The world of wine includes an array of terminology. The following glossary of wine terms will make it easy to understand wine.
Acidity – A natural component in all wines, it is the perceived level of sharpness and is an important element in a wine’s longevity.
Aeration – The deliberate action of adding oxygen to a wine to soften it or round it out.
Aging – The holding of wine for a certain period of time in wine tanks, barrels, or bottles, in order to advance it to a more desired state.
Alcohol – Refers to ethanol, which is the product of sugar fermentation by yeast.
Aroma – The scent which is a component of the nose or bouquet; for instance, an aromatic component of a fruity bouquet is cherry.
Balance – The level of harmony between the tannins, acidity, oak, fruit, and all other elements of a wine.
Bitter – A taste sensation that is felt on the back of the tongue which is caused by tannins.
Body – Refers to the impression of weight on a person’s palate; normally described as light, medium, or full.
Bouquet – The sum of aromas, or how the wine smells as a whole; it is key in the determination of the quality of a wine.
Breathe – The process of allowing a wine to open up by introducing it to the air.
Cap – The grape solids such as skin, stems, and pits that during fermentation will rise to the top of the tank or barrel; it is what gives red wines tannins, weight, and color.
Color – Key in the determination of a wine’s quality and age; white wines darken as they age while red wines will turn a brownish orange color.
Corked – A wine that has developed a mushroomy, musty aroma and flavor due to a cork that is tainted by trichloroanisol (TCA).
Decant – The process by which wine is transferred from a bottle to another container; normally done to aerate the wine.
Disgorge – The removal of the final sediments from sparkling wines that are traditionally made prior to the addition of the dosage.
Dosage – A sweetened spirit that is added to Champagne as well as other sparkling wines that are traditionally made, at the very end of the process.
Dry – Wine that contains no more than 0.2 percent of sugar that is not fermented.
Earthy – A term used to describe the soil like quality of flavors and aromas of certain types of wine.
Enology – The science of producing wine; a professional wine maker is called an enologist while someone who enjoys wine is called an enophile.
Fermentation – The process that transforms sugar into alcohol; when yeast interacts with grape juice to become wine.
Filtration – The process that wine undergoes to clarify it prior to bottling.
Fining – A part of the clarification process in which elements such as egg whites are added to the wine for the purpose of capturing solids prior to filtration.
Maceration – The process in which grape skins and juice ferment together, imparting aromas, tannins, and color.
Magnum – A larger wine bottle that is equal to two regular bottles that are 750 ml apiece.
Must – Refers to crushed grapes that are going through or about to go through fermentation.
Nose – The same as bouquet; the sum of aromas of a wine.
Oaky – A term commonly used to describe flavors and aromas that are woody; common notes found in oaky wines include toast, popcorn, and butter.
Organic – Wine made from grapes that are grown without the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides.
Oxidized – A wine that has been exposed to too much air and is no longer fresh.
Phylloxera – A voracious louse that is found on vines that has destroyed vineyards in both California and Europe over time.
Plonk – A derogatory term that is used to describe a poor tasting, cheap wine.
Pomace – The stems, pits, and skins that are left over after the process of fermentation; often used to make marc in France and grappa in Italy.
Press – The process of extracting grape juice prior to the fermentation process; a machine that can extract the juice.
Pruning – A chore done annually in vineyards in which plants from the previous harvest are trimmed back.
Racking – The movement of wine from one barrel to another to leave any sediment behind.
Reserve – A term used most commonly in America to describe wine that is of a higher quality.
Riddling – The rotation of bottles of Champagne in order to shift any sediment towards the cork.
Silky – A description of wine that has an especially smooth feel in the mouth.
Sommelier – Essentially a wine steward that has a certification in the study of wine; there are different degrees with Master being the highest one can achieve.
Spicy – A term used to describe woody, sharp, or sweet flavors or aromas.
Split – Refers to a quarter of a bottle of wine or a single serving that is equal to 175 ml.
Steely – Describes an acidic wine that is extremely crisp and has not been aged in barrels.
Stemmy – A description of the green, harsh characteristics of a wine.
Supple – A wine that is very smooth and balanced.
Table Wine – Normally refers to wine that is between ten and fourteen percent alcohol; in Europe the term refers to wine that is made by unapproved methods or outside of normal regions.
Tannins – Phenolic compounds that are found in many plants, and in grapes they are found in the pits and skins; they provide structure to wine and are astringent but die off over time which makes the wine less harsh.
Terroir – A French term that is used to describe the combination of climate, soil, and any other factors that can influence the character of a wine.
Vintage – Used to describe a particular year or a specific harvest in the wine business.
Viticulture – The proper term that refers to the business and science of growing wine grapes.
Yeast – Organisms that are used to trigger the process of fermentation; they can be commercial or natural.
Yield – The total amount of grapes that are harvested in a specific year.