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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.


  • ABV
    Abbreviation of alcohol by volume, generally listed on a wine label.
  • Acescence
    Wine with a sharp, sweet-and-sour tang can be described as having acescence. The acescence characteristics frequently recalls a vinegary smell.
  • Altar wine
    The wine used by the Catholic Church in celebrations of the Eucharist.
    Abbreviation for 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.
  • Amontillado
    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 Amontillado.
  • Aperitif
    A wine that is either drunk by itself (i.e. without food) or before a meal in order to stimulate the appetite.
  • Appellation
    A geographically delineated wine region.
  • Aromatic
    A wine with very noticeable and distinctive aromas


  • Barrel
    Wine barrels
  • Balthazar
    A large bottle containing 12 litres, the equivalent of 16 regular wine bottles.
  • Basic
    A low cost entry-level offering from a winery as opposed to its more expensive premium wine offerings.
  • Bin
    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
    Like 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.
  • Biologique
    French term for organic winemaking
  • Blind tasting
    Tasting and evaluating wine without knowing what it is.
  • B.O.B.
    An acronym for "Buyer's Own Brand" which refers to a private label wine owned by the restaurant or retailer that sells the wine.
  • Bottle
    A 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.
  • Breathing
    The 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 grape producers.
  • Cantina
    Italian term for winery.
  • Capsule
    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 region.
  • Cask
    A wood barrel or storage vessel, often made from oak, that is used in winemaking for fermentation and/or aging
  • Caudalie
    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 seconds.
  • Cave
    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.
  • Chai
    A wine 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.
  • Chaptalization
    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.
  • Château
    Generally a winery in Bordeaux, although the term is sometimes used for wineries in other parts of the world, such as the Barossa Valley.
  • Clairet
    A French term for a wine that falls between the range of a light red wine and a dark rosé
  • Claret
    British name for Bordeaux wine. Is also a semi-generic term for a red wine in similar style to that of Bordeaux.
  • 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.
  • Commune
    A small wine-growing region that surrounds a village
  • Cooperative
    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.
  • Corkscrew
    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.
  • Cru
    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.
  • Cuvaison
    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.
  • Cuvée
    French term, meaning vat or tank. On wine labels it is used to denote wine of a specific blend or batch.
  • Cuverie
    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.


  • Débourbage
    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.
  • Decantation
    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.
  • Demi-sec
    A medium-dry sparkling wine. In Champagne, this a wine that has received a dosage of 32-50 grams/liter
  • Dessert wine
    Varies by region. In the UK, a very sweet, low alcohol wine. In the US by law, any wine containing over 14.1% alcohol.
  • Drip dickey
    Wine bottle 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 drip cloth.
  • Dry
    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 life"
  • Égrappage
    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.
  • Eraflage
    The process of removing the grapes from the stems, done either by hand or machine. Known in English as destemming.
  • Extra-Brut
    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
    A 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
  • Estate winery
    A United States winery license allowing farms to produce and sell wine on-site, sometimes known as a farm winery.
  • EU lot number
    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 efficiently.
  • Ex-cellars
    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.
  • Fiasco
    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
    The highest category of wine quality, representing only a very small percentage of worldwide production of wine.
  • Finings
    Substances 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.
  • Flagon
    A glass bottle that holds two litres of (usually inexpensive) table wine.
  • Flying winemaker
    A 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
    Wine to which alcohol has been added, generally to increase the concentration to a high enough level to prevent fermentation.
  • Frizzante
    Italian term for a semi-sparkling wine.
  • 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 from grapes.


  • 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
    Refers to 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.


  • Habillage
    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.


  • Ice wine
    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 estate-bottled
  • Imperial
    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


  • Jeroboam
    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.


  • Late harvest wine
    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.
  • Lie
    French term for the dead yeast and sediment of wine also known as lees.
  • Litre (US - Liter)
    A metric measure of volume equal to 33.8 fluid ounces (U.S.) or 35.2 fl oz (imperial).


  • Maderized
    A wine that has been oxidatively aged by maderisation. Often associated with the wines of Madeira
  • Magnum
    A bottle holding 1.5 litres, the equivalent of two regular wine bottles.
  • Marc
    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.
  • Mead
    A wine-like alcoholic beverage made of fermented honey and water rather than grape juice.
  • Meritage
    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.
  • Methuselah
    A large bottle holding six liters, the equivalent of eight regular wine bottles.
  • Metodo charmat
    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 eventually purchase.
  • 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
  • Mousse
    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
    Wine that is spiced, heated, and served as a punch.
  • Must
    The juice of freshly pressed grapes


  • Nebuchadnezzar
    A large 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.
  • Noble rot
    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.
  • Nose
    The aroma or bouquet of a wine.


  • Oenophile
    A wine aficionado or connoisseur.
  • Oenology
    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.
  • Organoleptic
    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.


  • Piquant
    French term for a simple, quaffing white wine with pleasing fruit structure and balance of acidity.
  • Port
    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 quaffing wines.
  • 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 bottle.
  • 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 designation.
  • Punt
    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.


  • QPR
    An acronym 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


  • Raisin
    French term for a grape
  • Récoltant
    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
  • Redox
    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.

  • Rehoboam
    A large bottle holding 4.5 litres, the equivalent of six regular wine bottles.
  • Reserva
    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.
  • Reserve/Riserva/Reserva
    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
    The 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.
  • Rich
    French term for a very sweet wine. Often used as a description for very sweet sparkling wine


  • Sack
    An early English term for what is now called Sherry.
  • Salmanazar
    A large bottle holding nine litres, the equivalent of 12 regular wine bottles.
  • Sangria
    A tart punch made from red wine along with orange, lemon and apricot juice with added sugar.
  • Sec/Secco/Seco
    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.
  • Sekt
    A sparkling wine manufactured in Germany.
  • Semi-generic
    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.
  • Semisecco/Semi-seco
    Italian and Spanish designation for a medium-dry wine
  • Sherry
    A fortified wine that has been subjected to controlled oxidation to produce a distinctive flavor, produced in the Triangulo de Jerez region of Spain.
  • Solera
    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.
  • Sommelier
    A wine expert who often works in restaurants.
  • Soutirage
    French term for racking.
  • Sparkling wine
    Effervescent wine containing significant levels of carbon dioxide.
  • Split
    A wine bottle that holds approximately 6 oz (175-187 mL) or one-fourth the equivalent of a typical 750 mL bottle; a single-serving.
  • Spumante
    Italian term for a sparkling wine made from any production method
  • Supérieur/Superiore
    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 Bordeaux wines
  • 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 Muscadet region.
  • 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).
  • Taille
    In Champagne 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 (or "cuvee")
  • Tastevin
    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.
  • Terroir
    Special characteristics 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.
  • Tonneau
    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.
  • Transparency
    The ability of a wine to clearly portray all unique aspects of its flavor — fruit, floral, and mineral notes.]
  • Triage
    A French term referring to the selective picking of grapes, instead of machine harvesting.


  • Ullage
    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.
  • Unctuous
    A tasting descriptor to describe a wine that has layers of soft, concentrated, velvety fruits. Unctuous wines are lush, rich, and intense.


  • Varietal
    Wines made from a single grape variety.
  • Vendange
    French term for grape harvest
  • Vendangé à la main
    French term for a wine made from grapes that have been harvested by hand
  • Vermouth
    An aromatized wine that is made with wormwood and potentially other ingredients.
  • Vertical wine tasting
    In a 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 microclimates.
  • 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.
  • Vigneron
    French for vine grower.
  • Vignoble
    French term for a "vineyard"
  • Vin
    French for wine.
  • Viña
    Spanish for vines.
  • Vin de garde
    French term for a wine with the potential to improve with age.
  • Vin de pays
    French classification system denoting wines that are above vin de table but below VDQS.
  • Vin de table
    French term denoting a table wine, the lowest classification of the French AOC system.
  • Viña/Viñedo/Vinha
    Spanish and Portuguese terms for vineyard
  • Vinho
    Portuguese for wine.
  • Vinous
    A term used to denoting anything relating to wine.
  • Vintage
    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.
  • Viticoltore/Vigniaiolo
    Italian terms for a wine grape grower
  • Vitigno
    Italian term for a wine grape variety


  • Waiter's friend
    Also called sommelier knife, a popular type of corkscrew used in the hospitality industry.
  • Webster
    A unit of wine or fortified wine consisting of 1.5L in total.
  • Wine
    An alcoholic beverage made from the fermentation of unmodified grape juice.
  • Wine cave
    A subterranean structure for storing and aging wine.
  • Wine fraud
    Any form of dishonesty in the production or distribution of wine.
  • Wine label
    The descriptive sticker or signage adhered to the side of a wine bottle.
  • Wine lake
    Refers to the continuing surplus of wine over demand (glut) being produced in the European Union.
  • Wine tasting
    The sensory evaluation of wine, encompassing more than taste, but also mouthfeel, aroma, and color.


  • Xylem
    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.


  • yeast
    A micro-organism present on the skins of grapes that reacts with the sugars inside and results in the production of ethyl alcohol during a process called fermentation.
  • Yield
    A measure of the amount of grapes or wine produced per unit surface of vineyard.


  • Zymology
    The science of fermentation in wine



Credit to WikiPedia for the origions of this gloassary.

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