Wine dictionary



Accessible - Easy to drink wine, without the overwhelming sense of tannin, acidity or extract.

Acetic - A vinegary taste in wine, which was exposed to long to air.

Acetic Acid - The acid component of vinegar present in small quantities in all wines.

Acidity – Essential element in grapes and finished wines. 

Acidification – Adding ACIDITY during winemaking to compensate for grapes which have over-ripened.

Aerate - Adding oxygen to wine during the winemaking process or while decanting a wine. (the wine opens up)

Aftertaste - Taste left in the mouth after swallowing. It is synonym or length or finishes.

Ageing - Keeping the wine for a certain period of time in barrels, tanks or bottles to affect the finished wine. 

Alcohol – Ethanol - Is produced as a by-product of fermentation. 

Allocation - Rationing in-demand wines and controlling the place where they are sold. Usually high in-demand wines.

AOC - "Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée" - French term for denominated, governed wine region.

Appellation - An official geographic origin of a wine. It becomes part of a wine's official name.

Aroma - The smells of the underlying grape itself. 

Aromatic - Description of wines that have particularly fruity and floral smells.

AVA - Term in the USA for officially designated winegrape growing region.



Balance – A tasting term, when all components fit together. 

Batonnage – French term for stirring of the LEES.

Bin - A location in a cellar where a particular wine is stored. Can be used as part of a brand name. 

Body – Tasting term for the weight and texture of a wine. A combination of ALCOHOL, EXTRACT, and glycerol.

Botrytis cinerea – A fungus that attacks the grape berry. Often it destroys grapes, but in a few places conditions allow it to develop as

Noble Rot”. Botrytis draws the water content from the grape and leaves concentrated sugar juice that makes luscious sweet wine.

Bouquet - The whole smell, which includes scents from the barrels or from the style of winemaking.

Brettanomyces – Fault in wine caused by a rouge strain of YEAST. 

Bush vine - Vines as free-standing plants, not needing the support of a trellis. 

Butt - Traditional barrel used in Sherry production, holding about 600 litres. 



Cap – The bubbling mass of skins and pips that floats to the surface during fermentation of red wine. It must be submerged regularly.

Carbon dioxide – A by-product of fermentation.

Carbonic Maceration - A special fermentation technique where whole berries are starved of oxygen so fermentation begins within the grape. Common in Beaujolais, it makes soft, fruity wines not made for keeping.

Cask - Wooden barrel, usually made of oak. Used for fermentation, maturation and storage of wines. 

Chaptalization – Adding sugar to under-ripe juice before fermentation so that more alcohol could be produced.

Clos - Historically, a walled vineyard (the walls may no longer exist). 

Cold Stabilisation – A process in which white wine is chilled to precipitate tartaric acid as small crystals which can then be removed before bottling. 

Commune - A small wine-growing region, usually surrounding one village. 

Corked wine –  A mouldy cork (of faulty processing of the cork) has caused a chemical called trichloranisole to form, imparting a dirty aroma and flavour to the wine.



Disgorgement - Removal of the sediment from a bottle in traditional method sparkling wine production. 

Dosage – French term for the small amount of top-up liquid added to champagne just before bottling, sweetened to the desired level.



Eiswein – German term. Grapes are left on the vine until they freeze. Temperatures of -7C are required. The water content is removed as ice, and the resulting wine is sweet, concentrated and luscious wine.

En Primeur – French term for buying wine as futures: paying for wine before it is released onto the market in order to secure wines that are short in supply, or at an advantageous price. 

Estate - A producer who makes wine from grapes grown on their property only. 

Extract – The substances, mostly derived from grape skins and just under the skin's surface, that contribute tannin, color, glycerol and flavor to a wine. 



Finish – Synonymous with length, the amount of time a flavor lingers on the PALATE after the wine is swallowed. 

Filtration – A processed used to clarify wine. Used very little or not at all. 

Fining – Another clarifying process where some gelatinous agent (whisked egg whites) is added to the barrel and sinks through the wine trapping even minute solids.

Flor – Protective YEAST that is encouraged to grow on certain maturing wines, particularly SHERRY. Stops OXIDISATION and adds flavor.

Flying winemaker – Globetrotting winemaker/consultant who has no set winery but operates in many, usually employing the latest technology and practices.

Forward – Tasting term indicating a young wine that is maturing quickly or is made to be drunk young.

Free-run Juice – The high-quality juice that runs from the FERMENTATION tank without pressing.





Hybrid – Any wine crossing where one or both parents is not from the wine vine, Vitis vinifera.









Late harvest  - Designation appearing on bottles (French – Vendange Tardive) where grapes are allowed to hang on the vine beyond maturity. Over-ripens grapes usually produce wines that are high in alcohol and off-dry to sweet.

Laying down – Long-term storage of wine in the belief that it will improve with age. 

Lees – The solids left behind after fermentation is complete. Dead yeast cells. 

Lees stirring - A process of mixing the lees with the wine, usually in a cask, to help extract components that will give the wine extra flavour and body. 

Length - Finish



Maceration - Period of time when the skins are in contact with the juice or wine during red wine vinification. 

Maderized – A fault where the wines have oxidized and over-heated giving it a brown color and burnt stale taste. 

Merchant - A company that buys grapes or finished wine for vinification, maturation and blending before sale. / A wine dealer. 

Malolactic fermentation – A secondary fermentation that is biological, in which harsh malic acid is converted into softer lactic acid.

Methode champenoise – The traditional and best way of making sparkling wine. 

Micro-climate - The climate within the canopy of the vine. 

Millésime - Vintage date. 

Monopole - A vineyard, especially in Burgundy, that has only one owner. 

Must - Unfermented grape juice, destined to become wine. 



Nose – Tasting term or what we smell in wine. 



Oenology – The science of winemaking. Enology in the USA.

Over-extracted - Some wines can be over-extracted which cause the wine inky and bitter.

Oxidation/oxidized – Grapes and grape juice oxidize if not handled carefully. Bottled wine also oxidize if the seal is not airtight.



Palate – Tasting term. The palate confirms flavors detected on the nose, but adds body, acidity, tannins, finish.

Phenolics – Compounds found in wine, mostly coming from grape skins, like tannin and flavor compounds. 

Phylloxera – The louse that eats vine roots. 

Primary aromas - Aromas in a wine that arise directly from the fruit. 

Pupitre - Rack consisting of two hinged boards through which holes have been bored to hold the necks of sparkling wine bottles during riddling. 



Quinta – Portuguese term for an estate or vine farm.

Quinta Single - port comes from a single vintage and farm.



Racking - Drawing off celar wine from a cask or vat and moving it to another, leaving the sediment behind. 

Recioto – Italian wine made for grapes that have been dried on mats after harvest. The raisins the grapes making them very sweet. Amarone is made from Recioto grapes but fermented out fully to be dry and concentrated.

Remuage – French term for the process by which the dead yeast cells in maturing Champagne and other quality sparkling wines are gradually moved into the neck of the bottle before being removed. Traditionally done by hand, now by machines. 

Residual sugar (RS) – The amount of sugar remaining in a wine that has not been converted into alcohol when fermentation stops. Less than 2g/l is imperceptible. Some sweet wines will have upwards of 25g/l.

Récoltant - Someone who harvests their own grapes. 

Riddling - Moving the sediment to the neck of the bottle before disgorgement in traditional method sparkling wine production. 



Secondary aromas - Aromas in a wine that arise from the fermentation. 

Site climate - The climate of a plot of vines, perhaps a vineyard, or part of a vineyard.

Solera – A system of fractional blending that gives Sherry its character. The process of blending several vintages over many years in a building known as a Solera before bottling.

Spumante - Sparkling wine made by any method. 

Structure – Tasting term. To describe a wine as well-structured is very complimentary. It means it has an architecture of fruit, acidity, alcohol, and tannins, that should allow it to age and stop it from being bland of wishy-washy.

Sulfur dioxide – An important and age-old additive in winemaking. Sulfur is an antiseptic and antioxidant. I

Super-Tuscans – Groundbreaking Italian wines that deliberately ignored local wine laws to make premium wines using outlawed international grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Supérieur - It indicates a higher degree of alcohol. 

Sur-Lie - White wines matured in contact with the lees (French Sur Lie) can develop creamy, nutty flavors.

Sur pointe - Ageing of a bottle of sparkling wine, neck down, after yeast autolysis is complete, but before disgorgement.



Tannin – A naturally occurring chemical that helps to preserve red wine and adds a savoury edge to the flavor. Tannins come from grape stems, pips, and skins. Tannin also comes from oak ageing of wine. 

Terroir - A sense of place expressed in a wine, which may include the effects of climate, site climate, soils, aspect, slope and even local grape varieties, yeast cultures and winemaking practices. 

Tertiary aromas - Aromas in a wine that are due to the effects of ageing. 



Unfiltered wine – A wine that has been bottled without filtration. Used for quality wines. 



Varietal labelling - The practice of naming the grape or grapes on the label still uncommon in classical European regions, adopted widely elsewhere over the past 20 years.

Vieilles Vignes - Old Vines. Old vines give lower yields of generally higher quality grapes. 

Vitis vinifera – The wine vine. Almost important wines come from her.

Vinification - Winemaking.

Viniculture - Grape growing.

Volatile acidity VA – Tasting term. Real fault, ranging from a vaguely sharp smell to a horrible vinegar aroma and taste. Caused by bacterial infection, especially of acetobacter (acetic acid).







Yeast – Is a single-cell organism that is naturally present on the surface of grapes, but in commercial winemaking is more likely to be laboratory-grown. It devours grape sugar, converting it into ethanol – alcohol.

Yeast autolysis - Breakdown of dead yeast cells after the secondary fermentation in sparkling wine production. Gives the wine a yeasty, or biscuity, nose. 




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