Interested in learning the basics of wine? Here’s a list of common wine terms.
Acidity - A naturally occurring component of every wine; the level of perceived sharpness; a key element to a wine’s longevity; a leading determinant of balance.
Alcohol - The end product of fermentation; technically ethyl alcohol resulting from the interaction of natural grape sugars and yeast; generally above 12.5% in dry table wines.
AOC – Abbreviation for Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, a French term for a governed wine region.
Aperitif - A wine that is either drunk by itself or before a meal in order to stimulate the appetite.
Appellation – A geographically delineated wine region.
Barrel Aging – The process of using barrels to age wine for its flavor and aromas.
Blind tasting – Tasting and evaluating wine without knowing what it is.
B.O.B. – An acronym for “Buyer’s Own Brand” which refers to a private label wine owned by the restaurant or retailer that sells the wine.
Commercial Wine – Mass produced wine aimed for the wide market of wine drinkers made according to a set formula, year after year.
Crush - The grape harvest or vintage measured in tonnes.
Cult Wines – Wines for which buyers will pay large sums of money because of their desirability and rarity.
Cuvée – A wine blended from several vats or batches, or from a selected vat.
Decanting – The process of pouring wine from its bottle into a decanter to separate the sediment from the wine.
Dry - Wines with zero or very low levels of residual sugar.
Extract - The solid compounds in wine, such as tannins. Increasing the level of extract results in more colour and body. However, some wines can be considered over-extracted.
Fermentation – The process that turns grape juice into wine.
Finish - The final impression of a wine’s flavour.
Filtration – A finishing process, performed before bottling. The wine is filtered in order to remove solid impurities, such as dead yeast cells.
Glycerol – Also known as glycerine. A sweet, syrupy compound which is an essential part of all fats and oils. It is produced in small quantities by alcoholic fermentation, especially when there is botrytis, and increases the sweetness of the finished wine.
Hectare – The most commonly used measurement of area in viticulture.
Ice Wine - Wine made from frozen grapes.
Jug wine – American term for inexpensive table wine
Kosher Wine – Wine that is produced under the supervision of a rabbi so as to be ritually pure or clean.
Late Harvest – Wines left on the vine longer than usual to obtain higher sugar levels.
Legs – The tear-like tracks that a wine makes down the side of a glass after it has been swirled.
Macroclimate – The climate of a large area, such as an entire wine-producing region.
Maturity - The stage in the aging of wine that has developed all of its characteristics to perfection.
Microclimate - The climate immediately around the vine.
Noble Rot – A fungal infection caused by Botrytis cinerea. It is an essential ingredient in Sauternes, Tokay and other sweet wines of Germany and Austria. Under the wrong conditions the result of infection is Grey Rot.
Oenology - The science and study of all aspects of wine and winemaking except vine-growing and grape-harvesting.
Old World Wine – Wine produced in the traditional wine growing areas of Europe and North Africa.
Oxidized - Wine that has undergone oxidization due to exposure to air. This is caused by a chemical change which deteriorates the wine.
Residual - Any substance that remains after the fermentation. Typically used in relation to sugar
Sommelier - Wine professional who specializes in all aspects of wine service.
Sparkling Wine – Wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide in it making it fizzy such as Champagne.
Table wine - To signify a wine style and as a quality level within wine classification.
Tannin – A compound that gives wine a bitter and dry taste in the mouth.
Terrior - A French term to describe all the influences on grape growing.
Unfiltered- A wine that has not been filtered which is normally a process that removes sediment. Sometimes leaving the wine unfiltered adds flavour and body.
Varietal - Wines made from a single grape variety.
Vintage - Wines made from a single specified year.
Viticulture - The science, production and study of grapes.
Wine Label – The descriptive sticker or signage attached to the side of the wine bottle.
Wine Press - A mechanical device for crushing grapes and extracting juice.
Yield – The amount of fruit that a vineyard produces.
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Suzanne Urpecz, creator and editor of The Hungarian Girl. Click on my About page for more info.