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Glossary of Wine Terms

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. An essential component in wine. Malic, citric and tartaric acids come from the grape; lactic acid converts the malic acid to a softer one during fermentation. The oxidation of alcohol can cause acetic acid, sometimes referred to as volatile acidity. Acidity can balance sweetness, and is necessary for wines to age well.

Acidin - natural component in grapes that gives the final wine a snappy refreshing quality. Wines with too little acidity taste dull, flabby and unfocused. Wines with too much acidity can taste aggressively tart.

Aftertaste. The flavor that lingers in your mouth after you've swallowed the wine. All good wines should have a pleasant aftertaste and great wines should have a long pleasant aftertaste. Aftertaste is also known as the wines "finish". 

Aeration. The process of letting a wine "breathe" in the open air, or swirling wine in a glass. It's debatable whether aerating bottled wines (mostly reds) improves their quality. Aeration can soften young, tannic wines; it can also fatigue older ones. 

Ageing. All wine is aged, from a few weeks to many decades. Ageing in barrels is a very slow oxidation, and the barrels can impart flavors to the wine: bottle ageing allows the wines to soften and various components within the wine to harmonize. After a certain point all wine will decline in the bottle. The difference between oak and stainless steel barrels is evident. 

AOC. Appellation d'origine controlee.

Aroma. A term loosely used to describe the smell of wine, specifically it refers to the smells that derive from grapes.  Now it more commonly means the wine's total smell, including changes that resulted from oak aging or that occurred in the bottle--good or bad. "Bouquet" has a similar meaning. 

Assemblage. It is the blending of several wines from different grape-varieties, independently vinified.

Aperitif. Any wine served before a meal. Traditionally, aperitifs were vermouths or other similar wines flavored with herbs and spices.

Appellation. Defines the area where a wine's grapes were grown, such as Bordeaux, Gevrey-Chambertin, Napa Valley or Russian River Valley. Regulations vary widely from country to country. In order to use an appellation on a California wine label, for example, 85 percent of the grapes used to make the wine must be grown in the specified district. 

Astringency. That quality in a wine that makes your mouth feel slightly dry and puckery. Astringency is related to tannin (see entry). A small amount of astringency is expected in some wines, especially young red wines made from powerful varieties such as cabernet sauvignon.

Attractive. A lighter style, fresh, easy to drink wine.

B | To index

Balance. A tasting term, states whether the fruit, acid, wood flavors etc. are in the right proportion.  A wine is well-balanced when none of those characteristics dominates. The general balance of a wine corresponds to the proportion between its smooth and its harsh nature.

Barrel. A container of various sizes, usually made of wood, most typically oak. New barrels give more flavors to the wine, how long a barrel is toasted for, where the oak comes from and who coopers (makes) it, all affect the final product. 

Barrel Fermentation. As implied, a method of fermentation done in barrels. Fermenting a wine, especially a white wine, in small oak barrels rather than large stainless steel tanks can noticeably affect the wine's flavor and texture. In 
particular, a wine can become more creamy, round, buttery and toasty after being barrel fermented.

Baumé. A system used to measure specific gravity, which indicates the sugar of unfermented grape juice. 1° Baumé is roughly equivalent to 1% alcohol when the wine is fully fermented. 

Bite. A marked degree of acidity or tannin. An acid grip in the finish should be more like a zestful tang and is tolerable only in a rich, full-bodied wine. 

Bitter. Describes one of the four basic tastes (along with sour, salty and sweet). Some grapes--notably Gewürztraminer and Muscat--often have a noticeable bitter edge to their flavors. Another source of bitterness is tannin or stems. If the bitter quality dominates the wine's flavor or aftertaste, it is considered a fault. In sweet wines a trace of bitterness may complement the flavors. In young red wines it can be a warning signal, as bitterness doesn't always dissipate with age. Normally, a fine, mature wine should not be bitter on the palate. 

Black rot. Fungus disease of grape vines

Blanc. French word for 'white'. 

Blend. The combining of different lots of wine to make a final wine with certain characteristics. A wine may be a blend of different grape varieties (such as a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, for example), or it may be a blend of the same grape variety from different vineyard sites, or even the same grape variety handled differently in the vineyard or during winemaking. In most cases, the goal of blending is to create a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Body. The weight of wine in your mouth. Alcohol makes a wine seem heavier, as does tannin. Commonly expressed as full-bodied, medium-bodied or medium-weight, or light-bodied. 

Botrytis. Also known as 'noble rot'. A fungus that attacks the skin of grapes, causing water to evaporate and thus increasing the sugar content. It is key to the production of great sweet wines such as Sauterne (from France), Trockenbeerenauslese (from Germany) and many new world 'stickies'. 

Bouquet. A tasting term used to describe the smell of the wine as it matures in the bottle. Aroma denotes the smell of the grape. 

Breathing. Allowing a bottle of wine stand for several minutes (to several hours) after the cork is removed, but before serving it. It is believed that wines may be improved by air exposure prior to serving.

Brix. A scale used to measure sugar content of grapes and wine. Each degree of Brix is equivalent to 1 gram of sugar per 100 grams of grape juice. See also Baumé 

Brut. French for 'Dry'. 

Buttery. Indicates the smell of melted butter or toasty oak. Also a reference to texture, as in "a rich, buttery Chardonnay." 

C | To index

Cabernet franc. The somewhat leaner sister of sabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc is often grown in the same places and is usually blended with cabernet sauvignon and merlot. The one noteworthy exception to this is the Loire Valley of France where cabernet franc alone makes the well known wines Chinon and Bourgeuil. Cabernet franc often has a unique violet aroma and a slightly spicy flavor.

Cabernet sauvignon. Often called the "king" of red grapes, cabernet sauvignon is, along with merlot, the famous grape of Bordeaux, and is also grown in other renowned wine regions throughout the world including California, Washington state, Italy, Australia, and Chile. Cabernet sauvignon possesses what can be an impressive structure along with deep, rich cassis flavors.

Capsule. The covering at the top of the neck of a wine bottle that protects the cork. Capsules, which come in many colors and designs, are considered part the wine's overall design. Recently, some wineries have forgone capsules in favor of a small wax dot on the top of the cork.

Champagne. The famous sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France, about 90 miles northeast of Paris. Champagne is generally a blend of three grapes ­ two red: pinot noir and pinot meunier, and one white: chardonnay. It is made by a labor-intensive method known as methode Champenoise in which the secondary bubble-causing fermentation takes place inside each individual bottle. Made in a variety of sweetness levels, Champagnes range from bone-dry to sweet. The most popular of  these is Brut. The sweetness levels are as follows: Extra Brut: very, very dry, O to .6% residual sugar. Brut: dry, less than 1.5% residual sugar. Extra Dry: off-dry, 1.2 to 2%  residual sugar. Sec: lightly sweet, 1.7 to 3.5% residual sugar. Demi-Sec: quite sweet, 3.3 to 5% residual sugar. and Doux: sweet, more than 5% residual sugar. Most Champagne firms make at least three categories of wine: non-vintage, vintage, and prestige. The vast majority of the Champagne produced each year is designated non vintage (that is, the blend may contain wines from several different vintages). The wines in a vintage Champagne come only from the year designated on the label. Vintage Champagnes are only made in top years. Prestige are each firm's top-of-the-line wine. It too will only be made in great years and the grapes will come only from the firm's best vineyards. Finally, there are two special styles of Champagne: rosé Champagne, a pink Champagne usually made by adding a small bit of red pinot noir wine to the bottle before the second fermentation, and blanc de blancs, a Champagne in which all of the wines in the blend are chardonnay.

Chardonnay. One of the most popular white grape varieties in America and throughout the New World, as well as the white grape of the Burgundy region of France. Very easy to enjoy thanks to its full, round body and buttery, appley flavors laced with toastiness (the latter comes from the oak barrels used in the making of most chardonnays).

Charmat method. The method of putting bubbles in wine by adding sugar to a sealed tank, letting the second fermentation take place, and transferring to a bottle under pressure. Less expensive and time consuming than Methode Champenoise. 

Chewy. Describes rich, heavy, tannic wines that are full-bodied

Cooperage. Common term in general use to describe any container used for aging and storing wine - includes barrels and tanks of all sizes

Closed. Describes wines that are concentrated and have character, yet are shy in aroma or flavor. 

Cloying. A sweet wine without a sufficient amount of acidity to balance the sweetness will often taste so sweet as to be cloying.

Complex. A descriptive term for a multifaceted, multi-layered wine that continues to reveal different flavors as you drink it. A complex wine, because it is so fascinating, has an almost magical ability to draw the wine drinker in.

Corked. The wine tastes of cork, it is unpleasant to smell and taste, slightly musty. Bad corks are a relatively common problem. 

Crisp. A tasting term, denotes a fresh, young, wine with good acidity.

Crush. Harvest season when the grapes are picked and crushed. 

D | To index

D.O.C. (Denominazione D`Origine Controllata). The Italian system of laws regulating about 250 different wine zones. Italy's D.O.C. regulations are roughly equivalent to France's Appellation d'Origine Controlle (see AOC).

Decanting. Pouring a wines directly from its bottle in a jug, in order to separate it of its sediment and to oxygenate it and liberate its aromas.

Delicate. Used to describe light- to medium-weight wines with good flavors. A desirable quality in wines such as Pinot Noir or Riesling. 

Dense. Describes a wine that has concentrated aromas on the nose and palate. A good sign in young wines. 

Depth. Describes the complexity and concentration of flavors in a wine, as in a wine with excellent or uncommon depth. Opposite of shallow. 

Dirty. Covers any and all foul, rank, off-putting smells that can occur in a wine, including those caused by bad barrels or corks. A sign of poor winemaking. 

Developed. A tasting term referring to the maturity of a wine.

Dry. A wine that tastes as though it has no remaining natural grape sugar. By law, a minuscule amount (less than 0.2%) of natural sugar can remain.

E | To index

Earthy. Used to describe both positive and negative attributes in wine. At its best, a pleasant, clean quality that adds complexity to aroma and flavors. The flip side is a funky, barnyardy character that borders on or crosses into dirtiness. 

Elegant. Used to describe wines of grace, balance and beauty. 

Empty. Similar to hollow; devoid of flavor and interest. 

Enology. The science of winemaking.

Estate bottled.A term used on wine labels to indicate a wine that is made 100% from grapes growing in vineyards owned by the winery or in vineyards which the winery leases under long-term contract. The vineyards do not need to be contiguous, but they must be in the same appellation.

F | To index

Fading. Describes a wine that is losing color, fruit or flavor, usually as a result of age. 

Fermentation. Grape sugar is converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide by the action of yeast. For dry wines the process is allowed to continue until all the sugar has been converted into alcohol. For wines such as port, fermentation is stopped by the addition of high level alcohol which kills the yeast and allows some sugars to remain in the juice, unfermented. 

Filter. A device used to remove certain large particles such as yeast or bacteria from wine. Wines that are properly filtered suffer no damage to their flavor or aroma.

Fining. The process of clarifying wine to remove any solids. 

Finish. The taste that remains in the mouth after swallowing. A 'long finish' is desired in a good wine. Great wines have rich, long, complex finishes, also called aftertaste.

Flabby. Soft, feeble, lacking acidity on the palate. 

Flat. Having low acidity; the next stage after flabby. Can also refer to a sparkling wine that has lost its bubbles. 

Floral. A descriptive term for a wine that has a smell reminiscent of flowers or meadows.

Fruity. A tasting term referring to the flavor of grapes, which can include flavors of berries, citrus etc. 

Fortified. A wine that has had its alcohol content raised by the addition of neutral grape spirits. For example, Port, which is about 20% alcohol by volume, is a fortified wine.

Full bodied. A descriptive term for a wine which is relatively weighty on the palate. Full-bodied wines are also generally fairly high in alcohol.

G | To index

Gamay. The classic red grape of the Beaujolais region of France, and also grown in California, gamay possesses a super fruity, grapey flavor not unlike melted black cherry Jello. The wine is often at its best served slightly chilled.

Graceful. Describes a wine that is harmonious and pleasing in a subtle way. 

Grafting. Process of reproduction of the plant, by grafting a branch on a selected
root stock in order to favour the development of solid vinestock.

Grape. A vine fruit, and the only one from which experts accept real wine can be made. There are thousands of varieties of grapes, some for eating and others for wine production. Wine grapes are known as varietals - Chardonnay, Cabernet sauvignon etc. 

Grapey. Characterized by simple flavors and aromas associated with fresh table grapes; distinct from the more complex fruit flavors (currant, black cherry, fig or apricot) found in fine wines.

H | To index  

Herbaceous. A descriptive term for a wine with overt green herb-like flavors. For most grape varieties, herbaceous flavors are considered negative. However, some grape varieties such as sauvignon blanc typically display some herbal flavors which are considered appropriate.

Hybrid. In viticulture, a cross between two different species or varieties of grapes, with the purpose of creating a new grape variety with especially desirable characteristics.

I  | To index

Ice wine. Wine made from frozen grapes. The grapes are pressed while frozen and only the juice (never the solids) is used in the fermentation.  Canadians originated the process and own the trade name.

L | To index

Lambrusco. A red grapes grown all over Italy, used to make slightly sweet, effervescent wines. It Italy also used for still wines that should be drunk young. 

Late harvest. Wines made from grapes that were allowed to hang on the vine until their sugar content was very high, thus the resulting wine is sweet 

Legs. The viscous droplets that form and ease down the sides of the glass when the wine is swirled. Tears are formed more readily by higher alcohol wines. 

Length. The amount of time the sensations of taste and aroma persist after swallowing. The longer the better. 

M | To index

Maceration. During fermentation, the steeping of the grape skins and solids in the wine, where alcohol acts as a solvent to extract color, tannin and aroma from the skins.

Madeira. A fortified wine from the island of Madeira which belongs to Portugal but is located off the west African coast. Historically famous, the wine drunk by the founding fathers of the United States to toast the signing of the Declaration of Independence is reported to have been Madeira. The very best Madeiras are made from four white grapes: sercial, verdelho, bual, and malmsey, which give the four styles of Madeira their names. Thus, starting with the driest style and moving to the sweetest, the styles of Madeira are sercial, verdelho, bual, and malmsey. Madeira's toffee-caramel-like character comes as a result of heating the wine, a process called estufagem. This is either carried out naturally (the wine is left in hot attics for up to 20 years) or the wine is placed in containers that are then heated to an average temperature of 105°F for three to six months. 

Malolactic fermentation. A natural process during which beneficial bacteria convert the malic (very tart) acid in a wine to lactic (softer tasting) acid. Malolactic fermentation can take place on its own or be prompted by the winemaker. Resulting wines are soft in style, sometimes taste 'buttery.' 

Marsala. These are fortfied wines from the western tip of Sicily. As with Sherry and Madeira the flavor comes from oxidation. The various quality levels for Marsala are Fine - the lowest level, 1 year of aging and 17% alcohol; Superiore - 2 years of aging and 18% alcohol; Superiore Riserva - 4 years of aging; Vergine - This is the higest quality, it cannot have concentrated must added, and must be aged in wood for a minimum of 5 years and Vergine Riserva - These wines are dry and somewhat austere, they are aged in wood for a minimum of 10 years and usually served as an aperitif. 

Medoc (pronounced may-doc). Red wine district within the Bordeaux region of France. 

Merlot. The most widely planted grape in Bordeaux, merlot, a red grape, is also grown in most of the same places as cabernet sauvignon. And in fact, the two are often blended. Because merlot in general has somewhat less tannin than cabernet sauvignon, it often feels softer on the palate. Its flavors often run to mocha and boysenberry. Also produces fine red wines in California, Chile, Australia, Argentina, Israel and in many other regions.  They tend to age a little faster in the bottle,  making the wine somewhat faster to attain  drinkability in your cellar.

Methode Champenoise. The method by which real Champagne gets its bubbles, i.e. the secondary fermentation takes place within the bottle. French term, developed in the Champagne region, used to describe sparkling wine made via the classic methode of secondary fermentation taking place naturally in the individual bottle. 

Mousseux. French term used to describe sparkling wine made by the Charmat Method - a method where sparkling wine is made in bulk in sealed tanks and then bottled under pressure. 

Murky. More than deeply colored; lacking brightness, turbid and sometimes a bit swampy. Mainly a fault of red wines. 

Must. The unfermented juice of grapes extracted by crushing or pressing; grape juice in the cask or vat before it is converted into wine. 

Musty. 1.Having an off-putting moldy or mildewy smell. The result of a wine being made from moldy grapes, stored in improperly cleaned tanks and barrels, or contaminated by a poor cork. 2.A tasting term to describe a stale smell, sometimes dissipates with airing the wine, sometimes the result of a bad cork. 

N | To index

Noble Rot.  Common name for Botrytis cinerea, the famous fungus of more than a few fabulous dessert wines.

Nose. The character of a wine as determined by the olfactory sense. Also called aroma; includes bouquet. A wine term (used frequently in Britain) synonymous with 
aroma (i.e. you might say "the nose of this wine reminds me of cherries"). Also used as a verb. To nose a wine is to smell it.

O | To index

Oak. Wood used for barrels. Oaky refers to the flavors that using oak imparts to wine. Oak barrels can also give a vanilla flavor to wine.

Oaky. A descriptive term for a wine that has a pronounced oak flavor, generally as a result of aging the wine in new small oak barrels.

Oxidized. A descriptive term for a wine that has been significantly exposed to air (oxygen), thereby changing the wine ¹s aroma and flavor. While a small amount of oxygen exposure can be positive (it can help to soften and open up the wine, for example), too much exposure is deleterious. Fully oxidized wines have a tired, spoiled flavor. An oxidized white wine usually has begun to turn brown. There are a few examples of controlled oxidation that are not considered negative. Sherry, for example, is an oxidized wine by intent.

P | To index  

Palate. A tasting term referring to the feel and taste of wine in the mouth. 'Nose' refers to the smell. 

Perfumed. A tasting term referring to a delicate bouquet. 

pH. A measure of the intensity of the acidity (hydrogen ions) in grape juice and wine. pH is often a better measure of acid balance in a juice than is the total acidity. 

Phylloxera. A vine disease caused by an aphid attacking the roots. Originally from America (where native vines were resistant) this disease has caused widespread global damage. New vineyards are being planted on American resistant rootstock grafted with 'vitis vinifera' grape varieties.

Pinot blanc. One of the white grapes of the pinot family that includes pinot grigio (also white) and the red grapes pinot noir and pinot meunier. While some pinot blanc can be found interspersed with chardonnay in the vineyards of Burgundy, the grape is more renowned in Alsace. In North America, California boasts several top producers of pinot blanc, though the grape is not widely grown. Pinot blanc often has flavors similar to chardonnay, though the wine is generally lighter in body and somewhat more delicate.

Pinot grigio (Pinot gpis). Like pinot blanc, one of the white grapes of the pinot family, and like riesling and gewürztraminer, pinot grigio loves cold climates. The most renowned pinot grigios come from the northernmost regions of Italy, especially those regions that border the Alps, as well as Alsace, where it is known as pinot gris or, confusingly, as "tokay." In the U.S., Oregon is emerging as the top state for delicious lively pinot gris' with light almond, lemon and vanilla flavors.

Pinot noir. One of the most renowned red grapes in the world for its supple silky texture and mesmerizingly earthy flavors. Pinot noir, like riesling, requires a cold climate and in fact, its ancestral home is the cool Burgundy region of France. The grape, which is very difficult to grow and make into wine, is also grown in Oregon and California, but rarely elsewhere. 

Pomace. The pomace is the residue of the harvest. It contains stems, skin and pips.  It can be distilled to obtain raw brandy.

Port. A fortified wine of Portugal, also known as Oporto. Very richly flavored and sweet. There are a number of different styles: tawny - aged in wooden barrels, rather than the bottle, the age (10 years etc.) refers to the average age of the wine in the barrel: colheita - refers to a port of a single vintage that has been aged in wooden barrels: vintage- port of a specific year that is aged in the bottle; late bottled - aged in the barrel but not for as long as a tawny port; ruby - about three years old, sweet and ruby red colored, usually fruity and ready to drink. 

R | To index

Raking. Separating grape juice from solid elements, before fermentation (white
wine). Separating wine from pomace (red wine).

Residual sugar. The amount of sugar left in a wine at bottling. 

Retsina. A dry white wine made in Greece, mostly from the Savatiano grape, to which pine resin has been added.

Riesling. The renowned white grape of Germany, Austria and the Alsace region of France, though it is also popular in Israel, Washington and New York state, and certain parts of  California and Australia.The grape loves to grow in cold climates and when it does, it can exhibit exquisite delicacy and elegance with light peachy/minerally flavors.

Ripeness. It is exceptional when a vinegrower manages to harvest when all his grapes are perfectly mature. Perfect ripeness is quiet unusual.

Robust. Means full-bodied, intense and vigorous, possibly a bit overblown.

Rosy. A pink wine which can be made from any number of red grape varieties. In southern France where rosy`s are extremely popular, rosy`s are often made from grenache. Rosy`s can be made in numerous ways, the most common of which is simply to draw the wine off the red grape skins before the skins have fully tinted the wine red. Rosy`s wines, like white wines, taste best served chilled.

S | To index

Sangria. Sangria is made from red wine, fruit juices, soda water and fruit. Sometimes brandy is added. Sangria Blanco is made from white wine. Both are served cold with ice. 

Sauvignon blanc. The famous white grape of the Sancerre region of France as well as New Zealand. Sauvignon blanc also grows in Bordeaux (where it is usually blended with semillon), South Africa, Israel and in California and Washington state. Its wonderfully wild, untamed flavors are often reminiscent of grass, herbs, green tea and limes, often overlaid with a smokiness. In California, sauvignon blanc can also take on green fig and white melon flavors.

Sediment.  Small particles, mostly of color, that drop out of suspension as a wine ages. With considerable age, many great wines throw off a sediment. Sediment is harmless.

Setubal. An area located south of Lisbon (Portugal) that produces fortified wines from Muscat of Alexandria. The wines are aged in large vats and small barresl for 5 or 6 years, resulting in a deep golden wine capable of aging for many years. 

Sherry. The famous fortified wine from the Jerez region of southern Spain. Sherry is made by an extremely complex method of fractional blending called the solera system. The grape variety used is principally Palomino, though small amounts of 
Pedro Ximenez may also be included. Like Champagne and Port, Sherry is made in a variety of styles and at a variety of sweetness levels. From driest and lightest to sweetest and fullest, the styles of Sherry include manzanilla, fino, amontillado, palo cortado, oloroso, and cream Sherry. The unique flavor of all of these styles is due in part to the fact that the wine is partially intentionally oxidized (exposed to oxygen). Sherry-style wines are also made in California though they usually do not go through a solera system and most are sweet.

Short. A tasting term to denote a wine which does not remain on the palate after swallowing - see Finish.

Smoky. A tasting term used to describe a subtle wood-smoke aroma (from toasting the barrels) and also some wines (i.e.. Madeira) that seem to pick up a steely or smoky aroma from the earth in which they are grown. 

Soft. A tasting term to describe a wine with low acid and gentle tannins. 

Sommelier.  The French term for a wine steward.

Spicy. A tasting term to describe flavors, Shiraz has a spicy flavor as does Gewurztraminer. A descriptor for many wines, indicating the presence of spice flavors such as anise, cinnamon, cloves, mint and pepper which are often present in complex wines. 

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2). Used to kill wild yeasts, sterilize equipment and prevent oxidation. A naturally occurring substance. Small amount of sulfur dioxide, a 
preservative, may be used both in the vineyard and during winemaking to protect grapes and wine from spoilage. Sulfites are a form of sulfur that occur naturally as a by-product of fermentation. Because a tiny percentage of the population is allergic to sulfur, wine labels must carry the message "contains sulfites" if the wine contains more than 10 parts per million (ppm) sulfites (which most wines do).

Syrah (Shiraz). The classic red grape of the northern Rhone Valley of France and also grown throughout southern France, syrah is also the leading grape of Australia (where it is known as shiraz). In the late 1980s and 1990s, California vintners also became increasingly fascinated by the grape which is now grown in many parts of California. The wine often has an unmistakable whiff of white pepper along with wild gamey, boysenberry flavors.

T | To index

Tannin. A substance found in the skin of grapes, can be supplemented by oak tannins from barrels. A necessary component of wine that is to be aged. It is a bitter-tasting material which is partially responsible for preserving wines during their sometimes long aging periods.  As a tasting term it identifies a dry sensation, with flavors of leather and tea. 

Tartaric Acid. A naturally occurring acid, found in grape juice and hence in wine. White crystals of tartrate salts can sometimes be precipitated from wines when they are chilled, they are harmless and tasteless. Tartaric acid is important for providing acid balance in wine and creating good ageing potential. 

Tart. Sharp-tasting because of acidity. Occasionally used as a synonym for acidic.

Terroir. French word for earth or soil, used in the special sense of  "place," which includes localized climate, soil type, drainage, wind direction, humidity and all the other attributes which combine to make one location different from another.

Thin. Lacking body and depth. 

Tokay. Celebrated sweet white wine; specifically, the special product of the Tokay district in northeastern Hungary. The chief grape variety is Furmint, although a little Harslevelu is also grown.

V | To index

Varietal wine. A wine produced primarily from a single grape variety and labeled accordingly.

Velvety. Having rich flavor and a silky, sumptuous texture. 

Vermouth. A wine based beverage that originated in Italy and is often served as an aperitif. 

Vinegar. The natural evolution of the juice of grape, vine is only a way towards
vinegar. Any wine might become vinegar. 

Vinification. Winemaking, including all the operations and processes involved. Often substituted for the word "winemaking."

Vinous.  A descriptive term meaning "like wine."

Vintage. Year of vinification.The year in which the grapes for a given wine were 
harvested. Most wines carry a vintage date, though not all. Non-vintage sparkling wines and Champagnes, for example, are blends of grapes from different harvests.

Vintner. Generally indicates a wine producer or winery proprietor. 

Viognier. The classic (though rare) white grape of the northern Rhone Valley of France where it makes the expensive wine known as Condrieu. In the early 1990s, more than thirty top California producers began making viognier to much acclaim. The wine has an opulent, lush body and dramatic honeysuckle, white melon and jasmine flavors.

Viticulture. The science and art of grape growing, as distinguished from viniculture, the science of wine-making.

Volatile.  Said of a wine with an excessive amount of volatile acidity. Wines with too much volatile acidity have an unpleasant, sharp vinegary aroma.

W | To index

White oak. The variety of American oak which is used to manufacture barrels. 

Y | To index

Yeast. Promotes fermentation of grape juice. The 'dust' on a grape, known as the 'bloom' is wild yeast. Most wine makers prefer to use their own yeast strains.

Yeasty.  A descriptive term for a wine with the pleasant aroma of bread dough. Many sparkling wines and Champagnes have a yeasty aroma.

Z | To index

Zero Dosage. Dosage is the mixture of sugar, wine and sometimes brandy, that is added back to Methode Champenoise wines to create the sparkle through secondary fermentation. Zero dosage is a blend of wines that contains no sugar, thus creating the driest style sparkling wine.

Zinfandel.  The much loved red grape of California, zinfandel is grown almost no place else in the world. In fact, its history is still a mystery, though scientists think that the grape may be related to a Croatian grape. Zinfandel has a mouthfilling, thick berryness that is sometimes described as being jammy or chewy. White zinfandel (not a separate grape variety) is made when zinfandel grapes are fermented without their dark purple skins.


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