieties. In southern France where rosy`s are extremely popular, rosy`s are often made from grenache. Rosy`s can be made in numerous ways, the most common of which is simply to draw the wine off the red grape skins before the skins have fully tinted the wine red. Rosy`s wines, like white wines, taste best served chilled.

ROUSANNE
White grape grown in the northern Rhone Valley of France, most often used for blending with the white wine grape Marsanne.

RUSTIC
Describes wines made by old-fashioned methods or tasting like wines made in an earlier era. Can be a positive quality in distinctive wines that require aging. Can also be a negative quality when used to describe a young, earthy wine that should be fresh and fruity.

SACK
Shakespearean era name for Sherry wine.

SAINT-CHINIAN
Wine region of the Languedoc area of southern France, that is growing in popularity.

SAINT EMILION
Wine region of the Bordeaux area of France, on the right bank of the Dordogne, best known for its red wines often made with Merlot.

SAINT ESTEPHE
An area of northern Haut Medoc in the Bordeaux region.

SALMANAZAR
An oversized bottle holding 9 liters, This size is equivalent of 12 standard size bottles.

SALTY
One of the basic taste sensations detected by the receptors in the human tongue.

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

SANGRIA
Sangria is made from red wine, fruit juices, soda water and fruit. Sometimes brandy is added. Sangria Blanco is made from white wine. Both are served cold with ice.

SANGIOVESE
A red grape native to Tuscany. The base grape for Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Morellino di Scansano and others.

SAUTERNES
A sweet Bordeaux white wine made from botrytized Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

SAUVINGNON BLANC
The famous white grape of the Sancerre region of France and New Zealand. Sauvignon Blanc also grows in Bordeaux (where it is usually blended with semillon), South Africa, Israel and in California and Washington state. It’s wonderfully wild, untamed flavors are often reminiscent of grass, herbs, green tea and limes, often overlaid with a smokiness.

SAVENNIERES
A small region in the Loire area of France that produces top quality Chenin Blanc.

SAVORY
A general descriptive term that denotes a wine that is round, flavorful, and interesting to drink.

SCREW CAP
New alternative to cork (or synthetic cork) used as closure for wine.

SHALLOW
A weak, feeble, watery or diluted wine lacking concentration is said to be shallow.

SCHAUMWEIN
German term referring to a sparkling wine.

SCHEUREBE
Newer variety grape from the Rhine region of Germany, made from a cross of Riesling and Sylvaner, that is generally used to produce sweet, late harvest wines.

SCHLOSS
A German word for castle; on a wine label it is equivalent to the French word “Chateau.”

SEC
French term meaning dry, or lacking sugar. However, on French Champagne labels it means that the wine is sweet.

SECONDARY FERMENTATION
Any fermentation that happens after the primary (yeast) fermentation has been completed. Malo-lactic is a secondary fermentation that occurs in most red, and some white, still wines. Another secondary is the yeast fermentation that is used to change still wine into sparkling wine.

SEDIMENT
Small particles, mostly of color, that drops out of suspension as a wine ages. With considerable age, many great wines throw off a sediment. Sediment is harmless.

SEKT
German classification for sparkling wine.

SEMILLION
A plump white grape popular in Bordeaux and Australia. The main grape used to create Sauternes.

SETUBAL
An area located south of Lisbon, Portugal that produces fortified wines from Muscat of Alexandria. The wines are aged in large vats and small barresl for 5 or 6 years, resulting in a deep golden wine capable of aging for many years.

SEDUCTIVE
A wine that is appealing.

SET
The fixing of tiny, newly pollinated grape berries to the cluster stems. Without set, the pistil (containing an ovary) would simply dry up and fall off. But after set, it becomes more firmly attached to its stem and develops into a grape berry.

SEYVAL BLANC
Hybrid grape of French origin that is widely used in the USA, generally producing oak-aged dry whites.

SHARP
Excess acid predominates, disturbing the otherwise balanced flavors.

SHERRY
The famous fortified wine from the southern Spain. Sherry is made by an extremely complex method of fractional blending called the solera system. The grape variety used is principally Palomino, though small amounts of Pedro Ximenez may also be included. Like Champagne and Port, Sherry is made in a variety of styles and at a variety of sweetness levels. Sherry-style wines are also made in California though they usually do not go through a solera system and most are sweet.

SHOOT
The elongating, green, growing vine stem that holds leaves, tendrils, flower or fruit clusters and developing buds.

SHORT
Describes a wine that does not remain on the palate after swallowing.

SHUT DOWN
Refers to a dormant stage of a wines development in the bottle. This often begins shortly after a wine is bottled and may last months or years. When the wine is in this stage is does not show it best properties and may taste flat.

SIMPLE
Normal, everyday, well-vinified table wine of straightforward character.

SINEWY
Usually referring to a wine with not much fruitiness, but a good balance of alcohol and acidity.

SMOKE / SMOKY
Refers to aroma contributed by the charred oakwood in barrels. It can have a variety of impressions. Needs a variant, such as “wood-smoke” or “barbecue smoke” or “sooty” to fully convey the meaning.

SOAVE
An Italian white wine. Always a blend, the wine is produced in northern Italy. Soaves is recommended to drink at only 1-2 years of age.

SOFT
Generally has low acid/tannin content. Also describes wines with low alcohol content. Consequently has little impact on the palate.

SOLERA
The Spanish system of blending wines of different ages to create a harmonious end product; a stack of barrels holding wines of various ages.

SOMMELIER
A wine steward.

SOUR
Almost a synonym for Acidic. Implies presence of acetic acid plus excess acid component. Is also one of the four basic taste sensations detected by the human tongue.

SPANNA
Local name for the Nebbiolo grape and the red wine produced from it in the northern Piedmont region of Italy.

SPARKLING WINES
A general term for all carbonated wines, whether natural sparkling or not. Includes French Champagnes as well as effervescent wines from other parts of the world.

SPATBURGUNDER
A German term for Pinot Noir.

SPATLESE
One of the German terms for Pradikate of the Q.m.P. category of German Wine Law, literally meaning ‘late picked’.

SPICY
Almost a synonym for “peppery”. Implies a softer, more rounded flavor nuance however.

SPLIT
A quarter bottle of wine. A single-serving bottle equal to 175 milliliters

SPRITZY
Considered a fairly minor fault stemming sometimes from the onset of a brief secondary malolactic fermentation in the bottle. Consists of pinpoint carbonation typically released when the bottle cork is pulled. Frowned on more if occurring in white wines vinified to be dry.

SPRITZIG
German term for a lightly sparkling wine.

SPUMANTE

Italian term meaning ‘foaming’ and referring to sparkling wines.

STALE
Wine with lifeless, stagnant qualities. Usually found in wines that were kept in large vessel storage for an excessive length of time.

STALKY
Smells and tastes of grape stems or has leaf- or hay-like aromas.

STAVES
Pieces of wood made out of planks of oak split by hand and dried naturally. They are used to make the casks.

STEELY
Mouth feel and aroma applied to many non oaked white wines. Duel meaning due to it fermentation in steel and its almost metallic flavor.

STILL WINES (non-sparkling)
Includes red, white and rosé–which can be dry (no residual sugar), semisweet and sweet.

STEMMY
Wines fermented too long with the grape stems may.

STONEY/STONELIKE
Describes a set of perceptions that seem to indicate a relatively young white wine fermented from ripe, but not overly so, grapes under cold fermentation conditions. Classic examples are made from Chardonnay grapes in the Chablis region of France. Wines from the Carneros region of the Napa Valley in California are sometimes so described as well. High acidity coupled with a tactile, mouth-filling sensation that has a cleanly “earthy” flavor characterize this type of wine.

STRUCTURE
The interaction of elements such as acid, tannin, glycerin, alcohol and body as it relates to a wine’s texture and mouthfeel. Usually preceded by a modifier, as in firm structure or lacking in structure.

STURDY
A mature wine with oak tannins that is well frame a well balanced. It has moderate alcohol that enhances the lengthy finish.

STYLISH
The style is distinctive and characteristic of the grape used.

SUBTLE
Describes delicate wines with finesse, or flavors that are understated rather than full-blown and overt. A positive characteristic.

SULFER DIOXIDE (SO2)
Used to kill wild yeasts, sterilize equipment and prevent oxidation. A naturally occurring substance. Small amount of sulfur dioxide, a
preservative, may be used both in the vineyard and during winemaking to protect grapes and wine from spoilage. Sulfites are a form of sulfur that occur naturally as a by-product of fermentation. Because a tiny percentage of the population is allergic to sulfur, wine labels must carry the message “contains sulfites” if the wine contains more than 10 parts per million (ppm) sulfites.

SULFITES
Amino acids that result from the breakdown of proteins during fermentation. They may be added to through the addition of sulphur during the winemaking process.

SUPPLE
Term often used for young reds which should be more aggressive. More lively than an easy wine with suggestions of good quality. The near synonym amiable is also sometimes employed but does not quite emphasize the extra connotation of leanness implied.

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.

SUR LIE
Wines aged sur lie (French for “on the lees”) are kept in contact with the dead yeast cells and are not racked or otherwise filtered. This is mainly done for whites, to enrich them. Originated in Burgundy, with Chardonnay. Popular in Muscadet, Alsace, Germany and California. Adds complexity to Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, can occasionally be overdone and lead to a leesy flavor that is off-putting.

SWEET
Refers to one of the four basic tastes detected by the sensory nerves of the human tongue. In the description of wine taste-flavor the term sweet is almost always used as an identifier denoting the presence of residual sugar and/or glycerin. Wine aromas require a descriptive term to identify the source of the perceived sensation.

SYLVANER
German grape, generally of lesser quality than Riesling and usually planted as a blending grape.

SYRAH (SHIRAZ)
The classic red grape of the northern Rhone Valley of France and also grown throughout southern France, syrah is also the leading grape of Australia (where it is known as shiraz). In the late 1980s and 1990s, California vintners also became increasingly fascinated by the grape which is now grown in many parts of California. The wine often has an unmistakable smell of white pepper along with wild gamey, boysenberry flavors.

TABLE WINE
A wine intended to accompany a meal, usually containing less than 16% alcohol.

TAFELWEIN
German term meaning – table wine.

TANNIC
Containing perceptible tannic acid, a naturally occurring component in ageworthy red wines that imparts a mouth-puckering astringency when the wine is young but which “resolves” (through a process called polymerization) into the delicious and complex elements of a fine wine.

TANK
A large closed container used for the storing, fermenting or blending wine. Tanks are often stainless steel, wood or fiberglass lined concrete.

TANNIN
A naturally occurring substance in grapeskins, seeds and stems. Is primarily responsible for the basic bitter component in wines. Acts as a natural preservative, helping the development and, in the right proportion, balance of the wine. It is considered a fault when present in excess.

TARTARIC ACID
A naturally occurring acid, found in grape juice and hence in wine. White crystals of tartrate salts can sometimes be precipitated from wines when they are chilled, they are harmless and tasteless. Tartaric acid is important for providing acid balance in wine and creating good ageing potential.

TARTRATES
Harmless crystals of potassium bitartrate that may form in cask or bottle (often on the cork) from the tartaric acid naturally present in wine.

TARRY/TARLIKE
Descriptive term used when comparing odor detected in the nose of a wine with similar odor retained in a memory trained by the use of a comparison kit of scent essences. Such kits include tar, apricots, mushrooms and other flavoring essences isolated from wines.

TART
Synonym for acidic.

TASTE
Refers to the basic sensations detectable by the human tongue. Current scientific opinion defines these as sweet, salty, sour, bitter and MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) flavors all registered by the tongue taste receptors. The traditional view of the tongue having four distinct surface zones to register those tastes has recently been revised by a report of new research discoveries.

TASTEVIN
Silver cup which is used for wine tasting, especially in Bourgogne

TEARS
Synonym for legs.

TEMPRANILLO
The most popular red grape in Spain; common in Rioja and Ribera del Duero.

TENUTA
Italian term for a wine-growing estate.

TERROIR
French language term for all the characteristics of the vineyard site thought to be imparted to a particular wine. It is a term that includes geographic, geological, climatic and other attributes that can affect an area of growth as small as a few square meters.

THIN/THIN-BODIED
Opposite of full bodied.

TIGHT
Describes a wine’s structure, concentration and body, as in a tightly wound wine. Closed or compact are similar terms.

TINNY
Metallic tasting.

TIRED
Limp, feeble, lackluster.

TIRAGE
A term used in the production of Champagne or sparkling wine referring to the first bottling step in the process.

TINTO
Spanish term for red wine.

TOASTY
Other, similar descriptors are “caramel” and “toffee”. Some also add spicy flavours, such as “cinnamon” or “cloves”.

TOBACCO
Descriptive term, used by some, to describe a flavor component resembling the taste of raw tobacco leaf in the finish of certain red wines. Seems to mainly apply to Cabernet Sauvignons from Bordeaux, France or the Napa region of California. Cigarbox is a common term often used as a near synonym especially if a cedar-wood note in the aroma is detected.

TOCAI FRUILANO
White wine grape grown in the northeastern regions of Italy and occasionally in California that produces uniquely floral, aromatic white wines.

TOKAY
Sweet white wine. Specifically, the special product of the Tokay district in northeastern Hungary. The chief grape variety is Furmint, although a little Harslevelu is also grown.

TOUGH
Usually implying too much tannin.

TROCKEN
German for dry.

TROCKENBEERENAUSLESE (TBA)
One of the Pradikate of the Q.m.P. as defined by German Wine Law, literally meaning ‘selected dried berries’. Premium German sweet wine. Generally this wine is expensive and rare. This wine is not made in every years’ vintage. The highest category of nectar-sweet and expensive dessert wine.

TRUNCK
The main, vertical body of a grapevine that supports all the top growth.

TUSCANY
Renown wine region of Central Italy.

UGNI BLANC
White wine grape grown in France generally producing crisp, fruity white wines. In Italy called Trebbiano.

ULLAGE
The empty space in a wine bottle between the bottom of the cork and the surface of the wine. If the ullage is too big that is usually an indication of oxidation problems.

UNDERIPE (see also ACIDIC, GREEN)
Resulting flavor when grapes that failed to reach optimum maturity on the vine are used in the vinification process.

UNFILTERED
Opposite of filtered. However, does not exclude other clarifying processes such as fining.

UNFINED
Opposite of fined, but does not exclude other clarifying processes such as filtering.

UNWOODED
A label term, usually applied to Chardonnay or Semillon, which indicates the wine has not been matured or influenced by oak.

VALPOLICELLA
Semi-dry, light-bodied red wine produced in the near Verona, Italy.

VALTELLINA
Wine region in the Lombardy area of northern Italy that produces top quality red wines.

VANILLA
Component detectable in the nose of a wine. The novice taster can compare odors with the vials of artificial ones provided in kit form.

VANILLIN
Component contributed by oakwood barrel staves. Considered to add a degree of sweetness to red wines when present in barely detectable amounts, so adding to a desirably complex style prized by connoisseurs.

VARIETAL
When the wine is bottled it refered to as a varietal.

VARIETAL CHARACTER
The particular flavor characteristics associated with a grape picked at optimum maturity.

VARIETY
Refers to the type of grape such as Pinot Nior, Cabernet, Chardonnay etc.

V.D.Q.S.
In the French appellation system an interim classification between vin de pays and appellation controlee.

VELVETY
Having rich flavor and a silky, sumptuous texture.

VEGETAL
Considered a flavor flaw when present in distinctive amounts over and above that occurring naturally in the grape. Grassy has somewhat the same connotation.

VERTICAL TASTING
Is a structured tasting where the same wines from different vintages are assessed.

VENDANGE
French term for vintage.

VENDIMIA
Spanish term for vintage.

VENETO
A large wine-producing region in northern Italy.

VERAISON
The stage when grapes begin to soften and gain color.

VERDICCHIO
Italian white-wine grape from Central Italy, generally producing a light-bodied, somewhat crisp white wine.

VERMOUTH
A wine based beverage that originated in Italy and is often served as an aperitif.

VERNACCIA
Historic Italian white wine grape generally producing a crisp, dry white wine.

VIDAL BLANC
French hybrid white wine grape variety, used commonly in the USA.

VIGNERON
French term for winemaker or winegrower.

VIGNOBLE
French term meaning wine growing area.

VIGNOLES
French hybrid white wine grape, often used in the Eastern USA.

VIGOROUS
Assertive flavor, strong bodied wine.

VIN
French word for wine.

VIN DE PAILLE
A sweet wine traditionally produced from grapes that have been dried on straw mats.

VIN DE PAYS
A French term meaning wine of the country or region that is generally used for categorization.

VIN DOUX NATUREL
Sweet French wine that has been fortified by the addition of brandy.

VINHO VERDE
A specific Portuguese wine best when young; literally means: green wine.

VIN SANTO
Sweet wine from Tuscany made from late-harvest Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes.

VINA
Spanish word for vineyard.

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

VINIFICATION
Winemaking, including all the operations and processes involved. Often substituted for the word winemaking.

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

VINOUS
A descriptive term meaning like wine.

VINEGAR
The natural evolution of the juice of grape, vine is only a way towards vinegar. Any wine might become vinegar.

VINTAGE (VINTAGE DATE)
The year in which the grapes for a wine were grown.

VINTNER
Indicates a wine producer/or winery proprietor.

VINEYARD
A farm where you grow a crop called grapes. The primary elements include dirt and grapevines, other possible components could include a trellis system, an irrigation system. There may be a winery on the same parcel of land even though the majority of vineyards do not include a winery. Few commercial vineyards let individuals tour the actual vineyard. Individuals may see vineyards, may dive past vineyards or even dive through vineyards – but actually tour a vineyard? Not normally – unless it is a very structured tour or where there is a demonstration vineyard.

VITICULTURE
The science, cultivation and study of grape growing.

VITICULTURAL AREA
Defines a legal grape-growing area distinguished by geographical features, climate, soil, elevation, history and other definable boundaries. Rules vary widely from region to region, and change often. Just for one example, in the United States, a wine must be 85 percent from grapes grown within the viticultural area to carry the appellation name. For varietal bottling, a minimum of 75 percent of that wine must be made from the designated grape variety.

VITIS VINIFERA
The classic, primary grape species used to produce nearly all of the world’s best wines.

VIOGNIER
The classic white grape of the northern Rhone Valley of France where it makes the expensive wine known as Condrieu. Now also made in California by many top producers. The wine has an opulent, lush body and dramatic honeysuckle, white melon and jasmine flavors.

VITIS LABRUSCA
The grape species believed to be an impure, cross-pollinated version of the wild grape native to North America. Makes tasty juice, jelly but has wine flavor often termed as foxy.

VITIS VINIFERA
The premier grape species used for the world”s most admired wines. Also referred to as the European vine.

VOLATILE
Powerful, attack aroma. Usually denotes high level of acidity, alcohol and/or other flavor faults.

VOLATILE ACIDITY (also known as V.A.)
The acetic acid or vinegar content of a wine. Used as an index of bacterial activity since volatile acid arises only from microbial spoilage of wines in the presence of air. The bacteria, growing in the wine, actually change a little of the alcohol into acetic acid, using whatever oxygen they can find. If the wine is left open in the presence of air, it’s a slam-dunk for the little buggers and you’ve got vinegar on your hands.

WARM
Possesses high alcohol flavor offset by counterbalancing flavors and other desirable qualities. It is a positive attribute.

WATERY
Synonym for Meager or Thin.

WEEDY
Grassy

WEIGHTY
Well structured/balanced wines with an implication of mildly excessive flavor or heaviness.

WEIN
German term for wine.

WEINGUT
Any wine producing property in Germany.

WEINSTRASSE: (Vine-strass-uh)
Wine road in Germany. A tourist route that connects many wineries in a given area. Following a Weinstrasse is an excellent way to spend part of your vacation in any wine country.

WELL-BALANCED
Contains all of the essential elements in good proportions.

WET DOG
The aroma of adhesive strip or wet horse.

WINE
Alcohol containing beverage produced by the yeast fermentation of grape juice or must. Wine has a specific legal definition in all countries of the world.

WINE THIEF
Sampling tube made from clear glass or plastic tube having a narrowed opening at either end. The tube is lowered into the wine container, usually a barrel, allowed to fill to a predetermined level and is then withdrawn, keeping the upper end sealed with a finger, so collecting a sample of wine.

WINERY
A physical building where wine is produced. The facility may contain tanks, processing equipment, storage areas, tasting and retail areas. Wineries may be adjacent to, located on, or in the vicinity of a vineyard.

WINEMAKER
The person in charge of winemaking in a winery. The winemaker may be in overall charge of the whole company or only the fermentation, aging and bottling of a single wine in a large winery.

WOODY
Almost a synonym for Oaky. However, implies an overstay in a wooden container which resulted in the absorption of other wood flavors besides “oak”.

XAREL-LO
White wine grape variety grown in Spain. One of three varieties used to make sparkling wine. It is considered medium to low quality and is used to add body.

XYLEM
The woody, center portion of a vine trunk, arm or cane.

YAKIMA VALLEY
Located in the south central part of Washington state this was the first designed AVA in the Northwestern region. It has some of the coolest weather of the Columbia River Valley and grows a great amount of concord grapes used mainly for juice.

YARRA VALLEY
A small growing region in Australia located to the Northeast of Melbourne. The area is best known for Pinot Noi and Cabernet Sauvignon.

YEAST

A living microscopic organism. In 1857 Louis Pasteur discovered that fermentation was caused by yeast. During fermentation yeast converts food (sugar or starch) into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

YEASTLIKE

Term describing odors deriving from varietal yeasts carried on grapeskins, molds etc. Includes both desirable and undesirable characteristics. Examples would be the presence of brett (brettanomeyces), a strain of yeast that produces gamey/smokey odors that are considered to add to the character of the wine when barely detectable. Considered a flaw when presence is pronounced.

YEASTY

A wine making term used to describe the bouquet of fresh baked bread.

YIELD
The amount of grapes harvested in a particular year.

YOUNG
A wine which is not yet mature and needs to be left to age.

ZESTY
A wine that’s invigorating.

ZERO DOSAGE
Dosage is the mixture of sugar, wine and sometimes brandy, that is added back to Methode Champenoise wines to create the sparkle through secondary fermentation. Zero dosage is a blend of wines that contains no sugar, thus creating the driest style sparkling wine.

ZINFANDEL
Grown mainly in California, Zinfandel is grown almost no place else in the world. Zinfandel has a mouthfilling, thick berryness that is sometimes described as being jammy or chewy.

ZUCCHERO
Italian term for sugar. The term Zuccheraggio refers to residual sugar.


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GrapeRadio is a wine talk show. Show topics cover issues such as the enjoyment of wine, wine news and industry trends - the hallmark of the show is interviews with world class guest (winemakers, vineyards owners, wine retail / wholesale leaders, restaurateurs and sommeliers). The scope of the show is international so expect to hear many guests from around the world.

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