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Wine Glossary


Presenting a glossary of the most common terms used in the wine industry. These terms may seem confusing to the beginner but our definitions/descriptions below will help those starting out in wine and serve as a refresher for the connoisseur. We hope this will be a helpful tool for you to reference.

ACID Naturally present in grapes and essential to wine, providing the refreshing tang in white wines and the appetizing "grip" in reds. Principal wine acids are acetic (vinegary), carbonic, citric, malic, tannic and tartaric.

AGING Alternative term for maturation.

ALCOHOL CONTENT The strength of alcohol in wine, normally expressed as a percentage of the total wine.

AUSLESE Normally a sweet German wine, meaning "selected," referring to a QmP wine made from specific fully-ripe grapes.

BARREL AGING This is the time wine is spent maturing in wood, typically oak. Wine will take on flavors from the wood, a practice for many winemakers throughout the world.

BLANC DE BLANCS Still or sparkling wine made from white grapes.

BLANC DE NOIRS Still or sparkling white wine made from black grapes.

BOTRYTIS CINEREA Noble rot, is a fungus that reduces the water content of the grape, increasing its sugar levels, concentrating it to produce quality sweet wines, which are common in Sauternes. Noble rot also increases the acidity, viscosity, and flavor to give sweet, unctuous, and succulently aromatic wine.

BRUT French meaning "unsweetened". Dry. Common in sparkling wines.

CHATEAU French meaning "castle".

COTE French meaning "hillside".

CREMANT French sparkling wine that is made using the Champagne method but made outside of Champagne. Cremants from Alsace, Die and Bourgogne are the best known.

DECANTING The process of pouring wine from its original bottle into another vessel or decanter. The technique is normally used for old or unfiltered wines to separate the liquid from the sediment deposited in the bottle. It can also be used for younger wines, to allow them to be exposed to air, or "breathe."

DESERT/SWEET WINE Wine containing large amounts of sugar. It tastes sweet and is traditionally used to accompany dessert.


EISWEIN Sweet wine made in Germany in tiny quantities from grapes that have naturally frozen on the vine. The berries are pressed immediately, leaving the moisture behind as ice and producing a luscious, intensely flavored liquid.

ESTATE BOTTLED Wine bottled on site.

FERMENTATION The process that turns the juice of crushed, pressed, or whole grapes into wine. The natural sugars contained within the berries are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide using yeast. Fermentation generally takes place in stainless steel, lined concrete, or large wooden vats, or in oak barrels.

FILTRATION A technique that removes the tiny solid particles from a wine before bottling, leaving it clear and bright. Some producers believe that filtration can strip a wine of its flavor and will avoid the technique - often including words such as "unfiltered" or "non-filtre" on their label. Wines that have not been filtered will generally require decanting.

FORTIFIED A wine that has been bolstered by the addition of a liquor, usually grape liquor. Examples include port, sherry, madeira, and liquor Muscat.

FRENCH OAK A type of wood originating from forests in France such as Allier and Vosges. French oak is widely considered to make the finest barrels for fermenting and maturing wine.

GRAND CRU French meaning literally "great vineyard." In Burgundy and Bordeaux, the finest vineyards are classified as grand cru.

ICE WINE Eiswein produced outside of Germany. Canada produces perhaps some of the greatest ice wine in the world.

INDICAZIONE GEOGRAFICA TIPICA (IGT) Classification for Italian wines - recently developed and similar to that of vin de pays in France.

LATE BOTTLE VINTAGE (LBV) In Portugal, it is a port made from a specified vintage that has matured between four and six years in wood before bottling.

LATE HARVEST Similar to the French term vendange tardive, late harvest refers to grapes that have been harvested late. These grapes will be found to be riper, sweeter in style, producing more concentration.

MACERATION The process in which grape skins are soaked with their juice/must. Red wines are developed through the maceration process giving them color, stronger flavors and tannins.

MADEIRA Wine that has been fortified and produced on Madeira, an island near Portugal.

MALOLACTIC FERMENTATION Most red wines undergo malolactic fermentation, which is a process wine makers use to convert tart malic acids into lactic acids. Producers will use this process for white wines for specific styles but not as often as for red wines.

MATURATION The process of aging a wine.

MERITAGE Typically a Bordeaux style wine blending several varieties that are made in regions outside of Bordeaux as in California and South Africa.

MUST The juice, skins, stems, seeds, etc. from grapes, a combination of matter extracted and used before fermentation.

NEGOCIANT An individual or company that buys grapes, must, or wine from producers then bottles under its own company label.

NON-VINTAGE (NV) Wine or a blend of wines with different years. Example, Champagne.

OAK Wood used to ferment and mature wines. Wine can be stored in wood barrels to produce vanilla and creamy flavors.

OLD VINES Mature vines that produce quality grapes with wines that are regarded by the wine community to be more concentrated and complex.

ORGANIC Wines that are grown without using chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides.

PHYLLOXERA An insect that eats the roots of grapevines ultimately killing them. A devastating problem in Europe at the end of the 19th century, wine makers cannot rid the phylloxera. Therefore, European wine makers grafted vines onto rootstocks from American species, which are resistant to phylloxera. QPR (quality/price ratio) This is a calculation used often in purchasing and marketing and based on the rating, price, vintage, and various other characteristics of wine.

RESIDUAL SUGAR Remaining sugar in wine after fermentation. Sweet wines are those with high residual sugar.

ROSÉ Rosé wines are usually pink in color and made by either processing red grapes through a short period of maceration or mixing red and white wines, which is allowed only in Champagne.

SEC Dry.

SEDIMENT Solid matter such as that from yeasts or grape skins or form naturally in wine. Matured wine can develop sediment.

SHERRY Spanish, fortified wine from the Jerez region.

SINGLE VINEYARD Wine sourced using grapes from just one vineyard.

SOLERA Spanish term for blending, typically in the Sherry industry.

SPUMANTE Italian for sparkling.

TANNIN The mouth-puckering, astringent feel on the palate. Tannins come from the skins, stalks, and seeds. Tannins provide structure and weight and complexity and act as a preservative.

TENUTA Italian for estate.

TERROIR French for describing the vineyard and the characteristics surrounding and involving the vineyard such as climate, soil, exposure, etc.

TROCKENBEERENAUSLESE (TBA) A classification in Germany representing the ripest grapes. The classified grapes are usually affected by noble rot. Trockenbeerenauslese wines are usually low in alcohol, sweet and pricy.

VARIETAL A wine labeled on the basis of its principal grape variety.

VINIFICATION The wine making process in which grape juice is converted into finished wine.

VINTAGE The year in which the grapes were grown to produce a wine. Also the same as "harvest."

VITICULTURE The grape growing process and the science and research covering the process.

VITIS VINIFERA Vine species used to make wine.

WEINGUT German for estate.

YIELD The total quantity of wine made by a vineyard in a particular year. Lower yields generally mean quality wine.

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