Wine Words

 

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 



A



Acid - Found in all grapes. Preserves wine and imparts crisp, sharp flavors. Types of acid found in wines: lactic, citric, malic, tartaric


Acidity - An aspect of wine that gives freshness and increases aging potential. Also see 'Crisp'


Aftertaste - The flavor/taste left on the palate after wine has been swallowed


Alak - Tagalog (Filipino) for wine


Alcohol - Ethyl alcohol, created when yeast (natural or added) is mixed with sugar content of grapes during fermentation


Alcohol by Volume - Expressed as a percentage indicates how much alcohol is present sometimes called “proof”. In grape wine the alcohol is generally between 6 to 15%


Amarone - Often confused as a grape, it’s actually a style of wine made famous by Italy. Valpolicella grapes are picked then partially dried to concentrate the flavor. The result is intensified grape flavors almost like a raisin. The resulting little juice that is pressed from the grape provides a deep, earthy flavor that is silky and coats the mouth. These are typically more expensive wines due to the lengthy process and low yield of juice.


Aroma - The initial smells you are presented with from the wine (smells on attack). Aroma is not to be confused with the wine's 'Bouquet'


Aromatic - Highly scented or fragrant



B



Balanced - A wine that nicely incorporates all of it's main components: tannins, acid, sweetness and alcohol — in a manner where no one single component stands out


Big - A wine with intense flavor, or high in alcohol


Blanc de Blancs - "White of Whites" referring to a white wine made completely of white grapes (champagne, chardonnay)


Blanc de Noirs - "White of Blacks" referring to white wines made of black grapes. Juice is squeezed and fermented without coming into contact with the red skins


Blind Tasting - Tasting and evaluating wine without knowing what it is


Body - A tasting term describing the weight and fullness of a wine that can be sensed. A wine may be light, medium, or full bodied


Bottle Sickness - A temporary condition that makes a wine's fruit flavors muted. Typically occurs when fragile wines are shaken during transport


Bouquet - The layers of smells and aromas perceived in a wine. Think of the overall smell of the wine (like a bouquet of assorted flowers)


Breath - Wine coming in tot contact with air intentionally in order to soften the tannins and open up the aromas


Brix - Degrees Brix is a measurement of the mass ratio of dissolved sugar to water in a liquid. Simply put, level of sweetness


Brut - Generalization of a dry sparkling white wine



C



Cava - Sparkling wine produced in Spain. Typically follows the Méthode Champenoise used in France to produce Champaign.


Cellaring - To age wine for the purpose of improvement or storage


Chaptalization - The addition of a sugar during the fermentation of wine to create alcohol and produce a sweeter wine. Sometimes called “Sugaring”. In some countries and regions it is illegal to do this


Chewy - The sense of tannins that is not overwhelming


Classic - Wine that has proper characteristics. Also know as 'Textbook' or 'Benchmark'


Clean - No odd or unusual smells


Complex - Multidimensional wine with layers of different aromas and flavours


Cooper - Someone who makes wooden barrels used to age wine


Cork - A bottle stopper made from the outer bark of a cork tree


Cork Taint - A wine fault describing undesirable aromas and flavors in wine caused by a moldy cork


Corked - A defect that overpowers the wine with smells of wet cardboard and musty besement


Crisp - A pleasing sense of acidity in the wine


Crush - Performed during harvest season when the grapes are squeezed to get the juice



D



Decanting - The process of separating sediment from wine before drinking. Done simply by pouring the wine from the bottle into another container (a decanter) and from there, into a glass.


Dessert wine - A very sweet wine that is low in alcohol, typically a white. Also refer to ice wine.


DOC - Denominazione di Origine Controllata. Wine from a specified region in Italy that is made using defined methods that satisfy a quality standard


DOCG - Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita. Sub-territories of DOC regions that produce outstanding products that may be subject to more stringent production and quality standards than the same products from the surrounding DOC region


Dry - The opposite of sweet. Wines with zero or very low levels of residual sugar



E



Early Harvest - A wine made from grapes harvested before the typical harvest time resulting in a lower alcohol content


Earthy - A characteristic smell in reds that suggests an aroma of soil


Elegant - Refined and controlled flavours and aromas


Expressive - A wine with clearly projected aromas and flavors


Extracted - Natural elements and compounds found in wine taken from the grapes. Typically used in referring to tannin, pigment and sugar)



F



Fat - A wine that is full in body and has a sense of viscosity


Fermentation - The process in which yeast converts to sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2) thereby turning grape juice into wine


Filtering - Removing particles from the wine after fermentation


Finish - The aftertaste, usually spoken about in terms of length


Firm - A wine with clearly projected aromas and flavors


Flabby - A lacking sense of acidity


Flavour - Perception of taste and smell


French Oak - The gold standard for making barrels. Supplies the wine with a place to age and vanilla, cedar and butterscotch flavors.


Fruit Wine - Wine made from the juice of fruit, usually not primarily grape



G



Gamey - Meaty and/or musky aromas


Green - Typically used to describe a wine made from unripe fruit



H



Half Bottle - A 375 ml bottle, rather than 750 ml


Herbaceous - Aromas of green vegetables, grass, etc...


Hot - Overly alcoholic wine



I



Ice Wine - Wine made from frozen grapes. 'Eiswein' in German


Indicazione Geografica Tipica - An Italian classification for good wines that could not make the DOCG label due to blending.


Intense - When aromas or flavours are pronounced more than one would expect


Intricate - A wine with complex and interesting flavors and aromas



J



Jammy - A sweet but rich berry flavor


Jeroboam - 3 liter bottle



L



Late Harvest - Wine made from grapes picked later than usual, resulting in a sweeter wine (higher Brix count)


Lees - consists of deposits of dead yeast or residual yeast found in the bottom of vats after fermentation


Legs - The tracks of liquid that cling to the sides of a glass after the contents have been swirled. Shows alcohol content


Length - How long you have the aftertaste of the wine in your mouth after swallowing



M



Maceration - Steeping the grape skins in the wine during fermentation. The alcohol forming extracts color, tannins, flavors and aromas from the skins


Magnum - Oversized bottle, holding 1.5 litres


Malolactic Fermentation - A secondary fermentation process in wines by lactic acid bacteria during which tart tasting malic acid is converted to softer tasting lactic acid.


Mature - A wine that has aged to its peak point of quality


Meritage - Mixing three types of juices to achieve one wine. Usually cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot


Méthode Champenoise - Often referred to as the Traditional Method or TM is the technique used to produce Champaign


Mineral - White wine with a stone/rock/calcium taste to it, typically subtle and not overpowering, one of the more rare flavours is wine.



N



Neutral - Undistinctive or unpronounced. Used when referring to flavours or aromas


New World Wines - Wines hailing from Latin America, Chile, Australia, America, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand, ...


Non-Vintage - Combining juices from more than one year's harvest. Sometimes used to keep a consistent flavor from year to year


Nose - The way the wine smells



O



Oaky - Smells or flavours lent to the wine from the barrels they aged in. Typically contributes notes of vanilla, butter and/or spice


Off-Dry - A wine that has only a hint of sweetness


Old World Wines - Wines hailing from France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, ...


Oxidation - Occurs when the wine is exposed to oxygen in the air. This happens very slowly while the bottle is corked but extremely fast when the wine is poured or decanted. Oxidation is not complementary to the wine



P



Pasteurization - Sterilizing liquids using heat


Petrol - A smell close to diesel fuel. Not necessarily a fault if the wine is a mature Riesling


Phylloxera - Root lice that attacks grapevine roots. The disease was widespread in Europe and California in the late 19th century.



R



Reserve - A term used to indicate a higher then usual quality wine


Rich - A sense of sweetness in the wine that is not excessively sweet


Rose - Wine with a pink hue is referred to as a Rose or Blush. Rose can be created a couple of ways. White and red wine can be mixed together to give a pink color. Or, the skin from red grapes is left in contact with the juice after pressing for a short period of time. Rose is often produced as a sweet wine and usually from the Zinfandel grape. It is always transparent in appearance, never opaque. Often scoffed at by snob wine drinkers, it can be made as a serious wine with a serious price tag in some parts of the world.


Round - A wine that has a good sense of body that is not overly tannic


Rustic - A simple, not overly complex wine



S



Sediment - Solid pieces in the bottle, usually a side effect of aging.


Silky - Smooth mouth feel, not too much alcohol


Simple - Lacking depth and layers


Smooth - A wine with a pleasing texture. Typically refers to a wine with soft tannins


Soft - Red wine: low tannins; White wine: low acidity


Sommelier - A trained wine expert who usually works in fine restaurants


Spicy - Aromas and flavours of spices. Examples: clove, nutmeg, black pepper, etc...


Spumante - Sparkling white Italian wine


Steely - Used when discussing white wine. Aromas of minerals and crisp fruit


Still Wine - Wine that is not sparkling


Structure - Refers to the balance between flavor, acidity, alcohol and tannins. In the best case, one shouldn't overpower the next


Sulfites - Compounds (typically: potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite) which are added to wine to prevent oxidation and microbial spoilage. Some site this as the cause for headaches in some people after drinking red wine


Super Tuscan - The Italian blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon



T



Tannin - A common term used to describe an astringent like feel in the mouth when drinking red wine. The tannins are what cause the dry and puckery feeling in the mouth. Can be compared to tasting strong tea or biting into a grape stem


Tart - Slightly sour, usually caused by too much acid without sufficient sugar for balance


Terroir - Describes wine that is showing elements and characteristics from the region it was grown in


Tired - A wine which is old and bland (dull), maybe due to oxidation


Toasty - A sense of the charred or smoky taste from an oaked wine



U



Ullage - The unfilled air space at the top of a bottle of wine


Unoaked - Wine not aged in barrels but rather stainless steel vats



V



Varietal - Wines made from a single grape variety


Vin - French for wine


Vine - The plant on which grapes grow


Vinegary - It is considered a fault in wine when it has the scent of vinegar in it's bouquet


Vinho - Portugese for wine


Viniculture - The science of grape production for the purpose of making wine


Vino - Italian and Spanish for wine


Vintage - The year in which a particular wine's grapes (all the grapes) were harvested


Vinter - A person who makes or sells wine


VQA - Vintners Quality Alliance. Wines from Ontario Canada which conform to certain standard as described by the alliance and laws. Grapes must be 100% grown in Ontario amongst other requirements



W



Weeping - A bottle that is leaking from the cork end, possibly due to shrinkage or improper storage


Weighty - Usually used when referring to a red, it defines a strong wine with a full-body


Wein - German for wine



Y



Yeast - Yeast is used in winemaking where it converts the sugars present in grape juice or must into alcohol



Z



Zip - Wine with a good, crisp hit of acidity


Zymology - The science of fermentation