Wine Glossary

ACETIC ACID
One of the naturally occurring acids in wine and other foods, responsible for the sour taste in vinegar. In a healthy wine, the concentrations of this volatile acid are undetectably low. However, overexposure to oxygen can feed the transformation of alcohol into acetic acid and the result is an unpleasantly sour wine often described as acetic.
ACIDIC
Term used pejoritively to describe a wine with too much acidity.
ACIDIFICATION
A wine-making practice whereby acids are added to a wine in order to correct a deficiency thereof. When necessary, tartaric acid is most commonly added before fermentation to allow for a more seamless final product. Wine regions usually have regulations regarding acidification.
ACIDITY
Acidity is a crucial and quantifiable element of wine, resulting from the sum of the fixed and volatile acids. It is a factor in determining the quality of the wine because of the direct relationship between a wine's acidity and its balance, color preservation and inhibition of bacterial growth. Too much acidity makes a wine overly tart and too little makes a wine flat, watery and often is referred to as "flabby".
ACIDS
Natural component of grapes and wine, predominantly tartaric, malic and lactic acids. Responsible for tartness, necessary for a wine's inherent balance and in preventing the growth of unwanted bacteria.
ACRID
Indicates the foul, rotten egg odor resulting from the addition of too much sulfur dioxide during vinification. Sulfur is used to prevent spoilage of grapes and juice and helps keep wine-making machines clean.
AERATION
During wine-making, the controlled exposure of juice/wine to the air in order to give the yeasts proper amounts of oxygen, thus promoting fermentation. Limited contact with the air also occurs during racking, with barrel aging and is also beneficial for many wines just before serving. Overexposure to oxygen at any point in a wine's life can result in oxidation or undesirable concentrations of acetic acid.
AFTERTASTE
Term used to indicate the flavors which linger on the palate after a wine is swallowed. The duration of the aftertaste and it's qualities are a quality measurement.
AGE-WORTHY
Indicates a wine which has the necessary acid, sugar, tannin and flavor profile to warrant cellaring.
AGGRESSIVE
Adjective used to describe a wine made harsh by excessive tannins or acids.
AGING
This is the practice which distinguishes wine from most other beverages. The stocking of wine in oak barrels or bottles in order to promote a balance and complexity of flavors.The external environment, particularly the temperature and the humidity, of storage is critical and must be monitored and maintained. Not all wines benefit from aging, and it also increases costs for a winery.
AGIORYTIKO
Ancient Greek red variety which means St. George grown in the Nemea valley of Peloponnese. Can vary dramatically in quality based on th e altitude where the vines are located. The higher the altitude the better the acidity.
AGLIANICO
Brought to southern Italy by the Greeks, this high quality variety gives fame to the wines of Taurasi and Aglianico del Vulture of Campania. It likes sunny, arid climates, preferring the cool of elevation to the heat of the plains. Powerfully tannic when young, it must see years in the cellar before release. Aged, Aglianico has wonderfully balanced fruit and an almost tar-like character.
ALBA
Town of the Piedmonte region of Northwest Italy regarded as its capital of red wine and white truffles.
ALCOHOL
The generic name for ethanol. Indigenous and added yeasts convert the sugars in the grape juice into alcohol. A wine high in alcohol will seem hot and heavy bodied, whereas a lower alcohol wine will seem light.
ALCOHOL BY VOLUME
This is a legally required tabulation of the percentage of alcohol by volume in a bottle of wine. Most table wines are between 11 and 14% alcohol.
ALCOHOL FERMENTATION
From the latin "fervere" to boil. Wine fermentation is the anaerobic metabolism of yeast which converts sugar into ethanol. Carbon dioxide bubbles out during fermentation could easily make the juice look as if it is boiling.
ALCOHOLIC
The adjective used to describe a wine with perceptibly high alcohol content. Wine is an alcoholic beverage.
ALLIER
A specific oak forest in France with world famous quality wood for barrel making.
ALTO ADIGE
The north-east region of Italy in Trentino which borders Austria known for clean, crisp white wines comparable in terms of value to the wines of Fruili.
AMERICAN OAK
Oak grown in American forests for the production of barrels, becoming more popular because it is less expensive than French Oak. The flavor profiles imparted by barrels made from American oak is different from French oak barrels, namely characterized by stronger vanilla, coconut and cinnamon flavors.
AMERICAN VITICULTURAL AREA (AVA)
A geographically defined area designated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for grape-growing.
AMPELOGRAPHY
The science of identifying and describing the world's grape vine species called vitis.
ANTHOCYANINS
Phenolic compounds which naturally pigment red and black grapes as well as their tannins. Interestingly, these pigments are effected by the acidity of the grape juice. The higher the pH, the more intense the red or purple color.
APERITIF
Beverages served prior to a meal to stimulate the appetite. In the case of wine in the states, usually a dry, fairly acidic white wine is used.
APPEARANCE
Judgement of the wine's clarity. Terms such as clear, brilliant, dull, hazy and cloudy all pertain.
APPELLATION
The international term used to define where the grapes of a particular wine were grown. Napa, Sicily, Barossa Valley are all appellations.
APPELLATION D'ORIGINE CONTRÔLÉE (AOC or AC)
French for Controlled Origin Appellation. This is the French system of naming their most highly regarded viticultural areas, and has served as the benchmark for every other country's appellation systems. Those who attempt to make a wine with an AOC designation must adhere to strict regulations concerning the grape varieties, ripeness and alcohol level, yields, as well as the viticultural and vinification methods. There are of course advantages and disadvantages to this system.
ARNEIS
An endangered variety which grows exclusively in Italy's Piedmont region where it produces crisp, full white wines with autumn fruit flavors.
AROMA
The pleasant smells associated with younger wines, not to be confused with the term bouquet which applies to the smells of complexity in aged wines.
AROMA WHEEL
A circular chart developed by Ann Noble at the University of Davis, California which categorizes and describes the aromas and bouquets found in wines.
AROMATIC
A term used for wines with powerful, pleasing and recognizable smells.
ASPERSION
From the French "sprinkling". Refers to a method of preventing frost from forming on the vines and grapes.
ASSEMBLAGE
French for blending; vinification method used either before or after fermentation, or both, whereby different varieties or vintages are mixed to create a blended wine. This term originated in Bordeaux where the typical blend is of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.
ASSYRTIIKO
From the Greek island Santorini, this unique variety stands up to the searing heat and strong winds of the island, while simultaneously complimenting the mineral notes acquired from the volcanic soils. It makes pleasantly acidic wines by the same name and can be used to blend with wines lacking in this department.
ASTRINGENT
Wines with a high tannic concentration are considered astringent. This is not a taste but a physical sensation in the mouth of puckering and drying. Astringency contributes to the overall mouth-feel of a wine, and its descriptors include soft, rough, green, and hard.
AUSTERE
Descriptor for grippingly acidic wines which lack the proper complementing balance of alcohol, sugar and flavor profiles.
AWKWARD
Descriptor for a wine lacking in balance between acids, alcohol, sugar and flavor profiles.

BACCHUS
Ancient Roman god of wine.
BACKBONE
Term used to define the structure of a wine.
BALANCE
Balance in a wine is the harmonious synthesis of its alcohol, acid, tannins and sugars, the essential components of a wine's flavor profile. When no single component is dominant and each component complements the others, a wine is considered well-balanced. Each type of wine has a different benchmark for quality balance.
BALTHAZAR
A very large bottle, capable of containing the equivalent of 12 to 16 standard 750ml bottles.
BANYULS
France's finest appellation for Naturally Sweet Wines or Vins Doux Naturels (VDN). The primary grape variety is Grenache Noir, which must comprise 50% of the final product. There are a few different styles, all excellent.
BARBERA
The famous grape of Italy's Piedmont region. Italy's most common red wine grape and now accounts for over 10% of California's plantings. Known for a deep purple hue, bright acidity, ripe berry flavors and a dry finish. Reputation not as high as Piedmonte's most prestigious grape, Nebbiolo.
BAROLO
A village in the Piedmont region of Italy, just south of Alba, where the Nebbiolo grape takes on its most intensely powerful expression.
BARREL AGED
A wine is barrel aged when the flavor, structure, balance and complexity are improved by spending time resting in oak casks.
BARREL FERMENTED
Vinification technique of placing small batches of grape juice in barrels to ferment. This technique is used almost exclusively for white wines and is most successful for the Chardonnay grape which complement well the flavors imparted by the oak.
BARREL MAKING
The extremely precise technique of selecting, cutting, drying and shaping oak wood into a barrel. The three-step heating process involving steam, gas, boiling water, burning oak chips in some combination is used to carefully bend the staves into the proper shape. Once the barrels are formed, the wood is toasted in varying degrees upon request of the winemaker to allow for the proper carmelization of resin. This allows for the barrels to impart the flavors associated with oak such as vanilla, coconut, and cinnamon.
BARRIQUE
Bordeaux term for an oak barrel of 225 liters. Called a "fut" in Burgundy.
BAUMÉ
Scale used to measure the total soluble compounds in the juice, indicating the approximate concentration of grape sugars. This measurement is used primarily in France and also Australia, and is comparable to the Brix and Oechsle systems obtained using a refractometer or a hydrometer.
BAUME DE VENISE
A small village in the Rhone Valley region of Vaucluse famous for the production of its aromatic Naturally Sweet Wines or Vins Doux Naturels. It is of the Muscat family.
BEAD
The small bubbles in sparkling wine and champagne which rise from the base of the glass towards the rim. Fine beading is considered an indicator of high quality.
BERRY
The individual grape within a bunch. Also used to describe a category of fruity flavors found when tasting wine.
BIN NUMBER
A bin is a collection of wine bottles stored horizontally in a cellar. Bin number has come to indicate a special selection within the bin.
BITE
Describes the feeling of a wine on your tongue when the acids or tannis are over-dominant.
BITTER
One of the four kinds of taste that we sense with our olefactory and taste-buds working in unison. The other three tastes are salty, sweet and sour. Any of the four tastes in excess is considered a fault, but too much bitterness is especially unpleasant in a wine. It can be caused by over use of oak chips or poorly toasted barrels.
BLACK GRAPES
Synonymous with red grapes. Some grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon look much more blue-black than red.
BLANC DE BLANCS
French for "white of whites". Term used for Champagne made exclusively from the Chardonnay grape.
BLANC DE NOIRS
French for "white of blacks". Term used for Champagne made from red grapes, specifically Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, where the grapes are pressed and the skins are immediately removed so as to impede any phenolic extraction from them. At times the resulting juice has a slight pink hue.
BLENDING
The winemaking practice of mixing different batches of wines. Most of the world's greatest wines are a result of masterful blending. Different batches of the same or of different varieties and vintages can be blended in order to create the most well-balanced final product. Used to correct problems of a certain variety or batch's structure, such as over dominant acidy or lack of tannins.
BLIND TASTING
An organized, controlled tasting of a group of wines when the actual wines' identities are concealed from the tasters. Used to create impartiality and objectiveness.
BLUSH
Synonymous with rose; the name for a light pink wine made from red grapes with reduced skin contact during fermentation. White Zinfandel is the popular stereotype in the American wine portfolio.
BODY
Tasting term used to describe the sensation of weight and feel of a wine in the mouth. This is a result of the wine's viscosity and density, created by a combination of tannic extract, glycerol and alcoholic content.
BOTRYTIS CINEREA
Also known as Noble Rot, this is the sought after bacteria which, with the correct weather conditions, can invade healthy white grapes and cause water evaporation within the berries, concentrating the sugars and other flavors. The smell of affected grapes is often described as honey-like. It is the presence of Botrytis that creates the expensive, world famous sweet wines of Sauternes and Tokaj.
BOTTLE AGING
The practice of keeping newly bottled wines in storage before release to let the wines settle or in the cellar in order to permit development of more complex aroma profiles or bouquets.
BOTTLE SHAPES
Today the variety of bottle shapes is mesmerizing. The most popular shapes are the bordeaux (tall and narrow with high shoulders), burgundy (wider and shorter with sloping shoulders), the Chianti (squat onion shaped with a longer neck) and the German (very tall and narrow with almost no shoulders).
BOTTLE SHOCK
Term describing what happens to a wine just after bottling, or with delicate wines when shook, which corrects itself after a few days when the bottles are at rest.
BOTTLE SICKNESS
Disagreeable odor caused by excessive amounts of sulfur in a wine which can be reduced by bottle aging or simply decanting. Also known as bottle stink.
BOTTLED BY
Designation on the label indicating the company which purchased finished wines and simply bottled them.
BOTTLING
The machinated process of transferring wine from a vat, tank, barrel or cask into a bottle. Some small wineries have small machines, other wineries have fully automated multi-task bottlers capable of filling thousands of bottles an hour. Other wineries hire outside companies to bring a mobile bottling line to the winery when it is time for the product to be bottled.
BOUQUET
The smells a wine acquires with aging, not to be confused with aroma. Since a bouquet is an assortment of dried flowers and plants, the bouquet of a wine is often a variety of flowery, earthy, grassy smells. There is no congruity in the usage of this term by wine tasters.
BRAND
In the wine world, indicates the name of a defined product or line of products of a specific winery, company, negociant, or bottler. In today's market, the brand name has become a stronger marketing tool than using the region or kind of wine as a product name.
BRAWNY
Tasting term for wines characterized by big tannins, hard, woody flavors and tends to be unrefined.
BREATHING
See aeration.
BRIARY
Tasting term describing a wine with wild berry characteristics.
BRIGHT
Describes a wine with a clear, brilliant appearance. Also a tasting term describing a zesty, acidic wine with focused flavors.
BRILLIANT
Describes exceptionally clear, bright, luminescent wines with a flawless clarity.
BRIX
A measurement of the dissolved sugars in a wine measured with a hydrometer or a refractometer. The brix measurement is taken to decide when to harvest the grape, as it is used to predict the potential alcohol percentage. It is expressed in degrees. One brix equals 18g/l of sugar.
BROWNING
Term describing what happens to a wine with long aging. Occurs with both red and white wines and is caused by oxidation.
BRUT
French term developed in Champagne to describe a champagne or sparkling wine which is dry rather than sweet. A brut should contain under 15g/l of sugar.
BUDBREAK
Signals the end of the dormant period of the vine. The annual reappearance of shoots from the buds in the spring on the vines.
BUNG
Every oak barrel has a bung hole through which wine is poured and stirred. When not in use, this hole is closed with a rubber, glass or plastic stopper called a bung.
BUTTERY
Tasting term used to describe the butter flavor found in some wines, often associated with Chardonnay.

CABERNET FRANC
The less revered grape variety of Bordeaux, though not necessarily deserving. It is used in many Bordeaux blends as well as Vin de Pays from the Loire Valley. Cabernet Franc finds its claim to fame in Chateau Cheval Blanc as well as other vineyards in St. Emilion where it is happiest. It has a similar flavor profile as Cabernet Sauvignon, and though slightly more herbaceous it does not have as many tannins or as acids. It ripens better in relatively cooler climates. Cabernet Franc has aromas of violets and raspberries, but when used in small percentages it is barely perceptible.
CABERNET SAUVIGNON
The great red variety of Bordeaux. It is often regarded as the king of reds. Though its plantings are not as expansive as one may imagine, it has become a popular variety now planted extensively in the US and all over the world. Because of its high proportion of pulp to skin, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes lend to big, tannic, flavorful, deeply hued and succulent wines. The bordeaux blends of the Medoc are often primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, needing a touch of Merlot of Cabernet Franc to mellow them. Cabernet Sauvignon wines are distinct in color and flavor, leaning towards blackcurrant, tobacco, cedar and green pepper.
CAMPANIA
The southwest region of Italy with Naples as a capital. Once considered the prominent Mediterranean wine producer, today its reputation has become less important as competition increases. The grapes of this region include Aglianico (which excels in the Taurasi DOC), Sangiovese, Primitivo, Barbera, and Greco di Tufo.
CANOPY and CANOPY MANAGEMENT
The leaves of the vines in a row are referred to as the canopy. These leaves are often trained to grow in a specific style and direction so as to control the amount of sun exposure on the grape bunches and maximize or minimize photosynthesis. This repertoire of viticultural growing techniques used to control grape yields and prevent disease is called canopy management.
CAP
A layer of grape skins, stems and seeds which coagulate and float on top of the red grape juice in the fermentation vats. It prevents juice contact with the air, but it is often punched down or the wine is pumped over and through it in order to extract as much phenolics as possible increasing color, flavor and life of the wine.
CAPSULE
Also known as foil. Made from either plastic or tin, these foils are fitted tightly over the top of the bottle. Custom seals and other codes can be embossed on the capsule.
CARBON DIOXIDE
The chemical compound which is a product of alcoholic fermentation. As the yeasts metabolize the sugars in grape juice, alcohol and carbon dioxide are formed.
CARBONIC MACERATION
A fermentation process associated primarily with Beaujolais where the red grapes (usually gamay) are placed in vats without being machine pressed. The weight of the berries does crush the bottom layer, and the actual transformation of sugar to ethanol begins within each berry using the yeast naturally present on each grape in an oxygen free environment. The result it an exceptionally fruity, bright, light, low tannin and perfumed wine with no aging potential. The Beaujolais Nouveau is the stereotypical wine exhibiting flavors of banana, cherry, raspberry and candy.
CARMENÈRE
Once a favorite variety of Bordeaux, specifically Graves and Medoc, it was wiped out due to phylloxera and abandoned because of susceptibility to rot. However, some producers have replanted this variety because it is so pleasantly well-balanced.
CASE
A box of 12 bottles of wine. A split case is 6 bottles of two different kinds of wine. A mixed case is a box of 12 different wines.
CASK NUMBER
See bin number
CAVA
The Spanish term for sparkling wine made using the traditional champagne method. This term was coined in 1970 when France imposed the legislation forcing all sparkling wine not made in Champagne, France to abandon the name Champagne.
CEDARY
Tasting term referring to the cedar smell often exhibited by the Cabernet family of grapes.
CELLAR
Commonplace term for where a wine is made and stored, often underground to provide the proper temperature and humidity. It is seen in Europe as cave, cantina, bodega, keller and quinta.
CEPAGE
French for "grape variety."
CHABLIS
The northern most region of Burgundy covering 7,500 acres where minerally, dry white wines are produced. The region uses exclusively, as all of Burgundy, the Chardonnay grape for its whites.
CHAMPAGNE
Grape-growing region in northeast France located between Paris and Alsace. Also the name of the sparkling wine which originated in this region. A sparkling wine may only be called Champagne if it is produced in the designated Champagne region following the viticultural and vinification regulations under the traditional method or méthode champenoise.
CHAPTALIZATION
The vinification process of adding sugar or concentrated grape must ,not to make the wine sweeter, but to increase the potential alcohol level. This practice is widely used in colder regions and renounced by southern wine making regions where it is unnecessary. The practice is highly regulated in the AOC's and with members of the EU who are concerned about the growing surplus of wine.
CHARDONNAY
Undoubtedly the world's most saught after grape variety by winemakers and drinkers alike. This grape makes the famous white wines of France's Burgudy region, most abundant in the northern region called Chablis. It is an aromatic, flavorful white wine with the structure to benefit from oak aging. This variety is often high in malic acid, and therefore often undergoes malolactic fermentation. Most people associate green apples, white flowers, pear, peach and of course the signature nutty, butter and vanilla characters brought on by extended barrel aging seen in the new world examples. It is also the grape variety used in Champagne production because of its high acid content. The vines are especially resistant to inclement weather and ripen early making them valuable for cooler climate viticulture, despite the fact that certain Chardonnay clones are also adapted to hotter climates. The flavor profile, style and quality of the wine depend largely on the soil, climate, weather and winemaker making this a varietal that can vary dramatically from brand to brand.
CHASSELAS
The grape variety of French speaking Switzerland where the wine goes by a few different names depending on the location. This variety is rumored to be the oldest cultivated variety originating in Egypt or Cyprus. It is particularly low in acid and lacking in any aromatic complexity, yet the Swiss are especially proud of their Fendent or Perlan, and defend it ardently. Almost none of the Swiss national production is exported and therefore the wines are little known outside of the Swiss borders- and this may be no great loss. However, Chasselas is responsible for the rather well known Pouilly-sur-Loire of France.
CHATEAU
French for castle, but in winespeak it refers to a vine-growing estate and all its facilities.
CHENIN BLANC
This variety is the white grape of France's Loire Valley and in more recent history it was transplanted to South Africa where it now has more acreage than in all of the Loire Valley. Nonetheless, the French winemakers' experience with this classic grape proves advantageous and Chenin's most impressive, luxurious expressions come out of Anjou, Saumur and other Loire appellations. This grape makes some of the most interesting, pungent, aromatic and unusually flavored white wines imaginable. The younger, dry wines take some adjusting to appreciate as they can be powerfully mineral, acidic and even salty, yet nearly unbelievably complex. If you have the patience to wait a couple decades, these wines become opulent, rich and honey-laden with ripe apricot, peach and limestone character. The combination of expressive fruit, complex minerality and mouth-watering acidity makes Loire Chenin Blanc tantalizing and often goes under-appreciated. Outside of the Loire, Chenin Blanc is often used to produce more simple white wines or for blending in basic table wines.
CHEWY
Tasting term for wines with high tannic extraction giving the impression that the liquid is so full-bodied and thick that it should be chewed rather than swallowed.
CHIANTI
The Tuscan region between Florence and Siena in north-central Italy known for red wines of unpredictable quality which traditionally come in onion shaped bottles with straw encasements.
CIGAR BOX
Tasting term describing the smell of cigar tobacco and cedar often associated with the Cabernet family of grapes.
CLARET
The term used in Britain for red wines from Bordeaux.
CLARIFICATION
Vinification technique which removes suspended particles known as lees in the wine before bottling.
CLARITY
Used to define the appearance of a wine. Defines whether or not there are particles visible in the wine or not.
CLEAN
Tasting term which describes the health and purity of the wine. It is clean if there are no faulty aromas or flavors.
CLIMATE
A region's average meteorologic conditions over the course of a year, concerning temperature, precipitation, sunlight, and wind as well as other variables all of which have an important influence in the growth of grapes.
CLONE
A genetically identical reproduction of a specific grape vine, used to propagate a certain variety which may have desirable characteristics depending on the climate and soil conditions.
CLOS
French for enclosed. Term particular to Burgundy where many vineyards are closed in with a wall.
CLOSED
Tasting term which describes a wine who's aromas are not easily identifiable due either to the phase of the wine in its life-cycle or because the sample is too cold.
CLOUDY
Descriptor for a wine whose appearance is not clear.
CLOYING
Tasting term for an excessively sweet wine which is lacking in the proper balance of acidity.
COARSE
Tasting term which refers to the feeling of the wine in the mouth as harsh and dry.
CODA DI VOLPA
The grape also known as Pallagrelo, revived by Mastroberardino, which is blended to make Greco di Tufo.
COLD STABILIZATION
A winemaking technique used to clarify the wine by reducing the tank temperature for two weeks causing the solids to fall to the bottom of the tank or cask, thus facilitating their removal. This is done to prevent the solids from crystallizing in the bottle.
COMMUNE
French for village or parish.
COMPLEXITY
Tasting term describing a wine with layers of flavors and aromas which complement and augment one another and evolve as a wine is swirled and sipped and left to breath in the glass. All great wines have complexity.
COOKED
Tasting term describing the stewed effect that is either attributed to improper storage/shipping conditions or to the use of overripe grapes for wine-making.
COOPER, COOPERAGE
The individual who makes oak barrels. The cooperage is where the barrels are made..
CORK
The tree or bark from the cork tree which is cultivated for the production of corks, or wine bottle stoppers.
CORKAGE FEE
The price incurred at a restaurant by the diner when he brings his own bottle of wine to drink.
CORKED or CORKY
Tasting term describing a wine which has been tainted by a faulty, molded or contaminated cork. Usually smells like mold or fungus and is one of the most unfortunate problems possible for wine because it cannot be aired off.
CORTESE DI GAVI
Though perhaps the grape's name is little known, this is the variety which is used to make Gavi dei Gavi in Piedmont, Italy's most expensive white wine. Only in one small district of Piedmont does it achieve greatness, otherwise is a simple, acidic, rather plain wine.
CRIANZA
Spanish term for the process of aging a wine and also designates the youngest type of oak aged wine. It must have spent 3 years in oak and six months in the bottle before going to market.
CRISP
Tasting term for a wine with rather high acidity, a clean, refreshing mouth and finish.
CRU
French term for a selected plot of a vineyard designated as superior to others. Translated in English as growth.
CRUSH
Common term for the harvest used by people who work in the vineyard. Refers to the grape pressing or crushing.
CUVEE
A select blend of a special wine or lot of wine.

DAVIS
The common abbreviation for the University faculty at Davis, California renowned for its research in viticulture and eonology as well as for its degrees in the same fields.
DEACIDIFICATION
The winemaking practice of reducing the acidity of overly acidic wines. This practice, like chaptalization and acidification are highly regulated in most wine regions.
DECANT
The term for opening and pouring a bottle of wine into a specially shaped glass container designed for the purpose of aerating a wine.
DÉGORGEMENT
Technique used when making sparkling wine. The champagne bottle is turned neck down into a cold solution thus freezing the lees which have accumulated at the cap of the bottle. The cap is quickly removed, expelling the unwanted frozen sediment and the bottle is resealed.
DEGREE DAYS
A system whereby a region's climate is categorized based on the number of days in the year when the temperature permits vine growth. This systems helps individuals decide where they want to plant which variety of vine.
DEGUSTATION
French for wine tasting.
DELICATE
Tasting term for the pleasant quality found in many great Rieslings and Pinot Noirs where the light body is complemented by vivid flavor profiles.
DEMI-SEC
Descriptor developed in France to indicate a semi-sweet white wine or champagne.
DEPTH
Tasting term used to indicate how many layers of flavors are present in a particular wine. The more complex the wine's flavor profile, the greater the depth.
DESTEMMING
One of the initial winemaking processes which transpires as the grapes are brought into the cellar from the harvest. Involves removing all branches, stems, and leaves from the grape bunches so as to prevent them from going into the fermentation tanks, as they would impart undesirably harsh, green tannins to the juice.
DESUCKERING
Viticultural practice of removing the unwanted shoots from the vines at bud-break to control yields.
DIRTY
Pejorative tasting term which implies poor wine-making.
DISJOINTED
Tasting term which describes an unbalanced and inharmonious wine.
DIURNAL TEMPERATURE DIFFERENCE
The disparity between day and nighttime temperatures at a given vineyard.
DO (Denominatión De Origen)
As with Italy's DOC, this used to be Spain's highest appellation category until it too liberally awarded.
DOC (Denominazione D'origine Controllata)
The Italian system for defining wine regions and wine names. In addition, the D.O.C.G. (Denominazione d'Origine Controllata Garantita) covers regions willing to submit their wines to tougher requirements, including tasting approval.
DOCa (Denominatión De Origen Calificada)
Spanish term equivalent to the French AOC (see above) which indicates the highest controlled quality category of wine.
DOLCE
Italian for "sweet".
DOLCETTO
The tertiary grape of the northeastern Piedmont region of Italy in terms of prestige, but what is consumed by locals. It's name means "little sweet one" and is loved for its perceptibly sweet fruit flavors and low tannins which make it so quaff-able. It is blended with Nebbiolo and Barolo to make them more drinkable young.
DOSAGE
Winemaking technique for the dose of wine (usually with some cane or beet sugar) added to a bottle of sparkling wine to replace lost volume from the dégorgement, and to adjust the level of residual sugar in the final product. The difference between Brut, Extra-Dry and Demi-Sec sparkling wines is determined by the amount of sugar in the dosage.
DOUX
French for "sweet". Used to designate sweet wines or Champagnes as in Vins Doux Naturels.
DRIP IRRIGATION
The viticultural technique of irrigation where water is released evenly throughout the vineyard in a slow and controlled drip system.
DRY
Descriptor for a wine with no sensation of sweetness or sugar in the mouth.
DRYING OUT
The point at which a wine has passed its prime and is beginning to decrease in quality.
DUMB
Tasting term for the period when a young wine's initial freshness is lost and the next period of character development in the bottle has not yet occurred. See closed.

EARTHY
Tasting term for the aroma of soil, must, or mushrooms which can be present in a wine. Often this adds a layer of complexity to the wine, but in too high a dose is considered a fault.
EISWEIN
German for ice wine. Frozen-pressed and fermented wines made from winter harvested frozen grapes. These wines are sweet and high in acidity as most of the water has evaporated from the grapes by the time of harvest.
ELEGANT
Tasting term which describes a wine with a subtle and refined character. A high complement for a wine.
ENOLOGIST
An individual with an advanced degree from an accredited university or institute in the science of winemaking.
ENOLOGY
The science of and winemaking. Also spelled oenology.
ENOPHILE
An individual with a passion and love for everything associated with wine and the vine.
ENOTECA
The Italian term for a wine shop usually specializing in fine wines.
ESTATE-BOTTLED
American term synonymous for Chateau Bottled or Domaine Bottled. In the US it is put on the label of wines made from grapes entirely owned and grown by the producer and bottled on premise.
ESTERS
The chemical compounds in both food and wine which are responsible for what we smell and taste.
ETHANOL
Scientific name for alcohol.
ETHYL ACETATE
The most common ester in wine which imparts in small doses a fresh fruity flavor, but in high doses gives a smell of vinegar.
EXTENDED MACERATION
The winemaking process originating in Bordeaux whereby the red grape solids are kept in contact with the newly fermented wines in a hermetically sealed tank for up to one month. This lengthy period of skin contact allows for a greater degree of phenolic extraction, giving the wines more varietal flavor and complexity. Only done for full-bodied age-worthy red wines.
EXTRA-BRUT
French term for the category of Champagnes with no added sugar.
EXTRA-DRY
Deceptive term describing sparkling wines which are actually slightly sweet.
EXTRACT
Term for all the dry matter or solids in a wine. This non-volatile matter consists of sugars, minerals, acids, phenolics and glycerol. Also used as a tasting term which indicates full body and tannins.

ÉLEVAGE
French term which describes the period in a wine's life during fermentation and through bottling.

FADING
Action that certain wines may undergo with aging where there is a loss of color and aroma.
FALANGHINA
Ancient grape variety which the Italian producer Mastroberardino has ressurected and given it's own bottling. A spicy white wine with pleasant acidity.
FAT
Tasting term for wines with an especially full-body, intense flavors and a sense of voluptuousness.
FEMININE
Term describing wines displaying more traditionally "feminine" characteristics such as light-bodied, perfumed or floral wines.
FERMENTATION
Vinification process whereby yeasts transform the sugars in grape juice into ethanol and carbon dioxide. Takes place in an oxygen deprived environment.
FIANO
Ancient grape variety which the Italian producer Mastroberardino has replanted in Avellino. The area's famous hazelnut groves are rumored to impart their characteristic nutty flavor to the Fiano di Avellino wines.
FIELD BLEND
Name for a wine produced from a vineyard cultivated in numerous complementary grape varieties. More rare today than it once was.
FIGHTING VARIETAL
Name for a wine which is made mainly from a popular grape variety but carrying a price tag of a generic blend. This was developed in the 1980's to create a new market and was extremely successful. Goal was to sell good quality varietals such as Cabernet or Merlot for a fraction of the price normally associated with these wines.
FILL LEVEL
The height on the neck of the bottle where the wine reaches. The goal is to leave as little space between the cork and the surface of the wine so as to minimize the possible presence of oxygen. Over time, wine will be absorbed into the cork and the fill line will drop.
FILTERING
The straining of solid particles from a wine before bottling by passing it through a screen or soil filter. This practice is highly debated because when all the solids are removed, much of the flavor and color producing esthers and minerals and phenolics can also be removed. A fine, barrel aged red wine should need no filtration. Many wines today chose to label their wines as 'unfiltered' so as to disassociate themselves from this controversial issue.
FINING
A winemaking technique using a number of different possible coagulatory agents such as egg whites, milk, fish bladders and bentonite to which solid particles adhere and are more easily removed. There is no need for concern that residue from these natural agents remains in any harmful level in the wine once fining is complete.
FINISH
Tasting term which refers to the length the flavors of a wine remain on the palate once the wine has been swallowed.
FLABBY
Tasting term describing a wine lacking in acidity.
FLAT
Tasting term for a wine lacking the acidity to balance the sugars.
FLAVOR
The flavor of a wine is perceived by the taste buds working in conjunction with the olefactory system which has a more precise and comprehensive repertoire. The flavors present in wines are exceptionally varied from fruit to mineral to butter to leather.
FLESHY
Tasting term for a wine with a smooth, thick consistency reminiscent of ripe fruit.
FLIGHT
A group of wines compared and contrasted with one another so as to judge, for example, the evolution of a single wine over many vintages. Usually three to six wines are in a flight.
FLINTY
Tasting term for white wines with the aroma of flint scraped against steel. This is often said of Sauvignon Blanc when at its driest.
FLORAL (also FLOWERY)
Descriptor for a wine which smells of flowers.
FLOWERING
The period in a vineyard during the spring when the flowers are fertilized and the growth of berries begins.
FLYING WINEMAKER
A winemaker who spends half of his year making wine in both the Northern and Southern hemisphere since their harvest seasons are not the same.
FORTIFIED
Descriptor for a wine whose alcohol content has been augmented by the addition of spirits, such as Port.
FOXY
Tasting term unique to North American varieties for a musky scented juice or wine.
FREE-RUN JUICE
The juice which flows naturally from a pile of grapes whose lower layers are crushing under the weight of the upper layers.
FRENCH OAK
The most renowned oak from a few famous forests (allier, limousin) used to make wine barrels. The most expensive type of oak and snobbishly sought after by many European winemakers.
FRENCH PARADOX
Term revealed on a 60 Minutes special in the early 90's describing the irony of a Frenchmen's diet- excessively high fat diet paired with a large per capital wine consumption in a population where coronary/heart diseases are quite low. Once it was hypothesized that red wine may help eliminate a build-up of artery-clogging fats and cholesterol, the US consumption of red wine spiked to four times its earlier rate.
FRESH
Tasting term for young wines with a healthy amount of acids and clean ripe fruit.
FRIZZANTE
Italian carbonated wines with less bubbles than ordinary sparkling wines.
FROST
In sub-freezing temperatures, the water vapors crystallize on the surface of the vines. This can be especially harmful if the leaves and grapes have developed or simply if the vine is not dormant. Frost protection can be expensive and is not always successful.
FRUIT SET
Viticultural term for the initial growth of tiny grape bunches from the fertilized flowers of the vine.
FRUITY, FRUIT DRIVEN
Generic tasting term for a wine with a prominent flavor of fruit. Can be any type of fruit.
FULL-BODIED
Tasting term describing a wine with high extract of tannins and poly-phenols giving it a weight or mass in the mouth.
FUTURES
In the wine world, wine paid for before it is bottled or available for consumption. Called "en primeur" in France.

GAMAY
The variety which accounts for nearly 100% of the plantings in Beaujolais. It is responsible for the pleasantly light and fruity everyday wine referred to as Beaujolais. It is the only other variety allowed to be planted in Burgundy. While it does not gain the respect that its sister to the North has claimed, the finest Gamays from select appellations in Beaujolais have been known to age to perfection, resembling fine Pinot Noir.
GELATIN
The product in jelly and jello used as a fining agent in winemaking.
GENERIC
Blended wines made from lower-quality or inexpensive grapes targeted at the low end market. In the US these wines used to carry the names of other regions, like Chablis, degrading the term and the superior wines which come from those regions. The EU has now outlawed the use of place names on generic wine labels.
GENETIC ENGINEERING
Also known as Genetic Manipulation. The scientific process of breeding using inter-species gene transfers. This is used today in oenology and viticulture.
GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION
The Australian appellation system.
GEWÜRZTRAMINER
Most revered in Alsace, this variety's name bears dual citizenship. At first glance it seems undeniably Germanic. "Gewurz" does mean spices or aromatics, however the Traminer indicates the grape's Italian origins from the town by that name. First cultivated in the Alto-Adige region of Italy, now famous for the polar opposite variety Pinot Grigio, Gewurztraminer is known for its intensely aromatic nose of rose and heady tropical fruits, and a tantalizing spicy bite adds complexity to the rather onctuous mouth-feel.
GLASS
The instrument into which wine is poured. Inert and transparent, a wine glass is especially designed for wine appreciation.
GLUCOSE
One of the two principle sugars in grapes and sweet wines.
GLYCERIN
Or glycerol, a product of alcoholic fermentation. Gives a slight sweetness and slickness to a wine, though bears no relation to the legs or tears seen streaming down the inside of a glass after swirling.
GOLD RUSH
The American late 1800's movement to the West in search of gold which simultaneously brought vineyard planting to the most grape growing conducive regions in America.
GOÛT de TERROIR
French tasting term for the "flavors of the land" which is used to describe the unique characteristics of a wine specific to a certain vineyard or terroir.
GRACEFUL
Tasting term for a wine which is subtle and smooth.
GRAFTING
A viticultural method first developed to combat the destructive pest phylloxera where resistant root-stocks were planted and the desired grape variety stalk tissues were then connected so as to grow into one plant. The grapes grow from the upper part of the graph, not the rootstock.
GRAIN
Term describing the density of wood, used by coopers to discern the quality of the oak. Oak can be either tight or wide grained.
GRAN RESERVA
Spain's highest quality categories is only bottled in the best of years. In order to qualify, the reds must be aged at least five years with a minimum of two in oak.
GRAND CRU
French for "great growth". Term used originally in Burgundy to identify and separate the best wines from superior vineyards or plots.
GRAND CRU CLASSÉ
French system famous in Bordeaux used to define the greatest vineyards. The first, of which their were 5, were created in 1855.
GRAPEY
Tasting term for fruit-forward wines where the flavor is reminiscent of grapes and not of more complex fruits and berries.
GRASSY
Tasting term for wine with hints of grassy aromas. Often said of Sauvignon blanc.
GRECO DI TUFO
The name given to the grape Greco grown in the Campania region of Italy by Mastroberardino. Greco di Tufo adds quite a bit of weight and character to other less fortunate grapes and is generally of very good quality.
GREEN
Tasting term for wines made from unripe grapes. Not a sought after comment.
GRENACHE / GARNACHA
Grape originally from Spain which has spread rampantly, finding its most popular destination in France's Langedoc and Rhone Valley regions. It is the second most widely planted vine in the world, though usually is used for blending because it often lacks acidity and body, while it brags sugar levels which easily obtain 16% alcohol in the wine. Because it withstands strong sun and brutal winds, it has become a love of southern windy regions like Australia and Spain. Because of it is thin-skinned, fruity and sweet it is used for the production of most rose wines especially in the Mediterranean.
GREY ROT
The most harmful and unwanted form of Botrytis Cinera bacteria which attacks grapes, the evil twin of Noble Rot.
GRIGNOLINO
The grape variety which is only successful in the sparkling wine departments of Piedmont, Asti and Alessandria. It is a light, delicate, though terribly pleasant wine enjoyed most as a coctail aperitif because most food would overpower it.
GRIP
A positive tasting term for the tactile sensation occurring in high extract wines, necessary for the proper fullness of certain varieties.
GROWN, PRODUCED AND BOTTLED
US labeling term for wines which were grown, vinified and bottled at the winery.
GYROPALETTES
The mechanized crates into which hundreds of champagne bottles can be placed in order to quicken and simplify the riddling process.

HALF-BOTTLE
A bottle with half the capacity of standard 750ml, or 375ml. Holds approximately 3 glasses of wine.
HARD
Tasting term for a wine with excessive amounts of tannins or acids making it unpleasant to drink.
HARMONIOUS
Tasting term for a wine with a seamless structure which incorporates all the necessary elements of character and flavor in perfect balance.
HARSH
Tasting term for an overly alcoholic or tannic wine.
HARVEST
The period or act of removing grapes from the vine in order to begin pressing and fermentation.
HAZY
Term used to denote the lack of perfect clarity in a wine.
HEADY
Tasting term for wines high in alcohol.
HEARTY
Tasting term used for wines with full, fleshy body and intense flavors.
HECTARE
The land measurement used in most of the world. One hectare is 10,000 square meters, which translates into 2.47 acres.This is how the size of a vineyard is determined.
HECTOLITER
A quantity of liquid equivalent to 100 liters or 26.4 gallons. In most of Europe, yield is measured in hectoliters per hectare vs. tons per acre in the U.S.
HERBACEOUS
Tasting term similar to grassy, used to describe wines with an herbal or vegetal smell like freshly cut grass.
HERBICIDES
The chemicals used to protect vines and grapes from the growth of damaging or invasive weeds.
HOLLOW
Tasting term for a wine lacking in any discernible flavor, texture or character.
HORIZONTAL TASTING
A wine tasting of many different wines from the same vintage, either of one winery or various producers from a given region. As opposed to a Vertical which denotes a tasting of the same winery's wine from many different vintages.
HOT
Tasting term for wines which feel hot in the mouth, throat or stomach due to a high degree of alcohol.
HOUSE STYLE
Term commonly used for non-vintage alcoholic beverages such as Champagne and Cognac describing the structure, aroma and flavor profiles unique to a specific estate or company. In order to remain unique and provide consistency from year to year, some wine from prior years will be blended with the new vintage.
HYBRID
In viticulture, the propagation of a new, single variety from two different varieties. This can occur naturally from cross-pollination in the wild or be a result of a deliberate human intervention.
HYDROMETER
The instrument used to measure the sugar level in grapes to determine harvest date. It is measured in Brix, Oechsle or Baume.

IGT or Indicazione Geografica Tipica
One of the Italian quality categories, second up from the lowest level of Vino da Tavola, or Table Wine (not to be confused with the generic American term for all wines between 9 and 14% alcohol). It indicates a wine which expresses the typicities of a specific region. It received the spotlight with the advent of Super Tuscans, superior quality wines of Tuscany which did not qualify as DOC because they were not made from the regulatory blends, and therefore were labeled as lower category IGT's but priced above many DOC's.
IMPERIAL
A very large bottle which holds six liters of wine, or 8 standard bottles. In Bordeaux it is called a Methuselah.
INTENSITY
Tasting term which can be used both for the of flavors or aromas of a wine.
INTERNATIONAL VARIETIES
The internationally recognized grape varieties which make the most popular varietals such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
IRRIGATION
Bringing water to the vineyard by sprinklers or drip systems to regions where rainfall is inadequate. More widely practiced in the New World than the Old because it is more highly regulated and prohibited in Europe than the Americas and Oceania.

JEROBOAM
The Bordelaise term for large bottles which contain 4.5 liters or the equivalent of six standard bottles. However, in Burgundy and Champagne, the Jeroboam holds only 3 liters and therefore is equal to Bordeaux's double magnum.
JOINT VENTURE
Increasingly common phenomenon in the wine world where two companies, usually with different strengths and weaknesses combine to produce a family of wines or brand in order to maximize the market potential.
JUG WINE
American name for generic varietal bulk wine of low-quality and is sold usually as a bag in the box.

KOSHER
Wine made under the supervision of a rabbi, present to bless the wine at certain points during fermentation and bottling, in accordance to Hebrew law.

LABEL
The paper adhered to the front and at times the back of the wine bottle which provides the surface for communicating all the necessary and desired information about a wine. In the US, the BATF regulates mandatory information and surveys all labels for correctness before a new wine label is allowed on the shelves. It is one of the marketers' most valuable tools for communicating the image and identity of their brand.
LACTIC ACID
The soft, smooth acid associated with milk which is the bi-product of malolactic fermentation, or the conversion of malic acid (harsh, sharp acid in green apples) to lactic acid. Common to red wines such as Cabernet and also Chardonnay.
LANGUEDOC
Region in south/southwest France known for its bulk-production. Today it is attempting to correct it's rather deplorable image by eliminating the large cooperative wineries and instituting the once rejected appellation system.
LATE HARVEST
US labeling term for wines picked after the the harvest for table wines. These wines have a higher sugar content and are considered desert wines.
LEAF TO FRUIT RATIO
Viticultural term for the percentage of leaves to grape bunches on a vine which is used to predict the vine's grape ripening capacity.
LEAN
Tasting term for a high acid, meaty wine, which when used negatively means that the wine is lacking in fruit qualities.
LEATHERY
The tasting term describing wines which smell or taste of well-used leather, usually exhibited in older red wines.
LEES
The sediment which collects in barrels or Champagne bottles composed of primarily of dead yeast cells. Some red and white wines are left to sit "sur lees" or on the lees in order to soak up certain flavor characteristics and/or reduce the malic acid content
LEGS
The streams of liquid that adhere to the side of a glass and run down after a wine is swirled in the glass. It is an indicator of the alcoholic content.
LENGTH
The duration of a wine's flavor on the tongue after a wine is swallowed. The longer the length of a wine, the greater the quality, assuming the wine's flavors are pleasant.
LIMOUSIN
One of France's oak forests cultivated for cooperage near Limoges famous for high quality.
LINGERING
Tasting term for a wine with persistent length of flavor.
LIVELY
Tasting term for fresh, juicy and bright wine with zip.
LOAM
The ideal soil for cultivating most plants; a composition of clay, sand and silt which is permeable and therefore stores water effectively.
LUSCIOUS (or LUSH)
Tasting term for supple, smooth, fruity, and velvety; more often associated with sweet white wines than rich red wines.

MACERATION
Vinification term for keeping the grape skins in contact with the juice during fermentation.
MADERIZED
Tasting term derived from the Portuguese wine called Madeira to describe oxidized, browned wines with a nutty, caramelized flavor.
MAGNUM
A large bottle which holds 1.5 liters, or 2 standard bottles.
MALBEC
Also known as Cot in the Bordeaux region of France. Less refined and concentrated than Merlot, though similar. It has high yields making it a popular for less expensive wines wishing to reflect the flavor profile of Bordeaux blends.
MALIC ACID
The acid commonly associated with Granny Smith Apples. Very tart and sour and when present in high concentrations as in Cabernet, is often converted into lactic acid during the secondary fermentation known as malolactic.
MALOLACTIC FERMENTATION or ML
A bacterial fermentation occurring in most wines, this natural process converts sharper malic acid (found in green apples) into softer lactic acid (found in milk). Total acidity is reduced; the wines become softer, rounder and more complex. In addition, ML stabilizes wines by preventing an undesirable fermentation in the bottle. Often called the secondary fermentation. Frequently associated with big, rich buttery Chardonnay, ML is prevented when fresher, crisper styles are desired.
MANDILARIA
A greek island grape not particularly noteworthy except in its color concentration and therefore is used in blending with other varieties such as Monemvasia to make the tasty red wines of Crete.
MARSALA
Town in Sicily known for the fortified wine of the same name.
MARSANNE
A variety which has spread rampantly in France's Rhone Valley and slowly migrating to the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Marsanne is the highly productive as well as aromatic component in Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage. To be appreciated this variety should be consumed young, when it contains the freshness necessary to balance out the rich aromas and high alcohol content. It is often blended with Roussanne to allow for greater aging potential and balance, and lends well to oak aging.
MASCULINE
Tasting term for wines with more masculine characteristics such as cigar box, musk, cedar, earthy, or leathery; the opposite of feminine.
MASTER OF WINE (MW)
The degree held by those individuals who complete the rigorous courses and examinations held by the Institute of Masters of Wine originating in London for wine knowledge and appreciation. It is considered the most difficult and demanding degree in the wine tasting world and is held by only a select number of people.
MATURE
The point at which a wine has reached its fullest potential, will not benefit from further aging and therefore is ready to be consumed.
MAVRODAPHNE
Growing in the Peloponnese and used for the production of red desert wines. Interestingly, oxidation and heating is encouraged during the wine-making process whereby the barrels are left to sunbathe- quite like the process of sherry production.
MEAD
Alcoholic drink made from fermented honey. Apparently dates further back than wine or beer.
MEATY
Tasting term for full-bodied and highly extracted red wines. Also used to indicate the aromas of cooked meat, bacon and wild game that can be found with Syrah and Pinot Noir.
MELON DE BOURGOGNE
Also known as Muscadet, this grape is believed to be from Burgundy, which its name clearly suggests. However the grape is barely acknowledged in Burgundy today, and is embraced in the Loire Valley for its acidity where it produces the eponymous Muscadet wines. These wines are designed to accompany the oily shellfish that come from the west coast's waters. Wines made from Melon de Bourgogne can age very well.
MENISCUS
The surface rim where the wine meets the glass.
MERITAGE
Term used by Californian vintners for wines made from blended Bordeaux varieties.
MERLOT
The classic variety famous for its role in Bordeaux, where it takes second place to Cabernet Sauvignon in reputation despite having over twice as much acreage. It is used in most of the famous Bordeaux blends, most importantly in St. Emilion and Pomerol where it accounts for 2/3 of the blend. The eponymous Chateau Petrus owes its reputation to Merlot. The grape is known for its easy drink-ability thanks to a fresh fruit-forward style with lower tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon. It is the favored french variety by Italians, especially in the North, and is found in the Americas as well as in New Zealand and Australia. It is a high yielding variety whose quality is greatly improved when yields are conservative.
METHODE CHAMPENOISE (Methode Traditionelle)
Traditionally recognized sparkling winemaking method developed in Champagne. True Champagne can only be made with this method.
METHUSELAH
A very large wine bottle holding 6 liters; the equivalent of eight 750ml bottles. The Burgundian equivalent of Bordeaux's Impériale.
MICRO-OXYGENATION
Winemaking technique developed in the 1990's for adding controlled amounts of oxygen to the grape juice at very specific points during the fermentation process. This is to prevent the untimely death of yeast cells due to suffocation or can be used during elevage to prevent reduction (unpleasant aromas caused by inadequate oxygen levels).
MICROCLIMATE
The climactic conditions specific to a very small plot of land. Can vary from vine row to row and is always as small as a few meters.
MILLESIME
French word for Vintage.
MONOPOLY
In wine terms, when the state, province or country controls the import and sale of all alcoholic beverages. Sweden, Pennsylvania and Egypt all have monopoly systems.
MOSCHOFILERO
This Greek grape variety produces wonderfully delicate and aromatic wines which compliment an incredibly wide array of cuisines because of its excellent acidity and citrus fruit flavors. It is grown in the plateau of the Peloponnese region, achieving greater finesse when grown at higher altitudes.
MOURVÈDRE
A variety indigenous to southern France. Mourvèdre's image is lack-luster, though it is one of the grapes used in the famous Rhone Valley appellations Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It is blended with varieties such as Syrah and Grenache because it is lower in acidity and can lend a nice berry flavor and better balance to those wines. It has traveled to Australia and California, but under the alias Mataro, and is the fifth most popular red grape down under.
MOUSSE
French term for the bubbly, frothy foam which forms as champagne is poured.
MOUTHFEEL
Tasting term describing the tactile sensation of the wine in the mouth.
MULCH
Natural and organic fertilizers like cow manure and wood chips put on the vineyards soil to promote vine growth.
MULLER-THURGAU
The variety created in Germany by the scientist Muller, from the Swiss town of Thurgau. This crossing of Sylvaner and Riesling is now Germany's most planted grape variety. The goal was to create a grape which manifested the best of each of its two parents while also eliminating their worst traits. The result was a grape which in gaining many viticultural advantages like earlier ripening, lost much of the character and appeal of both Riesling and Sylvaner. Unfortunately, the sum was not greater than or even equal to its parts. However there is nothing offensive or unpleasant about this grape and it is responsible for much of Germany's table wine and even in it's lower quality Qualitats wines. The grape is now popular in Eastern Europe and New Zealand.
MUSCAT
This is actually a family of grapes with many sub-varieties whose names vary depending on the location in which it is grown. The most respected member of the Muscat family is Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains which boasts high quality and perhaps the most flavorful and sweet eating grapes. Some Ampelographers believe that all vitis vinifera vines are descended from the Muscat family, and this variety is cultivated all over Europe and the New World wine regions. The most important synonyms for the Petits Grains variety are Muscato d'Asti, Muscato Bianco, Muscat Blanc, Muscat d'Alsace, Frontignan, Muskadel. Clearly there is an association with the English word Musk and this grape's intoxicatingly sweet and fruity smell.
MUSCAT BLANC A PETITS GRAINS
The Muscat family is huge, but the best known come from the vineyards of France, and particularly the Rhône Valley vineyards which make Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise. Other members of the Muscat grape are planted throughout Italy, Alsace, Germany and in California.
MUST
Term for the grape juice before it ferments into wine.
MUSTY
Tasting term for wine with a moldy smell. Usually caused by making the wine with spoiled or mildewed grapes, improper sterilization of machinery or by a bad cork.
MUTAGE
French term for adding alcohol to wine in the process of fermenting in order to stop fermentation. This results in fortified style wines, sweet desert style wines.

NASAL FATIGUE
Term for the decreased ability to smell the aromas of a wine due to sniffing too many wines back to back. Common during wine tastings.
NATURAL YEAST
These are the yeasts indigenous to the vineyard where the grapes were grown. Certain winemakers prefer to use only indigenous yeasts, others purchase specific yeasts cultivated in yeast factories.
NEBBIOLO
The most adored, famous and pricey grape of Italy's Piedmont region, playing the lead role in Barolo and Barbaresco.It is protected by the Italian and therefore plantings anywhere outside of Italy are practically nil. This late-ripening variety produces some of the worlds most inky black, tannic and acidic red wines, making them perfect candidates for long aging. The wines are powerful, robust, and complex winners on the international stage.
NEBUCHADNEZZAR
An enormous wine bottle which holds 15 liters or 20 standard (750ml) bottles.
NÉGOCIANT (NÉGOCIANT-ÉLEVEUR)
French wine merchants who purchase wine or grape juice from grape growers and bottle and sell it under their own label.
NEVERS
A French city famous for Pouilly-Fume and the forest that produces hard, medium-grained oak for barrels.
NEW OAK
Oak barrels that are in their first usage or have never been used. These barrels impart the greatest concentration of toasted oak flavors to the wine. Usually when a particular wine is made, the percentage of new oak is indicated. Since it is so expensive there is a combination of new and old oak used to age the wine and then the products are blended before bottling.
NEW WORLD
The popular term for wine making regions that have started producing wine more recently than in Europe such as the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina and South Africa.
NITROGEN
Inert natural gas which accounts for 78% of our air which acts as a dilutant for oxygen, which is highly reactive. Nitrogen is used during the bottling process; it is injected into the bottle just after the wine has been filled and before the cork is inserted to eliminate excess oxygen which could negatively affect the wine.
NOBLE ROT
See Botrytis cinerea.
NOBLE VARIETIES
The classic wine making grapes indigenous to Europe. Red varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Syrah. Whites include Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gerwürztraminer, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillion.
NONVINTAGE
Wine, fortified wine or Champagne made from a blend of different vintages in order to keep that winery's style consistent year to year.
NOSE
Synonymous with aroma or bouquet, it is the smell of a wine as sensed by the olefactory.
NUTTY
Tasting term for wines which have undergone oxidation or special fermentation techniques and have the taste of roasted nuts such as hazelnuts or walnuts. Often said of Tawny port or Sherry.

OAK CHIPS
Pieces of oak used to impart the flavor of oak barrel aging. The cheap alternative because it can achieve similar results at a fraction of the price of new oak barrels. The use of oak chips is frowned down upon by French winemakers, their bias based on tradition and the desire to keep coopers in business and to prevent the unfair market advantage gained when wineries use oak chips instead of investing in barrels. Oak chips are prohibited in France, though many admit to the undercover use of them.
OAKY
Tasting term for a wine with high aromatic concentrations of toasty, oaky, vanilla, coconut and buttery smells.
OFF-DRY
Term for a slightly sweet wine.
OIV
Stands for Office Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin, this is the unique intergovernmental organization with 47 member countries which is concerned with regulating all the vini-viticultural techniques, and all scientific, economic, technical and cultural issues which arise in the international wine scene. The OIV organizes conferences and research, writes journals and books, collects statistics and co-ordinates nomenclature for wines, wine regions and the likes. It is active in the WHO, the EU, WTO and other international organizations. It has also founded an International Masters program in Management, Marketing and Economics.
OLD VINE
Wine made from vines which were planted 50-100 years earlier. Usually this gives the wine a more complex aroma and flavor profile because the roots access more layers of the soil thus soaking up more varied minerals and components from the soil.
OLD WORLD
The old world of winemaking is Europe, especially Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain and France.
OLFACTORY EPITHELIUM
A small patch of nerve endings in the nasal passage which connects the nose to the mouth. In sniffing or inhaling, the air passes over the olfactory bulb and allows animals to distinguish around 10,000 unique aromas even at very low concentrations.
ORGANIC WINE
Farming which prohibits the use of chemical products or genetic engineering. The legal definition is still not written in stone and modifies frequently.
ORGANOLEPTIC
Of or relating to the sense of smell.
OXIDIZED
Term for wine which has been overexposed to the air or oxygen and is therefore tainted or prematurely aged.

PALATE
The surface of the tongue which allows the wine to linger and be tasted and sensed. Also the spectrum of flavors of a wine.
PALOMINO
This is the chief grape used in the production of Spain's famous Sherries. It makes everything from the delicate and racy Manzanilla to the full-throttle Oloroso Sherries. It is the backbone of the dessert "Cream" Sherries, where it is blended with Pedro Ximénez grapes.
PARELLADA
Spanish grape which lends to the country's sparkling wine, or Cava, production. It has lovely acid levels coupled with good fruit-forward flavor and is responsible for Torres' Vina Sol.
PARKER, ROBERT M., JR
Influential wine critic who developed the now universal 100 point rating system for wine tasting. His guide, the Wine Advocate, is comprised of thousands of wine ratings tallied by Parker during his relentless tasting travels. Read in nearly 40 countries, this guide has a major impact on the success or failure of a wine or region.
PAYS, VIN DE PAYS
French for country. Wine without any ties to a specific region, just a french table wine.
PEAK
The point at which a wine has reached its pinnacle in terms of flavor and aroma potentials.
PEPPER
Tasting term for two different flavors potentially found in wine. One indicates a black peppercorn aroma which tickles the nose as if one is sniffing fresh crushed pepper. Syrah is often thus characterized.The other indicates an aroma of green bell pepper often found in Cabernet Sauvignon, especially when the grape is harvested too early.
PERFUMED
Tasting term for highly aromatic wines, usually leaning towards flowery.
PESTICIDES
Chemical product sprinkled on the vineyard in order to prevent the infestation of insects, bugs and other harmful bacterias.
PETILLANT
French term for a lightly sparkling wine.
PETIT SIRAH
Created by the scientist Dr Durif in the late 1800's, this variety is surprisingly not related to Syrah. Though almost entirely abandoned in France, this variety has seen a resurgence in California where plantings have increased yearly. It is especially useful in small quantities for blending with Zinfandel and is noted for its resistance to rotting. It is used as well for varietal production in the States and has a more varnished image there than anywhere else.
PETIT VERDOT
A lesser known variety of excellent quality indigenous to Bordeaux. It was one of the original grapes of this region and produces rich wines in color as well as flavor, with pepper, spice and complexity. In small quantities it is capable of adding quite a bit of complexity and color to any blend. Unfortunately, it is a finicky ripener and many winemakers have abandoned it in favor of more trustworthy varieties.
PH
A chemical measurement of a liquid's acidy. Water has a pH of 7, which is neutral, and wines range on average from 3.0 to 3.7; white wines tend to have a lower pH (or higher acidity) than red wines, but this is not a rule.
PHENOLICS
aka Polyphenolics or Polyphenols. Highly reactive chemical compounds responsible for color (anthocyanins for dark-skinned fruit ) flavor compounds and tannins.
PHYLLOXERA
Arguably the most devastating vine pest invasion in history. A minute lice-like root feeding insect brought to Europe from the US in the 1860's and quickly spread to most wine growing regions. It destroyed 6.2 million acres of the non-resistant vitis vinifera in France alone, with enormous economical and social impacts. It was believed that there was no cure or prevention for this pest, however it was soon discovered that American vinifera had developed resistance to the pest. The solution was to graph the resistant American rootstock to the stems of the desired vitis vinifera.
PIERCE'S DISEASE
Devastating bacterial disease which is now plaguing Californian vineyards. Transmitted by the glassy-winged sharp shooter, this infection is the greatest feared in all of the wine world for there is no cure and no vines are resistant to the infection. A vine will die within one to three years after infection.
PINOT AUXERROIS
The grape usually referred to as Auxerrois Blanc is a widely planted variety in Alsace, France. When properly managed it can make an agreeable white wine with character.
PINOT BLANC
This grape is planted in Burgundy and Alsace, though it is much more respected and interesting in the latter. In Germany it is called Weissburgunder or "white burgundian". It is, understandably, often confused with Chardonnay, especially in Italy where it is widely planted. This is because the vines resemble one another and because the wines have a few common taste characteristics such as green apple, floral and buttery aromas. There is much Pinot Blanc in northeastern Italy, however the Italians favor Pinot Gris perhaps because it is less heavy and aromatic.
PINOT GRIS/GRIGIO
This grape, a descendent of Pinot Noir, is indigenous to France, but present in most wine growing regions of Europe. It can range in flavor profile from honeyed and spicy to clean, low in acid and light.Richest in Alscace and most neutral in Italy, this grape is appreciated by growers and drinkers alike as a pleasant, easy going wine which matches with many different kinds of food. America has grown to know and love this variety thanks to Santa Margherita's Pinot Grigio.
PINOT MEUNIER
The tertiary, though indispensable, grape of the Champagne region extolled for its resistance to frost. It makes a vibrantly fruity wine with relatively low alcohol making it the clear choice for blending with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay which can lack in fruitiness. Meunier means 'miller' and is so named because the leaves look white due to downy growth.
PINOT NOIR
Burgundy's noble grape, and a truly ancient variety. This region and its grape are married, one relying and feeding off the other. In fact the term terroir is nowhere used as passionately and suggestively as in Burgundy, where they claim Pinot Noir grapes transport the terroir to the glass. Wherever Pinot Noir is planted outside of Burgundy, the winemakers are forever challenged to produce wines of parallel quality and flavor; even in Burgundy this grape is frustratingly difficult to grow and vinify, and has established a global reputation for being the most challenging grape to work with- and perhaps this is it's international appeal with winemakers. However, in some of the cooler regions of California and in Oregon, this variety has found as suitable a home as any. Because it is so prone to genetic mutations, the characteristics can vary drastically. However it is noted for its berry and cherry flavors, nice acidity and high alcohol content (often due to chaptalization). Pinot Noir is also an important grape in the Champagne region where it is carefully grown to produce some of the most intriguing aspects of the most renowned Champagnes.
PIP
Grape seed.
PLATEAU
The period where a wine ceases to improve with aging and is at its most desirable stage for consumption.
POMACE
The mass of crushed grape skins, stems and seeds which result from pressing or the crush.
PRESS
The winemaking machine or tool which crushes the grapes, squeezing the juice from the grapes.
PRESS WINE (or PRESSING)
The opposite of free run juice, this is the liquid that results from pressing or after fermentation. It is significantly darker and more tannic than free-run and is used to give structure or backbone to a winery's blend.
PRIVATE RESERVE
Descriptor which originally was used for the winery's top wine, however because there is no legal definition the term has been abused and does not guarantee any level of quality.
PRODUCED AND BOTTLED BY
Wine crushed, fermented and bottled by the winery. Must be true for at least 75 percent of the wine in the bottle.
PRUNING
The viticultural practice of trimming the buds from the vine in the spring. This is how a viticulturalist can control the number of bunches per vine and the vineyard's total yield.
PUMPING OVER
The vinification process of draining the wine out from the bottom of a fermentation tank and pumping it, via a hose, to the top of the tank so that it runs through the cap and absorbs more phenolic compounds.
PUNT
The divet or indentation at the bottom of the bottle which creates stability for wine bottles, especially sparkling wine bottles, which must withstand extra pressure. Now most wine bottles have it because of tradition or for show.

QUARANTINE
Protective measure of holding of plant and other organic materials as they are imported so as to prevent the possible spread of bacteria, contaminants, pests and diseases from crossing international borders.

RACKING
The vinification process designed to separate the wine from the sediment which deposits at the bottom of a tank by moving, via a hose, wine from one tank or barrel to another.
RACY
Tasting term for a bright and pleasantly acidic wine.
RAISINY
Tasting term for wines with a dried raisin flavor usually caused by vinification of overripe grapes; can be present in desert wines as well.
RAW
Tasting term for a wine which is not ready to be consumed, often out of balance or with green tannins.
RECENTLY DISGORGED
Term for a sparkling wine which had the lees removed just prior to bottling.
RECIOTO
Same as Vin de Paille from France. Wine made from late-harvested grapes which have been layed out on straw and extensively dried out in order to produce extremely sweet and concentrated desert wines.
RECORKING
Replacement of an old, dried out cork. Practiced for wines which have undergone extensive bottle aging or cellaring. Often bottles need to be topped off with a little extra wine to make up for the wine lost in evaporation.
REDUCTION
Wine that has not had any contact with the air can develop unpleasant smells and flavors due to chemical reactions which complement oxidation. Decanting can eliminate these odors.
REFRACTOMETER
The instrument used to measure the sugar level in grapes to determine harvest date. It is measured in Brix, Oechsle or Baume.
REHOBOAM
Large size bottle which holds to 4.5 liters of wine or six regular bottles. The Burgundian equivalent to Bordeaux's Jéroboam.
RESERVA
Spanish system for quality classification. To qualify, a red Riserva must spend at least three years barrel aging, with a minimum of one year in oak.
RESERVE
Another uncontrolled term on wine labels which is deceptive to consumers. It may truly indicates the best wine of the lot, but it has fallen victim to unjust marketing.
RESIDUAL SUGAR
The sugar in a wine which is not transformed into alcohol during fermentation
RESINATED WINES
Wines originating from Greece which have been flavored by the addition of resin. Initially, the Greeks lined their wine jugs with resin to compensate for the porous containers. The resin imparts its aromas and distinct flavor to the wines stored in these vessels. The Greeks developed a preference for wines with this flavor profile, and as well discovered that the resin also preserved the wine. Today, barrels are used, eliminating the need for a resin coating. Yet winemakers add resin staves in order to make resined wine, calling this wine RETSINA.
RETRONASAL PASSAGES
The airways which connect the olefactory region of the nose to the mouth, allowing individuals to fully smell a food or beverage.
RICH
Complementary tasting term for wines which have a full-body, roundness and intensity of flavors.
RIDDLING
Sparkling winemaking process of incrementally turning the bottles which are on the lees and undergoing fermentation in order to circulate the liquid in the bottle.
RIESLING
This classic German grape is undoubtedly the most undervalued variety in the world. With an incredible interplay of sweet fruit aromas and pungent acidity, these wines are delicious young and have the greatest aging potential of any white variety, except perhaps Chenin Blanc. It is arguably the most versatile grape for food be it the dry or even botrytized styles. However, the image of this grape was tarnished by Blue Nun and Liebfraumilch, poor quality, uninteresting sweet German wines which flooded the international market and has still left a bad taste in many consumers' mouths- even though little Riesling was even used in those wines. Riesling is recognized for its ability to remain true to its varietal character while still incorporating the flavors and traits of the terroir. The Rieslings of Alsace are well-valued, though not widely exported. Australia, despite it's warmer climate has been making excellent Rieslings and New Zealand has cultivated this grape making wines modeled after traditional German Rieslings.
RIM
The thin surface of the wine where the wine meets the glass.
RIPE
As with any fruit, the stage at which a grape is fully ripened.
RIPPING
Turning of the soil to aerate, fertilize and improve drainage before planting new vines.
RIPPING OUT
The practice of pulling out established vines from the ground, either to change the varietal or clone planted, or because the law has forced a viticulturalist to remove his plantings. This is called arrachage in France, and was instated because of the wine glut experienced in much of Europe.
RISERVA
Extra aged Italian wine.
ROOTSTOCK
The root system of the vine which supports a grafted stem and fruit bearing parts of the desired vitis plant.
ROSÉ
French for a pink wine, the term was adopted for pink hued wines in America as well which can range from nearly imperceptibly tinged to deep rose color. The only exceptions are pink wines made from red grapes labeled as, for instance, White Zinfandel.
ROUGH
Tasting term for a wine with over-dominant tannins or course tannins.
ROUND
Tasting term for a smooth, voluptuous mouth-feel.
ROUSSANNE
The more elegant sister to Marsanne, this grape variety and her sister are the only two allowed in northern Rhone appellations Hermitage, St. Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage. It is also one of the four whites allowed in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, known for its rather elusive aroma of white flowers and flowering herbs like a wild flower meadow. It is barely cultivated outside of the Rhone Valley.
RUSTIC
Descriptor for wines made using old-fashioned or ultra-traditional methods without the use of modern technology.Can also be a tasting term for wines which smell of the country- barnyard, musk, leather, earth etc.

SAIGNÉE
French word which means "bled". Free-run red grape juice is added or bled into a white wine or light rose wine during pre-fermentation in order to darken the hue.
SALMANAZAR
A large format bottle holding 9 liters, the equivalent of 12 regular (750ml) bottles.
SAMPLING
The tasting of a grape or wine, often from the barrel to discern a future wine's flavor profile and characteristics. This is a difficult task which only trained professionals can really properly perform as a young wine can be unpredictable and deceptive to the inexperienced.
SANGIOVESE
The grape which makes the Tuscan wines of Italy, some of which are among the world's greatest such as Brunello di Montalcino, others among the wine world's least palatable. Much of the quality depends on the clone selection, the climate and vineyard management, and on the skills of the winemaker. It is also the main ingredient in Chianti though national regulations require the addition of other poorer quality grapes, hence the variable quality of these wines.
SAUVIGNON BLANC
One of the most distinctly aromatic and richly flavorful white grape varieties. Interestingly, crossing it with Cabernet Franc resulted in Cabernet Sauvignon. Originally a grape indigenous to the Bordeaux region of France, it has traveled well all over the world, finding a great second home in New Zealand, South Africa and California. It has aromas of freshly cut grass, herbs like sage and thyme, grapefruit, pineapple, and at its most pungent a sweaty odor described by the french as "pipi de chat" or cat urine. The wines can be aged in oak, making them creamier and reducing some of the characteristic tartness, and the unoaked versions are some of the most seductive wines in the world- such as Sancerre or Puilly-Fume. New Zealand has received much acclaim for their tropical fruit-forwardness and bright acidity.
SAUVIGNON GRIS
Thought to be an older version of the Sauvignon Blanc varietal, though there is some conjecture as to which is the chicken and which is the egg. Sauvignon Gris has more of a pinkish hue to its skin (it is also known as Sauvignon Rosé) and has similar levels of acidity as that of Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon Gris does produce fruit with higher sugar levels than its cousin, which contribute to greater aromatics and a more rich and round feel to the wines. At one point these wines were highly prized yet due to the ridiculously low yields that the grape produces it almost became extinct. Currently it is enjoying a small revival in the Graves region of Bordeaux. This particular mutation of Sauvignon Blanc is also known as Fié or Fiét.
SAVATIANO
The most widely planted wine grape variety covering nearly 50,000 acres. It has always been the grape of choice for making the nationally popular Retsina wines.
SEC
French for dry; term used for wines which are not sweet.
SECOND LABEL
Lesser quality bottlings of a winery's second wine.
SECONDARY ALCOHOL FERMENTATION
Sparkling wine-making process where the wine is bottled and small amounts of sugar and yeast are added before the cap is sealed. This allows for a second fermentation to take place within the bottle. The carbon dioxide bi-product cannot escape and thus the bubbles which define a sparkling wine developed. Also malolactic fermentation in still wine.
SEDIMENT
The color pigments and tannins in wine, especially aged wines, bond and deposit at the bottom of the barrel of bottle. Sediment found typically in tannic, aged red wines can be astringent and give a gritty mouth-feel.
SEMILLON
The grape which, along with Sauvignon Blanc, provides for the internationally renowned desert wines of Sauternes, just south of Bordeaux in France. Opulent wines made from botrytised grapes, they could be referred to as liquid gold- both because of their rich golden hue and the price tag. The complexity and appeal of Sauternes are undeniable. On its own it can produce lovely fine wines both in their youth and with age.
SENSORY THRESHOLD
The concentration below which any aroma, taste or flavor cannot be detected by the human olefactory system. Individuals can vary greatly in their personal threshold for any given aroma or flavor.
SHOULDER
The feature on a bottle where the neck meets the body. This can vary in shape, as seen when comparing a Bordelais bottle to that of Burgundy.
SIN CRIANZA
Spanish descriptor for wines which are not aged in oak.
SKIN CONTACT
Allowing a wine to remain in contact with the skins so as to absorb color and flavor.
SMOKY
Toasting of oak barrels can impart the aroma or flavor of smoke to a wine. In low concentration this adds an element of complexity to the flavor profile.
SOFT
Tasting term for a wine with low acid content. This can either be a good or bad quality, depending on the overall balance of the wine.
SOMMELIER
The restaurant professional who is responsible for the selection and service of wine to diners. In order to be a sommelier you must have a certificate.
SORTING
The overseeing of grape quality and elimination of poorer quality grape bunches during harvest in order to control final wine's quality.
SPACING
The distance between vines in a vineyard; can vary from about three feet to eight feet. Generally, tighter spacing increases the competition between vines, producing fewer, more flavorful grapes.
SPICY
Tasting term describing the flavor of a spice in a wine. The different spice flavors commonly found in wine are pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and curry. Red Zinfandel and Côte du Rhone often described as spicy.
SPUMANTE
Italian for sparkling wine.
STALKY or STEMMY
Tasting term for the herbaceous and unpleasant greenness from a wine's extended contact with the grape stems or wine-making with unripe grapes .
STRUCTURE
Tasting term which describes how a wine's acidity, sugar, alcohol and tannins come together in the mouth.
STYLE
The character of a wine as determined by the wine drinker or winemaker. Has no bearing on the quality of the wine.
SUBTLE
Tasting term for any aspect of the wine's flavor or aroma profile which is in delicate quantities or intensity.
SULFITES
The resulting minimal residue left behind from the sulfur dioxide which is used to sterilize winemaking equipment and is dusted over grapes just prior to the crush and after fermentation in order to prevent spoilage of the wine.
SUPER TUSCAN
Wines from Tuscany which fall into the IGT category though they are rated often above the more elite DOCG system. The Tuscan winemakers deviated from the elite system because they made the wine with non-permissible varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah rather than relying on the traditionally accepted varieties such as Sangiovese.
SUPPLE
Tasting term used almost exclusively for Reds which describes well-integrated, velvety tannins.
SUR LIES
French term meaning "on the lees". Wines are barrel aged on the lees in order to absorb added flavor complexity from the yeast cells and other sediments.
SWEET
Tasting term or descriptor for a wine with a perceptible sweetness.
SYLVANER
A grape grown mainly in Germany which can be likened in structure and flavor to Sauvignon Blanc though definitely does not have a comparable nose. These wines can have great body and sufficient acidity, though they can also be terribly bland. It is rather widely planted in Alsace but is basically absent from other regions. This grape is capable of strongly reflecting the terroir as is seen in Alsace.
SYRAH
The beloved grape variety of the Rhone River Valley, famous for its expressions as Cote Rotie and Hermitage in the north, and Chateauneuf-du-Pape in the south. It is being embraced in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France as this region undergoes a quality amelioration movement. It is known to Australians as Shiraz; what may seem as a bastardization of the name at first glance may actually be a nod to the grape's origins, which are suspected to be the ancient wine city of Iran, Shiraz. As with any most noble red varieties, Syrah needs time to display its finest character. Plantings in France have increased dramatically as the wine has spread around the wine-growing world. Syrah wines tend to be full-bodied, robust and fruity with spicy and often licorice and meaty overtones.

TABLE WINE
In American terminology, still wines with 7 to 14% alcohol content. When used in Europe, it usually indicates the lowest quality of wine.
TANK METHOD (or CHARMAT)
A less expensive method for making sparkling wine. The Charmat method, named after its inventor, Monsieur Charmat, is used to produce bulk quantities of inexpensive sparkling wines. The second fermentation takes place in a pressurized tank, rather than in a bottle, decreasing lees contact and producing larger, coarser bubbles. The wine is filtered under pressure and bottled.
TANNIN
Element present in the grape and in wines found initially in the skins, stems and seeds.
TART
Tasting term for a wine with notable concentrations of malic acid, making the mouth pucker. Can be positive or negative, depending largely on the individual drinking the wine.
TARTARIC ACID
The main acid present in the grape and in wines.
TARTRATES
The insoluble crystals which can form in a wine after bottling. These do not affect the flavor of a wine and are not harmful in anyway. There are methods which can reduce the formation of these crystals.
TASTE
The perception of sour, salty, bitter sweet and the more recently discovered umami (sensation of meat or protein) that are sensed by the taste-buds.
TASTEVIN
The wide, round, shallow silver cup which winemakers and sommeliers use to taste a wine, especially helpful in dark cellars because the metal reflects any light allowing for the wine to be seen more clearly.
TASTING
The deliberate assessment of a wine's color, aroma, flavor, length and structure, and overall quality.
TASTING NOTES
The written documentation taken during a tasting.
TEARS
See legs.
TEMPERATURE OF FERMENTATION
The temperature of the grape must has to be carefully controlled during fermentation in order to provide the proper environment for the yeasts to prosper. Too much or too little heat will kill or deactivate the yeast cells.
TEMPRANILLO
The grape variety highly regarded in Spain's renowned Rioja region. Accounts for approximately 50% of the vineyards in Rioja, concentrated in the more prestigious areas of the region, whereas Garnacha is planted as the less prestigious grape. Produces relatively high yields of flavorful, perfumed, full-bodied wines.
TERRACES
System for planting vines in step-like rows in order to facilitate cultivation on steep slopes. This system is seen in its most dramatic displays in Switzerland's Valais region and in the Douro valley in northern Portugal.
TERROIR
French terminology which has now been adopted nearly world-wide to indicate the unique combination or climate, soil composition and location which is believed to contribute to the quality and character of a wine. A wine is often said to reflect the terroir from whence it came.
TEXTURE
Tasting term which indicates how a wine feels in the mouth. The texture can be, for example, smooth, rough, silky, or velvety.
THIN
Tasting term describing a wine with less than adequate body or texture.
THREE-TIER SYSTEM
The government and state controlled alcohol distribution system unique to the United States of America. Almost without exception, a wine must pass from producer or importer (Tier 1) to the wholesaler or distributor (Tier 2) to the retail shops or restaurant (Tier 3) before it can be had by the consumer.
TINTA
Red wine is often called Vino Tinta in Spain and Portugal.
TIRAGE
In traditional method champagne making, the addition of a small dose of liquid containing wine, sugar (25g/l) and yeast to the base wine just before bottling which provides the necessary ingredients for the bottled alcoholic fermentation that makes champagne.
TIRED
Tasting term for a wine lacking in fruit, acidity and personality.
TOASTED BARRELS
All oak barrels are subject to a small flame which toasts the inner surface, thus caramelizing the resin in the wood and giving better flavor to a wine stored therein.
TOASTY
Tasting term for wines with a toasted bread character.
TRAINING
Viticultural method of forcing the vine to grow in a certain manner or direction. The training of a vine has enormous influence on the ultimate quality and flavors of the grapes.
TRANSFER METHOD
Technique for making sparkling wine sometimes called the Charmat Method. After the second fermentation in the bottle and a short period of sur lieaging (but before riddling) the wine is transferred - with sediment -- to a pressurized tank. The wine is then filtered under pressure and bottled. With the enormous savings in labor and time, the wines are slightly less intense and less creamy than those produced using the more time-consuming and expensive méthode traditionelle.
TREBBIANO
Also known as Ugni Blanc in France, this variety covers much of the world's vineyard surfaces despite its rather undistinguished character. In Italy it is liked for it's fresh, light, refreshing style. Ugni Blanc is used nearly exclusively for the production of Cognac's base wines. Statistics reveal that it is responsible for more wine than any other variety.
TRELLISING
As with most types of vine, the grapevine's natural tendency is to sprawl with vigor. Therefore the viticulturalist uses a trellising system to reduce sprawl and give the vine a framework, made of stakes and/or wire, to structure the growth. The style of the trellis depends on the desired training method.

ULLAGE
See fill level. Refers to the excessive space in a bottle or barrel which should be minimized so as to prevent oxidation.
UMAMI
Chinese taste term which has been universally accepted as the fifth taste after sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Though a long established concept in Eastern culture, umami is revolutionary in western thought concerning how we taste food. Protein rich and cured foods, soy sauce, seafood and mushrooms contain umami. Tannins or the toasted characters in wines are accentuated by umami.

VARIETAL
Term for a wine made from a single grape variety.
VARIETY
Term for the actual species of vine. An example is Merlot.
VEGETAL
Tasting term for a wine with herbal and green vegetable flavors. Types of vegetal smells are asparagus and bell pepper. Depending on intensity and appropriateness for the variety, this can be a positive or a negative descriptor.
VENDAGE TARDIVE
Late harvest in French.
VENDANGE
French for harvest.
VERAISON
The period in late summer when a grape begins to ripen and the color develops from green to its final color.
VIGOUR
The amount of a vine's growth, can be either high or low vigor. Overly vigorous vines produce thinner wines, so most viticulturalists attempt to control the vigor of a vine.
VIN DE PAILLE
Late harvested grapes which are then dried on hay or "paille" for months in order to further concentrate the sugars. The resulting wine is intense, voluptuous and sweet.
VIN DE PAYS
French for "wine of the country". In terms of quality, these wines are one level above vin de table.
VIN DE RESERVE
French meaning Stored or leftover wine. This is the term for the wine that is carefully stored from prior vintages and used in the production of future champagnes or wines to help keep a winery or house style consistent from year to year.
VIN DOUX NATUREL
French for "naturally sweet wines"; but these wines are made by adding alcohol to arrest the conversion of sugar into alcohol, known as mutage, keeping the sugar concentration relatively high. They must have at least 14% alcoholic content to classify. These wines come out of southern France and are made from Grenache or Muscat, producing highly aromatic desert wines.
VINICULTURE
The science of winemaking.
VINO DA TAVOLA
Italian for table wine. Like in the rest of Europe, this term is used for bulk wine of lesser quality.
VINO DE LA MESA or VdlM
Spanish for table wine, but unlike in America, this term denotes wines of the lowest quality.
VINO DE LA TIERRA or VDLT
Spanish quality category denoting wines produced in a specific region with an average level of quality.
VINO JOVEN
Spanish for young wine. Denotes a wine which should be drunk as soon as it is bottled.
VINOUS
Tasting term for wines which smell or taste plainly of wine or alcohol but have no real character.
VINTAGE
Term which indicates the year the grapes were harvested in order to produce the wine, not the year the wine is bottled or goes to market.
VINTNER
Term used in America for the wine producer or winemaker.
VIOGNIER
This variety is surprisingly well known given the fact that fewer than 100 acres of it are planted over the entire globe. Despite its miniscule vineyard coverage, it manages to make a name for itself due to its amazingly tantalizing flavor and aroma profile- and perhaps its rarity is part of the appeal. It provides some of the most sought after Rhone Valley white wines, with orange blossom, white flowers, summer fruits and pear. In California small plantings have been imported.
VISCOUS
Tasting term for a thick, heavy wine. Usually used to describe desert wines.
VITICULTURAL AREA
An American term which denotes a legally defined grape-growing region (also known as American Viticultural Area, Or AVA). See also appellation
VITICULTURE
The science of grape growing.
VITIS LABRUSCA
Grape variety indigenous to North Eastern America under which the concord grape falls.
VITIS VINIFERA
Traditional European grape varieties which have been internationally recognized as fine wine grapes. See International Varieties
VOLATILE (or Volatile Acidity)
Tasting term used to describe excess amounts of acetic acid, making the wine smell or taste (if you get that far) like vinegar.
VOSGES OAK
Oak cultivated from the Vosges Mountains in the Alsace region of France used for barrels.
VQPRD
French Abbreviation for Vin de Qualité Produit dans une Région Determinée. This is the general classification term adopted by the entire European Union for a Quality Wine Produced in a Designated Region.

WATER STRESS
The state when a vine or other plant suffers from a lack of water. This can actually be beneficial for the production of quality grapes, as reduced quantities of water will concentrate the flavor compounds, sugars and acids in relation to the water content in the grapes.
WEATHER
The changing temperature, winds, and precipitation and humidity which are responsible for our day to day environmental conditions. The weather of a region, when taken as an average over the course of the year defines the climate.
WILD YEAST
Winemakers differentiate between wild and indigenous yeasts. The former describes the undesirable yeasts that are blamed for unpleasant odors or flavors in a wine, whereas the latter is the kind of yeasts sought after by many winemakers.

XINOMAVRO
Greece's most respected and widely planted indigenous variety linked primarily to northern Greece's Naoussa region. Xinomavro is a deeply hued variety with pleasantly strong acids which contributes to its aging potential. Many modern Greek winemakers have found that this variety blends superbly with softer, fruitier varieties such as Merlot.

YEAST
The minute organisms that are responsible for the transformation of sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide, aka fermentation. The primary yeast in wine fermentation is the same as what makes beer ferment and breads rise.
YIELD
The amount of grapes, weighed in pounds, that a specific vineyard produces in a given year. Yields are controlled by either the vintner or a limit may be imposed by the appellation if the winery falls into one.

ZINFANDEL
California's namesake variety whose roots trace back to antiquity (the exact origins of which had been a major research topic until it was discovered that Zinfandel is descended from Plavac Mali of Croatia). The grape of many hats, Zinfandel is most becoming as a dry, ruby red, fruit-filled red wine, but also fashionable as an off-dry blush, a clean white, a base for sparkling wine, and as a fortified desert style wine. This variety is not planted much outside of the US, and is becoming more widely respected as a serious varietal contender with great aging capacity.