The glossary of wine terminology below is specific to North American wines.
We have included some foreign wine terminology, such as French orItalian, as it
is often used in labeling on American wines, usually in a ,marketing attempt to
sound more prestigious, or simply confuse or misrepresent to the consumer.
Abbreviation of alcohol by volume, generally listed on a wine
with a sharp, sweet-and-sour tang can be described as having
acescence. The acescence characteristics frequently recalls a
- Altar wine
The wine used by the Catholic Church in celebrations of the
the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, a United States
government agency that is primarily responsible for the regulation
of wines sold and produced in the United States.
Best described as a matured Fino. After the flor dies, the yeast
sinks to the bottom of the wine and is no longer able to protect the
Sherry from oxidation. The now unprotected Sherry begins to take on
a rich and deep nutty flavor, and can now be described as
A wine that is either drunk by
itself (i.e. without food) or before a meal in order to stimulate
A geographically delineated wine
A wine with very noticeable and distinctive
A large bottle containing 12
litres, the equivalent of 16 regular wine bottles.
A low cost entry-level offering from a winery as opposed to
its more expensive premium wine offerings.
A term originally meant to denote a location in a cellar
where wine is stored but now often seen in brand marketing of some
wines (i.e. Bin 75 Merlot, etc)
- Biodynamic wine
biodynamic agriculture in general, biodynamic grape-growing stems
from the ideas and suggestions of Rudolf Steiner (1861.1925), which
predate most of the organic movement. The principles and practices
of biodynamics are based on his spiritual/practical philosophy which
includes understanding the ecological, the energetic, and the
spiritual in nature.
French term for organic
- Blind tasting
Tasting and evaluating wine without
knowing what it is.
An acronym for "Buyer's Own Brand"
which refers to a private label wine owned by the restaurant or
retailer that sells the wine.
container with a neck that is narrower than the body and a "mouth."
Modern wine bottles are nearly always made of glass because it is
nonporous, strong, and aesthetically pleasing.
interaction between air and wine after a wine has been opened.
Breathing may take place while the wine is decanting.
- Cane pruning
Cane pruning is
when one or two canes from a vine's previous year's growth are cut
back to six to fifteen buds which will be the coming growing seasons
Italian term for winery.
The plastic or foil that covers the
cork and part of the neck of a wine bottle.
- Carbonic maceration
Whole, uncrushed grapes are fermented in a sealed vat containing a
layer of carbon dioxide. This results in fruity, soft and distinct
red wines. These wines have little tannin and are immediately
drinkable. This is the method used throughout France's Beaujolais
A wood barrel or storage vessel, often made from oak, that
is used in winemaking for fermentation and/or aging
Unit of the persistence of the wine's finish in seconds.
Derived from the word caudal (tail). A wine can have a caudalie of 8 or more
See wine cave
- Cellar door
The area of the winery where point of sale purchases occur. This can
be a tasting room or a separate sales area.
shed, or other storage place above ground, used for storing casks,
common in Bordeaux. Usually different types of wine are kept in
separate sheds. The person in charge of vinification and ageing
of all wine made at an estate, or the chais of a négociant, is
titled a Maître de Chai. The New World counterpart to the chai may
be called the barrel hall.
- Champagne flute
A piece of stemware having a long stem with a
tall, narrow bowl on top.
The practice of
adding sugar (from sugar beets or sugarcanes) to the grape must
prior to fermenting, to compensate for low sugar content/potential
alcohol in the grapes.
Generally a winery in Bordeaux,
although the term is sometimes used for wineries in other parts of
the world, such as the Barossa Valley.
A French term
for a wine that falls between the range of a light red wine and a
British name for Bordeaux wine. Is also a
semi-generic term for a red wine in similar style to that of
- Commercial wine
A mass-produced wine aimed
for a wide market of consumers made according to a set formula, year
after year. These wines tend to emphasis broad appeal and easy
drink-ability rather than terroir or craftsmanship.
small wine-growing region that surrounds a village
Winemaking organization that is jointly
owned by a number of growers who pool their resources and vineyards
to produce wine under one label
- Cordon training
A method of
vine training. Unlike cane pruning where the trunk itself is the
only permanent, inflexible piece of the vine, cordon trained vines
have one or two woody arms extending from the top of the trunk.
These are then spur pruned.
A tool, comprising a pointed metallic helix attached to a handle,
for drawing Corks from bottles.
- Country wine
A quality level intermediate between
table wine and quality wine, which in France is known as vin de pays
and in Italy as Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) . Also a synonym
for Fruit wine.
A French term that literally means "growth". May refer to a
vineyard or a winery.
- Cult wines
Wines for which committed buyers will
pay large sums of money because of their desirability and rarity.
The French term for the period of time during alcoholic
fermentation when the wine is in contact with the solid matter such
as skin, pips, stalks, in order to extract colour, flavour and
tannin. See also maceration.
French term, meaning vat
or tank. On wine labels it is used to denote wine of a specific
blend or batch.
French term, along with cuvier that
refers to the building or room where fermentation takes place.
Essentially, the room, building, grange, barn, garage or shed, or
other building, used for "making wine." When the grapes are first
picked, they arrive at the cuverie.
Refers to a process in which the must of a
white wine is allowed to settle before racking off the wine, this
process reduces the need for filtration or fining.
The process of pouring wine from its bottle into a decanter to
separate the sediment from the wine.
- Dégorgement tardive
French term for a Champagne that has been aged sur lie for an
exceptionally long time (far beyond the usually 5-10 years of
vintage Champagne) before going through degorgement.
A medium-dry sparkling wine. In Champagne, this a wine that has
received a dosage of 32-50 grams/liter
- Dessert wine
region. In the UK, a very sweet, low alcohol wine. In the US by law,
any wine containing over 14.1% alcohol.
- Drip dickey
with drip cloth around it; Trademarked name for a
cover that slips over the neck of a wine bottle and absorbs any
drips that may run down the bottle after pouring, preventing stains
to table cloths, counter tops or other surfaces. The generic term is
Lacking sweetness in taste.
- Eau de vie
French term for a grape-derived spirit such as brandy
up to a maximum of 96% ABV. Its literal translation is "water of
The French term for destemming. Destemming is
removing stems prior to pressing and fermenting the grapes and their
juice. Stems have a significant amount of coarse and often green
tannin undesirable in the finished wine.
- Entry-level wine
The wine from a producer's portfolio that is the
lowest cost for purchase and offers the most basic quality.
The process of removing the grapes from the stems, done
either by hand or machine. Known in English as destemming.
A very dry
sparkling wine. In Champagne, this is a wine that has received a
dosage with between 0-6 grams/liter sugar
- Extra Dry
sparkling wine that is sweeter than a brut. In Champagne, this is a
wine that has received a dosage between 12-17 g/l sugar
A United States winery license allowing farms to produce
and sell wine on-site, sometimes known as a farm winery.
- EU lot
A European Union directive initiated in 1992 that mandates
every bottle of wine produced or sold in the European Union to
include a designated lot number. This allows identified defective or
fraudulent wine to be tracked and removed from circulation more
Refers to the extra cost associated
with buying wines en primeur that may include the cost of shipping
to the importer's cellars as well applicable duties and taxes.
- Farm winery
A United States & South Africa winery
license allowing farms to produce and sell wine on-site.
The straw-covered flask historically associated with Chianti.
- Fighting varietal
A term that originated in California during the
mid-1980s to refer to any inexpensive cork-finished varietal wine in
a 1.5 liter bottle.
- Fine wine
highest category of wine quality, representing only a very small
percentage of worldwide production of wine.
added at or near the completion of wine processing, to remove of
organic compounds for the purpose of improving clarity or adjusting
flavor or aroma.
A glass bottle that holds two litres
of (usually inexpensive) table wine.
- Flying winemaker
winemaker who travels extensively across the globe, sharing
techniques and technology from one region of the world to another.
The term originated with Australian winemakers who would fly to
Northern Hemisphere wine regions in Europe and the United States
during the August–October harvest time when viticulture in the
Southern Hemisphere is relatively quiet.
- Fortified wine
to which alcohol has been added, generally to increase the
concentration to a high enough level to prevent fermentation.
Italian term for a
- Fruit wine
A fermented alcoholic beverage made from non-grape fruit juice which
may or may not include the addition of sugar or honey. Fruit wines
are always called "something" wines (e.g., plum wine), since the
word wine alone is often legally defined as a beverage made only
- Geographical Indication
A term used by the
World Trade Organization to designate a wine region that can produce
wines with defined characteristics (such as an Appellation d'origine
contrôlée (AOC) in France).
- Globalization of wine
the increasingly international nature of the wine industry,
including vineyard management practices, winemaking techniques, wine
styles, and wine marketing.
- Grand cru
French term for a "Great growth" or vineyard. In Burgundy, the term
is regulated to a define list of Grand cru vineyards.
- Grand vin
French term most often associated with Bordeaux where it denotes a
Chateau's premier wine, or "first wine". On a wine label, the word's
Grand vin may appear to help distinguish the wine from an estate's
second or third wine.
French term for the foil
and wire cork cage that are used to dress a bottle of sparkling wine
- Horizontal wine tasting
A tasting of a group of wines from the same vintage or representing
the same style of wine (such as all Pinot noirs from different
wineries in a region), as opposed to a vertical tasting which
involves of the same wine through different vintages. In a
horizontal tasting, keeping wine variety or type and wine region the
same helps emphasize differences in winery styles.
Wine made from frozen grapes. Written, and trademarked as a
single word - Icewine - in Canada. Called Eiswein in German.
- Imbottigliato all'origine
Italian term for a wine that has been
A large bottle holding six litres, the
equivalent of eight regular wine bottles.
- International variety
Grape varieties grown in nearly every major
wine region, for example Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot
A large bottle holding
3-5 litres, the equivalent of 4-6 regular wine bottles.
- Jug wine
American term for inexpensive table wine (French: Vin de table).
- Kosher wine
Wine that is produced under
the supervision of a rabbi so as to be ritually pure or clean.
Also known as late picked, wine made from grapes
that have been left on the vine longer than usual. Usually an
indicator for a very sweet or dessert wine.
French term for the dead yeast and sediment of wine also known as
- Litre (US - Liter)
A metric measure of volume equal to
33.8 fluid ounces (U.S.) or 35.2 fl oz (imperial).
that has been oxidatively aged by maderisation. Often associated
with the wines of Madeira
A bottle holding 1.5 litres,
the equivalent of two regular wine bottles.
The distillate made from pomace. The term can also
refer to the pomace itself or, in the Champagne region, to
individual press fractions from the traditional vertical wine press.
- Master of Wine
A qualification (not an
academic degree) conferred by The Institute of Masters of Wine,
which is located in the United Kingdom.
A wine-like alcoholic beverage made of
fermented honey and water rather than grape juice.
Originally created in California, these blended wines can be summed
up as the "American Bordeaux". The term is a blend of the words
"merit" and "heritage" and pronounced the same. The Red blend is
made from at least 2 of the 5 Bordeaux grape varieties: Cabernet
Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. The
White Meritage is a blend at least 2 of Sauvignon blanc, Sauvignon
vert, and Semillon.
A large bottle holding six
liters, the equivalent of eight regular wine bottles.
Italian term for a sparkling wine that has gone through
secondary fermentation in a tank (Charmat method) as opposed to the
traditional method of fermentation in the bottle that consumers will
- Metodo classico/Metodo tradizionale
Italian terms for a sparkling wine that has gone through secondary
fermentation according to the traditional method
- Mid palate
The balance of weight, acidity and fruit flavors that are perceived
while the wine is still in the tasters mouth and before swallowing
The sparkling effervescence of a
wine. In the glass it perceived as the bubbling but the surface of
the glass can affect this perception. Premium quality sparkling wine
has a mousse composed of small, persistent string of bubbles.
- Mulled wine
that is spiced, heated, and served as a punch.
of freshly pressed grapes
bottle holding 15 litres, the equivalent of 20 regular wine bottles.
- New World wine
Wines produced outside of the
traditional wine growing areas of Europe and North Africa.
A fungal disease caused by Botrytis cinerea that results in
dehydrated and shrivelled grapes that are high in concentrated
sugar. Noble Rot grapes are an essential component of many Austrian
and German wines.
The aroma or bouquet of a wine.
A wine aficionado or connoisseur.
The study of aspects of wine and winemaking.
- Old World wine
Wines produced inside of the traditional wine growing areas of
Europe and North Africa.
A winetasting term for
anything that affects one of the main senses such as smell. An
example would be an affliction of the common cold or being in a room
with someone wearing an overwhelming amount of perfume.
French term for a
simple, quaffing white wine with pleasing fruit structure and
balance of acidity.
A sweet fortified wine, which is
produced from grapes grown and processed in the Douro region of
Portugal. This wine is fortified with the addition of distilled
grape spirits in order to boost the alcohol content and stop
fermentation thus preserving some of the natural grape sugars.
Several imitations are made throughout the world.
- Premium wines
Higher quality classification of wine above every day drinking table
wines. While premium wines maybe very expensive there is no set
price point that distinguishes when a wine becomes a "premium wine."
Premium wines generally have more aging potential than every day
- Primary aromas
The aromas in wine derived from
the grapes themselves and are considered part of the varietal
character or typicity of the grape variety. This is opposed to the
secondary aromas which come from the fermentation and maturation
process and the tertiary aromas which come from aging process in the
- Protected Designation of Origin/PDO
Wine labeling term introduced
to the European Union in 2009 to replace the Quality Wines Produced
in Specified Regions (QWPSR) designation. Used to denote a wine from
a region with more specification and regulations than a generic
Geographic Indication (GI)
- Protected Geographical Indication/PGI
Wine labeling term introduced to the European Union in 2009 to
replace the "Table Wine" designation. Used to denote a wine with
lower specification and regulation than that with a PDO or GI
The indentation found in the base of a wine
bottle. Punt depth is often thought to be related to wine quality,
with better quality wines having a deeper punt.
for Quality-Price Ratio.
- Quality-Price Ratio (QPR)
A designation for rating wine based on
the ratio of its quality and its price. The higher quality and less
expensive price a wine has, the better the ratio.
- Quaffing wine
A simple, everyday drinking wine
term for a grape
French term for a wine producer who
grows their own grapes. Often associated with the Champagne wine
region where producers of Grower Champagnes are identified by the
initials RM (for Récoltant-Manipulant) on wine labels
The reductive-oxidative way that wine ages. As one part
gains oxygen and becomes oxidized, another part loses oxygen and
becomes reduced. Early in its life, a wine will exhibit oxidative
aromas and traits due to the relatively recent influence and
exposure of oxygen when the wine was barrel aged and/or bottled. As
the wine ages and is shut off from a supply of oxygen in the bottle,
a mature wine will develop reductive characteristics.
- Refractometer - a
hand-held device (see example shere on Amazon) that tests the amount of
sugar in the grapes.
A large bottle holding 4.5 litres, the equivalent of six regular
Spanish aging designation. For red wines
this means that a wine has been aged for at least 3 years following
harvest with at least 12 months in oak. For Spanish white wines, the
designation means that the wine has been aged for at least 18 months
with at least 6 of those months in oak.
Terms given to wine to indicate that it is of higher quality than
usual sometimes with longer aging and higher alcohol levels. Outside
of the use of "Reserva" in Spanish wines, these terms usually have
no official standings or requirements.
- Residual sugar/RS
unfermented sugar left over in the wine after fermentation. All
wines, including those labeled as "dry wines" contain some residual
sugars due to the presence of unfermentable sugars in the grape must
such as pentoses.
French term for a very sweet wine.
Often used as a description for very sweet sparkling wine
English term for what is now called Sherry.
bottle holding nine litres, the equivalent of 12 regular wine
A tart punch made from red wine along with
orange, lemon and apricot juice with added sugar.
French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese terms for a dry wine. In
Champagne production, "Sec" wines are actually medium-dry being
sweeter than Brut and Extra Dry with 12-17 grams/liter of sugar
added in the dosage.
- Secondary aromas
The aromas in wine that
are derived from the winemaking process which includes fermentation
as well as potentially malolactic fermentation and oak aging. This
is in contrast to the primary aromas which come from the grape
variety itself and the tertiary aromas which come from aging process
in the bottle.
A sparkling wine manufactured in Germany.
Wines made in the United States but named after places that the
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau requires be modified by a
US name of geographic origin. Examples would be New York Chablis,
Napa Valley Burgundy or California Champagne.
Italian and Spanish designation for a medium-dry wine
fortified wine that has been subjected to controlled oxidation to
produce a distinctive flavor, produced in the Triangulo de Jerez
region of Spain.
A system of fractional blending
used in the production of Sherry where younger wines are added to
top up the barrels of older wines as they age in the cellar.
A wine expert who often works in restaurants.
French term for racking.
- Sparkling wine
Effervescent wine containing significant levels of carbon dioxide.
wine bottle that holds approximately 6 oz (175-187 mL) or one-fourth
the equivalent of a typical 750 mL bottle; a single-serving.
Italian term for a sparkling wine made from any production method
French and Italian terms that
indicate a wine has a higher alcohol level and may have received
more aging prior to release. In France, this term is often seen with
- Sur lie
French term for a wine that has spent
time aging on the lees during which it may have derived some flavors
from autolysis. Often associated with the Loire wines of the
- Sur pointe
French term for a sparkling wine
that has been aged with its neck down following the completion of
autolysis but before dégorgement. Wines that are being riddled
(remuge) will end up sur pointe with the yeast sediment consolidated
in the neck of the bottle.
- Table wine
Generally any wine that is not
sparkling or fortified. In the US these wines must also be between
7% and 14% alcohol by volume. The term table wine also refers to a
wine that is considered a good, everyday drinker. In the European
Union, the "Table Wine" category (and "Table Wine with a
Geographical Indication") was previously the quality category that
came below "Quality Wines" or Quality Wines Produced in Specified
Regions (QWPSR) such as French AOC and Italian DOCG wines until both
terms were eliminated in 2009. Now most European wines that were
formally labeled as "Table Wines" are just labeled as "Wine" while
those that were labeled as "Table Wine with a Geographical
Indication" are now Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).
wine production this is the juice that is retrieved from the second
pressing (or "tails") of grapes which is generally considered to be
of lower quality than the juice that comes from the first pressing
A silver, shallow cup used for tasting wine.
- Tasting flight
Refers to a selection of wines, usually between
three and eight glasses, but sometimes as many as fifty, presented
for the purpose of sampling and comparison.
expressed in a wine that result from the interaction of geography,
geology, climate, and the plant's genetics.
- Tertiary aromas
The aromas in wine that are developed as the wine ages in the
bottle. This is in contrast to the primary aromas which come from
the grape variety itself and the secondary aromas which come from
the winemaking process.
French cask capable of holding 900
litres (240 US gal) or the equivalent of 100 cases of twelve
standard 750ml (75 cL) bottles of wine. Historically associated with
the wine of Bordeaux.
The ability of a wine to
clearly portray all unique aspects of its flavor — fruit, floral,
and mineral notes.]
A French term referring to
the selective picking of grapes, instead of machine harvesting.
The space between the wine and the top of
a wine bottle. As a wine ages, the space of ullage will increase as
the wine gradually evaporates and seeps through the cork. The
winemaking term of "ullage" refers to the practice of topping off a
barrel with extra wine to prevent oxidation.
tasting descriptor to describe a wine that has layers of soft,
concentrated, velvety fruits. Unctuous wines are lush, rich, and
Wines made from a single grape
French term for grape harvest
- Vendangé à la main
French term for a wine made from grapes that have been harvested by
An aromatized wine that is made with wormwood and
potentially other ingredients.
- Vertical wine tasting
vertical tasting, different vintages of the same wine type from the
same winery are tasted, such as a winery's Pinot noir from five
different years. This emphasizes differences between various
vintages for a specific wine. In a horizontal tasting, the wines are
all from the same vintage but are from different wineries or
- Vieilles vignes
Literally "old vines" in
French, sometimes written as an acronym V.V. It is not a regulated
term with no official or legal definition of "Vieilles vignes" in
any of the wine regions of France.
French for vine grower.
French term for a "vineyard"
French for wine.
Spanish for vines.
- Vin de
French term for a wine with the potential to improve with
- Vin de pays
French classification system
denoting wines that are above vin de table but below VDQS.
- Vin de
French term denoting a table wine, the lowest
classification of the French AOC system.
Spanish and Portuguese terms for vineyard
A term used
to denoting anything relating to wine.
Vintage is the
process of picking grapes and creating the finished product. A
vintage wine is one made from grapes that were all, or primarily,
grown and harvested in a single specified year.
Italian terms for a wine grape grower
Italian term for a wine grape variety
- Waiter's friend
Also called sommelier
knife, a popular type of corkscrew used in the hospitality industry.
A unit of wine or fortified wine consisting of 1.5L in
An alcoholic beverage made
from the fermentation of unmodified grape juice.
- Wine cave
A subterranean structure for storing and
- Wine fraud
Any form of dishonesty in the
production or distribution of wine.
- Wine label
sticker or signage adhered to the side of a wine bottle.
Refers to the continuing surplus of wine over demand (glut)
being produced in the European Union.
- Wine tasting
evaluation of wine, encompassing more than taste, but also
mouthfeel, aroma, and color.
The woody tissue of
a vine, inside of the vascular cambium layer, that includes
heartwood and sapwood, which transports water and nutrients from the
roots towards the leaves.
present on the skins of grapes that reacts with the sugars inside
and results in the production of ethyl alcohol during a process
A measure of the amount of grapes
or wine produced per unit surface of vineyard.
The science of fermentation in wine
Credit to WikiPedia for the origions of this gloassary.