Wine Glossary

A

Acidity
All wine will have some acid.  Too much acid will make the wine seem too tart, and too little will create a cloying or flabby wine.

Aging
Most wine either red or white are made to be consumed when they are released.  However, full-bodied reds and sweet whites can be aged for many years in order to improve their quality.

Amarone (Italy)
A DOC red wine made in Valpolicella from dried grapes.

American oak
American oak barrels are used to add a stronger vanilla flavor and other characteristics than French oak.

Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC)
Also referred to as Appellation Controlee (AC).  The highest quality classification in France which guarantees that the wine has been made by adhering to the strict regulations for the region.

B

Balthazar
An oversized bottle with the capacity of sixteen 750 ml bottles.

barrel
Wooden barrels are used by the wine maker to alter the wine in various ways.  Whites can become mellower and softer, reds can pick-up more vanilla and cedar.

barrique (France)
A small oak cask that holds 225 liters of wine.

Bianco (Italy)
White

Biodynamism
Biodynamic wines are wines that are produced using extreme organic viticulture that emphasizes the health of the soil and the balance of nature.  Some methods can be unusual.

blanc de blanc (France)
A common term used with Champagne and sparkling wine to denote that the white wine is made entirely from white grapes.

Blanc de noir (France)
A common term used with Champagne and sparkling wine to denote that the a wine is made entirely from red grapes.

Blend
A mixture of grape varietals, origins, or vintages in order to craft a desired style or result.

Blush
A light pink wine.

Bodega (Spain)
A winery or cellar in Spain.

Bordeaux
A wine from the Bordeaux region of France using techniques and grape varieties common to that area.  Grape varieties used include: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot, and for white wine Sauvignon Blanc.

Botrytis
Also known as Noble Rot, it is a fungus that is responsible for producing dried, sugar rich grapes that are used to make some of the best dessert wines.

Bourgogne
French for Burgundy

Brut
Usually associated with sparkling wines to denote dryness.  Extra brut is drier than brut.

Burgundy
A wine from the Burgundy region of France using techniques and grape varieties common to that area.  Grape varieties used include: Pinot Noir and for white wine Chardonnay.

C

Cantina (Italy)
Winery in Italy

Cava (Spain)
A sparkling wine from Spain that can be dry or slightly sweet.

Cépage (France)
When many grape varietals are planted within a single vineyard.

Chablis (France)
Crisp, dry, and minerally chardonnay from Burgundy.

Champagne (France)
A sparkling wine region that uses Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier to produce these fine wines.

Chateau (France)
A French wine making estate, but the term is loosely used elsewhere in the world.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape (France)
From Southern Rhone a big, powerful, highly sought after red wine that can be made from 13 permitted grape varieties.

Claret
Primarily an old English reference to red Bordeaux wines but can be used in the US to mean a blend or meritage.

Classico (Italy)
A term used for better quality within the DOC(G) region.

Cooperative
A collective of growers that make wine under a single or multiple labels.

Corked
Wine that has taken on a moldy or musty taint from a defective cork.

Crianza (Spain)
A red wine that has spent at least six months in oak and 18 months in the bottle before release.

Cru (France)
Literally “growth”, usually to denote a single vineyard.

Cuvee (France)
Can mean a blend or house wine from a vineyard.  In Champagne, cuvee means the finest pressing of the vintage.  Cuvee de prestige denotes the highest quality.

D

Decanting
A procedure of transferring  wine from the bottle to a decanter in order to prevent sediment in the glass of older wines and to allow young wines to breathe.

Demi
A half bottle of wine, 375 ml.  Also, called a split.

Denominacion de Origen (DO) (Spain)
A quality classification similar to AOC in France.

Denominacion de Origen Calificada (DOCa) (Spain)
A step above DO and the highest classification in Spain.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) (Italy)
An Italian classification similar to AOC in France.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) (Italy)
The highest classification in Italy.

Dessert wine
Sweet wines that can be red, white or sparkling.

Disgorgement
A procedure to dislodge sediment in a champagne bottle following the second fermentation.

Domaine (France)
Estate

E

Eiswein (Germany)
A sweet German wine made from frozen grapes.  A very special dessert wine, delicious and concentrated.

F

Filtration
The process of removing small particles from wine, but some producers label their wine un-filtered due to the belief that these particles add character and flavor to the wine.

Fining
The process to remove fine suspended particles from the wine using a natural agent.

First Growth
Premier cru

Fortified wine
A wine that has been changed through the addition of liquor, such as, Madeira, Port, and Sherry.

French oak
Considered the best wood to make and age wine with.

Fuder
A large oak barrel that holds 1000 liters of wine

G

Gonci
A small oak cask that holds 136 liters of wine.

Grand cru (France)
Usually applied to the finest vineyards of a region.  Top tier.

Grand vin (France)
Great wine of an estate

Gran reserva (Spain)
Red wine that has spent at least 18 months in oak and at least 5 years in oak and bottle before being released.

H

I

Ice wine
Eiswein produced outside of Germany

Imperial
A bottle that contains the equivalent of eight 750 ml bottles

Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGA) (Italy)
Similar to Vin de Pay in France, a step above table wine and below appellation controlled wine

J

Jeroboam
A bottle that contains the equivalent of four 750 ml bottles

K

L

Late harvest
Intentionally harvesting grapes late in the season to have more resulting sugar, primarily for the use as a dessert wine or for sweeter wines.

Lees
The remains of yeast after fermentation that through extended contact with the wine can add certain characteristics to the resulting wine.

M

Maceration
The process of keeping the skins of the grapes in contact with the juice or must in order to get greater color, flavors and tannins.

Madeira
A fortified wine from the island of Madeira

Magnum
A bottle that contains the equivalent of two 750 ml bottles of wine

Malolactic fermentation
The process that changes the Malic acid, a tartness, to a softer Lactic acid.

Meritage
A domestic term to describe a Bordeaux like blend, either red or white.

Methode traditionnelle (France)
Using the second fermentation methods to make sparkling wine that are traditionally used in Champagne.

Must
A liquid that contains all elements of the grape before fermentation

N

Negociant (France)
An entity that buys wine from many growers and then bottles it under their own label.

O

Oak
The primary wood used in making wine

Oaked
Wine that has taken on the tannins, vanilla and creamy style that new oak can give.

Oenology
The study of wine

Old vine
Old vines produce smaller grapes but the quality is better.

Organic
Wines produced without, chemical fertilizers or pesticides

P

Phylloxera
An insect root disease that will kill the vine.

Pierce’s Disease
A disease that attacks the leaf of the vine and is spread by the sharpshooter insect

Pipe
A large oak barrel that holds 550 liters of wine.

Port
A Portuguese sweet fortified wine

Premier cru (France)
In Bordeaux it denotes the first growth or top tier.  In Burgundy it is a step below the top tier of Grand Cru.

Prosecco
A light Italian sparkling wine

Punt
The indentation on the bottom of the bottle to add strength and to collect sediment.

Q

Quinta (Portuguese)
Estate

R

Racking
The process to separate the wine from unwanted sediment

Reserva (Spain)
A Spanish red wine that has spent at least 18 months in oak and the balance of five years in the bottle before release.  For white wine it is 6 months in oak and two years before release.

Riserva (Italy)
Wine that has had more time at the winery before release, usually at least one year.

Rose’ (France)
A pink wine that is a cross between red and white wine.

Rosado (Spain)
Spanish rose’

S

Salmanazar
A bottle that contains the equivalent of twelve 750 ml bottles

Sec (France)
Dry

Sekt (German)
Sparkling wine

Split
A half bottle of wine, 375 ml.

Structure
To describe the weight on the palate during tasting of a wine, the level of fruit and tannins.  Full-bodied wines would be noted as having a better structure.

Superiore (Italy)
Higher alcoholic DOCG wines, but not necessarily better quality

T

Tannins
Tannins in grapes are found in the stems, seeds and skins.  It creates a sensation of dryness in the mouth.  A big part in the enjoyment of red wines and aids in the maturity of the wine.

Tenuta (Italy)
Estate

Terrior (France)
The environments effect on the wine that creates a sense of place.

Traditional method
The method to make sparkling wine using the strict methods of used in Champagne.

Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA) (German)
A top tier classification in Germany for the sweetest, ripest grapes which makes a rare sweet wine.

U

Unfiltered
Wines that have not gone through filtration and might need decanting.

Unoaked
Not using oak in the wine making process to retain the fresh fruit flavors.

V

Varietal
The grape variety that is on the label.

Vieilles vignes (France)
Old vines

Vin de pay (France)
“Country wines” a step above the table wine classification

Vinho regional (Portuguese)
Similar to Vin de pay in France.

Vino de la tierra (Spain)
Similar to Vin de pay in France.

Vintage
The year of the harvest or when the grapes where grown for wine production.

Viticulture
The science, skills and farming that are required in wine production.

Vitis Vinifera
The grape species that is used for most of the world’s wine making.

W

XYZ

Yeast
The organism responsible for converting sugar into alcohol.

Yield
The amount of grapes that are grown per acre of land.  Lower yields usually equate to better quality grapes and thus wine.

Did You Know?

California Zinfandel

It is now believed that the origins of Zinfandel, the most associated grape to California, has its roots in Croatia and with the Italian Primotivo…

Vermont Wines

With the introduction of winter hardy grape stock from Minnesota Vermont has experienced a renaissance in winemaking in the last few years…

The Famed Paris Tasting

In 1976 a blind tasting took place that included cru classé Bordeaux and California Cabernet and Chardonnay-based wines from such vineyards as Napa Valley’s Chateau Montelena…

Vermont Alliance of
Independent Country Stores