A Wine Writers View on the World of Wine
This glossary is a work in progress so please bear with me.
Acid/Acidity. All wines will contain a certain degree of acid. It’s a very important component in wine. Acidity helps to keep the wine fresh. Too much acid and you get a very sharp taste, imagine sucking on a lemon, not enough produces a flabby style of wine. Acidity on the palate is detected by the amount of natural saliva your tongue produces.
Ageing. Most wines can be drunk young but others will improve with some ageing. Full bodied wines, sweet and fortified wines can benefit from some bottle ageing.
Albarino. White grape variety produced in Spain and Portugal where it is also known as Alvarinho.
Alsace. Wine region of France. Borders Germany.
Alvarinho. See Albarino.
American Oak. Barrels made from wood coming from the forests of the eastern US. American Oak helps to impart more vanilla notes than European Oak.
Appellation. A legally defined area where grapes are grown and wine is produced.
Appellation Controlee. Also known as AC or AOC on French wines. The highest classification for wines produced in France. This means the wines have been produced using strict, tight controls, to maintain the integrity and quality of the wines made in there particular regions.
Barbera. Italian red grape variety.
Barrels. Barrels or casks that can be used at various stages of wine production either new or used barrels.
Barrel fermented. Wines that have been fermented in oak barrels to help integrate oak flavours in to the wine.
Barrique. A small barrel that holds 225 litres of wine.
Bianco. Italian for white.
Blanc. French for white.
Blanc de Blanc. A wine made from 100% white grapes. More noted with Champagnes which are 100% Chardonnay.
Blanc de Noir. White wine made from red grape varieties. More common with Champagne and sparkling wines.
Blanco. Spanish for white.
Blend. A wine made from a host of different grape varieties.
Blush. Term used for very pale Rose wines.
Bodega. Spanish term for winery or cellar.
Bonarda. A name applied to several different grape varieties used to make red wine. More known in Argentina.
Bordeaux. Famous wine region of France. Noted for classical reds using Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and some Petit Verdot plus sweet white wines using Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc (Sauternes, Barsac).
Botrytis. Also known as noble rot. A fungus (Botrytis cinerea) that attacks the grape and effectively sucks all the juice out leaving a sugary pulp, thus producing wines that are naturally sweet and intensely flavoured.
Bottle. A standard bottle is equal to 75cl.
Bottle Fermentation. Used in the production of sparkling and Champagnes. Still wine is put into a bottle after fermentation. Sugars and yeast are added to help begin a second fermentation which in turn produces carbon dioxide gas, bubbles.
Bourgogne. French word for Burgundy.
Brut. Word meaning dry, in particularly with Champagnes and sparkling.
Burgundy. Famous wine region of France. Noted for classic reds using Pinot Noir, Gamay and the classic whites using Chardonnay plus some Sauvignon Blanc.
Cabernet Franc. Red grape. Home is the Bordeaux Region in France.
Cabernet Sauvignon. Red grape.One of the noble grape varieties produced around the world. Home is the Bordeaux region of France.
Carbonic Maceration. Wine making techniques. Grapes are fermented whole and in bunches, producing light, fresh and fruity wines low in tannin and not designed for any age potential.
Carignan. Red grape. Home is Aragon in Spain. Also known as Carinena. Dominant in South of France.
Cava. Sparkling wine produced in the Catalan region of Spain.
Chablis. Northern most region of Burgundy. Only Chardonnay is produced here.
Champagne. Sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France.
Chaptalisation. The use of adding sugar to increase alcohol levels in wines. More common in cooler climate countries.
Chardonnay. White grape. One of the noble grape varieties produced all around the world. Home is the Burgundy region of France.
Château. French term for a wine growing, producing estate.
Chenin Blanc. White grape. Home is the Loire Valley, France. Does really well in South Africa where it is also known as Steen.
Chianti. Wine produced in Tuscany, Italy. A blended wine. Sangiovese is the key grape variety for all Chianti.
Cinsault. Red grape. Home is in the South of France especially in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.
Claret. A solely English term to describe wines from Bordeaux.
Clos. A walled vineyard.
Colombard. White grape. Home is in the South-West of France. Also known as French Colombard.
Corked. A fault in natural cork that will affect the wine by producing a fowl, mouldy, musty odour. The wine will lose its fruit character and can have a bitter taste. Not nice at all.
Cortese. White grape. Home is in Italy. More associated as the grape variety of Gavi.
Cote/Coteaux. French meaning hill or hilside.
Cremant. French sparkling wine produced outside of the Champagne region.
Crianza. Spanish term for a wine that has achieved a minimum time in cask and bottle. Must be at least two years old with a minimum 6 months in oak.
Cru. French for growth or vineyard.
Cuvee. The juice from the first pressing in Champagne. Also means blend.
Decanting. The process of removing the liquid from a bottle to a decanter in order to aerate the wine, to allow the wine to breathe.
Demi Sec. French for medium dry.
Dessert wine. A sweet wine containing large quantities of natural sugar. Drink as an aperitif or with desserts.
Doce. Portuguese for sweet.
Dolce. Italian for sweet.
Doux. French for sweet.
Dulce. Spanish for sweet.
Eiswein. Sweet wine made from frozen grapes.
Elborado. Spanish meaning produced by.
Embotellado. Spanish meaning bottled.
En Primeur. Bordeaux wines that are sold before bottling.
Estate. Wines made from grapes produced on their own land.
Fattoria. Italian meaning estate.
Fermentation. The conversion, by the action of yeast enzymes of sugar to alcohol.
Fortified. A wine made by using grape spirit. Port, Sherry, Madeira.
Frizzante. Italian meaning slightly sparkling.
Gamay. Red grape. Home is Burgundy but also grown extensively in the Loire region of France.
Garnacha. See Grenache.
Gewürztraminer. White grape. Home is in the Alsace region of France.
Gran Reserva. Spanish term. Wine produced in exceptional years. Red wine must be at least five years old. Spent at least two in oak and the remainder three in bottle before release.
Grand Cru. Burgundian term meaning great vineyard.
Grenache. Red grape. Home is Spain. Notable for wines in South Rhone, France, as part of a blend. Also know as Garnacha.
Gruner Veltliner. White grape. Home is Austria.
Hawkes Bay. East coast wine region on the North Island of New Zealand
Hybrid. A vine variety resulting from the cross pollination of two different species. One usually the European Vitis Vinifera, the other, usually an American species. Hybrids help to prevent the spread of Phylloxera.
Icewine. See Eiswein.
IGT. Italian classification. Indicazione Geografica Tipica. Equivalent to the French Vin de Pays classification.
Imbottigliato all’origine. Italian term for Estate Bottled.
Invecchiato. Italian for Aged.
Irrigation. The supply of water via an artificial source.
Jerez. Wine region in the south of Spain. Famed for the namesake wines Jerez or Sherry in English.
Jeroboam. A bottle equal to 3ltr or 4 standard bottles.
Joven. Spanish for young.
Jumilla. Wine region in the south east of Spain.
Kabinett. German category. Wine made without chaptalisation from grapes picked at normal ripeness.
Lagar. Concrete trough. Used for treading grapes.
Languedoc. Wine region in south France. Labelled as Vin d’Oc.
Lees. The dead yeast cells that gather at the bottom of barrels during fermentation.
Left Bank. A term to describe the wine districts and communes on the left bank of the Gironde river. These include Medoc, Haut-Medoc, Graves, Saint-Estephe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Pessac Leognan, Barsac and Sauternes.
Loire Valley. Wine region of France. Stretching from the mountains of the Ardeche in central France to the west coast. Famed for its Sancerre, Touraine, Pouilly Fume, Muscadet, Vouvray, Rose d’Anjou, Saumur and Chinon.
Maceration. The length of time the grape juice is kept in contact with the grape skin. More relevant with extracting the skin colouration and tannins in red wines.
Magnum. A bottle equal to 1.5ltr or 2 standard bottles.
Malbec. Red grape. Home is France. Gaining a strong reputation in Argentina.
Malolactic Fermentation. Conversion of the harsh, young Malic acids into the softer Lacitic acid.
Marsanne. White grape. Home is France. Works well as a blend with Roussanne.
Maso/Masseria. Italian meaning Estate.
Maturation. The ageing or maturing of wine in bottle or barrel.
Merchant 1. A company that buys grapes or finished wine for vinification, maturation and blending before sale.
Merchant 2. A wine dealer.
Merlot. Red grape. Home is France. One of the noble varieties produced around the world but more famous as part of the blend for Bordeaux and as the dominant in Pomerol.
Methode Traditionelle. Champagne/Traditional Method. Bottle fermented sparkling wine.
Metodo Classico/Tradizionale. Italian term for Traditional Method, bottle fermented sparkling wine.
Micro Climate. The climate of a vineyard that is unique to that particular site compare to surrounding areas.
Millesime. Vintage date.
Mis en Bouteille. Bottled by.
Must. Unfermented grape juice.
MW. Master of Wine. The highest of all wine qualifications which takes three years to complete. There are less than 300 MW’s globally.