Acidity/Acid- Creates a
mouthwatering sensation, balances sugar and sweetness. Acids occur naturally in
Alcohol- The result of fermentation. Sugar (in grapes) +Yeast
(naturally occurring or added) = Alcoholic Fermentation. Alcohol
percentage must be stated on the label.
Appellation (ap-puh-LAY-shuhn)-A designated growing area generally governed by
rules and regulations established by a local governing body or government.
Example of governing body: AOC (Appellation D’Origine Contrôlée) in France, VQA
(Vintners Quality Alliance) in Canada, AVA (American Viticultural Area)
in America, DOC (Denominazione Di Oringine Controllata) in Italy.
Aroma- Individual and primary
smells found in wines. In the wine world aroma is determined by the simple
fruity smell of a grape varietal as well as any resulting aromas during
winemaking/ fermentation and aging. As a wine ages in a bottle and becomes
mature the aromas change, become softer and blended creating a bouquet.
Astringent- The dry, mouth-puckering effect of excessive tannins.
Austere- Somewhat hard and/or
lacking in fruit. (This can be caused by excessive tannins or acidity)
AVA- Approved Viticultural Area.
Balance- When all combined components (alcohol, acid, sweetness, tannins
etc.) are in perfect harmony.
French term for the 225L oak barrels used for storing and aging wine.
Big-A rich, full-bodied wine,
concentrated, assertive and intensely flavoured.
Blend- A combination of different wines, the goal to achieve a whole that
is superior to the parts.
Body- The perception of texture and weight caused primarily by the amount
of alcohol, but can also be achieved with winemaking techniques.
Botrytis Cinerea (boh-TRI-tihs sihn-HER-ee-uh)-aka
Noble Rot, a mold that develops on grapes, shriveling and
shrinking them concentrating the flavours and sugars in desert wines like
Botrytised (boh-TRY-tihsd)- Desciption of wines that have a sweet
uniquely aromatic, honeyed characteristic in both fragrance and flavour. This
trait is caused by grapes that have have been infected with the mold Botrytis
Bouquet- The complex fragrance
that has developed through fermentation and age.
Brilliant- A wine of superior clarity achieved through intense filtering.
Brut- A term used to describe
(shap-tuh-luh-Zay-shuhn)-Addition of adding sugar to grape juice (must)
prior to fermentation. Specifically in vintages when the grapes do not ripen
fully. Not legal in all parts of the world.
Chewy- Descriptor for wines that are rich, dense, intense and
full-bodied. The mouth filling impression makes them seem as though you can chew
them. Also refers to meaty
Clarity- Visually, a wine that is brilliant lacking in cloudiness
Cloying- Lacking acidity, resulting in a wine that is excessively sweet.
Corked- A fault, cased by a cork that has been affected by TCA
(Tricloroanisole). smelling similar to wet cardboard or moldy basement.
Creamy-The rich, smooth froth
on a sparkling wine or the buttery rich mouth-feel (weight and body)
of some white wines.
Crisp- Fresh lively acidity.
Cru- French term for growth,
can also indicate a vineyards ranking (ie: premier cru, grand cru).
Cuveé- French term ‘contents of vat’ can also refer to the
Demi-Sec- French term meaning
half-dry, primarily used in Champagne.
Domaine- French term for ‘property’ or ‘estate’.
Dumb- Closed, transitional
phase of wine between youth and maturity, completely unpredictable duration or
and balance, high quality.
study of viniculture (winemaking).
Fat- Textural term is heavy
(weight), concentrated, rich on the palate. Not to be confused with flabby.
that turns grape juice into wine, sugar+yeast=alcoholic fermentation.
Finish- The final impression of
flavour remaining on the palate after swallowing. A long finish is desirable and
is part of the overall balance of the wine.
Flabby- A wine that is heavy on
the palate, lacking balance, acidity and structure.
Frizzante- Italian term meaning
‘lightly sparkling’ or effervescent.
Grand Cru-(grahn-Kroo)-A French term meaning 'great growth'.
In Burgundy Grand Cru is a top-ranking designated vineyards. In
Bordeaux, it hold less status and is given to some chateau's. In Alsace
it signifies the top vineyards and in Champagne it refers to the quality of
wines being produced in an individual village. Only certain villages in the
Champagne region score a high enough percentage to receive this designation.
Green-Grassy quality, usually high in acidity, sometime made from
under-ripe grapes. Grassy refers to the aroma of cut grass.
Harmonious- perfectly balanced
and ready to drink.
Harsh- Descriptor meaning
‘hard’ could be excessively tannic (astringent) or acidic.
Hollow-Wine that lacks depth
and body, flavour may ‘drop off’ in the mid-palate.
Hybrid-A vine or grape created
from two different species of vines or grapes.
Insipid-Lacking body, character
Lean-Opposite of fleshy,
somewhat lacking in fruit, can be positive or negative.
Legs- After a wine is swirled it leaves a coating on the inside of the
glass that separates into viscous-looking legs or tears that run slowly
down the sides of the glass.
Length- a measurement of
lingering persistence (in seconds) on the palate after swallowing. The longer
the length, the higher quality of wine.
Lively-Term for freshness and
youthful fruity character.
Lush- Term for wines that are
soft, velvety and rich-luscious.
Maderized-Winemaking term for
an over-the-hill wine tasting similar to Madeira. Has characteristics similar to
over-ripe apples. Different from oxidized.
Malolactic Fermentation (ML)-A
secondary fermentation that converts the harsher malic acids into softer lactic
acids. Softens the wine and builds complexity.
Mature- A wine that is suitably aged, developed and ready to drink.
Meaty- A synonym for ‘chewy’, a wine so full-bodied it gives a sense of
chewiness. Can also be used to describe meaty aromas like smoked meat or wild
Meritage (mer-uh-tihj)-A term coined in 1988 in California. ‘Merit’
meaning; ‘best of the vineyard’ combined with ‘heritage’ meaning;
‘the heritage of Bordeaux’. Meritage (like the wines from the
region of Bordeaux in France) can be made from any combination of Cabernet
Sauvignon/Franc, Merlot and possibly Petit Verdot and Malbec.
Mousse- French term for ‘froth’ or ‘foam’ which refers to the foam that
forms on the surface of sparkling wine when it is first poured. (Like the head
on the top of a beer.)
Muscular/Masculine- Bold, full bodied red wines usually with heavy, dark
fruit and meaty aromas. Opposite of feminine.
Négociant (nay-goh-SHAYAHN)-French term for ‘merchant’ or ‘dealer’
used in the wine world to refer to a firm or person who sells and ships wine. A
Oak; Oaky; Oakiness- Wine term describing a toasty, vanilla,
creamy aroma or flavour from wines stored in oak barrels. Can sometimes come
across on the finish as burnt caramel (over toasted barrels) or green/bitter
woodiness (young or ‘green’ barrels).
It’s widely accepted that American oak imparts sweeter more vanillin
characteristics, than French oak barrels.
Oily- Term used to describe texture of a wine A smooth, slippery
impression that makes a wine taste ‘fat’ and is generally associated with
white wines with low acidity.
Off- Term to describe a wine that is spoiled or seriously flawed.
Different from corked.
Oxidized- Term used to describe a wine that has undergone oxidization due
to exposure to air. This causes a chemical change and the wine deteriorates.
Different, yet easily confused with the term maderized.
Peppery- Term used to describe spicy, black or white pepper
Perfumed- Highly aromatic or
highly fragrant wine, usually caused by grape variety.
Petrol; Petroleum- Sensory term used to describe the faint smell of
petroleum found in some wines; specifically Riesling.
Phenolic (fee-NAHL-ihk) compounds- Compounds found present
in grape seeds and skins and oak barrels which produce astringency, tannins,
bitterness and colour in wine.
Phylloxera (fihl-LOX-er-uh)- A tiny aphid-like insect that attacks
the rootstock of grapevines and sucks out the nutrients. The ultimate result is
the decimation of the vine.
Pips- Another term for grape seeds.
Punt- Indentation 'dimple' at the bottom
of the wine or Champagne bottle.
Racking- Process of siphoning off the clear juice from sediment at the
bottom of the container (barrel/tank). This may occur several times during
winemaking process before the wine becomes clear. Wine may also filtered after
Ripe- Winetasting term describing wines that are made from perfectly
ripened grapes. Comes across in the fruit aromas and flavours in wine.
Savoury- A general descriptor used in association with full bodied wines.
Can be used to describe savoury aromas like herbs (thyme, rosemary) or meats
(stewed, wild game).
Sec- French term for dry.
Sharp- Winetasting term used for wines that produce a biting sensation
usually due to excess of acidity.
Short- referring to finish. Means the finish is not long, it cuts off
abruptly and is not a desirable trait in a wine.
Simple- A wine that is not
complex but is still forthright and quite good.
Smooth- Descriptor of wine that can refer to texture, finish and flavour
Spicy- A descriptor usually characteristic to grape variety. Can refer to
pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and, or allspice.
Stemmy- Winetasting term
describing astringency or ‘green’ flavour/aroma. Usually caused by extended
contact with grape stems during winemaking.
Supple- Term used for well-structured wines that are harmonious, soft and
Sur Lie (soor LEE)- French term for a wine that has been left to soak
(and stirred) with the lees. Lees is the coarse
sediment consisting of grape particles and dead yeast cells that accumulate
during fermentation. This is believed to add complexity, body and flavour
imparting a creaminess to white wines
Sweet- Generally refers to the
residual sugar in a wine that comes through on the palate where it is detected
on the very tip of the tongue. Can also be used in describing the aroma of ripe
fruit and/or flowers which makes it smell sweet.
Tannic; Tannins- Any group of astringent substances found in seeds, skins
and stems as well as oak barrels = phenolic compounds. Tannins are
important in red wine as they provide substance, flavour, structure and texture
as well as contributing to the age worthiness of a wine.
Tartrates- A by-product of
tartaric acids found in wine. Tartrates can sometimes be found in wine that has
been improperly cold stabilized and can appear as tiny diamond crystals.
Visually not appealing but they are not harmful to the wine.
Terroir (teh-RWAHR)- French term for ‘soil’. Refers to the
overall combination of soil, climate and geographical features.
Tired- Term used for wine that is dull, passed its prime and generally
The empty space that develops (through evaporation) in casks, barrels and
bottles. In a bottle it refers to the space between the cork and wine.
Unfiltered- A wine that has not been filtered; a process that removes
sediment. It is believed that leaving the wine unfiltered adds flavour and body.
Underripe; Unripe- A Winetasting term used for wine made from grapes that
have been picked before they are fully ripe. Generally the wine will have high
acidity or ‘green’ flavours.
Varietal- Grape type from which
wine is made ie: Chardonnay, Syrah, Riesling…
Vegetal- Winemaking term describing the taste and smell characteristics
of fresh or cooked vegetables particularly asparagus or bell pepper.
Velvety- Winetasting term for
texturally opulent, lush or smooth wines-velouté
Viniculture- The study or
science of making wine.
Viscosity; Viscous (VIHS-kuhs)- Describes a liquid that is
generally rich, concentrated and high in glycerol. Leaves distinct legs or
sheets on the side of the glass and is texturally weighty on the palate.
Viticulture- The cultivation of grapevines or the study or science of
grapes and their culture.
Vitus Labrusca (VEE-tihs luh-BRUHS-Kuh)- One of the main, original
North American vine species-especially in Canada and Northeastern U.S.A. Best
known is the Concord variety.
Vitus Vinifera (VEE-this vinh-IHF-uh-ruh)- Vine species that
produces 99% of the world’s wines. Native to Europe, East and Central Asia, i.e.
Cabernet, Merlot, Riesling.
Wine- The naturally fermented
juice of grapes.
Yeasty- Winetasting term used
to describe the yeasty, fresh-bread bouquet found in wines that have either;
been aged on the lees or sparkling wines made in the traditional method
like those made in Champagne.
Young; Youthful-generally describes a fresh light and generally fruity
wine. Can also refer to a wine that needs some time to age.