Wine Terms

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Acidity
the liveliness and crispness in wine that activates our salivary glands
Acrid
wine that is harsh, bitter or unpleasantly pungent
Aeration
the deliberate addition of oxygen to round out and soften a wine
Aftertaste
or finish, is the flavors perceived on the palate after wine in no longer in the mouth
aging
holding wine in barrels, tanks, and bottles to advance them to a more desirable state
alcohol
ethanol (ethyl alcohol), the product of fermentation of sugars by yeast
AVA (American Viticulture Area)
AVA apply to the grapes' origin. There are almost 200 AVAs, with over half of them being located in California
Angular
tart-tasting wines that seem to have edges rather than a soft roundness, this often results from grapes that fail to achieve necessary ripeness
Anosmia
the loss of smell
Appellation
the French system of using a geographic region to identify where the grapes used to produce a wine were grown
Approachable
enjoyable with no harsh flavors or textures
Aroma
the smell of wine, especially young wine (different than “bouquet”)
Aromatic
strong, expressive smells
Astringent
wines that are especially tannic & create a drying, puckering sensation in the mouth
Austere
relatively hard and lack expressiveness or roundness, with fruit flavors that are restrained, and the tannins or acids may dominate

Backward
similar to austere wines, backward wines are undeveloped, closed & not yet ready to drink
Balance
a term for when the elements of wine – acids, sugars, tannins, and alcohol – come together in a harmonious way
Barrel
the oak container used for fermenting and aging wine
Barrique
a 225-liter oak barrel used originally for storing and aging wines, originating in the Bordeaux region
Bentonite
a fining agent, is a type of clay used to clarify wine. Bentonite is added to a tank or bottle of wine, and as it settles to the bottom, attaches to various solids suspended within the wine
Bitter
a taste sensation that is sensed on the back of the tongue and caused by tannins.
Blend
a wine made from more than one grape varietal
Body
a wine's sense of weight & fullness on the palate and is directly related to the wine's alcohol and tannin levels.
Bordeaux
the area in Southwest France considered one of the greatest wine-producing regions in the world
Botrytis cineria
a fungus that routinely results in "noble rot." in the right conditions, the fungus dehydrates the grape without causing undesirable rot and sugars become super-concentrated. is largely responsible for the world’s finest dessert wines.
Bottle shock
also known as bottle sickness and is frequently caused when wines are exposed to excessive vibration or shaking during travel. for those shipping or traveling with wine, its always advised to give the wine a few days to settle down before opening.
Bouquet
a term traditionally used to refer to the complex smells developed by aged wines
Boutique winery
small wineries that place a very high value on quality and customer service. this results is lower production volume, more attention to detail, and direct sales through a tasting room at the winery.
Breath
exposing the wine to oxygen/air prior to drinking to release aromas, soften tannins, and integrate flavors. removing the cork from a bottle of wine does not count as allowing a wine to breath.
Brettanomyces
a wine-spoiling yeast that produces barnyard, mousy, metallic, or bandaid-ish aromas
Brilliant
a tasting note for wines that appear sparkling clear
Briary
often described as woodsy and stemmy, bthese wines often exhibit wild berry and pepper flavors.
Brilliant
a tasting note for wines that appear sparkling clear
Brix
a unit of measurement used to approximate the amount of sugar in a grape must. Approximately half of the sugar in a grape must is converted to alcohol, therefore, a wine's final alcohol content can be estimated based on the must's brix reading.
Browning
due to aging, it indicates that a wine is at or past its peak. Both red and white wines turn brown as they age due to the effects of oxidation.
Brut
french term denoting dry champagnes or sparkling wines
Bung
the plug used to seal a wine barrel
Bung hole/dt>
the opening in a cask in which wine can be put in or taken out

Carbonic maceration
a technique used reduce the tannins and increase the fruitiness of wines
Chaptalization
process of adding sugar to the must to increase a wine's final alcohol level
Chewy
thick, rich and tannic
Cigarbox
tobacco and cedar aromas
Citric acid
one of the three predominate acids in wine
Claret
the name the English use when referring to the red wines of Bordeaux
Class growth
see cru classe
Clone
a group of vines originating from the same parent plant, propagated through cuttings
Closed
term describing underdeveloped and young wines whose flavors are not exhibiting well
Cloudy
presence of particles such as spent yeast, if not removed through filtering or fining, can give wines a cloudy appearance and undesirable flavors
Cloying
sweetness is not balanced by adequate acidity
Complexity
a wine exhibiting numerous odors, nuances, and flavors
Concentrated
rich fruit flavors
Corked/cork taint
caused by the presence of the chemical compound 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA). TCA, which are harmless to drink, will cause very muted fruit flavors and a moldy, wet cardboard smell.
Creamy
thick and viscous on the palate
Crisp
wines with relatively high levels of acidity, that are fresh, lively, somewhat tart and food friendly
Cru classé
a top-ranking vineyard designated in the Bordeaux Classification of 1855
Crush
the English term for harvest
Cult wines
characterized by high quality, limited supply, and relatively large demand
Cuvée
in Champagne, a blended batch of wine

Decanting
allowing a wine to breath, releasing aromas, softening tannins and integrating flavors, it also removes any sediment that may be present in the bottle
Delicate
light tannins, subtle, but pleasant aromas, and flavors are often referred to as delicate
Demi-sec
french term meaning “half-dry” used to describe a sweet sparkling wine
Depth
richness, extract and body of a wine
Diurnal temperature variation
change in temperature between the warmest and coolest times of the day
Dry
a taste sensation often attributed to tannins and causing puckering sensations in the mouth; the opposite of sweet

Earthy
flavors or aromas that give the impression of minerals, soil, stone, mushroom or dry leaves, can add complexity and interest to a wine
Elegant
emphasis finesse over power, complex, very well made, light to medium body with light to moderate extraction and tannins
Enologye
the science or study of wine & winemaking
Extract
a wine's extract is comprised of its non-volatile compounds such as acids, alcohols, sugars, polyphenols and tannins that contribute to the wine's body, flavor, style and color.

Farm winery
in addition to selling fruits and vegetables, a farm winery is licensed to produce and sell wine on-site
Fat
rich, full-bodied, chewy wines
Fermentation
the process in which the sugar is converted to alcohol by yeast
Field blend
several different grape varieties from the same vineyard are harvested & blended together
Filtering
remove suspended particles such as yeast cells, bacteria, proteins, and fining particles
Fining
an agent, such as bentonite, egg whites or gelatin, is used to remove haziness, reduce tannins and/or remove unstable proteins. Fining agents are added to a tank or bottle of wine, and as they settle to the bottom, attach themselves to various solids suspended within the wine.
Finish
or aftertaste, is used to describe the flavors perceived on the palate after wine is consumed
Firm
substantial but not overpowering tannins. The term describes a wine's texture and is used to indicate that a wine has a somewhat hard, vice soft, mouthfeel.
Flabby
excessively soft due to relatively low acid levels, no sense of structure or depth & feel heavy on the tongue
Flavors
odors perceived in the mouth
Fleshy
rich, full-bodied, chewy wine
Flinty
wine with mineral aromas
Floral/flowery
wines that have floral aromas ilike heather, hibiscus, honeysuckle, orange blossom, roses, carnations and violets
Foxy
a musky, grapey aromas and flavor
Fruity
a broad term used to describe wines with dominant clean, bright fruit flavors. Floral, earthy, spicy and herbal flavors are usually undetectable in fruity wines.
Full-bodied
a wine that has a relatively high alcohol content and has a substantial feel on the palate, rich and concentrated
Funky
wines that have unique or strange, but not necessarily disagreeable, smells or flavors

Grafting
the process of splicing together budwood with a rootstock, typically done to create a phylloxera-resistant vitis vinifera vine

Hard
when wine tannins or acids are out of proportion resulting in an abrasive, difficult to drink wine
Harmonious
well balanced, the structure and flavors compliment each other exceptionally well
Herbaceous
a tasting term denoting odors and flavors of fresh herbs (e.g., basil, oregano, rosemary, etc.)
Hollow
a consistent feeling of fullness and weight, when a wine start and end strong but are lacking in flavor and/or structure in the midpalate
Honeyed
grapes afflicted by noble rot routinely exhibit aromas and flavors of honey.
Horizontal wine tasting
a wine tasting where all the wines are from the same vintage and may or may not be from the same region or of the same variety
Hot
when high alcohol content is out of proportion with the rest of the wine's components
Hybrid
created grape vines by crossing two different species, intentionally created in an attempt to combine attributes in an attempt to overcome harmful climatic conditions.

Ice wine
a desert wine produced from grapes that are allowed to freeze on the vine before being harvested and immediately pressed.
Integrated
wine whose components (tannins, acids, alcohol) are not experienced as unique & distinct aspects of the wine, well-integrated wines have components that meld together to form a complimentary whole
Intensity
similar to concentration, refers to attention-grabbing, vibrant aromas and flavors

Jammy
concentrated with thick fruit flavors

Kosher wine
handled only by Sabbath-observant Jews, kosher winemakers are forbidden to use any products, such as unauthorized yeasts or animal-based fining agents that might fall outside the parameters of kosher convention.

Lactic acid
a byproduct of the natural or malolactic fermentation process
Late harvest wine
made from grapes that have been picked as late as possible, the resulting wine is luscious, sweet and honeyed
Lean
display subdued flavors and have a thin, angular feeling on the palate
Lees
sediment consisting of dead yeast cells, grape pulp, seed, and other grape matter that accumulates during fermentation
Leesy
a tasting term for the rich aromas and smells that results from wine resting on its lees
Legs
after a glass of wine is swirled, tracks of liquid, can be observed descending down the sides of the glass. Because the legs are caused by the wine's alcohol and/or glycerol levels, thick, slowly descending legs typically indicate a wine with a relatively high alcohol level.
Length
the amount of time that flavors persist in the mouth after swallowing wine; a lingering sensation
Library wine
wine from a previous vintage that are still available for purchase from the winery
Light
used to describe a wine's body as well as its texture, a sense of lightness would be expected
Lively
exhibit a fruity freshness and exuberance typically due to good acidity levels
Lush
soft, velvety and concentrated

Maceration
the process of maintaining contact between the must and the grape skins and seeds in order to transfer phenolic compounds associated with tannins, color and flavors/aromas to the wine
Magnum
bottle holding 1.5 liters, volume of two standard bottles
Malic acid
has a tangy, tart flavor and usually makes up about 30 to 35 percent of a wine's total acidity
Malolactic fermentation
also referred to as ML & secondary fermentation, the malic acid is converted into the softer, more creamy lactic acid with an accompanying increase in complexity and decrease in acidity.
Massive
exceptionally ripe, concentrated, full-bodied wine
Mature
ready to drink
Meaty
similar to "chewy" wines, meaty wines are thick, rich and tannic and almost must be chewed
Micro-oxygenation
the process in which very low levels of oxygen are fed into stainless-steel fermentation tanks to simulate the oxidation that wines receive when they are barrel aged.
Microclimate
a relatively small area within a larger climate in which temperatures, winds and exposure to sunlight are distinctly different
Mouth-feel
how a wine feels on the palate; it can be rough, smooth, velvety, or furry
Must
the hodge-podge of whole grapes and/or clusters, unfermented grape juice, seeds, skins, and stems that will be transformed into wine

Native/wild yeast
is found naturally on grape skins
Negociant
French word describing a wholesale merchant, blender, or shipper of wine
Noble rot
the layman’s term for the fungus botrytis cinerea
Nose
a tasting term describing the aromas and bouquets of a wine

Oak barrels
primarily French and American, are used for wine aging, and sometimes fermentation. Oak barrels increase a wine's complexity by adding oak, vanilla, smoke, and spice flavors and allow for low-level, controlled oxidation. This low-level oxidation is also critical for building the wine's structure, intensifying its color and softening its tannins.
Oak/oaky
tasting term denoting smells and flavors of vanilla, baking spices, coconut, mocha or dill caused by barrel-aging
Oenology
the science or study of wine making
Oenophile
someone who enjoys wine and is usually considered a wine aficionado or connoisseur
Open
tasting term signifying a wine that is ready to drink
Organic
to be labeled as an organic wine, the wine must be made from organically grown grapes (no synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fungicides and no fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge, bioengineering or ionizing radiation) & have no added sulfites.
Oxidization
wine exposed to air that has undergone a chemical change

Palate
refers to a wine drinker's sense of taste - to include taste, smell and feel
Phenolic compounds
natural compounds present in grape skins and seeds;
Phylloxera
a tiny insect that kills grape vines by sucking the nutrients out of the roots.
Physiological ripeness
also known as phenolic ripeness, refers to the ripening of a grape's skins, seeds and stems. When physiological ripeness is not attained, the grapes tannins will result in harsh, herbaceous flavors.
Pierce's Disease
a bacterium spread by insects such as the glassy-winged sharpshooter. The bacteria is inject into the sap of grapevines, and other plants, by the sharpshooter as it feeds on vine vegetation. The bacterium eventually blocks the movement of water and kills the vine.
Plonk
cheap, inexpensive, low quality and poor tasting wine
Plump
soft and full-bodied, but not quite fat
Pump-over
is a red wine fermentation cap management technique that involves the use of a pump to push fermenting must from the bottom of the vessel over the top of the fermentation cap.
Punt
the indentation at the base of a wine bottle.

Racking
the process of transferring wine from one container to another to clarify the wine by separating it from the lees
Residual sugar
is the sugar that is not converted to alcohol and remains in the wine after fermentation
Rich
have pleasantly strong aromas, flavors and texture
Riddling
is the process of rotating and tilting sparkling wines made in the Method Champenoise to collect the dead yeast sediment in the neck of the bottle
Rough
the tactile “coarse” sensation one experiences with very astringent wines
Round
have no sharp edges and have a full and smooth texture
Rustic
the notions of rural, simple and unsophisticated, rustic wines can either be charming or a little backward

Sec
French word for “dry”
Sediment
the small particles that accumulate in a bottle as it ages due to the interaction between bitartrates, tannins and color pigments
Sharp
typically have excessive acids, with excessive tannins
Short
very little finish or aftertaste. For crisp, white wines, a short finish may be desirable, but for red wines, a short finish is usually an indicator of a lower quality wine.
Silky
a soft, smooth texture, completely lacking any harsh, angular characteristics
Simple
lack complexity, can have either agreeable or disagreeable flavors and aromas
Smoky
display a smoke (usually wood) aroma due to barrel aging and/or soil of origin
Soft
have smooth tannins and low acidity and lack a sense of firmness
Sommelier
a wine expert that typically works in a restaurant, and are responsible for selecting and serving wines that will compliment the restaurant's food.
Sour
"acidic" or "tart" are usually used instead of the term sour to describe wines with excessive acid levels.
Spicy
display aromas and flavors suggestive of spices such as clove, cinnamon, pepper, etc. The term is also used to describe wines that are lively, fresh and well structured
Structure
is determined by its body, texture, depth and length and the relationship between them
Sugar ripeness
refers to the condition when grapes have developed sufficient amounts of sugar to produce the desired style of wine. Sugar ripeness is related to, but separate from, physiological ripeness.
Supple
similar to silky wines, supple wines have a soft, fluid feel without harsh, angular characteristics.
Sur lie
translates to "on the lees" and refers to allowing wines to retain lees (dead yeast and grape particles) contact in the barrel during aging.
Sustainable
is "growing and winemaking practices that are sensitive to the environment, responsive to the needs and interests of society-at-large, and are economically feasible to implement and maintain.
Sweetness
is determined primarily by the amount of residual sugar present. The wine's acidity, tannins and alcohol level also influence a drinker's perception of sweetness. Dry wines with very ripe fruit flavors or vanilla flavors from oak aging will often seem to have a slight touch of sweetness.

Table wine
in the U.S., table wines are defined by the ATF as wines that have between 7% and 14% alcohol. The term is also used throughout the world to refer to simple, cheaper, food friendly wines.
Tannins
the phenolic compounds in wines that leave a bitter, dry, and puckery feeling in the mouth
Tart
generally unpleasant wines that have high acidity levels, usually due to the use of unripe grapes
Tartaric acid
the principal acid in grapes, tartaric acid promotes flavor and aging in wine
Terroir
the French term for the physical, climactic and geographical characteristics of a particular vineyard that provides a wine its unique properties.
Texture
the "feel" that a wine has in the mouth and is a result of the relationship between acid, tannins and alcohol. a tasting term describing how wine feels on the palate
Thick
soft and full-bodied and typically display ripe fruit flavors
Thin
a watery consistency with diluted fruit flavors
Toasty
commonly used to describe a toasted bread taste detected in Chardonnays that have been aged in charred oak barrels
Typicity
a tasting term that describes how well a wine expresses the characteristics inherent to the variety of grape

Ullage
the empty space left in bottles and barrels as a wine evaporates
Unfiltered
the idea of natural, minimal intervention winemaking and the idea that filtering strips the wine of some of its character, complexity and flavor.
Unfined
winemakers who place a high value on the idea of making natural, minimal intervention wines typically do not fine their wines claiming that flavors and aromas are removed during the process.
Unoaked
or naked, wines are those that have not had contact with oak.

Varietal
wines made from a single grape variety
Variety
refers to a specific type of grape within a species. Most old world wines are labeled by region, U.S. wines are commonly labeled by variety.
Vegetal
tasting term describing characteristics of fresh or cooked vegetables detected on the nose and in the flavors of the wine. Bell peppers, grass, and asparagus are common “vegetal” descriptors.
Velvety
similar to silky, but a bit richer. the wines texture reminds the drinker of the feel of velvet on the palette.
Veraison
stage when grapes begin to soften and turn either yellow or red depending on the variety
Vertical Wine Tasting
different vintages of the same wine type from the same winery are tasted. This emphasizes differences between various vintages.
Viniculture
study or science of making wine, also referred to as enology/oenology.
Vinification
the process of converting grape juice into wine
Vinology
the scientific study of wines and winemaking
Vintage
the year in which the grapes were harvested. In the U.S., at least 95% of the grapes used must come from the vintage year listed on the bottle.
Vintner
a person who makes or sells wine
Viscous
full-bodied and concentrated, the thickness of the wine coats the tongue and seems to slowly slide down the throat
Viticulture
the study or science of grape growing

Weight
similar to “body”, the sensation when a wine feels thick or rich on the palate
Wine
fermented juice from grapes
Woody
a wine that has been over-exposed to oak and displays excessive wood-like aromas, excessive oak or other non-oak wood aromas.

Yeast
a single-cell organism, among other things, that converts sugar in contained within in a grape into alcohol and carbon dioxide. While some winemakers rely on native or wild yeast for fermentation, others use yeasts specifically designed for various winemaking styles.
Yield
the productivity of a vineyard or winery
Young
an immature wine that is usually bottled and sold within a year of its vintage. Wines meant to be drunk “young” are noted for their fresh and crisp flavors.
 
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