Term Description
A.O.C.

French. Abbreviation for Appellation d’origine contrôlée (controlled designation of origin)

A.P. number

German. Abbreviation for Amtliche Prüfnummer which is Germany’s attempt to reduce massive confusion generated from most German wine labels. It is a unique, official number designating region, village, estate, unique bottling number, and year of tasting (usually the year after the vintage).

Acid

There are four major acids found in wine: tartaric, malic, lactic and citric. Acid is identifiable by the crisp, fresh character it imparts to a wine’s palate. Too much can lead to a sharp, sour taste; too little can leave a wine flabby and out of balance.

Acidity

The quality of tartness, sourness, and sharpness gives a wine its crispness and vitality. A proper balance of acidity must be struck with the other elements of a wine, or else the wine may be said to be too sharp (having disproportionately high levels of acidity) or too flat (having disproportionately low levels of acidity).

Acrid

A wine tasting term for wine with too much acidity.

Aftertaste

A wine tasting term for the taste left on the palate after a wine has been swallowed. 

Aging barrel

A barrel, often made of oak, used to age wine or distilled spirits.

Alcohol

Ethyl alcohol (C2H5OH) is produced by the action of natural or added yeast on grape sugars during fermentation.

Altar wine The wine used by the Catholic Church in celebrations of the Eucharist.
Alternative wine closures

Various substitutes used in the wine industry for sealing wine bottles in place of traditional cork closures.

American hybrid

Grape varieties resulting from crossbreeding American and European grapevines.

Ampelography

The branch of botany concerned with the identification and classification of grapevines. Traditionally this was done by comparing the shape and color of vine leaves and grape berries. It has been revolutionized by DNA fingerprinting.

Amphora

A type of ceramic vase, used for transporting and storing wine in ancient times.

Angel’s share

The portion of wine in an aging barrel that is lost to evaporation.

Anthocyanin

Phenolic pigments that give red wine its color.

Appellation A recognized wine-growing region.
Aroma

The smell of wine. The term is generally applied to younger wines, while the term bouquet is reserved for more aged wines.

Ascorbic acid

A natural component found in wine that is sometimes added to prevent oxidation from occurring. If ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) has been added, the wine label will show Antioxidant 300 added.

Astringent

Describes a harsh, dry, mouth-puckering sensation, usually due to high levels of tannin or acids present in red wines (and some whites).

ATF

Abbreviation for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, a United States government agency which is primarily responsible for the regulation of wines sold and produced in the United States.

Austere

Generally meant to indicate a wine that has flavors that are closed. In other words, without strong recognizable varietal or oak characters.

Balance

The harmonious relationship of the components of wine (acid, fruit, tannin, alcohol, etc.) resulting in a well proportioned, or well balanced, wine.

Barrel

A hollow cylindrical container, traditionally made of wood staves, used for fermenting and aging wine. Today these may be of cement, plastic, stainless steel, or oak. Oak barrels allow the wine to mature and breathe while adding natural tannin and flavors such as vanilla or toast. Sometimes called a cask.

Barrique

The French name for a 225-liter Bordeaux-style barrel (Bordeaux hogshead). Will yield 24 cases of 12 bottles each.

Beeswing

Light sediment, chiefly mucilage, a gummy substance obtained from certain plants found in Port.

Bentonite

A type of clay used in wine clarification.

Biodynamic wine

Wines produced by the principles of biodynamic agriculture, a method of organic farming.

Bitterness

One of the main taste sensations usually detected at the back of the tongue after swallowing. Phenolic substances are the main source of bitterness in wine and come from wood (oak) and the grape.

Blanc de Blancs

Meaning white from white this is a sparkling wine made from 85% or more of a white-skinned grape variety, usually Chardonnay.

Blanc de Noir

Meaning white from black this is a white or slightly pink sparkling wine made from 85% or more of a dark-skinned grape variety, usually Pinot noir.

Bland

A wine-tasting term used to describe a wine that lacks any discernible character, though not necessarily having any particular wine faults.

Blend

Mixing of two or more grape varieties, vintages, or locations to increase quality, complexity, or maintain consistency.

Blind tasting

Tasting and evaluating wine without knowing what it is.

Bodega

A Spanish wine cellar. Also, refers to a seller of alcoholic beverage.

Body

A term used to express the weight of a wine. Full-bodied describes a wine (generally one that is higher in alcohol) with a fullness of flavor in the mouth.

Botrytis cinerea

Another name for the botrytis cinerea mold that can pierce grape skins causing dehydration. The resulting grapes produce a highly-prized sweet wine, generally dessert wine.

Bottle

A bottle is a small 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.

Bottle age

Maturation and aging in a bottle impart mature, mellow characters that increase the complexity, quality, and overall harmony of wine.

Bottle fermentation

A method of producing sparkling wine where secondary fermentation occurs in bottles. The wine is then transferred to a pressure tank where it is mixed, filtered, then bottled.

Bottle shock

Also known as bottle-sickness, a temporary condition of wine characterized by muted or disjointed fruit flavors. It often occurs immediately after bottling or when wines (usually fragile wines) are shaken in travel. After several days the condition usually disappears.

Bottle variation

The degree to which bottled wine of the same style and vintage can vary.

Bouquet

Describes the complex aromas a wine develops after time spent in the bottle. Generally not applied to young wines.

Box wine

Wine packaged in a bag usually made of flexible plastic and protected by a box, usually made of cardboard. The bag is sealed by a simple plastic tap.

Brandy

A liquor made from distilled wine. It is often the source of additional alcohol in fortified wine.

Brettanomyces

A wine spoilage yeast that produces taints in wine commonly described as barnyard or band-aids.

Bright

Describes a wine that has high clarity and very low levels of suspended solids.

Brilliant

Perfectly clear wine with no suspended particles. Brilliance can be an indicator of wine quality, except in premium red wine, where some crust or sediment can be expected to form after bottle maturation.

Brix

A measure of the sugar concentration in juice or wine.

Brut

Unsweetened or very dry. Brut is sometimes used as a generic term for sparkling wines, usually of dubious quality. Not to be confused with Brut de Brut.

Brut Cremant

A dry sparkling wine that leaves a full, creamy, round mouthfeel.

Brut de Brut

A term used to describe sparkling wine that is fermented to absolute dryness containing no residual sugar.

Bulk fermentation

A method of producing sparkling wine in large stainless steel tanks as opposed to in the bottle. This process offers good quality, consistent wines.

Bung

A stopper used to seal a bottle or barrel. Commonly used term for corks.

Burnt wine

Another name for Brandy, a liquor made from distilled wine. It is often the source of additional alcohol in fortified wines.

Butt

An old English unit of wine casks, equivalent to about 477 litres (126 US gallons/105 Imperial gallons).

Calcareous

Calcareous soils are alkaline, composed of calcium carbonate.

California cult wines

Certain California wines for which consumers and others pay higher prices than those of Bordeaux’s First Growths (Premiers Crus).

Canopy

The above-ground parts of the vine, especially the shoots and leaves.

Canopy management

A range of viticulture techniques used to manipulate the vine canopy. This is done for vine shape, control the amount of sunlight and airflow to promote healthy grapes.

Cap

The thick cap of grape skins floating on top of the fermenting red wine.

Capsule

The plastic or foil that covers the cork and part of the neck of a wine bottle.

Carbon dioxide

The gas produced during fermentation which is responsible for the bubbles in sparkling wines.

Carbonic Maceration

Carbonic maceration is fermenting whole (uncrushed) grapes 

Cellaring

To age wine for the purpose of improvement or storage. Cellaring may occur in any area which is cool (12-15° Celsius).

Chai

A wine shed, or other storage places above ground, used for storing casks, common in Bordeaux. Usually, different types of wine are kept in separate sheds.

Champagne

Champagne is a sparkling wine made by the Méthode Champenoise. Sparkling wine may only be called Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region of France.

Champagne flute

A piece of stemware having a long stem with a tall, narrow bowl on top.

Chaptalization

A winemaking process where sugar is added to the must. This is often done when grapes have not ripened adequately.

Charmat process

The Charmat or bulk process is a method where sparkling wines receive their secondary fermentation in large tanks, rather than individual bottles as seen in Méthode Champenoise.

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.

Chewy

Describes rich, tannic wines that seem to be thick and full in the mouth. A positive quality in many red wines.

Claret

British name for Bordeaux wine. Is also a semi-generic term for red wine in a similar style to that of Bordeaux.

Clarification

To make a wine clear through fining, filtration and refrigeration.

Cleanskin

In Australia, wine bottled without a commercial label, usually sold cheaply in bulk quantities.

Clone

A grape clone is a propagated grapevine that is genetically identical to its mother plant.

Cloying

An excessively sweet wine that may seem to be out of balance due to low acidity.

Cold Duck

A mixture of red and white sparkling wine that has high sugar content.

Cold stabilization

A winemaking process where wine is chilled to near freezing temperatures for several weeks to encourage the precipitation of tartrate crystals.

Color

In wine, an extremely important indicator of quality and condition. Darker colors in whites usually indicate older wines, while red wines tend to turn a tawny, brick red color with age. Related wine term: Clarity.

Cork

A wine bottle stopper made from the thick outer bark of the cork oak tree.

Cork taint

A type of wine fault describing undesirable aromas and flavors in wine often attributed to mold growth on chlorine-bleached corks.

Corked

A wine with an off-flavor caused by trichloroanisole (TCA) in the cork. Generally described as moldy, it affects about 3% of wines worldwide.

Corkscrew

A tool, comprising a pointed metallic helix attached to a handle, for drawing corks from bottles.

Country wine

See: Fruit wine

Crackling

Semi-sparkling wine; slightly effervescent. Also called frizzante.

Crémant

French sparkling wine not made in Champagne region.

Crust

Sediment, generally potassium bitartrate, adheres to the inside of a wine bottle.

Cult wines

Wines for which committed buyers will pay large sums of money.

Cultivar

Another term for a grape variety.

Cuve

A large vat used for fermentation.

Cuvee

The pressing, or a blending of several wines.

Decanting

The pouring wine from its bottle into a decanter to separate the sediment from the wine.

Dégorgement

The disgorging or removal of sediment from bottles that results from secondary fermentation.

Delicate

Describes most light to medium-bodied wines with good, clear flavors. Desirable in wines such as Riesling, Semillon or Pinot noir.

Demi-sec

Moderately sweet to medium sweet sparkling wine.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata

In Italy, Denominazione di Origine Controllata (“Controlled designation of origin”), of which there are three:

DO—Denominazione di Origine (designation of origin, seldom used)
DOC—Denominazione di Origine Controllata (controlled designation of origin)
DOCG—Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (controlled designation of origin guaranteed) - is the category for the highest-ranking wine in Italy.

Depth

Describes a wine that shows an excellent concentration of aromas and flavors.

Devatting

The process of separating red must from pomace, which can happen before or after fermentation.

Diurnal temperature variation

The degree of temperature variation that occurs in a wine region from daytime to night.

DOC

The abbreviation for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, or controlled place name. This is Italy’s designation for a wine whose name, the origin of grapes, grape varieties, and other important factors are regulated by law.

It is also the abbreviation for Portugal’s highest wine category, which has the same meaning in that country.

Doux

The French word for sweet. Usually, it refers to the sweetest category of sparkling wines.

Downy mildew

Fungal vine disease.

Drawing off

See Devatting.

Drip dickey

A wine accessory 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, countertops, or other surfaces.

Dry/Dryness

Wines with zero or very low levels of residual sugar. Wines with less than 7.5 grams per litre of sugar remaining are said to have fermented to dryness.

Earthy

A musty or savory flavor found in some wine (often referred to in wine tasting notes as barnyard characters).

Eiswein

German for ice wine, a dessert wine made from frozen grapes.

Elegant

Describes wines that are graceful, well balanced, and usually light-bodied.

En Tirage

French for in pulling, refers to the period of time in which bottled sparkling wine is rested in contact with lees generated during secondary fermentation. Part of the Méthode Champenoise.

Enology

American English spelling of oenology, the study of wine.

Estate winery

A United States winery license allowing farms to produce and sell wine on-site, sometimes known as a Farm winery.    

Ethyl alcohol

Ethyl alcohol, also called Ethanol, is the primary alcohol in an alcoholic beverage.

Extra dry

Champagne or sparkling wine with a small amount of residual sugar (slightly sweet). Not as dry as Brut.

Residual sugar, low to high: Brut, Extra Dry, Dry, Demi-sec

Fan leaf

A viral vine disease.

Farm winery

A United States winery license allowing farms to produce and sell wine on-site.

Fault

An unpleasant characteristic of wine resulting from a flaw with the winemaking process or storage conditions.

Federweisser

In Switzerland, Federweisser refers to a white wine made from red grapes. This is different from the German “Federweiße”, which is from white grapes in any stage of fermentation, from just started to almost finished, but still unfiltered. This unfinished “wine” is called Sauser in Switzerland.

Fermentation

The transformation of sugar into alcohol through the action of yeast.

Fiasco

The straw-covered flask historically associated with Italian Chianti.

Fighting varietal

A term that originated in California during the mid-1980s to refer to any inexpensive varietal wine in a 1.5-liter bottle. It's now in usage to include wine from Chile, Australia, and southern France.

In short: a varietal wine of good quality at an everyday price.

Filtration

The removal of solid particles from the juice or wine.

Fining

A clarification process where flocculants, such as bentonite or egg white, are added to the wine to remove suspended solids.

Finish

A wine tasting term for the lingering aftertaste after a wine has been swallowed.

Firm

A wine tasting term referring to a taste sensation caused by tannins - usually noticeable at the back of the mouth.

Flabby

A wine tasting term used to indicate a wine lacking in structure, often marked by low acidity.

Flagon

A glass bottle that holds two litres of (usually inexpensive) table wine.

Flétri

Flétri, French: Withered. In the context of wine, it refers to wine made from semi-dried grapes, which concentrates sugar, making a dessert wine.

Flinty

A term usually applied to austere, dry, and crisp whites.

Flor

Flor (Spanish for flower) is a yeast used to make Sherry. This yeast functions with full contact with oxygen and can ferment to higher than 15% alcohol.

Flowery

An attractive scent that is reminiscent of flowers. Floral and fragrant are similar descriptors often applied to young, fresh white wines.

Fortified wine

Wine to which alcohol has been added, generally to increase the concentration to a high enough level to prevent fermentation.

Foxy

A wine tasting term for the musty odor and flavor of wines made from Vitis labrusca grapes native to North America.

Free run

Juice obtained from grapes that have not been pressed, resulting in less tannin from the skin, stalk, and seed.

Frizzante

See crackling.

Fruit

The main component of the wine, usually grape but other fruits are also used to make wine, such as pear, plum, etc. Often mentioned when the fruit isn’t grown in the same site as the winery (as in the wine is produced here on-site) but the fruit is purchased from a vineyard upstate.

Fruit set

After flowering, the fertilized flowers are set to form berries.

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.

Globalization of wine

Refers to the increasingly international nature of the wine industry, including vineyard management practices, winemaking techniques, wine styles, and wine marketing.

Grafting

The insertion of a section or scion, of one plant variety into another. Genetic compatibility is important.

Grape juice

The free-run or pressed juice from grapes. Unfermented grape juice is known as must.

Green

A term describing wines made with unripe fruit.

Green harvest

The harvesting of green (unripe) grapes in an attempt to increase the crop yield.

Hard

A wine tasting term for a wine that contains too much tannin and is therefore unpleasant. Hard wines sometimes can be improved by aging.

Hectare

A hectare (ha) is a metric measure that equals 10,000 m.

Herbaceous

An aroma related to vegetative or grassy characters. Some reds, notably under-ripe Cabernet sauvignon (a distinct tomato-leaf smell), and some whites (Sauvignon blanc’s asparagus and capsicum flavors, for example) are described as “herbaceous”.

Hock

A term for Rhine wines, usually used in England.

Hogshead

A wine barrel that holds approximately 239 liters (63 gallons).

Horizontal Wine Tasting

In a horizontal tasting, the wines are all from the same vintage but are from different wineries. Keeping wine variety or type and wine region the same helps emphasize differences in winery styles.

Hot

Describes the hot or peppery mouthfeel of high alcohol wines (a positive in fortified wine).

Hybrid

Grape variety bred from a number of different species.

Ice wine

Wine made from frozen grapes. Called Eiswein in German.

IGT

Abbreviation for Indicazione Geografica Tipica, the lowest-ranking of the three categories of Italian wine regulated by Italian law.

Inert gas

A gas that does not react with the juice or wine. Carbon dioxide or nitrogen are commonly used to fill the headspace in tanks and bottles to avoid oxidation.

Integrated production

Integrated production (IP) systems aim to balance the environment, social needs, and profit by placing the farm in the center of a holistic system. The goal is to preserve a vigorous, healthy environment, while still running a lucrative business. This is achieved by treating the entire farm (crops, livestock, trees, and aquaculture) as a unit, striving to replace pollutants with natural resources, and following natural cycles.

Jeroboam

A large bottle holding three liters, the equivalent of four regular wine bottles (3 litres).

Jug wine

American term for inexpensive table wine.

Kosher wine

A wine that is produced under the supervision of a rabbi so as to be ritually pure or clean. Although commonly sweet, it need not be so.

Lactic acid

A single carboxyl acid produced during malolactic fermentation.

Late harvest wine

Also known as late picked, wine made from grapes that have been left on the vine longer than usual. Usually produces a sweet wine or dessert wine.

Leaf roll

A viral disease in grapevines.

Lees

Solid waste at the bottom of the ferment, primarily composed of dead yeast cells and grape matter.

Legs

The Viscous columns that trickle down the inside surface of a glass after a wine has been swirled. Prominent legs indicate high alcohol content.

Lightstruck

A wine tasting term for a wine that has had long exposure to ultraviolet light causing wet cardboard type aroma and flavor.

Liqueur d'expedition

Liqueur added to top up disgorged wine.

Litre (US - Liter)

A metric measure of volume equal to 33.8 fluid ounces (U.S.) or 35.2 fl oz (imperial).

Look

A wine tasting term for the visual evaluation of a wine.

Luscious

Describes sweet wines such as Muscat and Tokay that are rich, fruity, and high in residual sugar.

Maceration

The contact of grape skins with the must during fermentation, extracting phenolic compounds including tannins, anthocyanins, and aroma.

Madeirized

A wine showing Madeira-like (oxidized) flavor. Also used to describe a white wine that is past its prime.

Magnum

A bottle holding 1.5 liters, the equivalent of two regular wine bottles.

Malic acid

A double carboxylic acid that adds sharpness to wine. Undesirable in high concentrations it is often reduced through malolactic fermentation to lactic acid.

Malolactic fermentation

A secondary fermentation that converts malic acid into softer lactic acid. Adds complexity to Chardonnay and smoothness to reds such as Cabernet sauvignon and Merlot.

Marc

French for fruit skins. See pomace.

Mash

See must

Master of Wine

A qualification (not an academic degree) conferred by The Institute of Masters of Wine, which is located in the United Kingdom.

May wine

A light German wine flavored with sweet woodruff (herb) in addition to strawberries or other fruit.

Mead

A wine-like alcoholic beverage made of fermented honey and water rather than grape juice.

Medals

Wine show awards for well-made wines. International and capital city wine shows are the most reliable indicators of quality. Gold medals are awarded to wines attaining 18.5 points or more (out of 20 points); silver medals,17.0 to 18.4; and bronze, 15.5-16.9.

Mercaptans

Yeast reacting with lees causing a mousey smell.

Méthode Champenoise

The traditional French method of producing sparkling wine, where the wine goes through secondary fermentation in the bottle in which it is eventually sold.

Methuselah

A large bottle holding six litres, the equivalent of eight regular wine bottles.

Microoxygenation

The controlled exposure of wine to small amounts of oxygen in the attempt to reduce the length of time required for maturation.

Midpalate

A wine tasting term for the feel and taste of a wine when held in the mouth.

Millerandage

A French term referring to a viticultural problem in which grape bunches contain berries of greatly differing sizes and levels of maturity. Caused by cool weather during flowering.

Mis en bouteille au château

French for bottled at the winery, usually in Bordeaux.

Morainic

Moraine is soil, rock, and other debris deposited by glacial action (glacial drift).

Mousseux

A French sparkling wine not made in the Champagne region.

Mucilage

A gummy substance produced by certain plants.

Mud

See lees.

Mulled wine

A wine that is spiced, heated and served as a punch.

Must

Unfermented grape juice, including pips, skins, and stalks. Also, call mash.

Must weight

The level of fermentable sugars in the must and the resultant alcohol content, if all the sugar was converted to ethanol.

Nebuchadnezzar

A large bottle holding 15 liters, the equivalent of 20 regular wine bottles.

Negociant

French for a trader. A wine merchant that assembles the produce of smaller grape growers and winemakers and sells the result under its own name.

New World wine

Wines produced outside of the traditional wine-growing areas of Europe and North Africa.

Noble rot

See Botrytis cinerea

Nose

A wine tasting term for the aroma or bouquet of a wine.

Oak

Quality picked up by wines fermented and/or stored in oak barrels. American oak gives a more intense vanilla and coconut flavor, while French oak gives wine a delicate vanilla, cedar, and butterscotch character.

Oak chips

Small pieces of oak wood used in place of oak barrels in fermenting and/or aging wine.

Oechsle

The German measure for the sugar concentration in grape juice or wine.

Oenology

The science of wine and winemaking.

Oenophile

A wine aficionado or connoisseur.

Off-dry

A wine that has the barest hint of sweetness; a slightly sweet wine in which the residual sugar is barely perceptible.

Old vine

The wine produced from vines that are notably old.

Old World wine

Wines produced inside of the traditional wine-growing areas of Europe and North Africa.

Oxidation

Exposure to oxygen causes a wine to go brown and flat. Oxidation creates bitterness and destroys the flavor.

Oxygen

A gas that is vital for the growth of yeast cells. A small amount of oxygen is important at the start of fermentation. Too high a concentration of oxygen will lead to oxidation of the wine causing a loss of color, flavor, and aroma.

Palate

A wine tasting term for the feel and taste of wine in the mouth.

Peppery

A not entirely unpleasant characteristic reminiscent of black pepper sometimes found in young red wines (especially Shiraz) and port.

pH

A measure of the concentration of acidity. pH ranges from 1 to 14 with the numbers 1 to 7 is more acidic. Water is neutral at pH 7 and wines are generally between pH 3 - 4.

Phenolics

A large group of compounds found mainly in the skins and seeds of the grape. They include the flavonoids, anthocyanins, and tannins. During the aging process of wines, many of these are precipitated out. Evidence suggests that red wine will offer greater protection against heart disease than white wine due to its higher concentration of phenolics.

Phylloxera

A microscopic underground insect that kills grape vines by attacking their roots.

Pipe

A cask holding two hogsheads or 126 U.S. gallons of wine.

Pips

Grape seeds.

Plan Bordeaux

A proposal for enhancing the economic status of the wine industry in Bordeaux.

Plonk

British English slang for an inexpensive bottle of wine. The term is thought to originate from the French word for white wine, blanc.

Pomace

The skins, stalks, and seeds remaining after making wine. Also called marc.

Port

A sweet fortified wine, which is produced from grapes grown and processed in the Douro region of Portugal. Port 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.

Porto

The legal name for a true Port wine sold in the United States since imitation ports may be labeled as a Port there.

Potassium bitartrate crystals

Potassium bitartrate crystals sometimes form on the cork. Caused by tartaric acid, the “wine diamonds” are harmless

Potassium sorbate

A wine stabilizer and preservative.

Potential alcohol

The alcoholic concentration that would be produced if all the sugars present were converted to alcohol.

Powdery mildew

A fungal vine disease common to cooler climates which can lead to crop losses.

Precipitate

When a dissolved substance can no longer stay dissolved and leaves the solution as a solid it is said to precipitate, to leave the solution.

Proof

Refers to the alcohol content of a beverage. In the United States, proof represents twice the alcohol content as a percentage of volume. Thus, a 100 proof beverage is 50% alcohol by volume and a 150 proof beverage is 75% alcohol. In the Imperial system, proof, (or 100% proof), equals 57.06% ethanol by volume, or 48.24% by weight. Absolute or pure ethanol is 75.25 over proof or 175.25 pro

Prosecco

Prosecco is an Italian sparkling wine from the Veneto region. usually made with Glera grapes. The production areas are in Treviso, Venezia, Vicenza, Padova, Belluno, Gorizia, Pordenone, Trieste, and Udine. 

Pruning

Cutting the vine to improve its shape and balance. The level of pruning can affect a vine's vigor and the quality of its yield.

Pulp

The flesh of the grape containing water, sugars, and acids. The flesh of most grapes, whether red or white, is clear.

Puncheon

A wine barrel that holds approximately 84 U.S. gallons (318 liters).

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.

Qualit

A designation of best quality German wines from recognized viticultural areas, that must conform to specific requirements of origin and composition.

Racking

The process of drawing wine off the sediment, such as lees, after fermentation and moving it into another vessel.

Rehoboam

A large bottle holding 4.5 liters, the equivalent of six regular wine bottles.

Rémuage

See riddling.

Reserva

A Spanish and Portuguese term for a reserve wine.

Residual sugar

Unfermented natural grape sugar that contributes sweetness to a finished wine.

Reverse osmosis

A process used to remove excess water from wine.

Riddling

In the making of sparkling wine, including Champagne, Riddling is a traditional and tedious method for consolidating lees near the neck of the bottle to make it easier to remove.

The bottles are placed neck down into racks called pupitres. At regular intervals (from several times a day to once every few days) over a period (two to ten weeks) the bottles are shaken, given a twist, and dropped back into the rack. This is to release the lees from the side of the bottle. The angle of the rack is gradually increased, starting at a 45° until 90°, and the lees collect in the neck, ready for dégorgement.

To the relief of many winemakers, this process is mostly done by machine (gyropalettes), although at some of the Premier Cuvées in Champagne it's still done by hand.

Also known as Rémuage

Rootstock

The root section of an established, healthy plant, used for grafting. The section being grafted to the rootstock is called the scion.

Rosé

Rosé wine is made from 100% red wine grapes and can range in color from a pale orange to a near-purple. All the color comes from the skin (all juice is white), so to make the pale Rosé, after crushing, the skins remain in contact with the juice for just a short time. The must is then pressed, and the skins are discarded. From then it is processed as a white wine.

Rosés are ready to drink quite young.

Rotling

A Rotling is a wine made with both red and white grapes. They may be crushed separately but must be vinified together.

In contrast to all other types of wine, grape must may be added to increase the residual sugar. Mistakenly called rosé wine because of its color.

Rotling is fairly common in Germany.

Round

Describes a texture that is well balanced with agreeable qualities of fullness (body).

Ruby

A style of Port wine that is generally sweet.

Sack

An early English term for what is now called Sherry.

Salmanazar

A large bottle holding nine liters, 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.

Schiller wine

Schiller wine is a Rotling made by mixing white and red grapes in the must. The grapes have to be harvested from the same parcel in the vineyard and must meet the minimum Swiss QbA (Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete) of the specified region to be marketed as a Schiller wine. Because of the color, Shiller wine is often called a rosé, but that’s not strictly correct.

A Rosé is made exclusively with red wine grapes. Shiller wine produced in Graubünden tends to have higher proportions of red wine grape, while in Valais it’s reversed with white grapes, usually, Fendant (Chasselas), having a higher percentage. Shiller wine is also made in St. Gallen.

Scion

Grape variety grafted to the rootstock.

Screwcap

An alternative to cork for sealing wine bottles, comprising a metal cap that screws onto threads on the neck of a bottle. Also called a stelvin.

Sec

French for dry, except in the case of Champagne, where it means semi-sweet.

Sekt

German for sparkling wine.

Semi-generic

Wines made in the United States but named after places that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau requires to be modified by a US name of geographic origin. Examples would be New York Chablis, Napa Valley Burgundy, or California Champagne.

Sharp

Acid taste on the palate. Not necessarily unpleasant smoky flavor and aromatic complexity. Usually a by-product of fired (toasted) oak barrels.

Sherry

A fortified wine that has been subjected to controlled oxidation to produce a distinctive flavor.

Skin

An essential part of red winemaking as it contains pigments, flavonoids, and tannins.

Skin contact

Continual and deliberate contact of the skins with the juice during the winemaking. This is generally to extract color or tannin from the skin. 

Soft

Describes a wine with a mild tannin or acid sensation with no harshness on the palate or in the aftertaste.

Solera system

A system of fractional blending used in making fortified wine. Usually, a stack of barrels will have the youngest wines at the top and the oldest at the bottom. Wine is removed from the bottom barrels for bottling and topped up from the row above. In this way, a consistent wine can be produced over many years. This process is used for Sherry.

Sommelier

A trained wine expert that often works in fine restaurants.

Sorbic acid

Used to kill yeasts and molds but can produce the undesirable odor of crushed geranium.

Sparkling wine

Effervescent wine containing significant levels of carbon dioxide.

Spätlese

German for late harvest wine.

Spinning cone column

A machine used to reduce the amount of alcohol in a wine.

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 for sparkling. Generally, any sparkling wine from Italy, although producers of Franciacorta have stated that Franciacorta is not a spumante.

Stabilisation

Processes used to stop the wine from deteriorating.

Stelvin

A brand of screwcap.

Still wine

A wine that is not sparkling wine.

Stoving wine

A production method of artificially mellowing wine by exposing it to heat.

Sulfites

Compounds (typically: potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite), which are added to wine to prevent oxidation and microbial spoilage.

Sulphur dioxide (SO2)

Used since Roman times to preserve, disinfect and reduce oxidation in wines. It is referred to on food and wine labels as Preservative (220) added.

Sweet

More than fruity; pertaining to the sugar level in the finished wine.

Sweetness of wine

Defined by the level of residual sugar in the final liquid after the fermentation has ceased. However, how sweet the wine will actually taste is also controlled by factors such as the acidity and alcohol levels, the amount of tannin present, and whether the wine is sparkling.

Syndicat des Vins de Bordeaux et Bordeaux Superieur

An organization representing the economic interests of wine producers in Bordeaux.

T budding

A technique that permits the grafting of different grape varieties onto existing rootstock in a vineyard.

T.B.A.

An abbreviation for the German wine Trockenbeerenauslese.

Table wine

In America, Table wine refers to a style of wine; any wine that is not a sparkling wine or a fortified wine. These wines must also be between 7% and 14% alcohol by volume.

In Europe, Table Wine refers to quality, which is any, "every day", non-premium wine.

Tannin

A compound in wines that gives a bitter, dry, or puckery feeling in the mouth.

Tart

A wine tasting term describing a wine high in acidity. Often displayed by young, unripe wines.

Tartaric acid

Tartaric acid lowers the pH of fermenting must preventing undesirable bacteria, and acts as a preservative after fermentation, and adds tartness to the finished wine.

Tartrates

Harmless potassium bitartrate crystals that may form (often on the cork) from the tartaric acid naturally present in wine.

Tasting flight

Tasting flight refers to a selection of wines at a wine tasting, usually between three and eight glasses, but sometimes as many as fifty, presented for the purpose of sampling and comparison.

Tears

See legs.

Terroir

French for soil, Terroir is the physical and geographical characteristics of a particular vineyard site that give the resultant wine its unique properties.

Texture

A wine tasting term for the mouthfeel of wine on the palate.

Thief

A tubular instrument for removing a sample from a cask or barrel. Also called a pipe.

Thin

Lacking in body, depth, and flavor.

Toast

Burning charcoal inside of wine casks.

It also refers to the practice of drinking an alcoholic beverage along with wishing good health or other good fortunes.

Toasty

Describes a flavor derived from oak. Also, a character that develops in some sparkling wines.

Transparency

The ability of a wine to clearly portray all unique aspects of its flavor-fruit, floral, and mineral notes. The opposite would be a wine in which flavors are diffused and thoroughly integrated.

Triage

The sorting of the grapes.

Trocken

German for dry.

Trockenbeerenauslese

German for dry berry selected. A type of German wine made from vine-dried grapes. Such grapes can be so rare that it can take a skilled picker a day to gather enough for just one bottle.

Tun

A wine cask that holds approximately, two butts, or 252 U.S. gallons.

Typicity

A wine tasting term used to describe how much a wine expresses the typical characteristics of the varietal.

Ullage

The headspace between wine and the top of a container. This is kept to a minimum to avoid oxidation.

Unoaked

Also known as un-wooded, refers to wines that have been matured without contact with wood/oak such as in aging barrels.

Varietal

Wines made from a single grape variety.

Vegetal

Smells and tastes in wine that is reminiscent of plants and vegetables (such as Cabernet sauvignon, which exhibits these qualities that are part of the varietal character).

Velvety

Having rich flavor and a smooth, soft texture.

Vermouth

A fortified wine that has been flavored with as many as 40 herbs and spices.

Vertical wine tasting

In a vertical tasting, different vintages of the same wine type of wine from the one winery are tasted. This emphasizes the differences between vintages.

Vigneron

French for vine grower

Vigorous

In wine, a lively taste or feel.

Vigour

A vine’s growth rate.

Vinegar

A sour-tasting, highly acidic (acetic acid) liquid made from the oxidation of ethanol in wine, cider, beer, fermented fruit juice, or nearly any other liquid containing alcohol.

Vineyard

A place where grapevines are grown for winemaking purposes.

Vinho verde

An effervescent white wine produced in Portugal.

Wine tasting

The sensory evaluation of wine, encompassing not only taste, but also mouth-feel, aroma, and color.

Yeast

Yeast is the Microorganism that produces the enzymes which convert sugar into alcohol. In the fermentation of grapes, yeast produces primarily ethanol and small quantities of higher alcohols and esters that give a wine its individual character

Zymology

The science of fermentation.