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Wine Glossary
A B C D E F G I J L M N O P R S T U V Y


Acidity
There is natural acidity that is important to the taste of wine. However, too much acidity in wine may make it taste too tart or sour. Natural acidity occurs in wine are citric, malic, and lactic. In hot climates or during hot years, acidity level of the wine tends to be lower while cool, rainy years tend to be high in acidity.

American Viticultural Area (AVA)
There are U.S. laws that regulate the use of place names on wine labels. An application and approval process is required to designate an AVA. An example of an AVA is Napa Valley.

Aroma
The smell of grapes or a young wine is the aroma. As the wine matures and takes on nuances of smell it is described as the bouquet.

Astringent
This is a term to describe a harsh taste of the wine; sometimes described as a sense of puckering in the mouth. This can be caused because the wine is still young. The tannins may not matured or mellowed, or it good be a poorly made wine.

Balance
A term used to describe wine that has no single aspect standing out resulting in a pleasing impression. It is a desired wine trait where the tannins, fruit, and acidity are harmonious.

Blanc de Blanc
A French term meaning “white from white” describing white wines from white grapes.

Blanc de Noirs
A French term meaning “white from black” describing white wines made from red (black) grapes.

Blending
The art of the winemaking process – taking a bit of this combining it with a bit of that similar to what a chef might do. There are several ways to blend wine – different varietals can be blended, different vintages of the same varietal, and single varietals made from blends from different barrels or tanks.

Body
A wine tasting term to describe the feel of the wine as it crosses the palate (i.e. the weight and fullness of the wine).

Breathing
A term to describe letting wine to come in contact with the air either by opening a bottle and letting it rest or forcibly aerating it.

Brix
The scale used to measure the ripeness or sugar levels in grapes. For example a grape picked at 22 brix will yield a wine with approximately 12 percent alcohol and no residual sugar.

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Cabernet Franc
It is a type of Cabernet grape. It is sometimes blended with other Cabernet grape varietals.

Cabernet Sauvignon
A rich, tannic grape that produces wines that age.

Cap
During the fermentation process of red wines, the solid parts of the grape (i.e. skins, seeds, and stems) rise to the top and must be broken up regularly. These elements impart a lot of flavor and characteristics into the wine.

Chardonnay
A popular white grape varietal.

Clone
A plant produced by graphing or cutting so that it retains the identical genetic characteristics of the host. Specific clones are chosen because they have desired characteristics, appropriate for the climate or soils, or are resistance to disease.

Cloudy
A term that describes a wine with floating particles. This typically is the result of the winemaking process. Many winemakers choose to filter their wines to ensure that the wine is not cloudy.

Cooperage
Anything related to wooden casks and barrels. A cooper is a barrel maker.

Cork
Made from the bark of the cork tree and are stoppers for wine bottles. However, there are corks made from synthetic materials also.

Corkage
A fee paid to a restaurant when you are allowed to bring a bottle of wine to enjoy with dinner. The fee varies from restaurant to restaurant. Regulations related to corkage also varies state to state.

Corked
A term that describes a flawed wine that smells like the cork. It is typically the result of an unclean or faulty cork and could smell musty, moldy, or like wet cardboard.

Corkscrew
The device used to remove corks from bottles.

Crisp
A winetasting term to describe a refreshing acid balance in white wines sometimes said to resemble a fresh crisp green apple.

Crush
A term used to refer to grape harvest.

Decant
Pouring wine from the bottle into a glass container or decanter to let the wine breath or to remove sediment.

Decanter
A glass or crystal vessel to decant wine into.

Dry
This term refers to wine that has very little residual sugar.

Earthy
A wine tasting term that refers to a soil taste in the wine.

Estate Bottled
Assures that the wine was bottled and produced from grapes that winery had control over from beginning to end.

Fermentation
The process of turning grapes into wine.

Fining
A method to clarify the wine.

Finish
The last tastes of wine as you swallow (or spit).

Free Run
During the winemaking process, the juice that appears after crushing, but before pressing is considered the highest quality juice.

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Garnacha
Spanish name for the grape varietal; also know as Grenache.

Grenache
A Rhone Valley of France red wine grape.

Imperial
A large bottle that can hold eight regular sized wine bottles.

Jeroboam
A large bottle that can hold four or six regular sized wine bottles depending on the region.

Lees
Sediment left in the barrel, tank or vats from young wines. A process called racking removes the wine from the vessel and leaves the lees.

Legs
A wine tasting term that refers to the wine left on the sides of the glass when the wine is swirled.

Magnum
A large wine bottle holding two normal sized bottles of wine.

Malolactic Fermentation
A second fermentation process that softens the acids in the wine.

Marsanne
A Rhone Valley, France white grape varietal.

Mourvedre
A French red wine grape varietal.

Must
Crushed grapes and juice that will be fermented into wine.

Nebuchadnezzar
The largest Champagne bottle that holds 20 regular wine bottles.

Oak
Type of wood to used to make barrels. The newer the barrel the more flavor the barrel imparts into the wine.

Oxidized
A wine tasting term used to describe wine that has taken on too much oxygen.

Petite Sirah
A red wine grape varietal.

pH
Measurement for acid in the wine.

Pomace
The by-products (seeds, skins, pulp, and stems) of the fermenting and pressing of red wine.

Press
A piece of equipment used to extract the juice from the grapes.

Pruning
When vines are dormant, they are shaped in anticipation of the next growing season. Each vineyard manager has a different approach to managing the vineyard.

Pulp
The center of the grape where the juice is located.

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Racking
Refers to the process of transfering wine from one barrel to another leaving any sediment behind. It is a technique for clarifying the wine. Care must be taken because the wine is exposed to oxygen during this process.

Rehoboam
A large wine bottle holding six regular bottles of wine.

Roussanne
A white wine grape from the Rhone Valley in France.

Salmanazar
A large wine bottle that can hold 12 regular bottles of wine.

Shiraz
The Australian name for the grape varietal Syrah.

Sommelier

An expert in wine sometimes called a wine steward.

Stemmer
A piece of equipment that removes the stems from the grapes before fermentation and pressing.

Stuck
A winemaking term referring to a wine that sticks during the fermentation process. It is related to the yeast no longer being able to metabolize the sugar or there is not enough yeast left to complete the fermentation.

Syrah
A Rhone Valley of France red grape varietal.

Tannin
The compounds found primarily in the skin and seeds of the grapes that can cause the bitter or astringent tastes of wines. Tannin is required for aging red wines.

Tartaric
Main acid found in wine.

Terroir
French term that literally means soil but has been expanded to describe the entire microclimate around a vineyard (soil, weather, water, etc.).

Thief
A glass or metal tube used to extract wine from a barrel. It also known as a “pipette” by the French.

Topping
Refers to the action of replacing evaporated wine in the barrel so the wine does not oxidize. Topping helps to ensure the wine’s quality.

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Ullage
The amount of air in a bottle or barral as a result of evaporation.

Varietal Wine
A wine that takes its name from the predominant grape variety it is made from.

Veraison
The point in the grape maturing process when it begins to turn color.

Vineyard
A group of grape vines.

Viniculture
Used to describe the entire scope of wine – growing grapes, making wine, and selling it.

Vintage
The date of the actual grape harvest and harvest year.

Viognier
White wine grape varietal from the Northern Rhone region of France.

Viticulture
The study of grape growing.

Yeast
A single cell organism responsible for fermentation.

Yield
The amount of fruit a vine or vineyard produces.


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