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Home Wine Basics Glossary of Wine Terms

Glossary of Wine Terms

Learn the language of wine, to help you sound more informed.


Acetic: vinegar-like taste or smell from exposure to air. Vinegar is acetic acid.

Acidity: wines contain acids, which vary in concentration.

Appellation: French system regulating authenticity; applies to region where the grapes were grown.

Astringent: high tannin content produces dry, puckering effect.

Balance: relative degree of fruity quality, acidity, tannins, alcohol and other characteristics.

Bouquet: complex of aromas, usually from aging.

Cooked: prunish flavor, usually from excessive heat.

Cooper: a maker of casks or barrels.

Corked: a kind of spoilage, smelling of cork, usually from cracked or seeping cork allowing introduction of air or fungi.

Dry: opposite of sweet.

Fruity: aroma or flavor of apples, grapes, currants, pears, etc.

Green: wine made from unripe grapes, producing tart flavor.

Honeyed: smell or taste reminiscent of honey, characteristic of wines affected by 'noble rot' (Botrytis cinerea).

Length: a lingering aftertaste.

Madeirized: oxidized with a brownish color and stale odor. After the island of Madeira where wine is intentionally produced in open air vats.

Noble: a classification of grapes that produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Riesling

Nose: aroma. 'Off-nose' refers to odors indicating defect.

Nutty: nutlike aroma, such as found in sherry or aged whites.

Oakey: aroma from aging in oaken casks.

Oxidized: spoiled from over-exposure to air.

Sommelier: a specialist in selecting and serving wine.

Sparkling: wine containing carbonation, such as champagne.

Sulphur: an anti-oxidant introduced in some wines in small amounts. Fermentation creates minute amounts    naturally.

Sweet: having residual sugar from fermentation, from grape sugar incompletely converted to alcohol.

Vintner: a winemaker.

Viticulture: the art and science of growing wine grapes.

Vitis vinifera: plant species encompassing most traditional European wine grapes.

Woody: having the aroma or taste of aging barrels.

Yeasty: smelling similar to bread. Yeasts are introduced to carry out fermentation and can be incompletely removed.