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Acidification The addition of acid to wine, during or after fermentation, to adjust or improve balance and flavor

Acididty Quality of tartness or sharpness to the taste due to the presence of pleasant fruit acids. Contributes flavor and freshness to wine when it is in proper balance, and contributes to it controlled aging. The principal acids found in wine are tartaric, citric, malic, and lactic.

Additives Collective name for a group of materials added to wine to improve or preserve it. Some additives are colors, flavors, acids, vitamins, minerals, yeast, and bacterial inhibitors.

Adega Portuguese. A winery

Aeration Allowing a wine to come into contact with air. swirling wine already present in a glass, or decanting. 

Aerobic Fermentation Fermentation conducted in the presence of oxygen.

Aftertaste Flavors that linger or remains in the throat or on the tongue after wine is swallowed.

Aging Period of storage in oak barrels or bottles to develop character and palatability.

Aguardente Portuguese. Grape-based distilled spirit used to fortify Porto and Madeira.

Albariza Spanish. White chalky soil in vineyards between Jerez de la Frontera and Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

Albumen Egg whites used as a fining agent, mostly in winemaking.

Alcohol Colorless, volatile, flammable liquid that is intoxicating agent in all beverages that are fermented or distilled. Ethyl alcohol is a preservative and the intoxicating constituent of wine.

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

Aldehyde Colorless, volatile fluid with a distinct odor that is a natural by product of fermentation and and increases in concentration as a wine ages. One of the organic chemical ingredients of wine formed by the partial oxidations of alcohol.

Alluvial Type of soil made of mostly sand and clay, formed by gradual deposits in the bottomless along a river by the currents of moving water, as along a riverbed or a lakeshore.

Almacenista Spanish. Grape growers and winemakers who produce Sherry wine to be sold by licensed wineries.

Amabile Italian. Semidry to semisweet. 

Amber Golden tints reminiscent of the color amber. Color change results from oxidation of the anthocyanin. Color often describing Sherries. 

American Oak Often considered higher than European oak in the aromas of vanillin and related compounds. As barrels, used for fermenting and aging wines. Often with be detected by flavors and smells of dill as well as the normal baking spices and vanilla.

American Viticultural Area (AVA) Delimited, geographical grape growing area that has officially been given appellation status by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau.

Amontillado style of Sherry that has more color and body than fino, with a dry taste and nutty flavor.

Ampelography Descriptive study and identification of grapevines; grapevine botany.

Amphora Ancient vessel, often of ceramic or earthenware, usually with two handles, which was used as a container for wine.

Amtliche Prüfungsnummer German. AP number that appears on some wine labels. It certifies that the wine has met all legal requirements and has passed a series of laboratory and sensory test. 

Amylase Enzyme that converts starch to sugar.

Añada Spanish. Year of harvest. Youngest wine in a sherry solera

Anaerobic Fermentation Fermentation without oxygen.

Anbaugebiet German. Wine-producing region. 

Angular Wines without much delicacy, often referred to as being stiff or hard, with bitter or tart flavor. 

Anthocyanins Phenolic compound of wine that gives it its red color. The purple-red color of a young wine is caused by unstable anthocyanin molecules that, during aging, combine with tannins to give the wine its ruby color. 

Antioxidants Phenolic compounds present in grape color and tannin that provide protection to the human body, inhibitingLDL cholesterol and stimulating HDL cholesterol. 

Aperitif French. Alcoholic beverage taken before meals to stimulate the appetite.

Appearance Refers to clarity, color, and brilliance of a wine. Wines should usually be free of cloudy and suspended particles when evaluated in a glass.

Appellation Controlée French. Wine laws ("AC laws") specific to each of the wine-producing regions of France. Laws govern each of the defined areas, the varietals that can be used to produce each wine, minimum alcohol for each wine, and maximum yields per hectare.

Appellation D'origine French. Created by the French authorities in 1935 to establish areas of production and wine laws for each area.

Appellation D'origine Controlée (AOC or AOP) French. Higher-quality wines from controlled areas.

Apple Odor detected in certain wines, like Chardonnay and Riesling. Also a taste detected in some wines due to high levels of malic acid.

Apricots Odor present in wines affected by Botrytis Cinerea (noble rot), which makes the varietal character and substitutes an odor reminiscent of Apricots. 

Aqueous Watery. Detected in appearance and in taste of some lighter wines.

Arenas Type of soil found in approximately 17 percent of the Sherry region of Spain. It consists of about 80% sand, red-yellow in color, with alumina, silica, and clay. Produces more coarse wines than either ALBARIZA or BARROS soils.

Aroma A particular smell, odor, or fragrance of a specific grape used to produce the wine.

Aromatic Describes with that have intense aromas of fruit, herbs, or other odors either directly from the grape or developed by the winemaking process.

Aromatized Wine Fortified wine with a wide variety of related aromatic plants or bitter herbs, roots, bark, or other plant parts infused into it bouquet. An example of an aromatized wine is vermouth.

Aspersion French. A continual misting of the grapes with water so they are protected for damage frost.

Assemblage Blending of various cuvées in the making of a wine; often applied to the blending process in the making of Champagne.

Astringency Tactile, bitter sensation that makes the mouth pucker. Wines with high levels of astringency may be described as course, harsh, and rough. Also describes wine with to much tannin.

Atmosphere in physics, a unit of pressure equal to 14.69 pound per square inch. Champagne is bottled under five to six atmospheres.

Auslese German. A Prädikat wine made from very ripe, selected late-harvest bunches of grapes. These wines are full, rich, and sweet, unless they are vinified as trocken (dry).

Autolysis Self-destruction of yeast cells over time, which contributes complexity and richness to a wine. 

Awkward Describes a wine that has poor structure or is out of balance.

Azienda Agricola Italian. Commercial association, usually a farm or agricultural holding, involved in the production of an agricultural product. 


Bac À Glace Shallow brine bath used to freeze the neck of champagne bottles prior to dégorgement.

Bacchus Romand god of wine.

Backbone Descriptive term indicating a firm structure the air able to support the fruit character of the wine.

Bacterial Spoilage Damage caused by bacteria that attack must or wine during and after fermentation. Often due to formation of mold from improperly cleaned equipment, lack of sterile conditions, and faulty sanitation procedures.

Bag-In-Box Package for wine consisting of a plastic membrane, closed by an air lock, and then placed in a cardboard box, which acts as a label for the wine and a holder for the plastic bladder.

Baked A negative smell or flavor in wine-warm, cooked, or roasted- often resulting from extremely ripe grapes grown in hot climates. 

Balance Pleasant harmony of the elements and components of a wine. A balanced wine is one whose components -sugar, fruit, tannin, acid, alcohol, wood and extract- are evident, but do not mask or dominate each other.

Balloon Glass Oversized wine glass whose bowl has the capacity of between 10 and 26 fluid ounces/290 and 800 milliliters.

Balthazar Oversized Champagne bottle, equal to sixteen 750 ml bottles, or 12 liters.

Barrel Aging Process of mellowing wine through extraction, as the alcohol dissolves flavor -affecting chemicals present in the wooden barrels. The wine extracts certain aromas and flavor elements present in the wood.

Barrel Fermentation The process of fermenting in wooden barrels rather than stainless steel. Extractables of tannin, color, and various odors and flavors are leached into wine, creating more complexity and depth. 

Barrica Spanish. Small oak barrel.

Barrique French. Small oak barrel.

Barros Spanish. Heavy, dark soil with some chalk, but mostly made of clay and sand.

Basket Press A wooden tub with slotted sides. Grapes are put in and pressure is applied by means of a large screw, which presses the grapes and allows the juice to run out through the slots.

BATF Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

Bâtonnage French. Stirring the lees in a barrel to impart rich, creamy flavors into the wine.

Baumé French. Term used to measure the level of unfermented sugar present in the grape must. If degrees Baumé are multiplied by 1.8, the result is degrees BRIX.

Bead Describes the chain of tinny bubbles found in sparkling wines, formed by the presence of carbon dioxide.

Beerenauslese German. Wine made from overripe grapes partially affected by Botrytis cinerea, picked individually and produced in very small quantities.

Bell Pepper Odor characteristic of bell peppers sometimes detected in Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, and certain other grape varieties.

Bench Graft A graft done in a nursery, as opposed to the vineyard (a “feild graft”). Grafted grapevines of a desired fruiting species on rootstocks resistant to phylloxera or nematodes.

Beneficio Portuguese. Quality rating system that ranks Douro vineyards by points and also sets production limits.

Bentonite Fining agent. Clay originating from the state of Wyoming and containing montmorillonite, produced from the decomposition under water of volcanic glass.

Bereich German. Wine subregion, or district, within a region (Anbaugebiet)

Berries Fruity characteristic often linked with young red wines, such as Beaujolais.

Berry Set Successful pollination of grape flowers. The pollinated grape blossoms start to develop, with each flower in the floral cluster transformed into a miniature grape berry about the size of a small BB.

Big Rich, Powerful, full-bodied and intensely flavored wine. Big wines are generally high in alcohol, tannin, and extract.

Bin Where bottles of wine are stored, usually by number (“bin number”).

Bitter Taste sensed by the taste buds most often at back of the tongue. Easily detectable in tonic water because of the presence of bitter-tasting quinine. In wine, usually caused by the presence of tannins and accompanied by astringency. A wine that is quite high in tannin may be negatively described as “bitter” by a taster with a low tannin threshold.

Blanc de Blanc White wine made only from white grapes.

Blanc de Blancs (Champagne) French. Made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes, resulting in the most delicate of Champagnes.

Blanc de Noirs White wine made only from black or red grapes.

Blending Marrying wines to obtain a desired quality and style.

Blind Tasting System of evaluating wine without knowledge of the grape, the producer, the country of origin, the vintage year and so on. 

Bloom When young flowers open and caps fall from the flowers.

Blush White wine made by limited skin contact with red grapes, extracting a hint of color. Also used to describe pink wines made by limited skin contact, or pink wines made by blending. 

Bocksbeutel Short, flat-sided, flask-shaped bottle used in parts of Germany, Chile, and Portugal.

Body Tactile sensation of weight to fullness on the palate, usually from a combination of alcohol, extracts, glycerin, tannin, and other physical components in wine.

Bonbonnes French. Glass carboy protected by wicker or wooden crate.

Bordeaux Bottle Bottle shape originating in Bordeaux, France. Easily recognizable by its regular cylindrical form. Characterized by a short neck and high shoulders.

Bota Spanish, Portuguese. Bag made of goatskin from which wine is squirt into the mouth. 

Botrytis Cinerea Mold that develops on grapes. Depending on the grape variety, the time of year, and climatic conditions, it can greatly enhance or severely damage the grapes in a vineyard. (See Noble Rot and Edelfäule.)

Bottle glass container that typically holds 750 ml. 

Bottle Aging Aging process that takes place in the bottle at winery or in private cellars.

Bottle Fermentation Refers to sparkling wines. Means that the secondary fermentation took place in the bottle rather than in a large vat.

Bottle Shock Stage that can affect a wine just after bottling. During bottling, the aroma, flavor and/or balance of a wine may be temporarily diminished. Also known as bottle sickness.

Bottle Variation Differences detected, bottle by bottle, in the appearance, nose, and taste of the same wine.

Bouchon de Triage French, Temporary cork sometimes used to close the bottle during second fermentation of sparkling wine.

Bouchon d'Expédition French. Final cork used in a finished bottle of sparkling wine. 

Bouquet Various fragrances noted by smell, created by a wine's development and imparted to the wine from the fermentation and aging process, whether in barrel or bottle

Brandy Spirt made by distilling wine or the fermented mash of fruit, which may be aged in oak barrels. 

Breathing Practice of allowing air to reach wine by uncorking and pouring it. Dispels unpleasant odors and brings out aroma and bouquet.

Brick Shade of red-brown often found in well-aged, mature red wines or slightly old red wines.

Bright Descriptive term for a clear wine, or a wine with fresh, bright colors.

Brilliant Quality of a wine when it is free from any visible suspended solids or haziness.

Brix Measurement of the sugar content of the grape.

Browning Oxidation's effect on the color, odor, and taste of a wine which is past its prime, or has been carelessly exposed to a prolonged period of aeration. 

Brut Champagne, France. Very Dry.

Bud Compressed shoot located at the node of a cane.

Bud Break Natural forcing open of the bud by the increasing pressure of sap in a grapevine.

Bung Plug that fits into the opening at the top of a barrel for a tight seal. Can be cork, wood or silicon.

Burgundy Bottle Bottle of conical shape, not regular in form, with a fat bell, Bottle is used in house both red and white wines from Burgundy, France.

Burnt Wine having cooked or baked characteristics. 

Butt Barrel used to store or ship ale, Sherry wine, or other wines.

Buttery Descriptor of odor and/or taste; creamy.


Calcaire/Calcareous French. Limestone soil.

Calcium Carbonate Reduces the excess natural acids in high-acid wines.

Candling Action to determine clarity in wine, by holding a bottle in front of light source to see if any sediment or haze in present.

Cane Pruning A pruning time extra growth is cleared away, leaving only the strongest. The remaining canes are, tied to support wires.

Cap Grape skin, stems, and seeds that rise to the top of the tank or barrel and harden during fermentation of a red wine. For maximum flavor extraction and the release of carbon dioxide gases, the cap must be broken up several times a day.

Capsule Cover placed over the cork to protect the wine and improve the appearance of the bottle. Can be made of plastic, lead, or aluminum.

Carafe French. Decanter or glass bottle for serving wine.

Carbon Dioxide Odorless, colorless gas that is a by-product of wine fermentation. Creates effervescence. 

Carbonic Maceration Intracellular fermentation. Whole uncrossed clusters of grapes are placed into a stainless steel fermenter; the tank is filled with carbon dioxide and sealed. The lack of oxygen causes skin cells to die, releasing and enzyme inside each grape that converts sugars to alcohol. The process produces a light-bodied, less alcoholic, young and fruity wine meant for early consumption.

Case Container that holds bottles of wine, usually twelve 750 ml bottles.

Cava Spanish sparkling wine made through the méthode champenoise. Must remain in cellar for a minimum of nine months.

Cellar Storage or aging facility for alcoholic beverages, generally underground.

Cellar and Bottled By Individual bottler or packer must have aged the wine without changing the classification and type of wine.

Cellar Master Key individual with sole authority over wine storage and aging of the wine in the winery.

Centrifuge Machine using centrifugal force to separate particles and sediment from the wine.

Cépage French. Grape variety.

Chai French. Above ground area for storing and aging wines.

Chalk Soil made up mostly of calcium carbonate deposited by ancient seabeds. Soils in Champagne and Chablis, France, and Jerez, Spain are largely chalk.

Champagne Bottle Specific bottle type used by the Champagne region for sparkling wines. Similar in shape to a Burgundy bottle, with a thicker body and an indentation on the bottom called a punt.

Chaptalization French. A small amount of sugar added to the must, which results in a higher alcohol level for the wine.

Charmat Method Tank method of producing sparkling wines. Least expensive method for producing reasonable-quality wines.

Charring Burning the inside of a wooden barrel to be used for aging wine, whiskey, or other distilled spirits. Adds color to the product and helps mellow it.

Château Bottled French. Wine bottled at an estate, usually in Bordeaux. Also referred to as "mis en bouteilles au château."

Chef de Caves French. Cellar master and winemaker.

Cherry Term used to describe the aroma or taste of cherries found in some light-bodied red wines such as Gamay-Beaujolais and Pinot Noir.

Chewy Rich Texture on the palate. Full-bodied, very tannic.

Chey French. In the Rhône Valley, stone walls that enclose the vineyards.

Citric Acid Generally found in citrus fruits, but grapes contain a small amount. Too much can cause the wine to become cloudy.

Claret British name for Bordeaux red wines, derived from an old French adjective meaning a wine that was clear, light, and bright.

Clarifying Process of Making a wine clear by fining or filtering.

Classification of 1855 French. Apllies to the wines of the Médoc, Sauternes, and Barsac and Château Haut-Brion in Graves. Divides vineyards into five categories based on their quality in 1855.

Clay Type of soil that retains to much moisture due to poor drainage. Density of soil hampers good root penetration. 

Climat French. Designation for single vineyard or plot in Burgundy.

Clonal Selection Choice based on intravarietal genetic variability in grapes.

Clone Particular variety of grape that developed either by natural adaptation or asexually from original “mother” grapevine.

Clos French, Vineyard surrounded by stone wall. 

Closed in Condition present in some young wines that have not yet harmonized and are still displaying young characteristics. Indicated primarily in the nose of the wine.

Cloudy Wines containing excess colloidal material or sediment in suspension.

Cold Fermentation Method generally used for white wines. The juice is cemented at temperatures colder than traditional, which retains much of the fruit, aroma and varietal character of the grape.

Cold Stabilization Clarification technique that involves lowering the temperature to 25 to 30 degree F/-4 to -1 degree C for one to three weeks.

Colheita Portuguese. Harvest/ Vintage.

Color Distinct hue specific to each wine type.

Comité Interproprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) French. The regulatory agency in the Champagne region. 

Commune French. Town or village.

Complex Wine that is multidimensional. Contains many elements that are in harmony with each other.

Consejo Regulador Spanish. Regulatory board of a specific region governing the production and quality control regulations and all wine produced within that region.

Consorzio Italian. A nongovernmental consortium of wine producers from a particular wine-growing region.

Continental Climate Cooler growing conditions in a wine region.

Cooked Odor and flavor found in wines made from grapes that have been exposed to heat. A few wines, such as Madeira, are purposely “cooked” by exposure to heat.

Cooperage Wooden containers used for fermenting, holding or aging wine while in the cellar and prior to bottling. A workshop to make oak barrels.

Cooperative Winery or cellar owned and operated by many small producers or growers.

Coopérative Manipulant French. Labeling that indicates the wine was mad by a cooperative.

Copita Spanish. Tulip-shaped stem glass that contains six fluid ounces and is traditionally used for the service of Sherry.

Copper Sulfate Used as an anti-fungal agent in the vineyard.

Cordon-spur Pruning Training the grapevine into the shape of a T.

Cork Spongy material used as a stopper for bottles.

Corked/Corky Musty smell for flavor infused into the wine by defective cork.

Corkscrew Device fro removing a cork.

Cosecha Spanish, Vintage.

Coteaux Champenois French, Still wines of the region, amounting to 1 percent of the annual production. 

Cover Crop Crops planted between rows of a vineyards to absorb excess moisture and prevent runoff.

Crémant French, French sparkling wines made by the méthode champenoise in a particular region, such as Crémant d’Alsace or Crémant de Loire.

Criadera Spanish. The term for each level of aging butts utilized in the solara system for aging Sherry, placed vertically. As few as two, as many as fifteen criaderas in a solara.

Crianza Spanish. Refers to the aging process of a Spanish wine as defined by each Denominación de Origen (DO). A crianza wine must receive a minimum of two years aging, with at least six months of that time is small oak barrel. In Rioja, a minimum of a year in the barrel is required.

Cross/Crossing New grape variety created by combining on variety with another.

Cru French. Growth. Synonymous with a special vineyard of high quality.

Crush Harvest.

Crusher/Destemmer Mechanical device utilized for breaking or cracking the grape skin.

Cuvaison French. Time spent by the wine in fermenting vats in contact with the skin during fermentation and maceration.

Cuvée French. Blend of wines bottled as one product. Alsoused in Champagne to refer to the first pressing of grapes.

Cuvée de Prestige French. Premium wine from a top Champagne producer, or Grand Marque. Most are vintage dated.


Dealcoholized Wine Wine with virtually all of the alcohol removed, made by one of several processes. 

Decanter Carafe or bottle into which wines are poured prior to serving.

Decanting Aerates the wine and removes sediment by pouring wine from one container to another.

Dégorgement Process of freezing the neck of a bottle that contains Champagne and a small amount of riddled sediment. The Ice plug of sediment is forced out by pressure in the bottle.

Degree Days Unit of measure in heat summation calculation. System devised by University of California, Davis to measure the temperature of a defined area during the grape-growing season. Enables winemakers to grow the best grapes for a particular area.

Delicate Wines that are pleasing and light in style.

Demijohn Large glass container that usually holds five gallons of liquid and is often used for the transportation or storage of wine.

Demi-Muids French. Mendium-sized barrels commonly used for aging in the northern part of France.

Demi-Sec French. The range for these sweet Champagnes is 35-50 grams of sugar per liter.

Denominãçao de Origem Controlada (DOC or DOP) Portugal. The highest echelon of wines; equivalent to the French AOC, the Italian DOC or Spanish DO. Each DOC refers to the region or zone of origin for the grapes.

Denominación de Origen (DO or DOP) Spanish equivalent of France’s AOC and Italy’s DOC wine laws. A DO refers to the region or zone of origin for the grapes. For Cava, a sparkling wine made by the méthode champenoise, the designation is Denominación Especifica (DE)

Denominazione di Origine Controllata Italy’s wine laws. Comprehensive laws that govern every aspect of grape cultivation and wine production. 

Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG or DOP) Italian. Designation given to wines that are considered to be of a higher quality that DOC wines and made under even stricter guidelines.

Depth Wine with intense complex flavors that seem to fill the mouth from front to back. subtle layers of flavor that are long-lasting.

Diatomaceous Earth Filtering agent used in the production of some alcoholic beverages. Pure silica mined for the sea.

Dolce Italian. Sweet.

Domaine French. Wine estate.

Dosage Addition of a mixture of sugar syrup, grape concentrate, or brandy to Champagne to sparkling wines before recooking. Corrects sweeties in the final product.

Doux French. Sweet.

Drainage After the primary fermentation of red wines, the juice is drained off and the skins, which are still heavily laden with juice, are sent to a press for further juice extraction. 

Drip Irrigation Slow, frequent, precise application of water directly to the plant through devices known as emitters. Thee emitters are placed on the soil or just below the surface of the soil.

Dry Wine with little or no noticeable residual sugar. 

Dulce Spanish. Sweet.

Dull Wine that lacks brilliance in its appearance. 

Dumb Wine with potential, but not developed enough to suffer its full character.

DWI Driving while intoxicated.


Earthy Describes scents or odors reminiscent of soil or the earth in which grapes are grown.

EC/EEC/EU European Community / European Economic Community / European Union. The political and economic federation of European countries.

Edelfäule German. Noble mold responsible for Beerenauslese and Trokenbeerenauslese wines.

Edelzwicker An Alsatian wine that is a blend of noble grape varieties.

Égrappage French. Separation of the grapes from the stalks before pressing and fermenting.

Einzellage German. Single vineyard.

Eiswein German, Specific classification of wine made from grapes that are harvested and pressed frozen. Produces a sweeter and more concentrated wine.

Elegant Wine with dignified richness, grace, and refinement.

Éleve en Futs French. Labeling that indicates oak aging.

Enforcado Portuguese. Term used for forcing the vines upward, often on tree trunks, and then stretching them across branches to other trees.

Engarrafado na Origem Portuguese. Estate bottled.

Enologist Wine technician, or expert in viniculture (winemaking).

Enology Science or study of wine and winemaking.

Enophile One who loves wine and wine lore.

Enrichment see Chaptalization.

En Tirage French. Refers to second fermentation in the bottle during sparkling wine production, most often Champagne.

Erzeugerabfüllung German. Bottled by the producer.

Espumante Portuguese. Term used in Portugal and Brazil for sparkling wine.

Estate Bottled May be used by a bottling winery on a wine label only if the wine is labeled with a viticultural area appellation of origin and bottling winery is located in the labeled viticultural area; grew all of the grapes used to make the wine on land owned or controlled by the winery within the boundaries of the labeled viticultural area; crushed the grapes, fermented the resulting must, and finished, aged, and bottled the wine in a continuous process.

Esters Organic, volatile compounds, which contribute fruity aromas to wines and distilled spirits.

Estufa Portuguese, Large heating chambers or ovens used to make Madeira.

Ethanol / Ethyl Alcohol Principal alcohol found in all alcoholic beverages.

Eucalyptus Odor of an evergreen spices occasionally found in some California Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir wines.

Extra Brut (Brut Sauvage or Ultra Brut) French. Champagne Products that are bone dry, with 0 to 6 grams of sugar added per liter.

Extra Dry Term used for a Champagne that is not as dry as brut, but drier than sec.

Extract Nonvolatile, soluble solids present in a wine.


Faded Wine that has lost its bouquet, character, and definition generally through age.

Fat Heavy, intense wine that has a higher than average glycerin level.

Fattoria Italian. Farm or estate.

Fermentation Conversion of sugar in the grapes into ethyl alcohol or ethanol and carbon dioxide. Yeast is needed to begin the process. Fermentation stops when the sugars are depleted or when the alcohol level reaches about 15 percent and kills the yeast.

Fermentation Lock Low-pressure valve made of glass or plastic that seal a barrel or other container of fermenting wine from the outside air while permitting carbon dioxide given off during fermentation to escape through sulfited water.

Fermentation TankBarrel, stainless steel tank, concrete vat, or other type of container utilized for the primary fermentation of grapes and grape juice into wine.

Fermented in the Bottle Terminology used for sparkling wine produced using the transfer method. The second fermentation take place in a bottle, but not this bottle.

Fermented in this Bottle terminology used for sparkling wines produced using the méthode champenoise. The second fermentation takes place in the bottle in which the wine is sold.

Feuillette French. a 33 gallon/132 liter cask.

Fiasco Italian. A name for the flask-shaped bottle in a wicker basket that was at on time popular for shipping Chianti.

Field Blend Practice of growing several varieties of grapes in the same vineyard and combining them to make one wine.

Fill Level The point in the bottle neck to which the wine is filled.

Filtering Mechanical process by which wine is forced through a porous filtering medium.

Fining Process of clarifying a cloudy or hazy wine to brilliance by adding a colloidal agent to remove suspended particles.

Finish Tactile and flavor impressions left in the mouth after the wine is swallowed.

Fino Spanish. The driest Sherry.

Flavonoids Flavoring compounds, phenols, found in the skin of grapes and extracted into wines.

Flinty Aroma and flavor of dry, usually white, wines, similar to the smell of two flints being rubbed together or struck with steel.

Flor Spanish. Yeast-like substance that forms a white film on the surface of certain Sherries.

Flute Elongated V-shaped glass used for serving Champagne and sparkling wine. (See Tulip)

Flûte / Flûte du Rhin Elongated wine bottle used in Alsace, France and Germany. Also used for wines from other countries made in German or Alsace style.

Foil Cutter Semi-cylindrical instrument used to cut the foil or plastic cover on the bottle so the cork can be removed.

Fortification / Fortified Wine Addition of distilled spirits to a wine to arrest fermentation and leave some residual sugar or to give better keeping properties.

Foudre French. Large wood cask.

Foxy Grapy aroma and flavor of native American grapes, especially Vitis Labrusca.

Free-Run Juice Initial juice released by the grapes by the sheer weight or pressure of the mass, before the press is used.

Fresh Describes younger white or lighter red wines displaying a youthful, lively, fruity aroma ad clean, acidic taste.

Frizzante Italian. Spritzy.

Fructose Simple sugar. Generally found in fruits.

Fruity Describes wines that have a pleasant aroma and flavor of grapes or other fresh fruits.

Fuder German. Large barrel with a capacity of 250 gallons / 1,000 liters. Mostly used in the Mosel region.

Full-Bodied Describes mouth-filling capacity of a beverage. Usually refers to beverages with high extracts and levels of glycerin.

Fungicide Chemical substance used to control the growth, infection, and spread of fungi on plants.


Garrafeira Portuguese. Specially aged wine, similar to Reserva.

Garrigue French. Term used for the dry land and typically scrubby vegetation of southern France.

Gay-Lussac, Joseph-Louis Famous French chemist who correctly devised the overall equation for fermentation in 1810.

Generic Designation of a particular class or type of wine of limited quality. Wine can be named or labeled after a wine-producing region - Burgundy, Chablis, Champagne,Etc.- but rarely do these wines resemble the wines from the region for which they are named.

Gluco-Oenomètre French. Instrument that measures the amount of sugar needed to produce the required bubbles for Champagne production.

Glycerin By-product of the fermentation of grapes into wine. Increases the feeling of fatness in the mouth, giving the wine a soft, almost oily tinge on the tongue and palate.

Goblet Bowl-shaped glass with a stem and a base.

Goût de Terroir French. The flavors imparted by the complexity of the terror - the geography, soil, and the weather contains - in which the wine is grown.

Governo Italian. Process sometimes used to produce Italian wines. During refermentation 5 to 10 percent stronger, riper grape must are added to produce a roundness and liveliness in the wine.

Grafting Viticulture technique that joins a bud or other part of one grapevine to a portion of another so that their tissues unite.

Grand Cru French. A vineyard designated as a “great growth”- the best vineyard in Burgundy, also Alsace and Loire. Champagne vineyard rated 100 percent, assuring highest price for the grapes.

Grand Cru Classé French. A great growth that is a legal grade of quality in areas of Bordeaux. The Médoc, for example, established five levels or grand cur classé in 1885.

Grande Escolha Portuguese. Sometimes used for a producer’s choice, or top selected wine.

Gran Reserva Spanish. Red wines that have been aged in small oak barrels - barricas - for a minimum of two years, followed by three years in the bottle, and may not leave the bodega until the sixth year after the vintage, Whites are aged a minimum of four years before release, with a least six months in barrica. Produced only in the best years.

Grape Juicy, round, smooth-skinned, edible fruit, generally green, red-purple, or sometimes black, grown in clusters on a woody vine.

Grappa Italian. Distillate made from the stems, pulp, skins, and seeds of grapes. A pomace brandy.

Green Immature, underdeveloped wine that usually displays an austere, somewhat sour taste. Also, term for un-ripe grapes.

Grosslage German. Composite, collective vineyard made up numbers of individual vineyards within subregions.

Gypsum Calcium sulfate.


Halbtroken German. Semidry (half dry) German wine. Maximum of 0.6 ounce per quart/ 18 grams per liter of residual sugar.

Heat Summation Geographic classification of regions in term of heat - specifically, degree days during the growing season. Used to determine vineyard sites for appropriate grapes.

Hectare Metric measure equal to 10,000 square meters of land or 2.471 acres.

Hectoliter Metric measurement equal to 100 liters or 26.418 gallons. Wine production in Europe is often referred to in hectoliters per hectare. 

Herbaceous Describes the odor or taste. Grassy or vegetal smell may be contributed by the varietal character of certain grapes.

Herbicide Chemical substance used to destroy plants or weeds or to check their growth.

Hogshead Barrel used in many wine-producing countries, where its capacity varies from region to region.

Hot Highly alcoholic wines with heady odors. During qualities noticed in the smell and back of the throat when swallowing

Hot Zone The Price range in which the overwhelming majority of wines on a restaurant wine list are priced.

Hybrids Cross between two grapes species, generally between Vitis vinifera and any of the North American species such as Vitis labrusca.

Hydrometer Cylindrical glass instrument of various lengths with a scale running along its length and a bulbous weighted end. Measures density of a liquid, and so can be used to determine alcohol or sugar density by comparing the liquid to the density of water.


Ice Bucket Metal vessel that contains ice and bater for the chilling of bottles of white wine and sparkling wine.

Indicated-age Tawny Port Portuguese. Wines with an average of ten, twenty, thirty or forty years prior to bottling. 

Inicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT or IGP) Italy. One quality level above vino da tavola. Replaced vino tipico in 1992, when DOC wine laws were overhauled. Many nontraditional but expensive premium wines, especially from Tuscany, are IGT wines.

Impériale Over sized bottle equivalent in capacity to eight 750 ml bottles or 6 liters.

Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) French. The Governmental agency that regulates the production and labeling of wines.

Integrated Pest Management A progressive agricultural practice that encourages the growth and maintenance of certain beneficial pests to control diseases and dangerous pests.

Irrigation system that applies water to grapevine.

Isinglass Protein fining agent derived from dried sturgeon air bladder


Jacketed Tank Mechanized system that circulates hot or cold water, or a cooling agent such as glycol, around a tank, enabling the temperature of the grape must to be controlled.

Jeroboam Oversized bottle with a capacity of four standard 750ml bottles (3 liters) in Champagne and Burgundy, six standard 750ml (4.5 liters) in Bordeaux.

Jug Wine Inexpensive wine of no particular breed or quality; usually sold in quality.


Kabinett German. Driest level of the highest grade of wine.

Kicker Term for an expensive wine outside the hot zone of a wine list. By definition, many vintage Champagne are kickers.

Kosher Wine Wine made under strict rabbinical supervision and suitable for Jewish religious practice.

KWV Antiquated South African wine cooperative to which all the nation’s wine producers used to belong.


Lactic Acid Organic acid that appears during the malolactic fermentation of the wine, when manic acid changes into carbon dioxide and this smooth acid.

Lagare Portuguese. Trough used for foot pressing of grapes.

Landwien German. Category of wines defined according to the 1982 wine laws a a step above Tafelwein in quality. Landwien may be chaptalized.

Late-Bottled Vintage Portuguese. Porto from a single vintage, bottled between July 1 of the fourth year and December 31 of the sixth year after the vintage.

Late-Harvest Denotes wine made from very ripe grapes that have been picked or harvested later than usual. They are often shriveled, resembling raisins, and often make sweeter wines, due to their increased sugar levels. Dry late harvest wines are usually high in alcohol.

Leakage Loss of wine through the cork due to improper storage or a faulty cork.

Leathery Odor occasionally found in red wines rich in tannin; similar to rawhide.

Lees Dead yeast cells and, in the case or red wines, pulp, skins, seeds and other solids that settle to the bottom of a barrel or tank during and after fermentation.

Legs Trails or streaks of a transparent liquid apparent on the inner walls of a wine or brandy glass that run downwards after it has been swirled. Substantial legs indicate high levels of glycerin, and relatively high alcohol or sugar.

Lieux-Dits French. Specific name of a vineyard site, often mentioned on the label of wines from parts of southern France.

Light Terms used to describe a pleasant, refreshing wine, lacking in body, color, or alcohol.

Limousin Oak Soft oak with loose grain used to make barrels for wine.  Made from wood grown in the Limousine forest near Limoges, France.

Liqueur de Tirage French. Mixture of yeast cells and sugar added to still wine to begin second fermentation in order to produce a sparkling wine.

Liqueur d’Expédition French. Final DOSAGE in Champagne that determines its relative dryness. Usually consists of a mixture of wine and sugar.

Liter Metric unit of capacity equal to 1,000 cubic centimeters at 20 degree C or 33.814 fluid ounces at 68 degree F.

Lively Describes white wine that are young and fresh with plenty of zestiness, acidity, and fruit with a small amount of SPRITZ. 

Luscious Soft, Sweet, fat and fruity.


Maderized Wine that is past its prime. Excessive heat and poor storage cause the wine to oxidize prematurely and turn a brownish tinge. Does not apply to Madeira wines.

Maduro Portuguese. Well Matured.

Magnum Bottle of wine equivalent in capacity to 50.8 fluid ounces/1.5 liters or two 750ml bottles.

Maître de Chais French. Employee in charge of the cellar who is responsible for the vilification and aging of all wines.

Malic Acid Principal acid of apples and second major acid in grapes. Tart, astringent taste. Decreases in grapes as they become fully ripe.

Malolactic Fermentation Bacterial fermentation, converting magic acid to lactic acid while releasing carbon dioxide. Has four major effects on wine; (1) changes a harsh acid to a smooth acid, making wine softer and more pleasant to drink; (2) lowers overall acidity; (3) increases biological stability in the wine by assuring that a malolactic fermentation will not take place in the bottle; (4) increases the sensory quality, complexity, and flavor of the wine.

Manzanilla Spanish. Palest and driest fino sherry, produced and aged in Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

Maritime Climate Regions close to water with a narrow range of temperature variations.

Marque d’Acheteur (MA) French. The initials will appear on the labels of brands produced for buyers.

Marques French. Companies that own some vineyards but purchase the a majority of the grapes they use for blending.

Marques Auxilire French. Term used for secondary brand name.

Mas French. Vineyard site on the label.

Mature Stage int he aging of wines when they have developed all of their characteristic qualities in harmony.

Mechanical Harvester Large machine that mechanically removes grapes from clusters by gently shaking the vines. Once picked, the machine helps sort leaves from grapes and stems.

Mediterranean Climate Warmer growing region.

Meniscus Curved upper surface of a column of liquid. The “rim” of the wine in a wine glass.

Meritage Wines made in the United States predominantly from a blend of the traditional Bordeaux grape varieties; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec, for red wines; Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon for White.

Méthode Champenoise French. Fermented wine is bottled with yeast cells and sugar to induce a secondary fermentation. when fermentation is complete, the wine is aged, and the yeast sediment is removed.

Methusela / Methusalem Oversized bottle. Equivalent to eight 750ml bottles or 6 liters.

Micorclimate Climate of a small, distinct area that has either slightly or greatly varying degrees of difference from the general climate of the larger area.

Mildew Fungal disease that attack grapevines in rainy or damp seasons. Must be treated or it will cause crippling damage to tissue and the fruit. 

 Millésimé French. Dated or vintage wine. Term is mostly used to indicate a vintage Champagne. 

Mint Describes odor or taste of fresh green mint.

Mis en Bouteilles au Château Bordeaux, France. Estate bottled.

Mis en Bouteilles au Domaine Burgundy, France. Estate bottled.

Mis en Bouteilles Dans Nos Caves Burgundy, France. “Bottled in our cellars.”

Minstral French. the powerful cold winds that sweep through the valley, which can blow hard enough to strip vines of their shoots, leaves, and fruit.

Moëlleux French. Sweet.

Moldy The indication, usually by smell, of bacterial spoilage in wine.

Monocru French. Wine made from a single commune.

Monopole French. In Burgundy, a vineyard with one owner.

Mousse French. Froth or foam on the surface of a class of sparkling wine.

Must Unfermented juice or any mixture of juice, pulp, skins, and seeds from fruit, berries or grapes. The must is fermented to make wine.

Must Weight The difference, in grams, between one liter of the must and a liter of distilled water. Sugar has a higher specific gravity that water, so the must weight indicates the amount of sugar present in the must.

Musty Describes odor or flavor in wine, similar to a moldy smell.

Mutage Process of restarting fermentation of grape juice by adding brandy or other distilled spirits.


Natural North American designation for bone-dry sparkling wine.

Nebuchadnezzar Large bottle with a capacity of twenty 750 ml bottles. Used almost exclusively for charity events and festivals.

Négociants Éleveurs France. Merchants who may purchase grapes or wine from growers which will be aged and bottled in the cellars of the merchants.

Négociants-Manipulants France. Middlemen who operates between grower and shipper. The négociant is at the center of the wine trade in France. 

Nevers Oak French. Named after the French city. Hardwood with fine, medium grain from which barrels are made. 

NitrogenNaturally occurring gas needed by yeast cells to multiply. Since nitrogen is an inert gas, it can also be used to provide a blanket of gabs to cover a wine in storage to prevent oxidation; used in restaurant wine dispensing systems for the same reason.

Noble Rot Botrytis cinerea. Gray, hairy mold present in most vineyards. affected berries look like cracked raisins, but do not resemble them in taste. Needs humid climate to grow. If the mold attacks desirable varieties, the affected grapes are handpicked to produce a very sweet, expensive wine.

Nonvintage Term applied to sparkling wines whose cuvées contain wine from a previous vintage. Also applies to any wine blended from two or more vintages.

Nose Aroma and bouquet of a wine.

Nouveau / Novello French / Italian. New wine, usually first wine of the vintage.

Nutty Describes odor and flavor of Madeira, Marsala, Sherry, or other oxidized, fortified wines. 


Oak Species of hardwood trees used for aging wine.

Oak Chips Pieces of oak used when aging inexpensive wines in stainless steel vats, to provide the essence that oak barrels impart to the wine.

Oaky Odor or taste of wines fermented or aged in oak.

Oechsle German or Swiss. Specific gravity of must. scale to determine level of sugar present in the must. Named after chemist who invented method, Christian Ferdinand Oechsle.

Oenology Science or study of wine and winemaking. 

Off Term used to describe wines that display undesirable attributes. 

Oidium European name for powdery mildew, a mold that can prove fatal to grapevines if not prevented or controlled.

Organically Grown Grown without potentially harmful chemical sprays.

Organic Wines Wines made from organically grown grapes, vinified naturally with absolutely minimum addition of sulfites. 

Organoleptic Analytical evaluation of wine, using all of the senses.

Overcropping Growing more grape clusters than a grapevine can bring to maturity at normal harvest time, leading to diluted levels of sugar and nutrients.

Oxidation Chemical change in wine due to exposure to oxygen during any phase of production, aging, or storage. 


Pago Spanish. A single vineyard estate. 

Palate The combined sensory organs of the mouth, detecting taste and textures. 

Palo Cortado Spanish. A high-quality specialty Sherry.

Passe-Tout-Grains French. Red Burgundy wine made from a blend of Pinot Noir with Gamay or other lesser grapes.

Passito Italian. Sweet wine made from overripe grapes that have been allowed to dry in the sun, or on drying racks indoors, increasing sugar levels.

Peppery Describes smell or taste, Usually in a full-bodied red wine, reminiscent of black pepper, herbs, or spices.

Perfume Refers to floral smells encounters in the aroma and bouquet of some white wines.

Pesticide Chemical compounds used to kill insects.

Pétillant French. Spritzy.

PH A measure of the relative ACIDITY of grape must and finished wines.

Phenols ANTIOXIDANT compounds that occur naturally in wine grapes. Often referred to as tannins.

Phylloxera Vastatrix Latin. Aphid-like insect, a plant louse. Lives on grapevines and burrows throughout the plant, eating its roots. Kills VITIS VINIFERA varieties when the insect’s waste is injected into the vine’s root system.

Pièces French. Small barrels that are commonly used for aging in the northern part of France.

Pierce’s Disease Virus spread by a form of leafhopper insect and found in many vineyards around the world. Causes leaves to yellow along the veins, edges to burn, fruit to wilt, the vine to put out dwarfed shoots, and the vines to die in one to five years.

Pinot Name of grape family. Including Blanc, Gris, Noir.

Pipe 145.2 gallon/550 liters barrel used to store and ship Sherry, Madeira, Port, and other fortified wines.

Polishing Filter Ultra-fine filtering medium used to clarify wine just prior to bottling.

Pomace Skins, stems and seed remaining after the grapes have been pressed. A very compact mass often referred to as “cake.”

Pourriture Noble French for Botrytis cinerea.

Powdery Mildew Fungal disease the retards grapevine growth and interferes with winter hardiness.

Premier Cru French. Burgundian labeling representing the town name followed by the name of an approved classified vineyard site, or CLIMAT.

Press Wine Portion of wine that is pressed from the skins and pulp under pressure, after the free-run wine has been drained off. Concentration of color, flavor, and harshness is found in this wine, which if used at all, is used for blending.

Primary Fermentation First stage of FERMENTATION in which the yeast begins to metabolize the sugar, converting it into alcohol and carbon dioxide. 

Primeur French. New wine.

Prise de Mousse Strain of yeast particularly suited to sparkling wine production. 

Produced and Bottled by Label term used by U.S. producers and bottlers if they have made at least 75 percent of the wine in a particular bottle (fermenting the must and clarifying the wine).

Prohibition Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which repealed the right to manufacture, sell, transport, import and export alcoholic beverages in or from the United States. Passed in 1919 repealed in 1933.

Propriétaire-Recoltants  France. Independent wine-growers who sell under their own label.

Pruning Removal of the previous year’s growth to leave a predetermined number of buds on the canes of the vine. The number of buds will determine the number of brunches produced in the current year.

Pumpin Over During the fermentation of red wines, the cap of skin must be redistributed with the juice, in order to release carbon dioxide and to allow for optimum extraction of flavors and pigmentation from the skins. The wine is pumped from the bottom of the tank over the cap several times a day. In France, called remontage.

Punt Dome-shaped indentation found on the bottom of some wine bottles. Serves to strengthen the bottle. Most pronounced in Champagne bottles.

Puttonyos Hungarian buckets used for measuring quantity of selected grapes used in sweet Tokaji Aszú wine. Labels read 3 Puttonyos, 4 Puttonyos, etc.


Qualitätswein German, Classification for quality table wines. This and QmP classification may be grouped as Geschützte Ursprungsbezeichnung in 2011.

Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP) German. Former designation reserved for highest-quality wines. Chaptalization is prohibited at the QmP level. Every QmP label must include the class of the wine, based on the ripeness of the grapes at harvest (e.g. Auslese). Now Prädikatswein.

Quinta Portuguese. Wine estate.

Quintal Metric measurement of weight equal to 100 kilograms/220.46 pounds.


Racking Moving wine from on barrel or tank to another in order to separate the wine form the sediment that has fallen to the bottom of the container, and to aerate the wine. 

Rainwater Portuguese. Type of Madeira made for the British market.

Rancio Spanish. Describes odor and taste of wine as Sherry-like, especially as it applies to older, often fortified wines that are intentionally oxidized.

Rapé French. Declassification of wines used to ensure that the less ripe grapes are not used.

Recently Disgorged After extra aging on its LEES, a bottle of sparkling wine or Champagne undergoes disgorging shortly before release, often resulting in richer, fuller flavors. (see DÉGORGEMENT.)

Recioto Italian. Semidry or sweet wine made from the ripest grapes. the recie (ears) of the bunch. The recie grapes are partly dried and used to make sweet, sparkling, or dry wines. The term applies most often to wines from the Veneto province.

Récoltants Manipulants French. Producers or farmers who make wine from their own grapes, but purchase up to 5 percent of the grapes from another source.

Refractometer Measures sugar content of grape juice by refracting light. The higher the degree of refraction, the denser the juice, and the higher the sugar content.

Região Demarcada Portuguese. An outdated term for an appellation or wine region of Portugal.

Rehoboam Large bottle with capacity of six 750 ml bottles or 1.2 gallons.

Rémage/Riddling Process used as part of the méthode champenoise to move sediment from the side of the bottle into the neck of the bottle after the second fermentation; can be done by hand or by machine.

Reserva Spanish, Portuguese. Term indicating that wine from an exceptional harvest has been aged longer. There are specific legal minimum aging requirements.

Reserve In the United States, ay vintage-dated and varietally labeled wine, but without minimum aging requirements or any other quality requirement.

Residual Sugar (RS) Natural grape sugar intentionally left in the wine after fermentation to make a sweeter wine.

Resin Added to greek table wine in powder form to create Retsina.

Rich Describes wine mouthfeel, bouquet, and flavors.

Rim The outer edge of wine in a glass. Color of rim helps determine age of wine. Sometimes called the MENISCUS.

Ripe Describes wine that have reached their full term of aging or have achieved desired bouquet and flavor, or fully “ripe” flavors. 

Riserva Italian. Term indicating that wine from a exceptional harvest has been aged longer. There are specific legal minimum aging requirements. 

Robe French. Term that refers to color and other visual aspects of a wine.

Robust Describes flavor and mouthfeel of wine. Full-bodied.

Rootstock Vines Specially developed to be resistant to diseases, pest, and extreme weather conditions. They are used to form the root system of a vine. A Vinifera bud is grafted onto the rootstock to form the fruit-producing part of the vine.

Rosé Wine made from red grapes that have limited contact with the skin. Wine made from a combination of both red and white wines.

Rot Wet conditions in the vineyard at harvest time that cause the grapes to rot. Also, decomposition of wine due to bacteria.

Rough Describes young, immature wines that are unbalanced and very astringent, often due to high levels of tannin.

Ruby Porto Portuguese. A blend of Porto from different vintage, usually of less than six years old.


Saccharomyces Cerevisae The dominant yeast strain used in making wine.

Sack Old English term for Sherry.

Sacramental Wine Wines used during religious ceremonies.

Saignage French. “Bleeding” process used to make red and rosé wines. By drawing off some of the liquid, the remaining must will have more skin contact and make a darker colored red wine.

Salmanazar Large bottle with the capacity of twelve 750 ml (2.4 gallons) bottles generally used for Champagne.

Scion Shoot or bud to be grafted onto rootstock.

Sec French. Dry.

Sediment Precipitation of tannins, tartrates, and pigments as the wine ages in the bottle. Red wines high in tannins will create sediment in the form of brownish solids.

Seeds Pit in the grape berry.

Sekt German. Sparkling wine.

Sélection de Grains Nobles French. Designation for wines made with botrytis- affected grapes to produce a very concentrated sweet wine. similar to Germany’s Beerenauslese.

Sercial Portuguese. Grape variety used to make a pale, dry style of Madeira. Also used as the name of the wine on the label.

Serving Temperature Best temperature for serving wine.

Sherry Spanish. Fortified wine produced in Jerez, Spain. Produced using the SOLERA system. Traditionally contains 15-22- percent alcohol.

Shoot Living growth from a grapevine. Bears leaves and tendrils and possibly fruit.

Site Selection Process of locating and planning a vineyard, based on weather patterns, test summation, soil types, etc.

Skin Outer covering of grape containing pigments, tannins, and other phenolic compounds. Yeast are also found on the skin go the grape.

Skin Contact Refers to grape skin contact with the juice before or during fermentation. Lends color, flavor, complexity, and longevity to the wine. Most often an important part of red wine production.

Smoky Describes odor present in bouquet of wines fermented in charred oak barrels.

Snifter Ballon-shaped brandy glass.

Soft Describes the mouthfeel of wine. Smooth, without harshness.

Solar or Palácio Portuguese. Vineyard and fine house similar to the French château.

Solera Spanish. System used to produce Sherries. Series of old white American oak barrels set up in tiers, eight to fifteen rows. The wine in the bottom barrel is used for bottling and refilled by the tier above and so on, so that the older wines are refreshed, and the younger wines gain complexity. Wine sold is from the bottom, but no more than 33 percent of the bottom barrel is removed.

Sommelier Individual in charge of the wine, wine service, the wine list, and the wine cellar in the restaurant.

Spätlese German. Means “late picking” or “late harvesting,” as determined by the sugar content of the grapes at harvest.

Specific Gravity Density of a substance compared with the density of a standard substance, such as water.

Spicy Describes odor and/or taste that resembles spices.

Spraying The application of liquid fungicides and insecticides to combat pests and diseases.

Spritz Light, pleasant effervescence created by carbon dioxide in the wine.

Spumante Italian. Sparkling wine.

Stabilizers Various additives used to retard deterioration of the wine.

Steely Describes taste found in white wines that resembles minerals.

Stem Part of the glass found between the bowl and the base.

Structure Describes interaction of components of wine and the level of complexity they create on the palate.

Stuck Fermentation When fermentation stops before all the sugar has been converted to alcohol.

Style Combination of flavor, aroma, and balance of a wine, which depends on grape quality and the winemaker’s expertise, as well as the use of techniques and equipment. Can be the winemaker’s or producer’s “signature.”

Sulfur Dioxide Used by winemakers as an anti-oxidizing agent. Excessive amounts will create an unpleasant odor in the wine.

Superiore / Supérieur Italian / French. Superior. Term defined by national wine laws, usually designating a higher level of alcohol in the wine, lower yield in the vineyard, or additional aging.

Supple Describes mouthfeel of wine as soft, full, and easy to drink.

Sur Latte French. Term that refers to Champagne wines that are resting and waiting to have deposits removed and the DOSAGE added.

Sur Lie French. Wine fermented and aded on it lees. (See AUTOLYSIS.)

Süssreserve German. Unfermented grape juice that is added after fermentation to sweeten the wine.

Sustainable Agriculture / Viticulture Utilizing a number of progressive, though often traditional, agricultural practices in the vineyard in oder to keep the land and plants healthy for the long term. Organic farming practices and minimizing the use of chemicals in the vineyard are important components of the overall approach to agriculture.

Sweet Describes a wine that retains some natural sugars after fermentation has ceased.


Table Wine A U.S. Taxation category for still reds, whites, and rosés containing between 7 and 14 percent alcohol.

Tafelwein German. Table wine. German wine law allows this category of wine to be chaptalized.

Taille French. Second pressing of grapes used to produce some nonvintage Champagnes.

Talhas Portuguese. Large clay amphorae used to ferment and age wine.

Tannic Acid Acid that can be added to wine or must to retard the aging process.

Tannins Phenolic polymers that lend density and richness to wine. Organic compound found in the seeds, stems, and skins of grapes. Creates astringent character in wine and is an important preservative for the proper aging of selected red wines.

Tapada Portuguese. Walled vineyard. (See CLOS.)

Tart Sharpness of taste caused by acids in wine. Acidic.

Tartaric Acid Natural acid found in grapes and transferred to the wine during fermentation. When the wine is chilled or cool-fermented, it can precipitate as crystals.

Taste The overall combination of the four basic elements of taste: sweet, sour, bitter, salt. It is unusual for wines to exhibit a salty taste, and the last of most wines is a combination of the other three elements.

Tastevin French. Small, saucer like silver cup used by a sommelier to examine and taste wine before serving. Ornamented with dimples to refract light in young wines.

Tastevinage French. The brotherhood or Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin has tasting and banquets at the Château du Clos de Vougeot in Burgundy. Distinguished wine may bear the confrérie special “Tastevinage” label.

Tawny Porto Portuguese. Tawny color in this fortified wine is derived from long aging - a minimum of six years in barrels - or by blending white and red Ports.

Tenuta Italian. Estate.

Terroir French. The complex relationship of microclimate, soil type and structure, soil density and porosity, drainage, exposure, heat retention, and protection from frost that gives wine from a specific site its unique character.

Tête du Cuvée Term synonymous with Cuvée de Prestige, indicating the finest Champagne produced by a particular producer. For example, Dom Perignon is the Tête du Cuvée Champagne produced by Moët & Chandon.

Texture Describes mouthfeel of wine on the palate.

Thin Describes lack of body in wine. 

Three-Tier System Traditional system for distributing wine, involving producers, wholesalers, and retailers.

Tinto Spanish, Portuguese. Red.

Triage French. Process of moving wine from one vessel to another, especially from tank or barrel to the bottle.

Toasty Term that could describe the smoky character of wines aged in wooden barrels that have been charred on the inside. Can also describe the yeasty, breed-like character derived form contact with the yeast lees during winemaking or aging. 

Toping Off Adding wine to wood barrels to replenish what has been lost through evaporation.

Total Acidity Measurement, by volume, of acid in must or wine.

Training Systems System of encouraging grapevines to grow on a trellis in specific way to ensure that vines will receive the most beneficial exposure to light.

Transfer Method Method of producing sparkling wine. After second fermentation in the bottle, wine is emptied into a pressurized and and filtered. The final DOSAGE is added and the wine is the transferred to new bottles.

Trocken German. Dry.

Trockenbeerenauslese German. Wine made from botrytis-affected individually selected grapes. The grapes dry and shrivel on the vine before being picked. They are high in sugar, producing a very sweet, rich wine, usually low in alcohol.

Tronçais Oak French. Very hard wood, grown in the Allier region of France. Known for the spicy component it imparts to the wine.

TTB Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Tulip Glass Proper glassware for Champagne and sparkling wines. Shaped like a tulip with an 8 to 10 ounce capacity. (See FLUTE.)


Ullage French. air space in the bottle between the bottom of the cork and the top of the wine.

Unbalanced Wine with components that are unharmonious.

Unctuous Describes taste in wine that is rich, sweet, and almostoily.


Vanilla Scent of vanilla bean detected in wines that have been aged in new oak barrels.

Varietal Specific grape variety. Wine made completely or predominately from a single grape. Most New World wines feature varietal labels, the name of the wine is the name of the grape (e.g. Chardonnay).

Varietal Character Unique combination of odor, taste and mouthfeel in a wine, generally attributed to a particular variety of grape.

Vatting Process where skins are left in contact with the fermented wine.

Vegetal Odor or taste of wine as one that resembles green beans, asparagus, etc.

Vendange French. Literally means “harvest” and has come to mean “vintage” in English, of the year that the grapes were harvested. The year itself, in French, is the millesmé

Vendange Tardive French. In Alsace, usually late-harvest wines, most often sweet.

Vendemmia Itallian harvest.

Vendimia Spanish harvest.

Veraison French, Point in growing season when grapes begin turning to turn color.

Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VDP) German. An association of single-estate wine producers committed to producing high-quality wines with strong regional and varietal character mostly made from Riesling grapes.

Vigneron French. One who tends the grapevines; the grower, owner, or manger of the vineyard.

Vin de Gôut French. The first-press juice from warmers with good fruit. Vin de press are the subsequent pressings.

Vin Delimité de Qualité Supérieure (VDQS or IGP) French. Quality wine form a limited area, according to law. Classification of wine just below the appellation contrôlée designation in quality.

Vin de Paille French. The grapes for this Jura “straw wine” are dried on straw mats or hung until they lose some of their water content, as in the PASSITO system in Italy.

Vin de Pays French. Just above vin de table in quality levels of AOC wines laws.

Vin de Table French. Table wine under AOC wine laws.

Vin Doux Naturel French. Naturally sweet wine of France, which is required to have a minimum of 252 grams of sugar per liter of must.

Vin Mousseux French. Sparkling wine made by the Champagne method but in another French wine region.

Vine Plant with long stems that grow above the ground and climbs on walls or supports.

Vinegar Wine product high in acetic acid. Not for drinking purposes.

Vineyard Land used to grow grapevines.

Vihno de Canteiro Portuguese. Term sometimes used for Madeira wine naturally aged on racks (canteiro).

Vinho de Mesa Portuguese. The lowest level of domestic table wines. The label may not state a vintage year.

Vinho de Qualidade Produzidos em Regiões Determinadas (VQPRD) Portuguese. Wine from a smaller defined region with more specific character.

Vinho Regional Portuguese. Regional wines from large areas such as Alentejano, Beiras, Lisboa, or Ribatejo.

Viniculture Theory, art, and science of making wine.

Vinifera Latin. Species of grapes for making wine.

Vinification Process of converting grapes into wine.

Vin Jaune French. This Jura wine is made from late harvested Savagnin grapes. The fermented “yellow wine” spends at least six years in oak, with air contact, before it is released.

Vino da Tavola Italian. Table wine.under DOC wine laws.

Vino de Calidad Spanish. Quality wine under DO wine laws.

Vin Ordinare French. Everyday wine.

Vinosity Refers to wine-like aroma and flavor of wine due to its alcohol levels.

Vinsanto Italian. An oxidized style of wine, most often sweet.

Vin Santo Greek. A sweet wine made from dried grapes on the Island of Santorini.

Vintage The year the grapes were harvested. 

Vintage Porto Portuguese. Porto from a single vintage, produced in years determined by producers to be the best quality. Rarest and most expensive style of Porto, aged in cask for two to three years before bottling. The wine must age in the bottle for many years to achieve harmony, balance, and complexity.

Vintner Grower, blender, and seller of grapes and wine.

Viscous Describes full-bodied wines that taste “fat,” usually full-bodied reds or sweet desert wines.

Viticulture Theory, science, study, and practice of growing grapes.

Vitis Lambrusca Latin. Eastern North American species of grapevines, such as Concord and Niagara.

Vitis Riparia Latin. North American species of grapevines.

Vitis Rotundifolia Latin. North American species of grapevine found predominately in southern Atlantic states such as Muscadine and Scuppernong.

Vitis Vinifera Latin. European species of grapevine. Translates as “grapes to make wine.”

Volatile Acidity (VA) Total combination of acids in wine that are considered to be volatile, i.e. can be separated easily from wine, usually by distillation. High levels of volatile acidity in wine are considered a defect and are usually detected as the vinegary smell of acetic acid, or the plastic, nail polish aroma of ethyl acetate.

Vosges Forest in the Vosges Mountains near Alsace. Vosges oak features a tight grain with neutral flavor and medium tannin extraction. 


Weingut German. Wine estate.

Well Balanced See BALANCE.

Wild Yeast yeasts indigenous to certain vineyards that collect on the skin of grapes around harvest time and can be used to start the fermentation process.

Wine Alcoholic beverage produced from fermenting fruit juice (generally grapes).

Wine Cradle Basket designed to hold a bottle of mature wine that contains sediment. Keeps that bottle in a semi-horizontal position to minimize disruption of the sediment.

Winemaker Individual in charge of producing wine in a winery.

Winery Building where grape juice is fermented into wine.

Woody Describes odor and taste of some wines aged in wood barrels for an extended period of time.



Yeast Brings about fermentation of grape juice to wine by secreting the enzyme zymase, which converts sugar to ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Yeasty describes odor in wine as that of freshly made bread.

Yield Refers to the production from an acre or hectare of land.