Have you ever heard a Sommelier or winemaker describe a wine and think “what does that word mean?” You’re not alone! We’ve assembled a list of some of the most common words you may hear in reference to wine.
The tart taste in wine. Acid naturally occurs in wine grapes and is an element in a wine’s longevity.
The amount of time a bottle of wine can be stored under specific conditions to improve the wine prior to consumption.
The smell of the wine that comes directly from the grape variety.
“American Viticultural Area”; An American wine growing region.
The level of harmony between acidity, tannins, fruit, oak and other elements in a wine.
A process used during white winemaking. Speaks directly to aging wine in oak barrels vs. stainless steel tanks.
Blanc de Blancs
The name for sparkling wine made of white grapes, typically Chardonnay grapes
Blanc de Noir
The name for sparkling wine made of “black” grapes - Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier or a combination of both.
The combining of two or more grape varietals after a separate fermentation.
A tasting term that refers to the weight of wine on one’s palate.
Also known as ‘noble rot’; a beneficial mold that results in sweet, unctuous wines.
The process of letting a wine open-up through the introduction of air.
A scale to measure the level of sugar in ripening grapes.
The shoot of a vine that is mature (brown vs. green).
Grape solids such as pits, skins and stems that rise to the top of the tank during fermentation. The cap also gives red wines color, tannins and weight.
The process of adding sugar to fermenting grapes to increase alcohol content.
A key determinant of a wine’s age and quality. White wines grow darker in color as they age while red wines turn brownish-orange.
A term used to describe wines that have an off-smell or off-taste.
A French term for ranking a wine’s inherent quality.
Pouring wine from a bottle into another holding vessel. This process is generally used to aerate a young wine or separate sediment from an older wine.
The process in which final sediments are removed from traditionally-made sparkling wines prior to the adding of the dosage.
A sweetened spirit added at the very end to traditionally made sparkling wines. It determines the level of sweetness.
The absence of sugar in wine, a wine that does not taste sweet.
Describes aromas and flavors in wine that have a soil or mushroom smell.
The science of wine production.
The process that transforms sugar into alcohol; how grape juice interacts with yeast to become wine.
The process of clarifying wine before bottling.
Part of the clarification process where elements are added to the wine to capture any solids prior to filtration.
A wine that has brandy introduced during fermentation. This typically raises the alcohol. Examples of fortified wines are port, madeira or sweet sherries.
A French term for wines from the most superb vineyards.
A term used to describe under-ripe vegetal characters in wine.
An aroma similar to greens, often an indication of under-ripe grapes or grapes grown in a cool climate.
The genetic crossing of two or more grape types.
An oversized bottle equal to six regular bottles of wine; 3L’s of wine.
Grape types native to North America.
A dessert or sweet wine made from grapes left on the vines for an extra-long period. Often these grapes have botrytis.
A combination of spent yeast cells and grape solids left in the barrel by fermenting wines.
A term that describes how wine sticks to the inside of a glass after swirling or drinking.
The process of soaking grape skins and other solids in their juice to impart color, tannins and aromas.
A bottle equal to two regular bottles of wine; 1.5L’s of wine.
A secondary fermentation, often occurring in barrels, where malic acid is converted into creamier lactic acid. Common in creamy Chardonnays.
The sum of the wines aroma and bouquet.
The woody aromas and flavors often found in wine. Butter, toast and toffee are all oaky notes.
A wine that has been exposed to air and is no longer fresh.
An indication of a wine’s acidity expressed by how much hydrogen is in it.
An aphid that has afflicted and destroyed vineyards in Europe and California.
French for first growth, a high-quality vineyard but not as good as Grand Cru.
The process that extracts grape juice prior to fermentation.
The prevention via law of the sale and manufacturing of alcohol. Occurred in the US between 1920 and 1933.
Occurs annually, trimming vines back from the previous harvest.
The process of moving wine from barrel to barrel, while leaving sediment behind.
An American wine term indicating a wine of higher quality – it has no legal meaning.
A term that refers to unfermented sugar in a bottled wine.
The process of rotating sparkling wine bottles to shift sediment toward the cork.
A term that describes a wine with a smooth mouthfeel.
A wine steward.
A term used to describe certain aromas and flavors that are reminiscent of spices; ie. pepper, cinnamon.
A description for wines that have harsh green characteristics.
A descriptor for wines that are smooth and balanced.
A term used for wines that are between 10 and 14 percent alcohol.
Compounds that exist in most plants; in grapes, tannins are found in the pits and skins and provide structure to a wine.
A French term for the combination of soil, climate, and other factors that influence the ultimate character of the wine.
The type of wine grape.
The year of a specific harvest
The science and business of growing wine grapes.
Organisms that trigger the fermentation process.
The amount of grapes harvested in a particular year.