There are currently 663 names in this directory
The taste that stays in your mouth after swallowing the wine. It should be pleasant and in fine wines it should last a long time after the wine is gone.
A tiny wine region in Germany. Unusually for Germany, most of the wine made is red. The main grape is Pinot Noir which is known locally as Spatburgunder.
Aloxe-Corton (ah-loks cor-tawn)
A wine producing village in Burgundy, France that is famous for both great reds and whites. The Grand Cru reds are Corton (with or without additional names, e.g. Le Clos du Roi or Les Renardes) and the famous white wine is Corton-Charlemagne.
A French province that makes some of the finest dry white wines in the world, many from grapes that in other parts of the world would be used to make sweet wines, such as Riesling and Gewurztraminer.
American Viticultural Area
Often abbreviated AVA. This is the set of US laws which regulate the use of place names on wine labels. Unlike similar laws in Europe, there are no restrictions on grape variety, yield or wine making practices. AVAs seem to be created more as a response to politics, then as a form of consumer protection. There are over 140 AVAs at this time.
Appellation d'Origine Controlee (ah-pel-ah-s'yawn daw-ree-jeen cawn-trohl-lay)
Often abbreviated AOC. The designation for wines of better quality from France. It is a set of laws which help the consumer to determine the origin and quality of a wine. These laws dictate the grape variety, the minimum alcohol and other quality factors, for any given wine from a specific region. Higher quality wines may come from a place as specific as a single vineyard, while other wines of the region may use a more generic place name. The rules for wines from a single vineyard tend to be more stringent than those for a general area.
The smell of a young wine. Different from bouquet, in that Aroma is the smell that comes from the grapes, and bouquet, which takes time to develop, is the smell that comes from the finished wine. Technically there are 3 forms of aroma. Primary, which originates in the grape itself. Secondary aroma, those which are aerobic (happens in air) and are due to the wine making process (this includes barrel aging). Finally, tertiary aromas are those which develop in a reductive environment (without air) in the sealed bottle, over time, these are what is usually called "bouquet".
That mouth puckering feeling that some wines give you. Related to, and usually caused by tannins. The sensation is accentuated by the acid in wine.
A German term for "Select Harvest". Wines with this designation are slightly sweet and lucious. Don't be afraid of these wines, they are often great with food, and rarely expensive.
Ausone, Chateau (oh-zon)
One of the greatest French wines, it is made in the village of St.-Emilion in the region of Bordeaux. This wine is too often overlooked by some consumers for its better known peers from the Haut-Medoc, such as Latour, Margaux and the other First Growths. As with most wines of St.-Emilion, Ch. Ausone is made from Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and the resulting wine is more elegant than the Cabernet Sauvignon based wines from the Haut-Medoc, across the river.
One of the larger German wine regions. It is bordered by France on the West, and and Switzerland in the South. The grapes tend to be planted along the foothills of the Black Forest. This is where you can find most of the German plantings of the red wine grape Pinot Noir which is known locally as Spatburgunder. Muller-Thurgau and Rulander (Pinot Gris) are the main white wine grapes.
A much used, but rarely defined term in wine tasting. A wine is said to be balanced when no single component is overwhelming the wine, and the overall impression is pleasing.
One of the top Italian wines. Made from the Nebbiolo grapes in the Piedmont. It is often long lived and heavy when young.
A wine producing district just south of Burgundy, France. The red wines from the region are made from Gamay, and are typically light and fruity. Beaujolais Nouveau (noo-vo) is an early released style of this wine, that is sold with more fan fair and hoopla than the wine deserves, it is released the third Thursday of November.
The quaint little walled city is the unofficial capital of the Burgundy wine trade. The surrounding wine area, in fact the entire southern Burgundy, is referred to as the Cote de Beaune.
Literally "Select Berry Picking" in German. The English term is "Individual Berry Select". Tiny scissors are used to cut just the most perfectly ripe berries (grapes) from the cluster. The grapes must have no less than 125 degrees Oeschsle (about 30% ) sugar. The resulting wine usually is somewhat sweet (average of about 6% residual sugar) with great flavors and amazing complexity. This is one of the world's finest styles of wine. It is a great match for spicy foods of all sort.
The German term for a wine producing subregion as defined by the 1971 German wine laws. A bereich contains many villages and vineyards in its scope.
Another of the world's greatest "cute little wine towns." This one is situated on the Mosel River in Germany. The most famous wines of Germany, Bernkastler Doctor, are grown on the steep hillsides overlooking the river. The Doctor vineyard has a perfect southern exposure important in these chilly northern vineyards.
Beychevelle, Ch. (bay'sh-vel)
A Fourth Growth Bordeaux, France wine from the commune of Saint-Julien. The exceptional quality of this producer has propelled its fame beyond its rank. Alas, the price is as high as its reputation.
Wine tasting term for the sensation in the finish of a wine. This is different than astringency (q.v.) which is a dry feeling in the mouth. Bitterness is very hard to spot, and it is rare, and undesireable in wine. As well, the taster gets used to the bitterness quickly, so the taste goes away after a few sips.
Blanc de Blanc (blahn duh blahn)
"White from white" in French. The term is applied to white wines made from white grapes. Mainly used in Champagne to denote wines made entirely from Chardonnay.
Blanc de Noirs (blahn duh n'wahr)
"White from black" in French. The term is applied to white wines made from red (black) grapes. Mainly used in Champagne to denote wines made entirely from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
Blending is perhaps the most important tool of the wine maker. While chemistry and science often have a hand in the final blend of a wine, more often than not it is a tasting that determines the final ratios. Like a chef seasoning a sauce, the winemaker adds a little of this, and a little of that, until the wine resembles that winemaker's idea of perfection. There are several types of blending: 1 Some wines, like Chateauneuf de Pape, Cote Rotie, Chianti, and Champagne, can be made from a blend of red and white grapes. Similarly Rose Champagne is often given that nice pink color, with the addittion of red wine (Pinot Noir). Note: Rose, or "Blush" wines are made pink by pressing red grapes very carefully and ending up with a pink wine. 2 Other wines, like Bordeaux are blends of the same color. In the case of Bordeaux, the grape variety Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (primarily) are blended, in order to add the character of each grape to the final wine. 3 Even wines of a single variety are (or should be) blended. In this last case, wines that have been vinified seperately (refered to as 'lots') are blended together. This blending may come from the simple necessisty of having more grapes to vinify than can fit into a single tank or barrel, or the blending may be carried out in order to create a specific style of wine. At the highest quality level, individual vineyards are vinified seperately, each adding their own character to the final blend, with the remaining wine declassified and sold as a lesser wine.
A term that is sometimes used to indicate a wine made in a white wine style from red wine grapes. "Blush" is actually a registered trademark. These light pink wines are also called "Rosé" or in some cases "White (Name of red wine grape here)".
The overall mouth feel or weight of a wine. Some tasters incorrectly attribute it to glycerin or glycol in wine (there is not enough in wine to make wine thick). The term may be related to the amount of dry extract in a wine (what is left when you remove the water).
Bonnes Mares (bone mar)
A Grand Cru red wine vineyard in the Cote d'Or in Burgundy, France. Located in the commune of Chambolle-Musigny.
One of the largest cities in France, and a generic term for the sea of wine that is made around the region. This is the home of the Haut-Medoc and such famous wineries as Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Ch. Haut-Brion and Ch. Petrus. Sub regions include the Medoc, Sauternes (the great dessert wine of France), St. Emilion and Pomerol. With over 215,000 acres planted to vineyards, and an average 35 million cases produced annually, Bordeaux is one of the leading wine regions in the world in quality and quantity. The Principal grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlo for reds and Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon for whites.
A fungicide made from copper sulfate and slaked lime. Used widely in Europe to prevent mildew. It is recognizable by its distinctive blue-green color.
Botrytis Cinera (bo-trie'-tiss sin-eh-ray'-ah)
The special mold that is responsible for many of the world's greatest dessert wines. It creates micro lesions in the skin of the grape, and then removes the water from the inside the grape. The result is fruit with a much higher ratio of sugar, suitable for creating sweet wines. The mold can also be harmful when it attacks dry wine vineyards (it is usually called Gray Rot when it is a pest). The French call Botrytis "Pourriture Noble" - the noble rot.
Used generically to indicate how a wine smells, or more specifically to indicate aromas associated with bottle aging. A more technical term for this later definition is "tertiary aromas."
The French word for Burgundy. Used on a label to indicate that the origin of the grapes can be from anywhere in Burgundy. If red, the grape is Pinot Noir, if white, Chardonnay.
Bourgogne Passe-tout-grains (boor-gon'-yah pahss too gran)
A blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir (at least 33%) from southern Burgundy. Not often seen, but worth trying.
A town and wine from the Loire region of France. Light and easy to enjoy, it is made from the Cabernet Franc grape.
A slightly sweet and fizzy red wine from Italy. This is my vote for the best pizza wine.
Allowing the wine to come in contact with air, either forcibly or by resting. Since most of the practices surrounding wine are one way or another designed to keep air from wine, breathing is a questionable practice. My own blind tastings have not shown a correlation between a recently opened bottle, and one that has been allowed to remain open (or decanted) for an hour. The phenomena of wine improving after time may be more accurately attributed to changes in your mouth and "getting used to" the taste of tannins and acids.
The a scale used to measure the ripeness of a grape. The predicted alcohol level of the wine can be expressed as brix x .55 = alc%. A grape picked at 22 brix will yield a wine with approximately 12% alcohol and no residual sugar. A dessert wine grape may be picked at 30 degrees brix and the resulting wine would have about 12% alcohol and 8% residual sugar.
Bual [or Boal] (boh-ahl)
A grape variety used in Madeira. Increasingly it is used to indicate a medium sweet style of Madeira.
One of the most important wine regions in France. The red grape is Pinot Noir and the white grape is chiefly Chardonnay.
A light, simple, Italian red wine (the name means "spatters like fire"). You will probably never see this, but at least now you know it is a wine.
Cabernet Franc (cab-air-nay frahn)
Often blended with Merlot and or Cabernet Sauvignon, this is the "other" Cabernet grape. It stands on its own in the Loire region of France where it makes light red wines.
Cabernet Sauvignon (cab-air-nay so-vee-n'yohn)
One of the most important red wine grapes. It is the base for many of the New World's finest wines, as well as the wines of Bordeaux, France. A rich grape, with sufficient tannins for making wines that age.
Calcium Alginate Beads (also called encapsulated yeast)
For the technically minded out there, and lovers of Champagne. This is a technique of encapsulating the yeast used for making sparkling wines sparkle. Normally the yeast must be removed by a process that can take months or years to complete. Encapsulating the yeast just rolls out of the bottle instantly. Developed by Moet & Chandon, this may be the wave of the future.
One of the primary wine growing regions in the United States. Sub regions include Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Santa Maria Valley, and many more.
In wine calories come from the alcohol. Since it is asked so regularly, the answer is about 100 - 110 per glass.
Most famous for the delicious ice wines and other dessert wines of the Niagra region, Canada is producing an increasing number of dry tables wine of note.
The solid parts of the grape - skins, seeds, and stems, which rise to the top of the must (partially fermented juice and solids) during red wine making. The cap needs to be broken up regularly so that these elements may impart characteristics to the wines.
Carbonic Maceration (also known as whole berry fermentation, or CM)
The fermentation method used in Beaujolais and other regions to produce a very light and fruity red wine. By fermenting in an enclosed tank that is filled with carbon dioxide the process takes place inside the berry. As the weight of the grapes on top crushes the grapes on the bottom, the juice is removed and fermentation of the juice proceeds normally. Most or all CM wines are a blend of techniques.
The French term that refers to the variety of grapevine. Cabernet Sauvignon is a popular cepage in the US. The term is also used to indicate the blend of grapes in a wine.
A small town in France that produces crisp dry Chardonnay. It is considered part of the Burgundy region due to similar soils and grape affinities, even though it is miles to the north west from the rest of Burgundy. The term has been unfairly bastardized in the US and Australia to mean any white wine of little note.
One of the top Grand Cru red wine vineyards of Burgundy, and one of my personal favorites. It is in the commune of Gevrey-Chambertin, which in the tradition of Burgundy, appended the name of this famous vineyard to its own.
Chambolle-Musigny (shahm-bol moo-see-n'yee)
A wine village, or commune, in the Burgundy region of France. Situated to the north of the Cote d'Or it is the home of two red Grand Crus, and the only white Grand Cru of the north, Musigny Blanc.
Champagne (sham-pon-ya) (commonly sham-pane in English)
Literally it means a "white chalky plane." This region in France is famous for its sparkling wines, and the method to make them, methode champenoise. "Fine Champagne" and "Grand Fine Champagne" on a bottle of Cognac refers to the white chalky plain found in the Cognac area, and not in any way to the sparkling wine region.
Chapelle-Chambertin (shah-pel sham-bair-tan)
A Grand Cru vineyard for red wine in the northern section of Burgundy, France. Adjacent to the Chambertin vineyard, Chapelle is allowed to append the name of the more famous vineyard to its own.
The practice of adding sugar to the juice prior to fermentation to increase the potential alcohol and quality of the wine. Illegal in many regions, and tightly controlled in others. In some cooler wine regions it would not be possible to make wine in some years with out chapitalizing.
One of the most popular and important white grapes in the world. It is at home in the Burgundy region of France, and found throughout the New World. When first aged in oak, Chardonnay is one of the few white wines that improve with bottle aging.
Charmes-Chambertin (sharm sham-bair-tan)
One of the Grand Cru red wine vineyards of Gevry-Chambertin in Burgundy, France.
Chassagne-Montrachet (shah-san'yuh mohn-rah-shay)
A white wine making village in the Cote de Beaune in Burgundy, France. The famed vineyard Montrachet straddles this town, and Puligny-Montrachet, both of which have appended the famous vineyard names to their own.
In Bordeaux, France, this is the name of the winery and vineyards that produce the wine. While it specifically means a castle or mansion, few Chateaux (the plural form) still exist in Bordeaux in the literal sense. More often than not a modest winery or farm house is the only building on the property.
The term in Bordeaux, France for "Estate Bottled" meaning that the wine was bottled by the producer or owner of the vineyards.
Chateauneuf-du-Pape (chah-toe-nuff doo pahp)
Literally the "new castle of the Popes," this was the summer home of the Popes while the papacy resided in nearby Avignon, France in the 1300s. It is now one of the best known wine producing regions of the southern Rhone. With 13 grapes to choose from, and a higher minimum alcohol content than most wines, Chateauneuf-du-Pape is worth exploring.
Chenin Blanc (sheh-nan blahn)
One of the great white grapes, and all too often over looked in the US. Many of the finest wines of the Loire region in France are Chenin Blanc, including the incredible, and long lived dessert wine, Coteaux du Layon.
Chevalier-Motrachet (shuh-vahl-yay mon-rah-shay)
A Grand Cru vineyard for white wine (Chardonnay) in Burgundy, France. The vineyard of Montrachet was broken up long ago and this section was said to have been given to the daughter. As is often the case, the myth reflects the nature of the wines; a softer, more subtle style of wine is produced from this vineyard, than from the other adjacent Montrachet vineyards.
One of the most famous of the Italian red wines. Made from the Sangiovese grape, although a small amount of the white grapes, Trebbiano or Malvasia, may be added for finesse. The Chianti region encompasses much of the hills of Tuscany with the higher quality Chianti Classico region being a smaller and more defined "classic" region for producing the wine. In times gone past, Chianti was often sold in a straw covered bottle called a "fiasco." This has mostly given way to modern bottles.
The Chinese have been making wine as long as Europeans, perhaps longer. While wine was considered medicinal in Europe, it was also enjoyed as a beverage. In China, the medicinal qualities continue to dominate wine production. In the US cough syrups and other alcohol based medicines are common, in China they are more common than wine as a beverage. As China enters the world market more traditional western style wines are being produced; thanks largely to cooperative efforts of the French. The quality varies greatly and grape growing has not been perfected, but there remains potential.
A picturesque village in the Loire Valley of France where light red wines are made from Cabernet Franc.
A red wine grape used primarily for blending. One of the 13 grape varieties allowed in Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
A term without legal meaning. In some parts of the world in refers to a light red wine. In England, where the term is most widely used, it means a red wine of the Bordeaux, France region.
In wine tasting this term refers to wines that do not have any noticeable unpleasant or out of the ordinary odors or flavors. Modern wine making has ensured that most wines today are clean. Some may complain that New World wines can be clean to a fault. The lack of faults as a fault in itself is an interesting argument, and one that infers that a few faults in wine give it "character."
The French term for climate, although it is often used to refer to a region or vineyard that has a unifying characteristic. The English term would be "microclimate."
A plant produced by graphing or cutting, so that it retains the identical genetic characteristics of the host. Each grape variety has many different sub varieties, or clones (much in the way that roses do). For example there are dozens of clones of Pinot Noir or Cabernet, each excelling in a specific characteristic or resistance to disease.
A French term that originally meant "walled vineyard." It is used more widely today, especially to give a New World wine an Old World name.
Clos de Beze (cloh duh bez)
Along with Chambertin, the main red Grand Cru vineyard of Gevry-Chambertin in Burgundy, France. Often has the name of Chambertin preceding it, an honor that places Clos de Beze on a par with the top rated Chambertin. When pressed, I often cite this as my favorite vineyard.
Clos de la Roche (cloh duh lah rosh)
Grand Cru red wine vineyard of Burgundy, France from the commune of Morey-Saint-Denis.
Clos de Tart (cloh duh tar)
Grand Cru red wine vineyard of Burgundy from the commune of Morey-Saint-Denis.
Clos de Vougeot (cloh duh voo-joh)
The largest Grand Cru red wine vineyard of Burgundy. Located near the town of Vosne-Romanee, this vineyard boasts over 60 different owners, each making wine of varying quality.
Clos des Mouches (cloh deh moosh)
Literally French for "walled vineyard of the flies." This Premier Cru vineyard outside Beaune in Burgundy, France, produces red and white wines; especially the white, that often rival the more costly and famous Grand Crus of the region. The wine company Drouhin is the largest owner and producer of Clos des Mouches.
Clos Saint-Denis (cloh san deh-nee)
Grand Cru red wine vineyard of Burgundy, France from the commune of Morey-Saint-Denis and the namesake vineyard of the town.
A wine with particles floating in it from the wine making process. Modern wine making has made this very rare; however, some wine makers skip the filtering process and their wines may exhibit this fault. Wine that has "thrown sediment" with age is not said to be cloudy.
Overly sweet, to the point of being faulty.. Wine should be balanced. The sweet flavors should be balanced with the sour flavors of the acids (much as lemonade is).
This now rare wine was once the sweet sparkling wine of the the bargain minded. In theory it is a mix of Champagne and sparkling Burgundy (often red). More often than not it had a less noble birth. The term comes from the German "Kalte Ente" (cold duck) which in turn is a corruption of "Kalte Ende" (cold end) which refers to the practice of marrying all of the left over wine after a banquet. There is an urban myth that the wine was a mixture from the dump buckets after a tasting, but, this is yet another corruption of the origins.
Colli ... (coh-lee)
No less than 7 wine regions though out Italy begin with the word Colli. They include: 1 Colli Albani (ahl-bah'-nee), 2 • Colli Berici (beh-ree-t'chee) 3 • Colli Bolognesi (boh-loh-n'yay'-zee) 4 • Colli Euganei (eh-yoo-gah'-neh) 5 • Colli Lanuvini (lah-noo-vee'-nee) 6 • Colli Orientali del Fruili (oh-ree-en-tah'lee del free-oo'-lee) 7 • Colli Paicentini (p'yah-t'chen-tee-nee)
A passably decent grape with high yields. It is the most widely planted grape in California. The wine is usually produced for the bulk market.
The color of wine tells us much about its origin and wine making. Deeper colors usually relate to longer wine making practices and higher quality wines. Red wines range from Blue-Red, through Red and as they age towards Orange (or brick) Red. White wines range in color from clear to deep golden, with hints of greens common in lighter wines. As whites age they tend to turn towards brown.
The French term for a town. Often used interchangeably with village (vee-lahj). Commune is more accurate as it includes the surrounding area as well as the town itself.
Just like orange juice, grape juice is sometimes sold as a concentrate. Not only to make juice, but to make wines. In California and Italy, where adding sugar is forbidden, the addition of grape juice concentrate is often allowed as a way of bolstering a weak vintage. The modern take on this is a commercial product called MegaPurple that has become common in lower end wines. Some feel it is akin to cheating, others find it a way to ensure consistent quality.
A native American grape that is still widely planted for wine and table consumption. Very dark, this is the grape of Welch's grape juice and its use as a winemaking grape is limited to low quality wines.
A tiny wine making commune in the northern Rhone Valley of France. The wine is made exclusively from the Viognier grape. The best can be exceptional; however, Viognier is making a home for itself in the New World where the wines are much less pricey. Chateau Grillet is in Condrieu and in a stroke of masterful lobbying, has been given its own Appellation.
A fault found in wine that has been exposed to heat, especially in the presence of air. Grapes that are vinefied too warm may exhibit this characteristic, as well as wines that have been shipped badly.
One of the most notable red wine regions of Australia. Situated in the state of South Australia, it is primarily planted to Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Any and everything to do with wooden casks and barrels. A barrel maker is a cooper, hence the term.
A central processing facility where vineyard owners can take their grapes to be made into wine and or bottled. Usually owned by the members, it is a way to reduce the cost of wine making for the smaller producer. Many fine wines are made in cooperatives, as it is the only way that the vineyard owners could afford the most up to date equipment.
The stopper for most wine bottles. Whether made from the bark of the cork tree or from plastic, cork must be flexible, durable and able to create an air tight seal in the neck of the bottle. Corks can be a natural product of the cork oak, or increasingly a conglomerate of cork and or synthetic materials. This is due to the diminishing number of cork oaks, and the ever increasing need for more cork.
The fee paid to a restaurant for the privilege of being allowed to bring in your own wine. Usually $10 - $30 a bottle depending on the restaurant. This fee pays for the rental of the glasses and the service you receive. Unless a restaurant does not serve any wine, you should always be prepared to pay a corkage fee since you are cutting into their expected profit margin. Always check with the restaurant before bringing in your own wines.
Corked / Corky
The most common fault in wine and the reason for the tasting ritual at a restaurant. The characteristic smell is a moldy, wet cardboard aroma. The cause is bacteria from the cork that has reacted with the bleaching process. Synthetic corks are free of this defect and this is a leading reason for their increasing adoption.
A tiny wine producing commune in the northern Rhone in France. The red wines from this town are made from the grape Syrah.
A high quality white wine grape of northern Italy. The best known examples are the Gavi wines.
The only Grand Cru red wine of the Cote de Beaune in Burgundy, France. The name sake of the commune Aloxe-Corton. The name Corton may appear with or without additional vineyard names such as "Le Clos du Roi" or "Les Renardes."
Corton-Charlemagne (cor-tawn shahr-luh-mahn'yuh)
The Grand Cru white wine from the same or adjoining vineyards as the Grand Cru red wine Corton. Among the longest lived of any dry whites.
Cote Chalonnaise (coat chah-loh-neh'z)
Just south of Cote de Beaune in Burgundy, France, and named after the industrial city of Chalon-sur-Saone east of the grape growing region. The most famous commune is Mercurey, which produces primarily red wines. The Challonais produces light, but well priced reds and rather simple whites.
Cote d'Or (coat dor)
The heart of Burgundy, France. Comprised of the Cote de Nuits in the north and the Cote de Beaune in the south. This may well be the highest quality growing region in the world. It is also one of the most likely to be disappointing. A complicated (but exact) classification system, combined with wide swings in vintage quality, make this one of the most difficult regions to find a well priced quality wine. When it is good, it is so good that it keeps us coming back to recapture that fleeting experience. Learning the vineyards, the producers and the vintages will go a long way to making Burgundy less of a hit or miss proposition.
Cote de Beaune (coat duh bone)
The southern half of the Cote d'Or in Burgundy, France. While the northern vineyards are almost exclusively red, the vineyards of the Cote de Beaune produce both red and white. With the exception of Corton which borders on the Cote d'Or to the north, all of the Grand Cru wines of the Cote de Beaune are white. This is the home of the famous Montrachet vineyards and the communes of Meursault, Chassagne and Puligny.
Cote de Beaune-Villages (coat duh bone vee-lahj)
Pinot Noir from the smaller growing areas in the Cote de Beaune region of Burgundy, Fracne. It refers to the smaller regions in the northern section that rarely bottle under their own names.
Cote de Nuits (coat duh n'wee)
The northern half of the Cote d'Or in Burgundy, France. Home of great red wines made from the Pinot Noir. In a few scant miles a visitor passes through many of the best known vineyards in the world. There is no better way to learn about this complicated region than to visit. The scale is so small it is hard to believe without seeing it that so many of the famous Burgundy reds come from such a tiny region.
Cote de Nuits-Villages (coat duh n'wee vee-lahj)
The lesser communes of the Cote de Nuits are bottled under this name. While some may also bottle under their own name, using this appellation allows them to blend the tiny output of these towns together.
Cote des Blancs (coat duh blahn)
A district of the Champagne region where only the white wine grape Chardonnay is planted, hence the name. Pinot Noir, a red wine grape is also used to make most Champagne.
Cote Rotie (coat roe-tee)
The northern most growing region of the Northern Rhone in France. The wines are made from Syrah and a touch of the white grape Viognier is sometimes added. The growing area is divided into 2 slopes, the Cote Brune and Cote Blonde. Legends has it there were two daughters, one blond, one brunette. They each inherited one of the slopes, which then magically took on the characteristics of the daughters. The Brune was rich and intense, the Blonde lighter and more elegant. The truth has more to do with the color of the soils than any legend.
Coteaux Champenois (coat-toe shah'm-pen-wah)
The still (not sparkling) wine from the Champagne region of France. Rare, and worth trying.
Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence (coat-toe deks ahn pro-vahn'ss)
One the most important parts of the Provence region in southern France. Light reds and dry roses are made from Grenache and other Rhone varietals. Very little white wine is made.
Coteaux du Layon (coat-toe doo lay-awn)
A region in the Loire Valley in France, specifically in the Anjou. The best wines are made from late harvested Chenin Blanc grapes and are unbelievably long lived. These sweet wines are best enjoyed before the meal rather than after. One of the best kept secrets of France, these wines deserve better recognition.
Cotes de Provence (coat duh pro-vahn'ss)
A section of Provence, France that is better known for its beaches than its wines. Stretching from the sea to well inland, this large subset of the Provence region is dedicated primarily to light rose wines that are popular with the tourists.
Cotes du Jura (coat dew joo-rah)
The Jura Mountains are in the extreme eastern border of France. Light, fresh reds, whites, and roses and even some sparkling wines are made in the region. Like its neighbor Switzerland's wines, those of the Jura are best enjoyed locally and are rarely found outside of the region.
Cotes-du-Rhone (coat doo rone)
The general name for the wine growing region of the Rhone Valley of France. A wine that uses this name on the label may originate from anywhere in the Rhone Valley. Occasionally a bargain can be found in this appellation, as a Rhone producer declassifies its lesser vineyards or lots. While declassification used to be common, it is now scarce. More likely a Cote-du-Rone will be red, very light, and made in the carbonic maceration style, much like Beaujolais. The whites may be the last bargain in Cotes-du-Rhone as they occasionally still contain decent wine.
A rather poetic French wine tasting term that literally means "flowing." It is used for wines that are easy to drink. In the US we may say "quaffable."
A condition in the vineyard that results from rainy or cold weather that keeps the flowers from being pollinated and therefore from turning into grapes. If the effect is not too widespread the result can be an intense, but small harvest. Widespread, coulure can spell disaster for grape growing, resulting in a very small harvest.
The English language term for a wine that is slightly sparkling, or bubbly, due to dissolved carbon dioxide. The French use the term "Petillant" and the Italians use the term I prefer "Frizzante." The slight sparkle in crackling wines is intended to add freshness, and these types of wine are not uncommon in Italy. Some wines that exhibit this slight sparkling character do so less from intent than by accident. Dissolved carbon dioxide that may be unnoticeable at sea level is quite distinct at the high altitude of our offices (almost 9000 feet or 3000 meters). Wine makers are often surprised to find this in their wines when they visit.
A wine producing village in the Champagne region of France that is so highly regarded, it is one of the few village names that sometimes appears on the label.
The French term for sparkling wines that are "creamy," in that they have about half of the bubbles of traditional Champagne (3-4 atmospheres instead of 6). Rare outside of France, and I mostly list it here to point out that it is not the same as the town of Cramant in France. It is also a term for sparkling wines of high quality made outside of Champagne. The 3 notable types are:
Sparkling wine of the Alsace region made in the methode champeniose. Usually made from Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner. Must be aged in the bottle a minimum of 9 months.
Cremant de Bourgogne
Sparkling wine of the Burgundy region made in the methode champeniose. The best are made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, just like Champagne, but Pinot Blanc and or Pinot Gris may also be used. My favorite is the red variety, made from Pinot Noir. Unlike rose style Champagne, which only has a slight Pinot character, the Cremant de Bourgogne Rouge is a true sparkling red wine. Must be aged in the bottle a minimum of 9 months. In 2016 two more designations were added. Eminent and Grand Eminent, requiring 24 and 36 months aging on lees respectively.
Cremant de Loire
One of the best known sparkling wines of France, outside of Champagne. Chenin Blanc is the most common grape variety. Must be aged in the bottle a minimum of 12 months. This wine can be a relative bargain compared to some Champagne, and is often found at wedding or other events where a great quantity may be consumed.
The Spanish term for oak aging. The terms "con crianza" or "vino de crianza" on the label require that the wine has been aged for at least one year in oak. Similarly "sin crianza" means that the wine was never aged in oak before bottling.
Criots-Batard-Montrachet (cree-oh bah-tar mon-rah-shay)
One of the Grand Cru vineyards that surround the famed white wine vineyard of Montrachet in Burgundy.
A wine tasting term used to imply that a white wine has a refreshing acid balance. It is used much the same way one may say the taste (not texture) of a fresh green apple is "crisp."
Crozes-Hermitage (craw'z air-mee-tahj)
A Northern Rhone appellation. The wine may be red or white, and is produced from any of the 11 villages that surround the better Hermitage appellation. Reds are 100% Syrah and whites are Marsanne with some Roussane.
The French term for growth, in wine it has many more connotations. It refers to a specific vineyard, but is also used to indicate quality (e.g. Grand Cru in Burgundy, or cru classes in Bordeaux). In Beaujolais it means one of the top 10 communes, and in Champagne individual villages are considered Grand Cru or Premier Cru (as opposed to individual vineyards in other parts of France).
Cru Bourgeois (crew boor-j'wah)
The so called lesser wines of Bordeaux, France. Those that do not rank in the five classified growths (1st growth - 5th growth). Wines of this class were once considered a bargain. Increasingly, Bourgeois wines of note are fetching prices that rival the classified growths.
Cru Classe (crew- clah-say)
French for "classified growth." Those wines of Bordeaux that have been ranked, from 1st to 5th growth. The first classification took place in 1855 and a few modifications have been made over the years. Saint-Emilion does not use the 1st - 5th rating system, instead it uses a more confusing Premier Grand Cru Classe, and Grands Cru Classe.
The French term for maceration. The practice of leaving the skins to remain in contact with the juice during fermentation to extract color, tannin, and aroma. The period of time the wine is left macerating is referred to as the "Cuvage."
From the French term "cuve" meaning a vat or tank. It now usually refers to a specific lot or batch of wine. The term is sometimes used on a wine label to signify that the wine comes from a special batch of wine. It also refers to a blend of wines.
One of the principal wine regions of Portugal. It is known for its well aged red wines.
To transfer wine from a bottle into a crystal or glass container (a Decanter). This is primarily done with older red wines and Port which have developed sediment. The careful transfer of the wine into a fresh container allows the sediment to be left in the original bottle resulting in clearer wine.
The glass or crystal container that one Decants into. In practice it could be a clean bottle; however, tradition dictates that it be an impressive vessel for the wine.
Also known as the "heat summation method." A scale created by the University of California at Davis in the 1930s to determine the suitability for vineyards in any given climate. Modern instrumentation has largely supplanted this scale. The total accumulative number of degrees above 50F during the growing season. If the temperature for any given day rises to 70F that day would add 20 points to the summation. Over the 200 days of the California growing season the total would range from less than 2,500 degrees days for the coolest areas, classified as Region I, to region V with more than 4,000 degree days.
Demi-Sec (deh-mee seck)
Literally this French term means "half-dry." In practice it refers to the sweetest style of Champagne a house will make.
Any very large bottle, usually around 10 gallons. Often used by amateur wine makers as a vat or storage container. May be covered in straw or rest in a wooden frame. From the French "Dame Jeanne" which has the same meaning.
Denominacion de Origen (deh-noh-mee-nah-th'yon' deh oh-ree-hen')
The Spanish term for their appellation laws. Established first for the wine growing region of Rioja in 1926. Often abbreviated DO.
Denominazione do Origine Controllata (deh-noh-mee-nah-t'zee-oh'-neh dee oh-ree-jeen-eh con-troh-lah'-tah)
The Italian term for their appellation laws, established in 1963. Abbreviated DOC.
Denominazione do Origine Controllata e Garantita (eh gah-rahn-tee-tah)
The highest level of the Italian DOC laws. The wines must not only be typical of their region, but must pass a blind tasting. The first wines that began using this designation went on sale in the mid 1980s. Abbreviated DOCG.
Legally, in the US, this refers to fortified wines such as Port or Sherry, but also to the very inexpensive "more bang for your buck" sweet wines that are the favorite of college students and the stereotypical "bowery bum." In fine wine terms it refers to those wines that are destined to be enjoyed after a meal. All of the wines of this class are sweet but well balanced. They include the Sauternes of France, the Beerenauslese and Trokenneerenauslese of Germany as well as similar wines from most growing regions of the world. Port and a few other fortified wines are often considered Dessert Wines, while Sherry and other drier fortified wines are more properly Aperitifs.
One of the most celebrated white wines of Switzerland. Created on the shores of Lake Geneva from the Chesselas grape.
The process of removing the sediment from sparkling wine as the final step of the method champenoise. All of the sediment that has been building up in the bottle over the years has ended up in the neck of the bottle. The bottle is plunged into a freezing brine solution, and ice forms in the bottle. The top is removed and the "plug" of ice is forced out by the pressure in the bottle. A small amount of wine is lost, and is replaced by other wine that has been mixed with sugar. This "dose" of sugar (or in French "dosage") determines how sweet the final sparkling wine will be. The French term is degorgement (deh-gorje-mon).
One of the most famous vineyards in Germany. Located in the village of Berkastel on the Mosel river. Bernkastler Doctor, as it is usually referred to, is planted entirely with Riesling.
One of the principal grapes of Northwestern Italy. The best known wines made from this variety bear its name.
The most highly regarded red wine of Switzerland. Made from the Pinot Noir and Gamay grapes, it is a light refreshing wine.
The French term for "estate." A term that can cause a great deal of confusion, especially in Burgundy, France. There are several similar sounding phrases that each seem to suggest the wine is estate bottled. Look for these phrases: • Mise du domaine • Mis en boutille a la domaine • Mis en boutille a la propriete
A rarely used German term for "Estate." Mostly reserved for state-owned vineyards.
The addition of sugar and wine to sparkling wine after disgorging. The amount of sugar added determines the style of the sparling wine.
The opposite of sweet in wine parlance. This term is used to denote a wine that has no residual sugar. Often this word is misused to refer to a wine with a minimal amount of "fruit." Most wines are dry with sweeter varieties being primarily white.
Dry Creek Valley
A northern Sonoma wine producing region; well respected for the Zinfandel that is grown there.
A technical wine tasting term. If you place wine in a centrifuge and remove all of the water, the powder that is left will be the dry extract. The amount of flavor that a wine has can be directly attributed to the dry extract. The body of the wine is also a function of dry extract. A chemist would call this "ash".
Literally "sweet" in Spanish, the term usually refers to the sweeting agent added to some Sherry.
A wine tasting term to mean a wine that is not showing up to its potential. Dumb in this context refers not to intelligence but inability to speak. While trying to avoid words that are anthropomorphic, this one seems particularly well suited.
A wine tasting term. It means just what it sounds like, a slight taste of soil. The French use a term "gout de terroir" that is often used to mean the same thing; although it can also mean that the wine has typical tastes for the region.
One of the best known Burgundy Grand Cru vineyards. Situated in the town of Flagey-Echezeaux, but it is grouped by convention with the other Grand Crus of the bordering commune of Vosne-Romanee. Do not confuse with the more expensive and intense vineyard, Grands Echezeaux, which is next door.
Literally "noble rot" in German. This term refers to the mold Botrytis Cinera. The French also call it noble rot (pourriture noble). This mold is responsible for reducing the water ratio in grapes, making them very sweet and useful as dessert wines.
An American Viticultural Area south of San Luis Obispo in California (an area broadly referred to as the Central Coast). One of the few transverse valleys in the US (meaning it points to the sea). This makes the region much cooler than surrounding growing regions and is ideal for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Egri Bikaver (eh'-gree bee'-kah-vair)
The famous "Bull's Blood of Egri", a red wine from Hungary. Once famous the world over, when Hungary was behind the Iron Curtain most of the versions that you found in stores were thin and uninspiring, but it has once again been on the rise, and is worth seeking out. It is primarily made from Blaufrankisch (the local name is Kekfrankos) with the addition of at least 3 others including Cabernet Sauvignon or Franc, Merlot, or even Pinot Noir and a host of others.
Einzellage (ay'n-t sel-lah-guh)
The German term for a single vineyard worthy of being mentioned on a label. Any German wine that carries a vineyard name may be considered a wine of quality. The name of the town usually comes first on the label as in the case of Piesporter Goldtropfchen.
The German word for "ice wine." This is an intense desert wine that has been made from very ripe grapes (without Botrytis) that were frozen on the vine. The frozen water is removed during pressing, leaving a very sweet must.
A dubious wine tasting term. It refers to a well balanced wine that has subtle complexity. I say it is a dubious term because it is anthropomorphic (giving human traits to inanimate objects) and should be avoided. That said, I am guilty of using the word myself.
Emilia-Romagna (eh-meel'-yah ro-mah'-n yah)
The Italian region north of Tuscany that is situated around the city of Bologna. Many visitors to Italy ignore this region because of the great deal of industry that is evident. What they do not realize is that this is the center of gastronomy for Italy. Parmesan cheese and Proscuitto Crudo both hale from nearby Parma, and Bologna is the cross roads for food from all over Italy. The most famous wine of the region is Lambrusco, a light, sometimes sparkling wine, that is often overlooked as well, because the overly commercial Riunite is technically a Lambrusco.
An Italian wine bar, sometimes run by the regional wine authority, where you may sample many local wines.
Entre-Deux-Mers (ahn-truh duh mair)
French for "between two seas" and a reference to the Bordeaux wine district situated between the Dordogne and Garonne rivers. A huge amount of rather indifferent white wine is made here.
Erzeugerabfullung (air'-t zoo-gher-ahb'-foo-lung)
This rather imposing German word is found on labels of wines that have been Estate Bottled.
Est! Est! Est!!!
Other than the name, this is a rather forgetable Italian white wine. The name is an example of marketing that has withstood the ages. The story goes that a German bishop in the 1100s sent a servant ahead to Rome with instructions to chalk Est ("it is" in Latin) on the side of every tavern with decent wine, between the Bishop's home and Rome. That way the Bishop would not have to suffer through poor wine on his trip to visit the Pope. In the town of Montefiacone the servant was so enamoured of the wine that he scrawled the now famous epitaph. The bishop, upon arriving in the town, was said to have agreed with his servant's taste to such an extent, that the bishop never ventured on, living out his life drinking the wine he loved. Perhaps it was a different wine than what is sold today.
Estate Bottled - Estate Bottling
Wine that was bottled by the vineyard owner. Many wines are still bottled and produced from grapes that are purchased on the open market, often for the lowest price. This designation assures that the winery had control over the grapes from beginning to end so that they could produce a high quality wine. In the US the vineyard need not belong to the winery, if there is a long term exclusive contract for the grapes of the vineyard (which also must be in the same geographic location as the winery).
A scientific term. It relates to components in wine formed by the combination of acids and alcohol. They contribute the fruity, perfume like smell to wine. In wine the most import esther is ethyl acetate.
A sparkling wine that is slightly sweet. This term often leads to confusion since Dry means without sweetness, but Extra Dry for some reason means slightly sweet.
Extract - Dry Extract
A scientific term often used in wine tasting. It literally refers to what would be left in a centerfuge once you have removed the liquid. In wine, the term is used to indicate that a wine has a lot of flavor, especially when the wine would indeed be shown in a laboratory to have a greater amount of dry extract. The terms "heavy", "intense", and "big" are related to the amount of extract in the wine.
In the US this term often infers that the wine is lacking in acidity. In other parts of the world the term fat is used to indicate a full, well balanced wine, and is a compliment.
When a wine is subjected to shaking and jostling, either through the winemaking process, or shipping, it becomes fatigued. The further the wine has travelled, or the more severe the trip, the longer it will take to recover. Also called Bottle Shock or Bottle Fatigue. Usually a temporary condition which a month or more of rest will cure.
A popular white wine and grape in Switzerland. As is the case for so many wines that are light and fresh, it is often best enjoyed locally. Elsewhere in Switzerland the grape is known as Dorin, and in France is is called Chasselas.
The process that turns grapes into wine. Specifically the metabolization of the sugars by the yeast, into alcohol, carbon dioxide and heat.
A small oak barrel. At 36 gallons (136L) it is slightly bigger than half the size of a regular barrel, which averages about 60 gallons (225L).
The straw covered bottle of Chianti fame. Like most regional bottles, this one has become rarer as bottles have become increasingly standardized.
Figeac, Chateau (fee-jahk)
One of the better known estates in St. Emilion (a region in Bordeaux, France).
A wine making technique used to ensure clarity and sterility in wine. Careful use of precise filtering pads and agents allow the winemaker to target specific foreign substances to remove, based on their size. Some winemakers feel that filtering reduces the quality of wine. Emile Peynaud, the preeminent University of Bordeaux enologist (enology being the science of wine) had this to say about the filtering debate: "Resistance to the practice of filtering arose from the reproach made that it tended to thin down and emaciate the wines. Nevertheless, if every precaution is taken... it may be stated that the mechanical action of filtering has never had a negative influence on quality. To suggest the contrary would mean conceding that the foreign substances... which filtration is precisely designed to remove, have a favorable taste function." From "Knowing and Making Wine."
One of the wine tasting terms I most recommend avoiding because it is vague and anthropomorphic. When not applied to wine the term suggests "subtlety in performance, skill" (Random House Dictionary). Wine is inanimate, it has no skills, and does not perform. Subtlety is further defined as "elusively thin or tenuous" (Random House Dictionary) and these terms are not a compliment for wine. I suspect the term is most used to express admiration for the balance of a very fine wine. When the amount of fruit, acidity and tannins are harmonious enough to keep any one from standing out.
The method for clarifying wine. Depending on the cause of the cloudiness, different agents can be used. Most, like gelatin, and egg whites, are proteins, while another is Bentonite a form of clay. The general concept is to add a substance to the wine that the cloudy particles will stick to, and fall to the bottom. The winemaker then draws the clear wine off the top.
The final flavors you taste in the wine. often confused with "aftertaste." I distinguish the finish as being the taste you notice just as you swallow or spit a wine, as opposed to the aftertaste which are those flavors you notice after you swallow the wine, and which linger in your mouth for some time. Tannin is one of the common components that are noticeable in the finish of a wine.
A dry type of Sherry (a fortified wine from Spain). It is one of the styles of Sherry which is created by the presence of flor (A type of yeast found on some wine).
A special type of yeast found on wine. In the Sherry district of Spain, the flor yeast help to make the finest Sherries. On other wines it is a pest and must be controlled. It is also the Spanish word for flower.
A class of wines that have been made sweet by interrupting the fermentation process with the addition of a neutral distilled spirit. The spirit kills the yeast before they have finished converting all of the sugar. Port and Sherry are both fortified wines.
A wine making term for the smell of native American grape varieties. The best example is the Concord grape, that most Welch's grape juice is made from. The term originated with the early settlers who called the native grapes, Fox grapes. The term has evolved over the years and now some use it to mean the animal smell (I would use musk or musky) also found in the Concord grape.
A large German wine region that specializes in dry white wines made from the grape Silvaner. While many German wine regions produce flowery and somewhat sweet wines, the wines of Franken tend to be clean and crisp. This has earned them a following, especially among those who are looking for dry German wines to drink with food. The region is sometimes known as Franconia, in English language texts.
In wine making, it is the juice that appears after crushing, but before pressing. It is the highest quality juice for wine making.
Most wine is intended to be enjoyed young. When this young wine has ample acidity in the balance, it is often referred to as fresh.
The Italian term for a wine that is slightly sparkling. Some wines may exhibit this sprits or sparkle by accident, but more often it is intentional. The French use the term "petillant" although I prefer the Italian term.
Wine basically has three components. Fruit, acidity and tannin. All three must be in balance to make a decent wine. The fruit encompasses all the tastes and smells that that are not sour (acid) or bitter (tannin). Every grape variety and style of wine exhibits different fruit. In some wines such as Zinfandel the fruit can be very noticeable (Zin has so much fruit it is often described as jammy). Other wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon have less obvious fruit.
Some young wines have an aroma that can only be described as fruity. Beaujolais is one of the best known examples.
The grape of the Beaujolais region of France. It produces a light styled red wine. While this grape variety is found on the labels of some California wines, it is probable that the grape is not actually Gamay, but a light Pinot Noir clone or even the easily forgotten Valdiguie of southern France.
The Spanish name for the grape referred to in France as Grenache. Very popular in Spain, it is the grape responsible for Sapin's best known red wine, Rioja.
One of Italy's best known white wines. Made from the Cortese grape around the town of Gavi, in the northwestern part of the country, the Piedmont.
One of the great white wine grapes of the world, often overlooked in the US. The name means "spicy" traminer (traminer being a related type of grape). The pungent aroma of the grape can be delightful, and because of the name of the grape, the nose is referred to as "spice." The use of the word "spice" without qualification, there are many types of spice, is reserved for discussions of Gewurztraminer. Often made in a sweet style, except in Alsace, France, where they make wines rich and full, rather than sweet.
The French Department (similar to a State in the US) which contains the wine making region of Bordeaux. Named for the river formed by the confluence of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. The two river meet just north of the city of Bordeaux, and many of the best known Bordeaux properties overlook the Gironde river.
One of the alcohols found in wine as a result of fermentation. Sometimes referred to as glycerin, this can be misleading. Glycerin is marketed as a sweet, and syrupy liquid, used for soap making and adding viscosity to some liquors. The amount of glycerol found in wine is too small to make the wine thick (in fact, dry wines are slightly less viscous than water). It can contribute to the sweetening effect of the alcohol, since glycerol is much sweeter than most sugars, but again, it is only found in very small amounts (less than 1/10 of the alcohol found in wine). It has nothing to do with the formation or quantity of tears or legs found on a glass of swirled wine.
Gout de Terrior (goo-de-tare-wah)
A much used, little defined French term. Literally it means "taste of the soil." Often used to describe the earthy flavors found in some wines. Just as often used to describe or attribute the conditions of soil, climate, and perhaps even vineyard management, to the particular taste of a wine or region.
Gran Reserva (grahn reh-zehr-vah)
A red wine that has been aged for a minimum of five years (with at least two in wood) before being released. For whites and rose, it is 4 years, and 6 months in wood.
Grand Cru (grahn crew)
The French term for "Great Growth." In the Burgundy and Alsace region this signifies the highest designation for a vineyard. In the Champagne region the term refers to the villages which may sell their wines for 100% of the asking price.
Grand Cru Classe (grahn crew clah-say)
French for "great classed growth." Found on the label of wines of St.-Emilion, Graves, Medoc and Sauternes regions of Bordeaux.
Grand Vin (grahn van)
French for "great wine" this term has no legal meaning and is often used on wines that are not particularly great.
One of the wine producing regions of Bordeaux, France. The city of Bordeaux itself has largely encroached on the area, making for an almost urban vineyard setting. The word literally means "gravel" and so important is gravel for drainage in vineyards, that the region is named for this notable feature. Red and white wines are produced here, with the best known producer being Ch. Haut Brion. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc are the chief red grapes, and Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon for white wines.
A wine tasting term for wines made from under ripe grapes. The wine will have the smell of vegetation and be highly acidic.
A red wine grape of the Rhone Valley of France, and elsewhere (especially Spain). In the southern Rhone Grenache replaces Syrah as the most important grape (Syrah being more important in the north). It is also the grape of Lirac and Tavel, two of the arguably best rose wines (also from the Rhone). Grenache is also responsible for the exceptional, and rare, fortified wine, Banyuls.
German for "large vineyard." In German wine law it is a collection of individual vineyards (Einzellagen) that share common traits. This allows the wines to be marketed under either their vineyard name, or the often better known Grosslage name.
Gruner Veltliner (groo'-ner felt-lee'-ner)
A wine grape grown almost exclusively in Austria where it produces a light and simple wine. Recent marketing and production advances have lead to a worldwide surge in popularity of these wines.
German for "half-dry." Wines with this designation may contain no more than 1.8% residual sugar.
A possibly self proclaimed Hungarian Count, and an unquestionably flamboyant figure, who made his mark on the American state of Wisconsin (where he founded what is now known as Sauk City) before moving west to California. There he founded the Buena Vista winery in Sonoma, which is still in operation today. In 1861 he contrived to be sent to Europe by the Spanish governor of California in order to obtain cuttings of various wine grapes. For this he is often heralded as the "Father of California viticulture." Count Haraszthy's final claim to fame would come several years later, in Nicaragua, where he once again relocated, still hoping to make a fortune. It was here that the good count was eaten by alligators.
In wine tasting terms this relates to a wine that is tannic, particularly one that is so tannic that it is out of balance. This is a function of youth for some wines, and these wines will "soften" with age.
A hard wine with excessive acidity will be "harsh". The acid accentuates the tannins and increases the drying sensation known as astringency.
Haut-Brion, Chateau (oh bree-ohn)
The highest rated, and best known vineyard in the Graves district, in Bordeaux, France. So highly prized is this vineyard, that it was included with the famous vineyards of Margaux, Latour and Lafite in the 1855 classification of the Haut-Medoc, even though it is many miles away from the other vineyards. Like the wines of the Haut-Medoc, Haut-Brion is primarily made form the grape Cabernet Sauvignon. Unlike the afore mentioned wines, Haut-Brion has a higher ratio of Cabernet Franc than Merlot, which often allows the wine to be softer and rounder than the others. They also produce one of the finest white wines of the region. Haut-Brion Blanc is a blend of the white wine grapes Semilion and Sauvignon Blanc. Haut Brion was purchased by the American financier and politician Clarence Dougless Dillion in 1935. His granddaughter still owns and operates Haut-Brion to this day.
Haut-Medoc (oh meh-doc)
The Medoc is a wide peninsula of land formed by the Gironde River and the Atlantic Ocean, just northwest of the city of Bordeaux, France. It is subdivided into the lower (Bas-Medoc) and upper (Haut-Medoc) regions. To be confusing, the Haut-Medoc is further south, and closer to the city; but, it is also the more important region from a wine point of view. The Haut-Medoc is home to the renown vineyards of Margaux, Latour, Mouton and Lafite. It is the land of many Chateaux, and when most people speak of Bordeaux, this is the wine they have in mind. From north to south, the wine producing communes are St. Estephe, Pauilliac, St.-Julien, and Margaux. The order is important as the wines tend to become lighter, the further south you travel.
Used in wine tasting to imply that the wine is out of balance towards the tannins. This type of wine is more than just "hard" it is tannic to a fault, and may not soften enough with age to be enjoyable.
The metric unit for measuring land area. It is 10,000 square meters. One hectare = 2.471 acres.
The metric unit for measuring volume. It is 100 liters. One hectoliter = 26.42 gallons (US) = 133 bottles of wine (11 cases).
A green, vegetable smell in wine. For example, Sauvignon Blanc is grassy when subtle, herbaceous when overpowering. It is not considered a positive attribute when it is more than subtle.
One of the most important wine making regions of the Rhone Valley, France. Heralded for its rich, earthy wines, both red and white. The red wines are made from the Syrah grape. The whites are more rare, and are made from Marsanne and Roussanne. The name is derived from a thirteenth century knight, Gaspard de Sterimberg, who laid down his weapons here, in favor of the religious life. He built a chapel on the hill, and became a hermit.
Hessische Bergstrasse (heh-see-shuh bairg-strah-suh)
A tiny German region that primarily produces white wines from the Riesling grape. Most of the wine is consumed locally.
An important German wine making town. It overlooks the Main river, but it is considered part of the Rheingau.
Hospices de Beaune (oh-speece duh bone)
A charitable institution in the Burgundy region of France. It is the beneficiary of a famous wine auction, held every year on the third Sunday in November. A 15th and 17th century hospital have long been the recipients of the charity. Over the centuries a great deal of vineyard land has been bequeathed to the charity. It is the sale of these wines that draws the crowds to the picturesque city of Beaune, every year. Approximately 15,000 wines from various Burgundy vineyards, are produced and sold at the auction. The wine is sold in a barrel (the Burgundian "piece") and it is up to the buyer to bottle and age the wine before reselling. The words Hospice de Beaune are often printed on the label, but the final quality of the wine is dependent on the bottler.
The burning sensation of excessive or out of balance alcohol in wine. Usually found in the nose, rather than the taste.
The oldest vineyard region in Australia. About 100 miles northwest of Sydney. Traditionally Shiraz (the Syrah grape of the Rhone Valley, in France) is king here, with Semillon being the white grape of choice. Bowing to international tastes, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are now almost 50% of the total vines planted.
This is an intense desert wine that has been made from very ripe grapes (without Botrytis) that were frozen on the vine. The frozen water is removed during pressing, leaving a very sweet must. In German it is known as "eiswein." A modern technique called cryroextraction utilizes a freezer in place of mother nature.
Italian for "bottled." "Imbottigliato all'origine" is the term for estate bottled.
Jerez de la Frontera (heh-reth' duh lah fron-teh'-rah)
The city in southern Spain that is the home of Sherry. The word Sherry comes from a rather poor attempt to pronounce the name of the town. The full name harkens back to the days when this was a frontier town on the border between the Christians and the Moors.
One of the most famous German wine towns. It is situated in the middle of the Rheingau region. Because of the fame of this village, the word "Johannisberg" is sometimes (in the US only) added to the Riesling grape, Riesling being the principal grape of this region in Germany. "Johannisberg Riesling" was adopted in the US to distinguish it from the now rare Franken Riesling (which is actually the grape Sylvaner).
A term used for low quality wines that are sold in large bottles, or jugs. While this type of wine rarely has much written about it, it is important to remember that most of the wine made in the world is in fact, of jug wine quality. Box wine is quickly taking over the form and the phrase.
The name used for the departement (like a state), mountain range, and wine growing region in eastern France, near the Swiss border. Not well known, for the wines do not travel well, it is a pleasant area, with pleasant, much varied, but ultimately simple wines.
A white wine region in the Pyrenees, in the southwest of France. Most of the wines are made dry today, but the area was once famous for its dessert wines. Visitors may still be able to find examples of this increasingly rare sweet wine. The wines are made from local grape varieties, and are rarely found outside of the area.
The entry level designation for quality German wines (QmP). Drier than other wines of the class, a Kabinett must be made from grapes with at least 16 percent sugar at harvest. The result is a drier (although not not necessarily dry), lighter styled wine that is low in alcohol. The term comes from the practice of the wine producers reserving some wine for their own use, by locking it away in a cabinet.
A cocktail made by adding creme de cassis (a black-currant liquor) to white wine. A "Kir Royale" is made with Champagne instead of white wine. Named after a former mayor of Dijon, France, Canon Felix Kir.
In the Alsace region of France this name is sometimes used for the white wine grape Pinot Blanc. It can also be used for a wine that is a blend of Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois. Near Zurich, Switzerland, the name is used for a red wine made from the grape Pinot Noir.
La Tache (lah tah'sh)
One of the Grand Cru vineyards of Burgundy, France. The red wine made from this vineyard is one of the most sought after Pinot Noirs in the world. Situated in the commune of Vosne-Romanee, the entire vineyard (just less than 15 acres) is owned by the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (D.R.C.). Less than 2,000 cases of this wine are made a year.
One of the species of grape native to North America. The Concord grape is the best known example. Most wine grapes come from the species "vinifera".
Lafite-Rothschild, Chateau (la-feet rot-sheeld)
One of the Bordeaux, France properties designated a First Growth in 1855. Situated in the commune of Pauillac, this is one of the most famous, and expensive wines in the world. The wine is made from Cabernet Sauvignon with a small amount of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Designed for long term aging, this wine is the benchmark for many Cabernet producers. Aproximately 25,000 cases produced annually.
Lafleur, Chateau (lah-fluh'r)
A tiny, but exceptional property located in the Pomerol commune in Bordeaux, France. Since Pomerol was overlooked in the 1855 Classification, Lafleur has no official ranking. Only about 1,000 cases are made each year.
A lightly sparkling wine, made from the grape of the same name. It is from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Produced both in a dry or slightly sweet style, it is best know in the US as the brand Riunite (which is one of the sweetest examples made). In Italy, it is easier to find the drier styles, and they are a great match for the rich foods of the region. Lambrusco is made just west of Bologna, which is considered to be the capital of Italian gastronomy.
Late Bottled Vintage Port
A style of Port created originally for restaurants. Since Vintage Port throws a great deal of sediment, it can be difficult for a restaurant to deal with. The solution was to age the Vintage Port first in barrels, between four to six years. This allows the wine to be ready to drink when released. Vintage Port may require decades of aging before it is at its best. As well there is little to no sediment for the restaurant or consumer to deal with. This style of wine is delightful, but is no substitute for actual Vintage Port. Often abbreviated as LBV.
By harvesting later, the grapes are riper, and sweeter. This is appropriate for making sweet, dessert style wines. Some Late Harvest wines are almost dry, opting for increased alcohol and intensity rather than sweetness, as in the Alsatian "vendange tardive" (French for late harvest). In the US the term usually refers to a lightly sweet wine. Select Late Harvest refers to a sweeter wine, and Special Select Late Harvest to a very sweet wine. This is consistent with the German terms Auslese, Beerenauslese, and Trokenbeerenauslese.
Latour, Chateau (la-toor)
A First Growth Bordeaux (France). This property, situated in Pauillac is one of the best known and respected in the world. Like its neighbor Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, this wine is primarily composed of Cabernet Sauvignon. Also like Lafite, Latour is made to age. It has been said that Latour is the longest lived of all Bordeaux wines. Around 23,000 cases are made each year.
Latricieres-Chambertin (lah-tree-s'yair shahm-bair-tan)
A Grand Cru red wine vineyard in Burgundy, France. Situated adjacent to the Chambertin vineyard (also a Grand Cru) it is allowed to append the name of its more famous neighbor to its own.
The sediment from young wines while still in the barrel, tank or vat. Racking is the process of removing the wine and leaving the lees behind. Some white wines, such as Chardonnay, are often aged in contact with the lees in order to give the wine more flavor (see "sur lie").
A much over used and meaningless wine tasting term. It refers to the streams that are seen on the side of the glass after swirling (also called tears). While too many so called experts explain this as being related to the body, or the amount of glycerin in the wine, it is actually a function of the evaporation rate of alcohol (the Marangoni Effect), and has no relation to the quality of the wine at all.
Leoville Barton, Leoville Las Case and Leoville Poyferre (leh-oh-vell bar-tohn, lahss cahz, p'wah-feh-ray)
Three Second Growth Bordeaux, France vineyards from the commune of Saint-Julien. Often considered to be better than other wines of their class (especially the first two). Cabernet Sauvignon based, these wines are made for aging. As one may suspect, the three were one until 1826.
One of the best known German wines. The name means "Blessed Mother's Milk." Prior to the enactment of the German wine laws in 1971 the term was used to mean almost any German wine from the Rhine region. Since the laws have gone into force, along with an update in 1983, the term now is used to designate wine made from a strictly delimited area of one of four regions. The region's name must also appear on the label. While the great grape of Germany, Riesling, can be used, it is rarely found in Liebfraumilch. In order to keep the costs down, and production up, most Liebfraumilch is made from Muller-Thurga, Sylvaner and Kerner. Liebfraumilch tends to be lightly sweet, simple, and very inexpensive.
The opposite of heavy. A wine without much tannin in the balance. The wine may still be complex, and full of flavor. Such wines are often enjoyable young, but rarely age. Uncharacteristically there is a legal meaning for Light Wines in the US. They must be less than 14% alcohol. This is the same alcohol limit for all table wines in the US, making the legal definition of Light Wine somewhat redundant.
A forest in central France that is a major source of oak for wooden barrels. The barrels made from Limousin oak imparts a stronger oak taste than other French sources, and so has somewhat fallen out of favor around the world. More common now for making Cognac (brandy) than fine wines.
Literally this word means transparent, as in pure water. Used in wine tasting to imply a wine that is clear and bright. Occasionally misused by those who associate the homonym "limp" with the word, and assume it must mean something negative. It may be best to avoid this term, using "clear" instead.
A sweet, flavored, alcohol based drink. Used in the world of wine to mean something completely different. In the champagne method of making sparking wines "liqueur de tirage" is the mix of sugar solution and yeast added to the wine, to create the secondary fermentation, which will in turn produce bubbles. Again in sparkling wine production, the term is also used as "liqueur d'expedition" which is the sweeting agent added to the finished sparkling wine, which will determine the final style (from Extra-Dry, which is sweet to Brut, which is dry). Liqueur is also used in Sauternes, the dessert wine making region of Bordeaux, France, to refer to the sweetness of the wine. Finally, also from France, there is the occasionally used term "vin de liqueur," which refers to a wine made sweet by adding spirits to stop the fermentation process. This type of wine is more often called "Vin Doux Naturel."
A French term for a sweet white wine, such as Sauternes or Coteaux du Layon, that has retained residual sugar without the addition of spirits (as opposed to "Vin Doux Naturel").
An Italian term for a dessert wine that is made sweet by adding spirits to stop the fermentation process while there is still sugar left unfermented. The English term is "Fortified Wine."
A wine producing village in the Rhone valley of France. In my opinion some of the world's finest rose wines come from this town, and its neighbor to the south, Tavel.
A warehouse in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal, used for storing and aging Port. In Bordeaux, France the equivalent word would be "chai" and in the Sherry producing town of Jerez, Spain, the term is "bodega."
The Loire Valley is one of the major wine producing regions of France. Most of the wines tend to be light and enjoyed young. A notable exception is my favorite sweet wine, Coteaux du Layon which ages for decades. The principal white grape is Chenin Blanc, and further to the east, Sauvignon Blanc. Less red is produced, and it is often made from Cabernet Franc (also used for rose wines in the region). Because of the beauty of the country side, many castles (Chateaux) have been built along the Loire river and its tributaries, making this a popular, and delightful, tourist destination. This is a huge area with many different types of wine.
The principal white wine grape of the Spanish Rioja region where it is known locally as Viura. Simple and crisp with a floral quality, this grape helped revolutionize the white wines of the Rijoa region by replacing the easily oxidized Malvasia grape.
A major town in southern Burgundy, France, that has lent its name to a wide region, the Maconnais. Most of the wine produced is white, fresh, simple and made from Chardonnay.
A Portugese island in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Morocco. The fortified wines from this region are unique in that they are purposefully baked and oxidized, prior to bottling. In times gone by this was accomplished by shipping the wines on a sailing vessel, the longer the journey the better, although today modern techniques favor specially designed heating tanks. Since the wine is in contact with oxygen from inception, it turns a dark brown color, the process of which is known for all wines as "maderization" or one would say the wine has "maderized." The wines are made in several styles, and are usually labeled with the name of the grape variety used. Sercial is the driest style, and is usually served before a meal. Verdelho is a bit sweeter, and a great accompaniment with cream soups. Boal, or Bual is noticeably sweet, and Malmsey is the sweetest and is usually served after a meal. Madeira was once a very popular wine. In the 19th century it was the most popular wine in the US. Towards the end of the 19th century, the twin plagues that devastated Europe, oidium and phylloxera, did not skip the island of Madeira. In the process of replanting, and re-inventing themselves, Madeira producers started to use a single grape variety, Tinta Negra Mole, for all the wines, while still labeling them with the original grape names to indicate style. This not only led to confusion, but a noticeable decline in quality. Since entering the European Common Market in 1986, Madeira has had to conform to the European labeling laws, which require at least 85% of the grape mentioned on the label. This has led to a resurgence in planting of the original grape varieties. Madeira is almost certainly the longest lived of all wines. I have had many examples form the early 19th century that were in fine shape. The cost of these ancient wines are surprisingly reasonable, and you should never pass up the opportunity to try one. Beware of the word "Solera" on the label, as this means that only a drop or two of wine from the date listed are actually in the blended wine itself.
A wine tasting term for a wine that has been affected by oxidation. In extreme examples the wine (usually white wine) has begun to turn brown. This process is identical to the browning that occurs in an apple that has had a bite taken out of it. The term comes form the wines of Madeira, which are very brown, due to a great deal of oxidation, and being baked.
A large wine bottle, which holds the same as two normal bottles. The larger the bottle, the slower the wine ages. A magnum is the perfect size for aging great red wines, as it ages the wine slowly, but not too slowly.
One of the red wine grapes of Bordeaux, France (where it is called cot or pressac). While it is rarely used for more than adding a bit of color, it is one of the five grapes allowed, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petite Verdot. South of Bordeaux is the region of Cahors where Malbec is the chief grape used in what historically has been called their "black wine." Argentina is the new champion of Malbec, where it is one of the most important grapes planted.The great popularity of Argentine Malbec has resulted in the region of Cahor copying the New World style, an unprescedented turn of events.
A secondary fermentation that changes the tart malic acid (found in green apples) into the softer lactic acid, found in milk. Common in red wine, but used almost exclusively in Chardonnay for white. One of the byproducts of this process is a chemical called "diacetyl" which is responsible for the buttery taste of some wines. Often abbreviated ML.
Since ancient times this has been an important grape throughout the Mediterranean. In recent years it has become less popular and is increasingly being replaced by fruitier, lighter white wine grapes. The distinct amber color of wines made from this grape are a reminder of how easily it becomes maderized. In fact this is the grape known in Madeira, Portugal as Malmsey. Italy is the final bastion for this grape, where it is used to make sweet wines, or when blended with Trebbiano, to make dry whites such as Orvieto and Frascati.
The French word for pomace (the solids left after making wine). Also a brandy distilled from pomace (eau-de-vie de marc). In Italy the brandy is known as Grappa.
The southern most (and hence lightest) of the quality wine producing regions of the Haut-Medoc, in Bordeaux, France.
Margaux, Chateaux (mar-go)
A First Growth Bordeaux, France, producer, from the town of the same name. Sometimes used as an example of the why not to rely on the 1855 classification to rate wines. While the wines form this property are now as good as a First Growth should be, this could not be said during the 60s and early 70s. The winery had run into disrepair, but since it was listed as a First Growth in 1855, there was no way for consumers to know that it was a poor example of what should have been a great wine. Turned around in the late 70s and early 80s by its current owners, Margaux is once again a First Growth in more than name. Cabernet based, like the other First Growth wines of the region, Margaux tends to be softer than some of its northern counterparts.
An important wine region in Western Australia. Newer than many other regions in Australia, it has the advantage of not having to overcome tradition and so the wines tend to be of a more modern style.
Often relegated to the kitchen, this is the best known fortified wine of Sicily, Italy. While still popular as a cooking ingredient, it has not kept up with current taste for fortified wines. The wine itself is usually vinified dry, and a sweeting agent "mosto cotto (cooked must) is added to give it the distinctive brown color and flavor.
A white wine grape of the Rhone Valley, France. It is noticeably earthy and richer than most other white wine grapes.
A relatively rare German white wine that has had the herb woodruff added to it, and then sweetened.
Mazis-Chambertin (mah-zee sham-bair-tan)
A Grand Cru red wine vineyard in Burgundy, France. Allowed to add the name of its famous neighbor, Chambertin, to its own because of its proximity and high quality.
Mazoyeres-Chambertin (mah-z'oy-air sham-bair-tan)
Another of the Gevery-Chambertin Grand Cru Burgundies that is allowed to append the Chambertin name to its own. Usually sold as Charmes-Chambertin.
A wine growing region in Bordeaux, France. The Medoc is split in two, with the Haut-Medoc (upper Medoc) being the southern portion, and the higher quality of the two (in fact most of the highest quality Bordeaux red wines come from the Haut-Medoc). The remaining portion, the Bas-Medoc (lower Medoc) is rarely seen on wine labels, the term Medoc itself being more common.
A wine producing commune in the southern Burgundy region of France. Specifically located in the Cote Chalonnaise, it is the best known red producer in the region. The red wines are made from Pinot Noir, and the tiny amount of white made, is from the Chardonnay grape.
One of the best known red wine grapes. Often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon. In the Haut-Medoc region of Bordeaux, France, it is second to Cabernet Sauvignon; but, across the river in Saint-Emilion and Pomerol it is the primary grape. It ages somewhat more quickly than Cabernet Sauvignon, because it is lighter in tannins. The grape famously took a hit in popularity after the movie Sideways.
Methode Champenoise (meh-toh'd shahm-peh-n'wahz)
The Champagne method for making sparkiling wines. First a dry, still wine is made. It is then bottled. A small amount of sugar and yeast is added to the bottle, which is then sealed. The yeast turns the sugar into carbon dioxide, heat and alcohol. The carbon dioxide dissolves in the wine, making the wine bubbly. Once the process has finished, the bottle of wine still has the sediment from the yeast in it. Through a process known as riddling, the bottles are slowly turned upside down (over a period of weeks or months) until the sediment is in the neck of the bottle. The neck is then plunged into a very cold salt water solution, which freezes a bit of the wine around the sediment. The bottle is opened and the chunk of ice, complete with all of the sediment, is removed. The bottle then needs to be refilled to replace the lost wine. At this point some Champagne is added, along with a solution of sugar, which will determine the final sweetness and style of the wine.
A popular wine producing village of Burgundy, France. Located in the Cote de Beaune, it produces primarily white wine from the Chardonnay grape. A small amount of red wine is produced from Pinot Noir.
In meteorological terms this is the effect of geography on weather on a very small scale. In wine tasting, this term, like the French term Terrioir (see gout de terrior) has been expanded to include the geology as well as geography of any given area. In total it refers to the different conditions any individual vineyard may face. The vineyards of Burgundy, France are a living example of this effect. While many of the vineyards are tiny, they each have a taste characteristic that is noticeably different from their neighbor.
The same fungus that plagues home owners can be found in the vineyard, with the same undesirable results. There are two types in the vineyard, "downy" and "powdery." It is the powdery type that is known as oidium and devistated the vineyards of Europe in the late 19th century. It is now controlled by the careful use of powdered sulfur or copper sulfate in the vineyard.
The French term for "vintage," the year of harvest that appears on a bottle.
One of the best known red wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France.
The grape carried by the Franciscan monks to the New World. It is probably the same as the Pais grape of Chile and the Criolla grape of Argentina. Never a quality grape, it has largely been forgotten about and removed from vineyards throughout the New World. A small amount can still be found in California, and the best wines made from it are sweet and fortified.
Mittelrhein (mit' l-rine)
A tiny and very picturesque wine region in Germany along the Rhine River. Most of the wine is white and made from the Riesling grape. It is rarely exported.
A French term for a wine that is ever so slightly sweet. There is no real English equivalent. The term "threshold" is applied in the US to wines that have measurable residual sugar, but do not taste sweet to most people.
Just what it sounds like. Wines (usually red) that were affected by mold and used to make wine anyway will have this off taste and odor.
The French term for a vineyard that has a single owner owner, hence a monopoly on that wine. Primarily used in Burgundy, where it is rare for a vineyard to have only one owner.
A Grand Cru white wine vineyard of Burgundy, France, planted entirely to Chardonnay. The vineyard was much larger in times gone by, but has been broken up into smaller portions over time. Half the vineyard lies in the commune of Chassagne-Motrachet, as do the adjacent Grand Cru of Batard-Montrachet (in part). The other half of the vineyard is in Puligny-Montrachet along with the Grand Crus Batard-Montrachet (in part), Bienvenues Batard-Montrachet and Chevalier Montrachet. Montrachet is the source of confusion and error for some wine drinkers. The two towns each appending the name of the vineyard (common in Burgundy) means that some people refer to the wines from the towns collectively as "Montrachet." This can be a costly mistake should you order Montrachet in a restaurant, as the Grand Cru produces some of the most expensive white wine in the world.
Montrose, Chateau (mohn't-rose)
A Second Growth Bordeaux, France property. It is (along with Ch. Cos-d'Estournel) the highest rated vineyard in the village of Saint-Estephe. Keeping with the generalization that the harder wines are in the north of the Haut-Medoc, Ch. Montrose is indeed a harder styled wine. Based on Cabernet Sauvignon, as are all Haut-Medoc wines, this wine will age well.
Morey-Saint-Denis (moh-ray san deh-nee)
A village in the northern end of the Cote de Nuits in Burgundy, France. A producer of very high quality red wines, it is unusual to see the village name on a label. Much of the vineyard land is Grand Cru, and would be sold with the name of the vineyard only. Besides the namesake Grand Cru vineyard, Clos Daint-Denis, Clos de la Roche, Clos de Tart, Clos des Lambray and a part of Bonnes Mares are all found in this tiny village, situated directly south of Gevery-Chambertin. The grape for the reds are Pinot Noir, and a tiny amount of white is made from Chardonnay.
A wine producing village in the Beaujolais region of France. The wines here are less fruity and more complex than its neighbors. Those who would support the claim that Beaujolais can improve with age, usually point to the wines of Morgon as an example. As with all Beaujolais, the grape for this red wine is Gamay.
The Italian name for the Muscat grape. This is the grape of Asti Spumante, Italian's famous sparkling wine (the drier versions in Italy are far superior to the exported versions). The Italians make a wide range of Moscato wines, some fortified, some sparkling.
Moscato d'Asti (moss-cah'-to dah'ss-tee)
One of my favorite wines, it is often overlooked in the US. Lightly sparkling, lightly sweet, and light in alcohol, this wine is light in everything, except flavor. Made from the Muscat (Moscato) grape in the town of Asti, in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. Only the finest grapes go into the production of Moscato d'Asti, with the bulk of them being utilized to make the better known, and fully sparkling, Asti Spumante. Moscato d'Asti, usually just referred to as Moscato, has recently become more popular due to its association with music personalities.
Mosel / Moselle (mo'-zl / mo-zell')
One of the highest quality wine regions in Germany (Mosel is the German spelling). The official name of the wine region is Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, which includes two of the tributaries to the Moselle River. The finest vineyards are found on steeply terraced hills, overlooking the river. The best wines are made from Riesling, but increasing amounts of Muller-Thurgau, Elbling and Kerner are being planted. Some of the best known wine growing regions in Germany can be found here: Zeller Schwarze Katz, Piesporter and the Bernkastler vineyards. The Bernkastler Doctor vineyard in particular is heralded by many as the source of their favorite German wine.
A French term for a wine that is soft or thin to a fault. Not well known in the US, but a good term to know as there is not really an English equivalent.
One of the smaller wine growing villages in the Medoc district of Bordeaux, France. It is notable as the home of Chasse-Spleen, one of the best known "Cru Bourgeois" (lesser Bordeaux wines).
One of the red wine grapes of southern France and the Rhone Valley. It is the grape of the very tannic, and darkly colored Bandol (from the south of France). It is these very characteristics that makes the grape important for blending. It is one of the 13 grapes found in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The grape has a following in California where it is used for blending with Syrah or Zinfandel, or even bottled on its own. Sometimes called Mataro.
The French term for the foam found on sparkling wines or beer. Often called "head" in English.
The French generic term for sparkling wine. Champagne, from the Champagne region is always referred to by name.
A wine tasting term for the smell and taste of a particular bacterial spoilage in some faulty wines.
Mouton-Rothschild, Chateau (moo-tohn rot-sheeld)
A First Growth Bordeaux, France property. Rated as a second growth in the 1855 classification, it was elevated by decree in 1973. For many wine enthusiasts, Mouton is best known as the wine with the incredible art labels.With only three exceptions, since 1946 an original work of art has been commissioned for the label. Marc Chagall, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol are among the artists who's works have graced the Mouton labels. 1953 was a 100th anniversary label, and 1973 was an homage to Picasso, from the Chateau's collection, to celebrate the elevation of the wine, and to mourn the passing of the artist in that year. The 1977 was the third exception, when the label was a commemoration of the visit of the Queen Mother (of Great Britain). The wine is rightfully as famous as the labels, and like all of the wines of the region, it is based on Cabernet Sauvignon.
Muller-Thurgau (mew'-lair toor'-gau)
The most planted grape in Germany. A cross of Riesling and Sylvaner. The wines it makes tend to be low in acid, and somewhat dull, compared to Riesling. Widely planted in New Zealand as well.
Musar, Chateau (moo-sahr)
A Cabernet Sauvignon based wine from Lebanon. This wine has received much press and critical acclaim over the years. I do not share this opinion, finding the wine to be very expensive, overly hard, lacking in fruit, and having a distinct baked flavor. All or most of these may be blamed on the US distributors and importer, so perhaps the wine shows better in the correct circumstances. It may also be that this is the best wine made in the Middle East, and so allowances have been made by the critics.
A light, dry white wine made around the town of Nantes, France, where the Loire river flows into the Atlantic ocean. Because of the style of the wine, and the geography of the area it is produced in, it is often acclaimed as the perfect accompaniment to seafood. The Sevre-et-Maine appellation is added to the name of the wine made from this smaller delimited area. Once this was a small percentage of the wine made, now most Muscadet exported comes from Sevre-et-Maine. In addition the wine is sometimes aged on the lees (sediment) to add flavor, and this too is noted on the bottle, giving the wine the resulting tongue twister name: Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine Sur Lie. Muscadet is the local name for the grape used, which is known elsewhere as Melon de Bourgogne.
Muscat (moos-cat or muss-cat)
Considered the original wine making grape, and the progenitor of all wine making grapes (of the species vinifera). The grape comes in many sub-varieties and even colors. Nearly every wine making region of the world has some sort of Muscat based wine. The aroma of the grape is distinct, and has lent its name to the word "musk." A list of the Muscat based wines would take pages, the good news is that the word Muscat or Moscatto appears on many of the labels. Almost without exception, Muscat based wines are somewhat, to very sweet. Muscat raisins and table grapes can also be found on occasion.
A Grand Cru Burgundy, France vineyard. While the red wine is made from Pinot Noir and constitutes by far the largest proportion of the 3,000 cases a year of wine produced from this vineyard, a tiny amount of white wine from Chardonnay is made and labeled Musigny Blanc. This is the only Grand Cru white wine made in the Cote de Nuits. Like all of the Grand Cru reds of Burgundy, this wine is unforgettable in a decent vintage.
The off smell of a wine that has been in contact with old or poorly cleaned wooden casks. It is similar to a moldy smell, or even the "corked" smell of an off wine. If you experience this smell, and think it may be a corked bottle, try opening another bottle of the same wine, if it still exists, it is likely musty, and not corked.
One of the 11 major wine growing areas of Germany and for many, as high a quality as the Mosel, and the Rheingau. A visit to Bad Kreuznach, the wine capital of the region, will not only yield exceptional Rieslings, but you may soak in the therapeutic baths and gamble your nights away in the casino.
The principal grape of the Piedmont region of northern Italy. The wines Barolo, Barberesco, and Gattinara are all made from Nebbiolo. Barolo in particular tends to be hard in youth, and to reward extended aging.
The largest of the Champagne bottles. It holds 20 ordinary bottles. They are very impressive, until you try to pour from one.
The French word for a trader or merchant. In wine terms it is the merchant who buys the wine in cask, and then bottles, labels and sells it. There is also a growing trend among negociants to buy the grapes and make the wine themselves.
A popular Swiss white wine, made from the Chasselas grape along the shores of Lake Neuchatel.
A term for Botrytis Cinerea. The special mold that is responsible for many of the world's greatest dessert wines. It creates micro lesions in the skin of the grape, and then removes the water from inside the grape. The result is fruit with a much higher ratio of sugar, suitable for creating sweet wines. The mold can also be harmful when it attacks dry wine vineyards (it is usually called Gray Rot when it is a pest). The French call Botrytis "Pourriture Noble" - the noble rot.
The French word for "new." It has taken on a new meaning and a life of its own when paired with Beaujolais. Beaujolais Nouveau is shipped in mid-Novemeber, just a few days after the harvest. Using the Carbonic Maceration method, the wine is made much more quickly than by traditional methods, but looses complexity in the process. The new wine becomes a center piece of marketing as cases of it are flown around the world to celebrate its release.
Nuits-Saint-Georges (n'wee san johr'j)
The wine town in Burgundy, France, that lent its name to the Cote de Nuits which starts here and runs north. The town is home to some very good reds wines, and many First Growths (1er Cru), but no Grands Crus.
A wine tasting term for a wine that exhibits flavors reminiscent of nuts, especially hazelnut. In some cases this can be a sign that the wine is oxidized. Sherry and Tawny Ports are both very nutty, and very oxidized (hence the brown color).
Oak is used to make containers for storing and aging wine. Specific oak is used for small barrels to impart flavor and tannins to the wine. The newer the barrel, the more flavor it imparts. Oak is critical for making long lived red wines, and some whites. It can sometimes be over used to hide flavors or to make up for lackluster crops. Oak in wine should always be subtle, and in balance. Beware of any wine where the oak is the defining character. In larger containers, and older barrels, the oak does not impart much if any flavor, and so less expensive oak is used. There is a certain amount of air exchanged through the pores of a small oak barrel that can help to develop the aromas of the young wine (secondary aromas). Again, larger oak barrels do not let enough air in to greatly effect the volume of wine they hold.
The German scale of measuring the sugar content of must (in the US we use the Brix Scale). The aim of such scales is to determine the potential alcohol content of the finished wine. This is a critical measure of when to harvest.
Oeil de Perdrix (uh'y duh pair-dree)
Literally "eye of the partridge" in French. The term is used to connote a color of wine. It is a browning pink color. The term is old, and rarely used much anymore, but seems to have referred to Rosé wines that were slightly oxidized. You may run across the term in reading old notes, or from overly poetic wine writers.
A very general word for any wine that is not quite as it should be. Usually used by a taster familiar with the wine, who is pronouncing that this bottle or sample is somehow damaged. Especially used to describe an odor that may be due to a problem with the wine.
The powdery mildew fungus that devastated the vineyards of Europe in the mid-nineteenth century. Like the phylloxera plague that would follow, Oidium was brought from America. It is now controlled in the vineyard by spraying.
A Sherry that has not been aged in the presence of "flor." Dry, like all Sherry when aging in a barrel, this is the Sherry that is often sweetened and sold as Cream Sherry.
The city on the Douro river in Portugal that gave Port its name. The Port trade is actually conducted across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia because of the fire danger the aging Port presents.
Examination with the senses as opposed to a chemical or physical exam. This is the highest form of wine tasting. An expert must be able to taste the wine and have a good idea of what it is, and more importantly, what it should be. A laboratory analysis can aid the winemaker in determining if the wine has finished a particularly stage, or needs to be adjusted, but only a taster can determine quality and marketability.
The older German term for "Estate Bottled." It was largely replaced in 1971 when the German wine laws went into effect, by the term "Erzeugurabfullung."
A well known Italian white wine made from the Trebbianno grape in the Umbria region.
A wine tasting term for a wine that has absorbed oxygen. In extreme examples the wine (usually white wine) has begun to turn brown. This process is identical to the browning that occurs in an apple that has had a bite taken out of it. Also known as "maderized."
The main grape used for Sherry production. Also used sparingly in the New World where it never seems to perform as well.
Passe-tout-grains (pahss too gran)
Usually called "Bourgogne Passe-tout-grains." A blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir (at least 33%) from southern Burgundy, France. A rarity that is worth trying when you find it.
The Italian name for a wine making technique. The grapes are dried (traditionally on straw mats) after picking until they turn to raisins. The result is a much higher sugar ratio in the grapes. Mostly used for dessert wines like Vin Santo and Reccioto della Valpolicella, but also used to make the dry red wine Amarone della Valpolicella. In France wines made with this technique are called Vin de Paille, literally "Straw Wine".
The process of sterilizing liquids by heating. Rarely used for fine wines, but still used for some simpler wines, especially if they contain residual sugar.
One of the principal wine growing towns in the Haut-Medoc, in Bordeaux, France. This is the home of the First Growths: Mouton, Lafite and Latour.
Pedro Ximenez (peh'-dro hee-meh'-nez)
A wine grape grown primarily in Spain, with some plantings in Argentina and Australia as well. Throughout Spain it is used to make rather simple white wines. It is also used to make Sherry like wines around the world. In the actual Sherry producing region of Spain it is becoming increasingly rare, in favor of the Palomino grape, and is usually used for blending. It is often called PX.
A wine producing region in Spain, just west of Barcelona. Most of Spain's sparkling wine, Cava, is produced here. There has been an explosion of red wines produced in the area, many from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. The well known producer Torres is one of the leaders in the region, as well as Jean Leon who helped to made Spanish Cabernet popular in the US.
Used by some wine tasters to describe the abundant floral quality of some white wines. It should be used exclusively for those aromas that derive from the grape itself (primary aromas).
A French term for a wine that has some, but very little sparkle. It is for wines that are less sparkling than what the French call "Petillant," and the Italians call "Frizzante".
The French term for a wine that is slightly sparkling. Equivalent to the Italian term "Frizzante".
Petit Verdot (peh-tee vair-doe)
One of the blending grapes used in Bordeaux, France. Added to Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot based wines for its tannins. In the New World it is sometimes bottled as a separate varietal, especially in Argentina.
Petite Sirah (peh-teet see-rah)
A wine grape found primarily in California. Once thought to be related to the Syrah grape of the Rhone Valley in France, it is now known to be the grape Durif. It has been said that this grape is "neither petite, nor Syrah." It yields wines with a deep color that tend to be rather simple and tannic, but enjoyable young.
Petrus, Chateau (peh-troos)
A wine of the Pomerol region of Bordeaux, France. In 1855 when the region was being classified, Pomerol was on the wrong side of a river, without a bridge. The result is that the Pomerol region has never been classified. If it had, Petrus would certainly be the highest rated wine in the region. With only 4,000 cases produced a year, Petrus is consistently one of the most expensive and sought after wines in the world. Usually made from 100% Merlot (a small amount of Cabernet Franc is planted, and is used only when needed). One can not write of Ch. Petrus without mentioning Jean-Pierre Moueix (mo-ex), whose guidance over the past four decades has turned this nearly obscure vineyard into the powerhouse it is today.
Wine makers, and wine writers often talk about the total acidity (TA) in a wine. It is only half the story. pH is the meassure of how strong the acid is in wine. The lower the number, the stronger the acid. A wine with a low TA may still taste tart if the pH is low enough. To be confusing pH is essentially backwards when talking about acidity (the higher the number, the more alkaline, the opposite of acidity, a solution is). pH is literally a measurement of the number hydrogen ions a solution contains. In dry table wine the range, very generally, is around 3.1 - 3.6.
A small insect that was responsible for the most devastating plague in wine history. A native of North America, the phylloxera louse is happy to live off the leaves of the native North American grapes. It was accidently exported to Europe where it found a new type of grape to live off of (vinifera). Instead of the leaves, it found that the roots of this new type of grape was a delicacy. It so liked the roots of vinifera that it changed its life cycle to exclude males and the winged form of the insect, learning to specialize as a female only, root eating monster. This made phylloxera much harder to detect, and to destroy. The late 19th century saw this insect spread throughout Europe, and even to the wine making regions of the New World, where it nearly wiped out the wine making industry. Many solutions were tried, but it was the grafting of native North American root stock (which is resistant to the bug) to the vinifera grape vines that finally was found to be effective. This technique is used world over to this day. Phylloxera is much controlled except in areas where through greed, ignorance or accident, root stock that is not resistant is used. Such was the case in California in the 80s and 90s where phylloxera was found to be rampant in the famous vineyards of Napa Valley and elsewhere, primarily due to the wrong choice of root stock.
Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Chateau (pee-shoh'n long-veel coh'n-tess duh lah-lahnd)
A Second Growth vineyard in the village of Pauillac, in Bordeaux, France. It is often considered to be better than its peers and is given the unofficial designation "Super Second." Adjacent to its brother vineyard (see above) this wine is often called Pichon-Lalande to reduce confusion. A greater proportion of Merlot, and the more southernly vineyard, make this wine softer than Pichon-Baron, or even other wines in the region.
Pichon-Longueville, Chateau (pee-shoh'n long-veel)
A Second Growth vineyard in the village of Pauillac, in Bordeaux, France. Until the mid-nineteenth century this was a huge vineyard, but it was divided, with part going to the sisters (see below) and this part going to the son. Because of the potential of confusion with its sister vineyard, this property is often called Pichon-Baron. A Cabernet Sauvignon based wine, it is usually of a style somewhat more tannic than its sister vineyard or its adjacent neighbor, the First Growth, Ch. Latour.
Piedmont / Piemonte (peed-mont / p'yay-mon'-the)
One of the most important wine producing regions in Italy. Situated in the northwestern corner of the country, up against the Alps. This is the home of the intense red wines Barolo and Barberesco, as well as the refreshingly light sparkling wine Moscato d'Asti and the well known sparkler Asti Spumante. Piemonte is the Italian name for the region.
A tiny, but very famous German wine making town. With steep, rocky vineyards that overlook the Moselle River, the Rieslings produced here are among the world's best. The renown Groldtropfchen vineyard is located in this village.
Pineau des Charentes (pee-no day shah-rahn't)
A somewhat obscure sweet, fortified wine made in the Cognac region of France. It is made by adding Cognac to unfermented grape juice (instead of partially fermented wine).
Pinot Blanc (pee-no blahn)
A relative of the Pinot Noir, this white grape is planted in abundance in Alsace, France; California and Oregon. At one time this grape was found in the vineyards of Burgundy, along side Chardonnay. While Burgundy platings are now rare, it would seem that much of the Pinot Blanc taken from Burgundy to be planted elsewhere, is actually Chardonnay. This is specially true in Italy, where producers of Pinot Blanco are pleasantly surprised to find they have the better selling Chardonnay planted instead, and have rushed to change the name of their wines. The wines made from Pinot Blanc tend to be very crisp due to high acidity.
Pinot Grigio (pee'-no gree-d'jo)
The Italian name for the grape and wine produced from the Pinot Gris grape. Most of this popular wine is rather bland and uninspiring.
Pinot Gris (pee-no gree)
A relative of the Pinot Noir grape this "grey" member of the family is important in Alsace, France, where it is known as Tokay d'Alsace and in Germany where it is called Rulander, and in Italy as Pinot Grigio. The Alsatian examples are the richest and most flavorful, eclipsing the Pinot Grigio of Italy.
Pinot Meunier (pee-no muh-n'yay)
A cousin of the Pinot Noir grape, and like Pinot Noir, one of the red wine grapes used in Champagne. Curiously it is rarely mentioned in Champagne where nearly half the vineyards are planted to Pinot Meunier.
Pinot Noir (pee-no n'wahr)
One of the most important red wine grapes in the World. At home in Burgundy, France, it is also found throughout the New World. In California many of the best examples are found in Santa Barbara county. Oregon too boasts exceptional Pinots, and New Zealand is proud of their up and coming contributions. It is also used to make high quality sparkling wines in Champagne and elsewhere. By pressing very gently, the red color which comes from the skins of the grape, does not leech into the juice, allowing sparkling wines made with Pinot Noir to remain relatively clear. Rose Champagne is usually (but not always) made by adding red wine at the end of the process. Pinot Noir tends to be high in acid, and low in tannin, which makes it easier to enjoy in its youth, and one of the best wines to enjoy with food. Pinot Noir is a very hard grape to grow, and a very hard wine to make. This makes vintage fluctuations common, as well as less than stellar results from some producers, even in good years. The movie Sideways propelled the grape to Superstardom, raising prices and leading to a trend in California for making blends with 25% of other grapes while still (legally) labelling it as Pinot Noir.
An important grape in South Africa. The result of crossing Pinot Noir and Cinsault (which is known as Hermitage in South Africa).
A large oak barrel that is tapered at the ends. At 522.5 liters or 138 gallons it is about twice the size of the average barrel. Used primarily for Port.
A French term, it means a wine that has begun to sour. In English the term is "Pricked".
A confusing term. It means either the addition of substances such as calcium sulfate before fermentation in order to increase acidity, or calcium carbonate to reduce acidity. Since both of these are a white powder that is added to a liquid, as is plaster, it may explain the term, but not why it can mean two potentially opposite results.
All of the seeds, skins, pulp and stems left over after fermenting and pressing the red wine. The French call this "Marc" and distill it into a brandy by the same name. The Italians call this brandy "Grappa."
A wine producing village in Bordeaux, France. Unique among French wine producing regions, this one has no classification system. In 1855 when most of Bordeaux was being classified, Pomerol was less accessible than it is now, and was largely ignored. The wine makers of the region have resisted classification ever since. The home of the very expensive and renown Ch. Petrus, Pomerol may be one of the highest average quality regions in Bordeaux. The wines here are produced primarily from Merlot, with varying amounts of Cabernet Franc added when the vintage calls for it.
A well known wine producing village in Burgundy, France. Situated at the northern end of the Cote de Beaune, it produces primarily red wines from the Pinot Noir grape.
An odd looking glass or ceramic wine drinking vessel from Spain. It is shaped like a bag with two horns. The one end is wider, to allow pouring in the wine. The other end is a spout. The drinker raises the Porron high over their head and allows the stream to run down into their mouth. More for celebration than everyday use, it is now seen mostly at festivals for the delight of the tourists.
A sweet red wine that is made by adding neutral grape spirit (brandy) to the unfinished wine. This is the process known as "fortification." Port is made in several styles. Vintage Port is made in years that are exceptional. It is bottled young, and ages in the bottle for decades. An aged Vintage Port throws a good deal of sediment and must be decanted before serving. Late Bottled Vintage Port is aged for several years in a barrel before it is bottled. It is a short cut method that allows the wine to be served with a minimum of fuss. It never will have the complexity of a fine Vintage Port, nor the price. Character Port is a house style that is not vintage dated. It is a simple, inexpensive style that will not improve with age. The label will not say "Character Port," it will have a brand name instead. Tawny Port has been aged in a barrel for a number of years (usually listed on the label). As the Port throws sediment, it is racked into a new barrel, leaving the sediment behind, as well as the coloring agent. The result is a lightly brown (tawny) colored wi ne that is nutty and complex. 10, 20 and 40 year old Tawnies are common. There is also a White Port made from white wine grapes. It is a drier, aperitif style. It is rarely seen in the US. Outside of the European Economic Community, which controls the legal use of the term Port, there are several Port style wines made in a similar fashion. Australia and the US are both producers of these Port styled wines.
The legal name for Port exported to the US, in order to reduce confusion with US made port style wines. It must appear somewhere on the label. The exception is for Port that is bottled in England prior to export to the US.
Pouilly-Fuisse (poo-yee fwee-say)
A Chardonnay based white wine from southern Burgundy in France. Once very popular in the US.
Pouilly-Fume (poo-yee foo-may)
A dry white wine made from Sauvignon Blanc in the Loire region of France.
Pourriture Noble (poor-rit-ch'yer no-bluh)
French for "Noble Rot" a term for Botrytis Cinerea. The special mold that is responsible for many of the world's greatest dessert wines. It creates micro lesions in the skin of the grape, and then removes the water from the inside the grape. The result is fruit with a much higher ratio of sugar, suitable for creating sweet wines. The mold can also be harmful when it attacks dry wine vineyards (it is usually called Gray Rot when it is a pest).
A red wine grape popular in Austria. It has no connection to Portugal at all.
A wine producing region in eastern Italy for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot based wines.
Premier Cru (preh-m'yay crew)
French for "First Growth." In Bordeaux, France, it refers to the very top estates. In Burgundy, France, it refers to those vineyards that are distinctive enough to be listed on the label, but not great enough to stand on their own (as are the Grand Cru vineyards).
A piece of wine making equipment used to press the juice out of the grapes. In the case of red wine this is done after fermentation.
When making wine, the juice that is extracted without pressing is of the highest quality, and is called "free run." In order to extract the rest of the juice, the grapes must be pressed. This is often done multiple times. Each succeeding press yields juice of a lower quality. The term "Press Wine" is mostly used to connote this lower quality juice. In order to make an inexpensive wine from expensive grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, or Chardonnay, the grapes must be pressed many times in order to increase the quantity produced. In some cases, only this press wine is used, the first press and free run juice being used for higher quality wine. Since this press wine is often bitter, it becomes necessary to leave a small amount of sugar in the wine to hide the bitterness.
A French term for wines that are consumed shortly after harvest. The best known example is Beaujolais Nouveau.
A red wine grape found in Italy. It was thought for some time that this was the origin of the Zinfandel grape of California. Current DNA methods suggest that the Primitivo may actually have come from the Zinfandel, rather than the other way around.
A period in US history that outlawed the sale of alcoholic beverages, by the 18th amendment to the US Constitution. It lasted from 1920 until 1933 when it was repealed by the 21st amendment to the US Constitution. During this period the consumption of alcoholic beverages doubled. Because of the great profits to be made, bootlegging and smuggling became common, and a great deal of violence was introduced into American society.
A method of expressing the alcohol content of spirits. Wine has the actual percentage listed. In the US proof is double the percentage of alcohol. So a 100 proof spirit, contains 50% alcohol. In Great Britian it would be 57.06% by volume. This is an important distiction, because Scotch Whiskey imported into the US will say 80 proof when it has 40% alcohol, but the same whiskey in Great Britain will only say 70 proof.
A white wine grape of Italy. In the US it is best known as a sparkling wine made from the same grape. In Italy the wine may be sparkling, lightly sparkling, or even still.
A huge wine making area in the south of France. The emphasis tends to be on quantity more than quality, with over 40 million cases produced each year.
One of the most important steps in vineyard management. Conducted during the dormant period in the vineyard. The goal is to shape the vine for the coming growing season, with a specific goal in mind. The goal may be to increase or decrease the amount of grapes to be produced, or to make the grapes easier to harvest by machine, or a host of other considerations.
Puligny-Montrachet (poo-lee-n'yee mohn-rah-shay)
A white wine making village in the Cote de Beaune in Burgundy, France. The famed vineyard Montrachet straddles this town, and Chassagne-Montrachet, both of which have appended the famous vineyard names to their own.
The center of the grape where the juice is. It is surrounded by the skin of the grape, where tannin, and in the case of red wines, the coloring agents are found. The pulp in turn surrounds the seed, or pip, which is also a source of tannin.
The indentation in the bottom of a Champagne bottle. Originally designed to strengthen the bottle, so that it could withstand the internal pressure of the sparkling wine, it is now found on many wine bottles. It not only increases the strength, but it makes it easier for the bottle makers to stack the bottles on end.
In the traditional production of Tokaji Aszu wine of Hungary, baskets of very ripe grapes, effected with botrytis, are added to the base wine to sweeten it. The baskets are themselves known as puttonyos, and the label of the wine indicated how many puttonyos have been added. Three was common for the drier styles, with five being used in the swetest. Six puttonyos wines exist, but are nearly legendary. There also exists an even more legendary wine, Essencia which is made entirely from the puttonyos grapes. In modern Tokaji Aszu puttonyos exits as a term only, and it is now grams per liter that are the actual measurement.
The complete phrase is "Qualitatswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete" which is almost always abbreviated to QbA in the US and on the wine label. It means "quality wine from a specified region." It is a legal designation under the 1971 German wine laws. A QbA wine must have a minimum sugar level at harvest, but may be chaptalized (have sugar added). It must come from one of the 11 specific growing regions of Germany, and the name of the region must be on the label.
"Qualitatswein mit Pradikat" which translates from German to "quality wine with distinction." Almost always abbreviated in the US, and on the wine label. A legal designation under the German wine laws of 1971. As well as this phrase the label must identify the wine as belonging to one of these six classes from driest to sweetest: Kabinett , Spatlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein or Trokenbeeranauslese (see each listed individually). The rules for QmP are similar to those of QbA, except that the wine may not be chaptalized (have sugar added). These are the highest quality wines made in Germany.
Quarts de Chaume (cahr duh show'm)
A Grand Cru vineyard in the Coteaux du Layon district of the Loire, France. This is a sweet Chenin Blanc white wine that ages very well. It is rare, almost unknown outside of the area, and one of my favorite wines.
The Portugese term for a vineyard estate. Similar to "Chateau" in Bordeaux, France.
An important step in wine making. The transfer of the young wine from one barrel, where it has thrown some sediment, to a new barrel, leaving the sediment behind. Not only does this help to clarify the wine, it is an opportunity for the wine to come into contact with air. A certain amount of oxygen is required at this stage of a wine's development, in order to produce necessary aromas (secondary aromas). Racking must be conducted carefully, as too much oxygen will be more harmful than beneficial for the wine. Heavy red wines may be racked 3 or four times. Lighter reds and whites may only be racked once or twice.
Once a trademark for a particular Madeira, it is now a generic term for a lighter, not too sweet, style.
In an odd twist in wine jargon, this term, which literally means "rancid" in Spanish is used used to describe the browning effect, and nutty taste that wines take on when purposefully exposed to air during aging. It is not considered a negative trait in these wines. Madeira is one such wine, and it has lent its name to the term "maderized' which has a similar meaning, but is used with a negative connotation for wines that were not meant to be oxidized. Common sense would dictate that these two terms are reversed, and yet, this is how they are used. Tawny Port, Marsala and Banyuls are all wines that could be described as rancio.
Any of several aperitifs made by adding brandy to unfermented grape juice. The best known example may be the Pineau de Charentes of the Cognac region, although Ratafias are found in the Champagne and Burgundy regions of France as well.The name is said to come from the tradition of toasting the ratification of a new treaty with such a concoction.
The German word for "vine." Hence the name of the grape Sheurebe which was created by a man named Sheu.
The French word for "harvest," or "harvesting." A similar word seen on some French wine labels is "Recolant" which refers to the fact that the wine maker has harvested their own grapes, and as such the wine is estate bottled.
The French term for "riddling." The practice of turning and inverting bottles of sparkling wine, made in the champagne method, over a period of a week or more, until the sediment has all collected in the neck of the bottle, for easy removal.
A red wine that has been aged for at least 3 years before release, at least one of which must have been in a barrel. For rose and white wines it is 2 years and six months in wood.
For millennia the Greeks have added pitch (pine resin) to their wine to help preserve it from bacterial spoilage. While this seems odd in a time of high technology, it was the technology of the time. Retsina is the direct decedent of these wines, and is still flavored with pitch to this day. The white or rose wines are an acquired taste, but are quite popular among those who grow up with the flavor. For the rest of us, well it is an acquired taste.
Historically one of the highest quality German wine producing regions. The Rhine River flows primarily northwest through Germany, except for here, where it takes a southwest course for about 20 miles. It is the direction of the river that allows the vineyards to have a south facing view, critical for ripening the grapes in this cold growing region. Here you will find Johannsberg, a region that for the US is literally synonymous with Riesling. The influx of faster maturing and easier to grow grapes has not reached this part of Germany, as it has in so much of the country. Instead, Riesling continues to be the primary grape of the region, which in no small way helps to define the quality of the wines. Critics charge that the wines of the region have been declining in quality as producers rush to meet the demand for their wines. In 2000 the German government made a stab at correcting the problem by assigning a new vineyard classification system (Erstes Gewächs), not unlike that used in the Burgundy region of France. Critics now point out that the system is less then effective as it gave 33% of the vineyards the superior rating (as compared to Burgundy where 3% of the vineyards are Grand Cru and 11% Premiers Cru).
The largest of Germany's wine regions. You will find very little Riesling here, with the wines being made primarily of Muller-Thurgau and or Sylvaner. As with so many large growing regions around the world, the emphasis here is on quantity over quality.
One of the Anbaugebiete (specified wine regions) of Germany, and the most up and coming. Also referred to simply as the Pfalz, and sometimes known in English speaking circles as the "Palatinate." Stretching for 50 miles, just north of Alsace from the French, German border, the Phalz produces red and white wines of distinction. Pinot Noir, known as Spatburgunder in German, is the red wine grape of the region, where it produces a very light styled wine. Riesling is king here, but Muller-Thurgau is a close second, with a variety of other grapes constituting 60% of the vineyards. While the second largest German region by size, it may be the largest by volume of wine produced. The words Phalz and Palatinate both derive from the Latin "palatium", meaning palace. The Roman emperors constructed their imperial residences on a hill in the region 2000 years ago, and the name still sticks.
It would seem obvious that this phrase relates to those wines made in the Rhine Valley of Germany; however, in a never ending attempt to confuse consumers and to belittle the place names of Europe, under US law a Rhine Wine can be any white wine with less than 14% alcohol.
One of the largest rivers in western Europe, its valley is the home to one of the most important wine regions of France. In the northern end of the French Rhone Valley we find Cote-Rotie and its intense Syrah based wines. Just a stones throw south, the white grape Viognier is at home in the town of Condrieu. Hermitage is further south, and further south still is Chateauneuf-de-Pape with its 13 allowable grape varieties. France is not the only country that the Rhone flows through, or the only one to make wines in its valleys. The Swiss too count the Rhone as their own, and produce wines all along its banks.
Ribera del Duero (ree-bair'ah del doo-eh-ro)
While this wine region in Spain is not well known among many wine lovers, it is the home of two of Spain's greatest producers, Vega Sicilia and the Alejandro Fernandex, maker of Pasquera. The region is in the north of Spain at 2600 feet, along the Duero River, the same river that will become the Douro in Portugal on who's banks the grapes for Port are grown. The red wine grape here is the Tempranillo, which is also responsible for the high quality of Spain's most famous red wine, Rioja. Tempranillo is known locally as Tinta del Pais. The incredible quality of Vega Sicilia has in the last few decades prompted more producers and consumers to pay attention to this high altitude treasure.
Made throughout Asia, and best known as the Japanese Sake, this is not a wine at all. The first criteria for wine, both legally and from the point of view of quality, is to be made from grapes. This is not to say that a wonderful beverage cannot be made from rice, it simply should not be called wine.
A Grand Cru red wine vineyard in the commune of Vosne-Romanee, in Burgundy, France. Even among its peers of Grand Cru vineyards, this is one of the best known.
One of the steps to making sparkling wine in the champagne method. The practice of turning and inverting bottles over a period of a week or more, until the sediment has all collected in the neck of the bottle, this allows the sediment to be easily removed. Known in French as "remuage." Once done exclusively by hand, it is now largely done by machine.
One of the greatest white wine grapes. Found originally in Germany, and still the most important quality grape there, it has now made its way around the world. Riesling makes wines that are fruity, but well balanced with acidity. This makes for long lived white wines, and some of the best sweet wines in the world.
One of the best known wine production regions in Spain. Red wines are made from Tempranillo and Grenacha (the Grenache of France). Whites are primarily made from Viura. The region is proud of its heritage, which dates back to the 19th century when groups of wine makers from the Bordeaux region of France settled here, trying to escape phylloxera. The insect finally made its way south of the border to Spain, but not before the Bordelais has made their mark. Because of the hot weather the wines can suffer from being baked before and during vinification. This led to inconsistent quality, and damaged the reputation of the region. Enter modern wine making techniques, along with temperature controlled vats, and Rioja is undergoing a renaissance of sorts. This is doubly true for the white wines which were once brown and maderized, but are now fresh and fruity.
The most common species of native North American grape vine. Because it is highly resistant to phylloxera it is often used to create new crosses of root stock.
In Italian wine laws this term can only be used for wines that have been aged for a period before release. The length of time varies by region. It is three years for Chianti Riserva, but five for Barolo or Brunello Riserva. Unlike the Spanish term, Italian wines do not necessarily have to be aged in barrel to qualify for Riserva.
A town just north of the French, Spanish border that has lent its name to a variety of fortified dessert wines from the region. Some are sold as "Muscat de Rivesaltes" and are made from that grape. Others are simply sold as "Rivesaltes" and may be made from the grape Grenache, in a semi successful imitation of Banyuls.
Practically unknown to wine lovers in the US, this was once the second most widely planted white wine grape, and third of any grape in the world (after the equally unknown Airen of Spain which was once the most planted grape of all, but still remains the most planted white grape). Since the fall of the Socviet Union the plantings have dropped significantly, it no longer even makes the top 10. Almost exclusvely found in Russia and Bulgaria.
A French wine tasting term. Usually translated to mean color, it seems to also refer to the overall appearance of a wine.
A commonly used wine tasting term which belongs to the group of terms I would suggest you avoid. Anthropomorphic and vague, it seems to be used for a wine that is not showing any signs of fault, and is high in dry extract (rich and mouth filling). It is not clear if this term applies to or alludes to the amount of tannins in the wine. It is also not clear if it indicates quality or just the "weight" of the body of the wine.
Romanee-Conti (roh-mah-nay cohn-tee)
A Grand Cru red wine vineyard from Vosne-Romanee in Burgundy, France. Considered by some to be the finest of the elite group of Grand Crus. With only 600 cases made in a good year it is one of the most collectable and expensive French wines. Completely owned (a monopole) by the Domain de Romanee-Conti (DRC).
Romanee-Saint-Vivant (roh-mah-nay san vee-vahn)
A Grand Cru red wine vineyard from Vosne-Romanee in Burgundy, France. Adjacent to Romanee-Conti and Richbourg this vineyard is nearly as large as both of them combined. Perhaps it is its size, or the neighborhood it is in, but this vineyard is rarely accorded the attention of the other vineyards of Vosne-Romanee. A total of approximately 2,500 cases are produced each year.
Romanee, La (roh-mah-nay)
A Grand Cru red wine vineyard from Vosne-Romanee in Burgundy, France. Incredibly small, even by Burgundy standards, this celebrated vineyard only produces enough grapes to make about 300 cases of wine a year. This is the true "smallest appellation in France" a accolade often mistakenly given to Chateau-Grillet in the Rhone.
The French word for "pink" and the wines that are close to that color. Rosé wines suffer from an image problem. It may be that white wine and red wine drinkers feel that rosé does not fit either niche, rather than being a bridge between them. It may also be that the sweet and simple rosé wines from the 60s and 70s made people think that all rosé wines are as uninspiring. Certainly the "white zinfandel" and blush wines made in the US haven't helped the reputation any (even if they are rarely called rosé wines). In fact there are dry rosés such as the famed Tavel and Lirac of the Rhone Valley in France that deserve more recognition. Served well chilled, these wines are great for hot summer days or picnics where a heavier red or white wine would simply be too much. Many regions of the world produce rosé wines, and many of them are best enjoyed locally. Certainly there are many rosé wines that are easy to dismiss, but it is a shame to dismiss the entire class out of hand. Technically these wines are also known as blanc de noirs (white from black). Like many styles, Rosé has had a resurgences of popularity of late.
Many a traveler has photos of roses planted at the end of a row of vines. The usual explanation is that these flowers are decorative and traditional. The truth is that roses are the canary of the wine world. Roses are very susceptible to oidium (powdery mildew) and when they exhibit signs of this fungus, the grapes are sprayed to stave off infestation.
Rosso di Montalcino (ross-oh dee mon-tahl-t'chee'-no)
The lighter version of the Italian wine Brunello di Montalcino, made from the same grapes, in the same vineyards, but without oak (or in fact any) aging.
The odor of hydrogen sulfide (the additive to household gas that allows you to smell it escaping). Rare in wine, and most unfortunate when it occurs. Almost always attributed to poor handling of grapes and the wine during production.
A wine tasting term for a wine that is astringent and tannic out of balance. Mostly a term for young wines. Rough wines rarely soften enough with age to be really enjoyable. By the time the roughness has gone, so has all of the fruit.
A wine tasting term applied to a wine that is well balanced. Often used as in "a well rounded wine."
A white wine grape from the Rhone Valley in France. Almost completely replaced by Marsanne in the region, it is still found in blends with the richer Marsanne, where it adds a subtle complexity to the wines.
The wine region just north of the Spanish border around the city of Perpignan. Even though the region is lumped together to form Languedoc-Roussillon, it has a very distinct character of its own. The people of the region consider themselves Catalans, an ethnic identity that extends south of the border as far as Barcelona in Spain. This is the home of the fortified wines Rivesaltes and the rare and incredible Banyuls. A great deal of simple table wine is also made here, most of it using Cinsault as the base, along with Grenache and even Syrah and Mouvedre in the blend.
An American cross between the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cinsault grapes. It was supposed to be a commercial alternative to the slow ripening Cabernet when it was created at UC Davis back in 1948, but it turned out to be rather disappointing. Very little of this grape is still planted in California, and what remains has been relegated to making bulk wines in the Central Valley.
A wood port, meaning it has aged in a barrel for some time, usually three years. The term is rarely used anymore, and when it is, it may mean a blend of red and white ports served as an aperitif in the cafes of Europe.
Ruchottes-Chambertin (roo-shot sham-bair-tan)
A Grand Cru red wine vineyard from Gevery-Chambertin in the Burgundy region of France. At eight acres, it is not the smallest Grand Cru vineyards, but it may be one of the least known. About 1,000 cases of wine produced a year.
A small wine producing town in the Rheingau region of Germany. The Rieslings from the area are popular with tourists who flock to the picturesque town which goes out of its way to accommodate the throngs.
A tributary of the Moselle River, and part of the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region. Little wine is produced here, although it can be of very high quality, and the river is not much more than a stream.
Saale-Unstrut (zahl' oon-shtrut)
A tiny, and northerly German wine region. In what was once considered East Germany, this region produces dry white wines near the city of Leipzig.
A tributary of the Moselle River, and part of the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region. The region is so cold that the Riesling grape only gets ripe enough to make fine wines a few years out of a decade. The rest of the time the wines go to make Sekt, the German sparkling wine, which like all sparkling wines starts with an acidic base. As with all cold growing regions, the emphasis here is on ripening and finding a southern exposure for the grapes. Since the Saar runs north through the wine producing area, its banks are not lined with vineyards, as so many other German rivers are. Instead it is the side valleys, with their south facing slopes that are home to the vines. The wines in a great year are unsurpassed, and unforgettable. It is this potential alone that keeps this region under vine.
The genus of yeast responsible for the primary (sugar) fermentation in wine. They turn the grape sugars into alcohol, carbon dioxide, and heat.
The smallest of the German wine regions. It is centered around the city of Dresden in what was once East Germany. The region produces dry white wines.
A tiny wine producing village in the Cote de Beaune region of Burgundy, France. Just northwest of Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet, Saint-Aubin produces primarily red wine that tends to be of a lighter style.
Saint-Emilion (san't eh-mee-l'yon)
One of the principal wine producing towns and regions in Bordeaux, France. The wines here tend to be based on Merlot with Cabernet Franc as Cabernet Sauvignon does not ripen well in the cool clay soil. The town itself is charming, and a favorite tourist destination. Ancient cellars (the French term being "cave") carved out of the limestone honeycomb the area. Saint-Emilion has been classified several times, in 1955, 1969, 1985 and as recently as 1996. This allows properties to be elevated, or even demoted, in sharp contrast to the neighboring Haut-Medoc which still relies on its 1855 classification. Wines may be Premiers Grands Crus Classes (first great growth class), or Grands Crus Classes or simply Grand Cru. The top designation is further devided into A and B to allow the exemplarily producers Ch. Ausone and Ch. Cheval-Blanc to be recognized as being better than even the best. Various outlying villages, the "satellite towns" append their name to Saint-Emilion on their labels. These wines tend to have a higher concentration of Cabernet Franc and be lighter that the Grand Cru Saint-Emilion wines. There is a growing trend of modernization and individuality in the region, especially among the unclassified producers. This has drawn attention and critical acclaim to wines that heretofore have been largely ignored.
Saint-Estephe (san't ess-teff)
A wine producing village in the Haut-Medoc region of Bordeaux, France. As it is situated at the northern extreme of the Haut-Medoc, the wines from here tend to be more tannic, longer lived and less subtle than others in the region. Cabernet Sauvignon is the chief grape in the wines, followed by Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Saint-Joseph (san jo-sef)
An appellation in the northern Rhone Valley in France. It produces red wines from Syrah and a small amount of whites from Marsanne.
Saint-Julien (san joo-l'yan)
A wine producing commune in the middle of the Haut-Medoc region of Bordeaux, France. Some consider this the sweet spot of the Haut-Medoc. It produces wines that are not as hard as Saint-Estephe, nor as soft as Margaux. While no First Growth properties were classified here in 1855, it has a wealth of producers considered better than their class.
Saint-Peray (san peh-ray)
A white wine producing village in the northern Rhone Valley of France. This is also the home of a well respected sparkling wine made in the champagne method. The wines, whether still or sparkling, are made from the Marsanne and Roussanne grapes.
Saint-Romain (san ro-man)
A small red and white wine producing village in the Cote de Beaune of Burgundy, France.
Sampigny-les-Maranges (sahm-pee-n'yee leh mah-rahnj)
A red wine producing village at the southern end of the Cote de Beaune in Burgundy, France. The wines are sold under the name Cote de Beaune-Villages.
A wine producing village in the Loire valley of France. The crisp Sauvignon Blancs produced here and in the neighboring Pouilly-Fume are the bench marks for this white wine grape.
Sangiovese (san-joh-vay'z eh)
One of the most important red wine grapes of Italy. Found primarily in the Tuscany region of central Italy. There are several distinct clones of this grape, each of varying quality. The Brunello clone is responsible for the wine of the same name, and is of the highest quality. Other clones are responsible for the wines of Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Carmignano. Critics point to the ideal vineyard conditions of some Chianti producers, whose wines do not live up to the potential of the vineyard, as an example of how important clonal selection can be.
An iced red wine and fruit mixture from Spain. The concept of adding fruit and or sweetening agents to wine is of ancient origin. Originally used to hide the fact that the wine has gone bad, today it is a delightfully cool drink for a hot day. Similar products (e.g. wine coolers) make the rounds every generation in the US, but it can not compare to the carefully crafted Sangria of Spain. One of the secret ingredients in my personal recipe is the addition of Spanish brandy, which is slightly sweet.
One of the better red wine producing villages of the Cote de Beaune in Burgundy, France. Located at the southern tip of the Cote d'Or the wines tend to be softer than those from the Cote de Nuits in the north, but well balanced and well priced.
A Cabernet Sauvignon based red wine from the coast of the Tuscany region in Italy. The wine is very consciously based on the wines of the Haut-Medoc in Bordeaux, France, and indeed even the grape cuttings originate from there. This wine forever changed the landscape of Italian wines. Even though it had no official classification, it was one of the most expensive and critically acclaimed wines of Italy. It was at the forefront of a class of wines that have been called "Super Tuscans" each based on Cabernet Sauvignon, even though, at the time, Cab was not an allowed grape anywhere in the Tuscany region. Because of the great popularity of these wines a new DOC designation was created in the region of Bolgheri for these wines, and a DOC Bolgheri Sassicaia was created for this wine alone.
A wine producing area in the Loire Valley of France. Most of the wine here is sparkling, and based on the Chenin Blanc grape and the red wine grape Cabernet Franc (in Champagne they also use a white wine and red wine grape, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir). Still versions of the red, rose and white wines are also produced.
The dessert wine from the district of the same name in Bordeaux, France. Made from the Semillon grape, with varying amounts of Sauvignon Blanc, and occasionally Muscadelle, the wine is the product of the botrytis mold, which concentrates the sugars in the already over ripe grapes. The intensely sweet grapes have too much sugar to be completely converted to alcohol, and the result is a wine with 14% alcohol and about 5% residual sugar. This gives Sauternes a sweet tart flavor that is ideal not only after a meal, but with rich foods such as foie gras (one of the greatest food and wine pairings). While it is now rare except as cooking wine, American producers have been known to use the name of the region for their own dry wines, usually without the final "s", as in Sauterne.
Sauvignon Blanc (so-vee-n'yohn blahn)
A white wine grape planted around the world. In France it is found in Bordeaux, where it is usually blended with Semillon to make a rich styled wine, but with very little varietal character. The Loire Valley of France is home to the villages of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume which may produce the truest expression of this grape. California versions are sometimes called Fume Blanc, a relic of a marketing ploy that popularized the grape, but confused the consumer since there is no clear cut difference between wines labeled Sauvignon Blanc and Fume Blanc. New Zealand is another bastion of Sauvignon Blanc. The distinct "freshly cut grass" aroma of Sauvignon Blanc can range from barely noticeable to overwhelming.
A village located in the Anjou region of the Loire Valley in France. Like most of the region the wines here are white and made from Chenin Blanc. Unlike the rest of the region these wines are always dry.
Savigny-les-Beaune (sah-vee-n'yee leh bone)
A small but prolific red wine producing village in the northern end of the Cote de Beaune in Burgundy, France. The wines are light, well priced and of good quality
A wine producing district on the eastern most edge of France. Most of the wines are dry, crisp white wines, that do not travel well.
A German wine grape made by crossing Sylvaner and Riesling in 1916 by George Scheu (rebe means "vine" in German). The grape is lower in acid than the traditional German wine grape Riesling, but it more susceptible to botrytis (the special mold that concentrates the sugar in the grape). This allows for dessert style wines that are easier and more profitable to make, but without the longevity of a wine made from Riesling.
The German word for "castle." Often used in the same way the French use "chateau," to mean the vineyard, the wine and the property.
Schloss Johannisberg (sh'loss yo-hah'-niss bairg)
The most famous vineyard in Germany, and one of the few that does not need to have its village name appear on the label along with the name of the vineyard. Situated in the Rheingau region this may be the oldest Riesling vineyard in the area.
Schloss Vollrads (sh'loss vuhl-rahd'z)
The largest vineyard in the Rheingau region of Germany. This is one of the few vineyards that does not need to list the name of the adjoining village on the label. Famous for its drier styled wines, critics charge that this vineyard has not been living up to its potential of late.
One of the native North American grapes that has been used with rather limited success to make wine.
The French term for "dry" (meaning a wine without any residual sugar). The exception is Champagne. No one wanted to admit to drinking sweet wines, so "Sec" is a term that was adopted for the sweetest style of Champagne. This is why "Extra Dry" is use for the slightly sweet style, and Brut (meaning "raw, rough or unrefined") had to be used for the driest style.
In a young wine still being made, the sediment is the remnants of the wine making process itself. These tiny particles drop to the bottom of the barrel or tank, and the wine is then racked - moved to a fresh tank or barrel - and the sediment left behind. If the wine is not perfectly clear when bottled, rare in modern winemaking, the particles are called haze or clouds rather than sediment. In a wine that has been bottled, sediment is the collective solids that form at the bottom of the bottle over time. This is made up of the tannins and coloring agents (phenolic compounds) that have precipitated out of solution. This is why a wine becomes lighter in color, and less tannic as it ages. Wine is decanted when it has sediment so that the clear wine can be enjoyed, and the sediment thrown away. Sparkling wine made in the champagne method has its own form of sediment. This forms after the yeast have created the bubbles in the wine, during a secondary fermentation. The process of riddling and degorging is used to remove the sediment. On the bottom of a cork or in white wines there can be another form of sediment. This comes from the harmless crystals of potassium bitartrate (cream of tartar in the spice section of the grocery store) which precipitate out of the wine when the temperature is dropped. Because these crystals are sometimes mistaken for sugar, or even glass, most white wines are cold stabilized to allow this crystal to be removed before bottling. A commonly used expression is to say that a wine has "thrown sediment", meaning that sediment has accumulated.
The German term for sparkling wine. About 25 million cases of Sekt are produced in Germany each year.
Selection de Grains Nobles (selek-shawn duh grahn no-b'l)
The sweet wines of Alsace, France. Most have been affected with botrytis (a special mold that concentrates the sugars in the grape). Alsatian wines are usually dry, and these are the notable, and rare, exceptions.
A white wine grape, found primarily in the Bordeaux region of France. Often has Sauvignon Blanc blended with it to add acidity. This duo is responsible for the dry wines of the area as well as the dessert wines of Sauternes. Semillon is also found in the New World, especially parts of Australia where it is still a popular white wine grape.
A fortified Muscat wine from Portugal. It is made in the rancio style, meaning that it is brown like a Sherry or Tawny Port. This type of wine is made in many parts of the world, but Setubal is one of the very finest, and worth looking for.
Sevre-et-Main (sev'r eh meh'n)
A wine region in the far western corner of the Loire Valley, where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean. A dry white wine is made here from the Muscadet grape, and goes by the original name Muscadet Sevre-et-Main.
Seyval Blanc (say-val blahn)
One of the most successful of the French Hybrids (crossings of North American native grapes and classic European grapes). Interestingly enough this is a popular grape in England where the conditions for growing wine grapes are poor, even if the desire is high. The Canadians have made amazing ice wines from this variety, and it continues to have a following in New York and elsewhere.
A wine tasting term used when the acid in a wine is out of balance or strong. It would fall between "tart" and "sour" on a scale of perceived acidity.
A fortified wine made in the Sherry district in southern Spain around the city of Jerez de la Frontera. The wine is made primarily from the grape Palomino. The grapes are brought into the winery and pressed. The first pressed juice (that of the highest quality) is reserved to make the "fino" styles. The wine is vinified in the traditional manner, until dry. Fino is placed into a partially filled barrel, and only fortified to about 15% alcohol so that the special yeast called "flor" can develop. The flor creates a barrier that protects the wine from oxygen.The result is a light colored wine that is usually rather dry. If the bodega (warehouse) is near the ocean town of Sanlucar de Barrameda the fino will be allowed to develop into the very dry Manzanilla style. Some claim to be able to taste the salt of the ocean breezes in this wine. Amontillado starts out under flor, but is then exposed to oxygen to create a medium dark Sherry. It is soetimes sweetened to make a Cream Sherry. Olorosos wine is placed in filled barrels and fortified to 18% alcohol to prevent spoilage or the accidental introduction of flor and then allowed to continue to age, and oxidize, developing a rich dark brown color and nutty flavor. The Olorosso style Sherry since it did not benefit from the introduction of the flor yeast is more likely to be sweetened heavily and end up as Cream Sherry. After become the desired style of Sherry the Solera system comes into play. Six or more barrels are stacked up. Each of the barrels contains wine of different ages, in different proportions. Wine is drawn from the oldest barrel, and replaced with the next oldest, and so on. The theory is that in this way you "train" the younger wines. The final solera barrel may contain a fraction of wine that is fifty years old or even more. The Sherry that is brought to market is a blend of the wine from these barrels, and is never less than three years old. Amontillado and Olorosos Sherry is sometimes sweetened just before bottling to determine its final style. The styles of sweetened Sherry, in increasing order of sugar added are: Dry, Pale Cream, Medium, Cream, Dulce / Sweet, Moscatel, Pedro Ximénez. The sweetening agent is often concentrated grape juice from the Pedro Ximenez grape (PX is used on its own to make the sweetest style of Sherry). A final fortification is also performed before bottling to bring the final product up to 19% alcohol.
The Australian name for the grape Syrah. Most of the vines planted in Australia (where Shiraz is one of the most planted red wine grapes) can trace their ancestry back to France, via South Africa. This circuitous route means that the vines left France before the twin plagues of oidium and phylloxera of the last half of the 19th century. As France recovered from the devastation, new clones of old favorite grape varieties were often chosen to be replanted in the vineyards. That means the Syrah that ended up in Australia is from an older clone than is found in most of the Rhone Valley today. In this way Shiraz may be a distinct clone of the Syrah grape, and entitled to its own name.
One of the most important measures of quality in fine wine is how long the flavors stay in your mouth after swallowing or spitting. A short wine is one of poor quality, that does not linger.
An old fashioned wine tasting term for a wine that is very faulty, such as being cloudy with an odd smell. This term is anthropomorphic, and implies that the wine can somehow become well again. It is best avoided.
A wine tasting term for a specific mouth feel that is evident in the very finest of red wines. It is related to balance and is usually used when the wine is old enough for the tannins to have softened.
A wine tasting term for a wine that has very little complexity. That is, it doesn't have a lot of different flavors. Most wines are simple to some degree, with only the greatest wines being complex.
The outer layer of the grape, usually called hulls or husks in scientific circles. This is where most of the color comes from in red wines, and a great deal of the tannin. Many grapes have light colored pulp, and if were not left in contact with the skins would have very little color, this is how rose wines are in fact made. Different grape varieties have different skin characteristics. Some are thick with a fair amount of tannin such as Cabernet Sauvignon, which yields dark, tannic wines. Others, such as Nebbiolo have thin skins and even more tannin, yielding lighter colored wines that are heavy in their youth. Others still, such as Pinot Noir, have thin skins and low tannins, making for crisp, fruity wines that are more approachable when young.
A wine tasting term that refers to a tactile sensation in the mouth (mouth feel) associated with the acids, rather than the tannins in the wine (see "soft"). Technically a wine is smooth due to the presence of lactic acid, which in turn is present in the wine due to malo-lactic fermentation. This secondary fermentation turns the tart, "sharp" malic acid, found in green apples, into the "smooth" lactic acid found in milk. The opposite of smooth is sharp.
An off odor in some faulty wines. Technically, it may be due to fatty acids produced by the yeast that end up as salts in the wine, notably caprylic acid salts. The term "soapy" is also used for a wine that has very little acid in the balance. There is some debate on the use of the term, as flat seems to cover the meaning.
The best known Italian white wine, it comes from the Verona region in the northeastern portion of the country. Made from the Garganega grape, with the ubiquitous Trebbiano sometimes used in the blend. Most Soave is uninspiring, made to fill the world wide demand for the name, with little regard to quality. Their are exceptions among the smaller producers who struggle to provide a wine of interest for the discriminating consumer. Soave Classico comes from the smaller, more defined, and original, Soave region.
A wine tasting term that refers to the lack of apparent tannins in a wine. If the wine is well aged, or in a style that is enjoyed young, soft is a plus. If the wine is meant to age, and is soft in its youth, it is a minus, as one would expect to find tannins to help the wine age.
A system of blending wines used primarily for Sherry and Madeira. Basically it is a way to add older wines to the new wine, in order to maintain a consistent style. As a small portion of the old wine is removed from the cask, it is replaced with an equal portion of new wine. The old wine is then added to the new wine. In this way the high quality of the older wine is thought to improve the quality of the younger wine, while the younger wine replenishes the cask of older wine. Some Sherry, and especially Madeira will be labeled with the word "Solera" and a date. This is a marketing ploy. It simply means the year that the Solera was started, and the bottle may contain trace amounts from that year, at best.
A rather vague, but commonly used wine tasting term. Usually used when the wine is showing no obvious flaws and is in balance. It is not clear if this is to be considered a compliment, or just a way of saying there is nothing wrong with the wine.
A rather formal name for a wine steward or wine waiter. There is a Master Sommelier designation for those that have passed a rigorous exam, although very few people selling wine in a restaurant have such training. It has been said that the term itself goes back to the days when wine was driven to market in cask on a mule train. The mule driver was the "Sommelier" and since he also sold the wine, the name stuck. Beware of anyone who brandishes this title unless they are indeed a Master Sommelier.
A wine term that should almost certainly be avoided. Originally it was a euphemism that meant that the wine had not been tampered with to make it seem better. This meaning is largely forgotten, and was never well known outside of professional circles. It is more likely to be used now to mean a wine that is complex. When used in this way the term is anthropomorphic and vague. When used in the original context it is more specific, although few people will understand that it means unadulterated.
A wine tasting term that means the wine is free of defects. It is the minimum expected of a wine, and therefore can not be construed as a compliment.
A wine tasting term for a wine that has too much acidity in the balance. This is beyond tart, and usually means the wine has a serious defect, such as it is turning into vinegar (technically it has too much volatile acidity). This should be considered rare, and marks a wine that is not drinkable.
The local name for the Nebbiolo grape in the Piedmont region of Italy. Some wines from the region are also labeled and sold under this name.
That class of wines that has been carbonated. The highest quality versions are carbonated through the action of yeast in a sealed bottle. This is the champagne method, and all Champagne is made this way. Another method is to start in the bottle, but then to transfer all the wine to a tank and filter out the sediment. This is known as the transfer method. Less expensive sparkling wines are made in a tank, with the yeast again adding the carbon dioxide. These wines are then bottled. The final method is to add carbon dioxide to the finished wine, much as you would for a soda pop, no quality sparkling wine is made in this method. Champagne is a method and a region in France. Sparkling wines should only be called Champagne when they come from that region in France. This is the law in Europe, but the US and Australia still allow domestic sparkling wines to be labeled with the Champagne name.
The German name for the Pinot Noir grape. While Germany produces mostly white wine, the red it does make comes mostly from the Pinot Noir grape.
The German term for "late picked." It is a QmP (quality wine without sugar added) designation. Most wines of this level are only slightly sweet.
Spice / Spicy
A wine tasting term. Use carefully. Gewurztraminer (which means "spicy traminer") is the only grape that you should use the unqualified term "spice" for (in reference to its aroma). For every other type of wine, it is important to specify what kind of spice you mean (after all there are many spices). Black Pepper spice is common in red wines, and woody spices such as clove and cinnamon (from aging in oak barrels) are found in some white wines.
The english language term for "slightly sparkling". The French call it "petillant," the Germans "spritzig" and the Italians use my favorite term "frizzante." Some wines, such as Moscato d'Asti are made to have very light carbonation. Other wines may have a small amount of dissolved carbon dioxide by accident. This term applies to both conditions.
Usually white wine and soda water mixed together. The white wine spritzer is a common request in bars in the US. Wine purists often consider the combination to be contemptible, and yet it is a tradition many centuries old. In warmer regions it is still not uncommon to add some sparkling water to wine (even red wine) to make it more refreshing.
Spumante / Spumanti (spoo-mahn'-teh / spoo-mahn'-tee)
Italian for "sparkling." Most Italian sparkling wines are made with the transfer method, although a growing number of quality wines are being made in the champagne method (called "metodo classico" in Italian). Asti Spumante is one of the best known Italian sparklers, with Prosecco being another. Spumanti is the plural version of the word.
Any number of wine making procedures that make the wine more stable. The most common example is "cold stabilization" which is used to ensure that tartaric precipitants do not appear in white wine once it has been chilled and then warmed again. Filtering and fining are common examples of stabilization that are used to improve and maintain the clarity of wine. Pasteurization is sometimes (but not often) used to reduce the chance of bacterial spoilage, and or to reduce the effect of shipping.
A wine tasting term used primarily for very crisp, dry, white wines. The high acid balance of these wines can leave a metallic impression on the palate. Chablis, the great Chardonnay of the Burgundy region of France, is often said to be "steely." Flinty is another term that seems to have the same or similar meaning. The term Minerality may be related or identical to this word.
A piece of wine making equipment used to remove the stems from the grape bunches before the grapes are pressed and fermented. The stems can leave a bitter flavor, and are rarely used in white wine. Some red wines benefit from the tannins that the stems impart, and so are added back in. Stemmer machines are often combined with a crusher and are known as "Stemmer Crushers."
A wine tasting term for the flavor of stems in some wines. The taste is bitter and full of chlorophyll and so is sometimes also called "green." This should be considered a fault in wine, as it rarely improves the flavors.
A wine making term. "stuck fermentation' and "Stuck Wine" are both the same thing. A wine sticks during fermentation when the yeast can no longer metabolize the sugar, or there are not enough viable yeast left to do the job. Heat and or the lack of oxygen are the two most common reasons for a stuck fermentation. This is a very bad situation as it can be difficult, or even impossible, to get the fermentation started again.
A rather vague wine tasting term. It seems to be used for wines that are tannic, but not to a fault, and are otherwise well balanced.
The practice of adding sugar (grape sugar ideally) to the unfermented grapes (must). This is done when the grapes are not ripe enough on their own to produce enough alcohol. Common for lesser quality wines in cool growing regions such as Germany, it is illegal in many other parts of the world. Another term is Chaptalization.
Sulfites / Sulfur
A much maligned element of wine making. While it can be overused and ruin the flavor of the wine if not careful, it is an integral part of most wine making. Sulfur Dioxide, the gas form of sulfur, is sprayed on the vines to control fungus. Barrels are treated with sulfites (sulfur combined with another element, usually metallic) to kill unwanted bacteria. Sulfites are also added to the juice prior to fermentation to prevent browning and to control the yeast that come in from the fields with the grapes. It is also used to stop fermentation on some sweet wines, so that residual sugar can be left in the wine. Sulfur adds control to the wine making process, and those few wines that are made without it tend to be very poor. The amount of sulfur that can be in wine is controlled by law. Because the smell and taste of sulfur in wine can be ruinous, the sulfur is almost always very carefully applied and is used in amounts well below the legal limits and in amounts too small to cause health considerations for most people.
Another name used for Thompson Seedless grapes. Since making wine from this common grocery store variety of grapes has a deserved attached stigma, the name Sultana is much more common for wine. Common in Australia where it makes a great deal of sweet fortified wines (which is what it is best for). Thompson Seedless is the most planted grape in California, and while it is mostly used for raisins and table grapes, a huge amount is still used to make jug wines.
A very common wine tasting term. As with many wine tasting terms, it is rather vague. It literally means "compliant or yielding." When applied to a wine it seems to mean a wine that is easy to drink without being too simple. The lack of tannins in the balance seems to be one of the primary requirements for a wine to be supple.
Sur Lie (soo'r lee)
The French term for "on the lees." Wines that have been aged in contact with these dead yeast cells gain some measure of complexity.
There are five basic tastes, sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami (all other flavors are actually related to smell). Of these, only sweet is inherently pleasant. In dry wine the alcohol adds a slight sweet taste to help balance the tannins and acids. Sweet being the opposite of dry in wine, sweet wines contain some amount of sugar. This can vary from a barely noticeable 1% up to an intense 10% or more. Since too sweet is the definition of "cloying" all decent sweet wines have a good deal of acidity (which is sour) to balance out the sugar. The best sweet wines are actually more "sweet tart."
Sylvaner / Silvaner (sil-vay'-ner)
Historically one of the major white wine grape varieties of Germany. Not as long lived or as intense as the Riesling grape, Sylvaner is still popular in parts of Germany. The Muller-Thurgau grape has taken Sylvaner's place in much of the rest of Germany. Silvaner is the German spelling.
One of the great red wine grapes. At home in the Rhone valley of France, it has made its way to Australia where it is known as Shiraz as well as California where it is still known as Syrah.
A vineyard management term. The root of a vine takes decades to grow and can be very extensive. If a vine is in place, but no longer a desirable varietal, for whatever reason, just the top can be replaced, and the roots left intact by a grafting process known as T-Budding. The old vine is removed just above the soil line. The new graft is inserted into a T shaped incision made into the remains of the old vine. The process is quick and successful.
A US legal term that encompasses all wines that are between 7% and 14% alcohol. The term is used in Europe to mean a wine that was not made under the rules of any specific controlled area. Winemakers who are interested in pushing the boundaries of wine production in their area often can only bottle their wines as the local equivalent of table wine. Since some of these wines are of very high quality, and can command higher prices than the usual wines from the region, it can be a very confusing term. Table Wine can be either: • Most Wines (in the US) • A wine of lower quality or distinction • A wine of distinction that does not conform to a standard • French: vin de table • Italian: vino tavola • Italian: vino tavola • German: Tafelwein
A large container for making or storing wine. Wood was a traditional material for centuries, but that was replaced by cement tanks which in turn have largely been replaced by stainless steel, with modern temperature controls. Some wine, such as Pinot Noir, can still benefit from the proper use of classic wooden, open topped tanks. Also called a vat.
Those compounds responsible for the bitter and astringent tastes in wine. They are found primarily in the skin and seeds of the grape, as well as stems (which are not always included in the wine making process). Because white wines have little to no contact with these parts of the grape, white wines have little tannin. Aging in oak barrels can also add (oak) tannin to wines. Tannin is required for aging red wine. Not all tannic red wines will age well, but few red wines without strong tannins will age well either. Technically the tannins are known collectively as "phenolic compounds."
Tar / Tarry
Some wines have a dark flavor that wine tasters call tar. It is not the overwhelming stench of a tarred road, rather it is a flavor so dark, that only tar seems to fit. Rhone wines can have this, as well as the Barolos of Italy. If it is too pronounced it is not a positive thing.
A wine tasting term for a wine that is noticeably acidic. As long as the acid is not overwhelming, it is only tart. A stronger acid flavor would be harsh and a very strong acid flavor would be sour. Dessert wines are often sweet/tart as the acid and residual sugars balance each other.
Tartaric acid is the main acid in wine. Some of it can crystalize in a chilled wine. Since the crystals are unsightly, and can cause concern for the consumer, some white wines in particular are cold stabilized to remove the crystals before the wine is released. The crystals are flavorless and tasteless.
A flat, usually silver, cup that was once used to taste and evaluate wine. Since it is flat like a saucer, it is almost useless for smelling the wine. The bottom of the shiny container has a series of bumps, designed to shine light through the wine at various angles at once. In the dimly lit cellars, it was difficult to determine the clarity of the wines without this tool. Clarity is less of an issue than it used to be in wine, and glasses are much more effective, so the tastevin has mostly been relegated to novelty. The exception is Burgundy, France where it is still traditional. Beware of a wine steward wearing one of these on a chain around their neck. Chances are this person is attempting to hide their lack of knowledge behind a facade of snobbery.
There is an organization in Burgundy, France, composed of wine lovers and professionals, called the Chevaliers du Tastevin. This group blind tastes a series of wines, and those considered worthy are given their seal of approval, the "Tastevinage." The label is elaborate and easy to spot, but the wines may or may not be of distinction.
A dry rose wine from the Rhone region of France. Produced primarily from the Grenache grape, many consider this to be one of the most successful rose wines made.
A Port that has been aged in a barrel instead of a bottle. The process allows the wine to take on a nutty aroma, and to loose its red color over time (turning a tawny brown). The best examples are usually labeled in decades, such as a 10-year-old, 20-year-old or 40-year-old. Inexpensive tawny ports may be a blend of red and white port, and do not resemble the real thing in any way. The US and Australia make fortified wines that they continue to label "Port" and the tawny versions of some of these are a relative bargain.
Another name for "legs." A much over used and meaningless wine tasting term. It refers to the streams that are seen on the side of the glass after swirling (also called tears). While too many so called experts explain this as being related to the body, or the amount of glycerin in the wine, it is actually a function of the evaporation rate of alcohol (the Marangoni Effect), and has no relation to the quality of the wine at all.
While this literally means "soil" in French, it has many more implications. It may also be used to mean the surrounding weather patterns such as the english language term "microclimate." For some the term may mean how typical the wine is of the region the "expression of terrior." Like many French wine tasting terms this one has been adopted by English speaking wine professionals, although it is no more easily defined when used in English. It is often used in conjunction with the French word for "taste" as in "gout de terroir."
Tete de Cuvee (tet duh coo-vay)
Literally, French for "head blend." The term is unofficial, but is often used to mean the top of the line from any Champagne house. For example Dom Perignon is the tete du cuvee from Moet.
A wine tasting term for any wine that has little flavor. Technically it is used for a wine that has little dry extract (what is left after you remove all the liquid).
The green grape found in the grocery store. It is often called a 3-way grape because it is used for table grapes, raisins and wine. The wine that is made from it tends to be without distinction. It is the base of many wines in the US that are called "chablis" (Chablis actually being a region in France). In Australia, where it is called Sultana, it is responsible for simple, but delicious fortified wines. Because it is a 3-way grape, Thompson Seedless is the most planted grape in California. French Colombard is the most planted wine grape, but some years more wine has been made from Thompson Seedless.
An Italian wine made in the Chianti region by the well known Antinori firm. Since its inception in 1971, this wine has broken tradition with the Chianti region and produced a wine of character that does not follow the rules. The wine tends to be mostly Sangiovese, as is Chianti, but without the white wine in the blend that softens Chianti. The addition of Cabernet Sauvignon takes this wine even further from its Chianti roots.
Tokaji ( toe-kie)
The great wine of Hungary, made mainly from the Furmint, grape. Tokaji Furmint is dry, and rare outside the region. Tokaji Szamorodni is dry (Tokaji Szamorodni Száraz) or a bit sweeter (Tokaji Szamorodni Édes), but no less rare. Tokaji Aszu is the sweet version, and the one most likely to be found in the US. It is made slightly different than other dessert wines. Baskets of selected very ripe grapes, affected with botrytis (which reduces the amount of water in the grape, making it sweeter), are added to the base wine to sweeten it. The baskets are themselves known as puttonyos, and the label of the wine will indicate how many puttonyos have been added. Until recently three was common for the drier styles, with five being used in the sweetest and six existing, but rarely made. After changes to the law in 2013 only 5 and 6 puttonyos are now allowed. There also exists an even more legendary wine, Essencia which is made entirely from the puttonyos (botrytized) grapes. Also sometimes as Tokay, in older English references.
Tokay d'Alsace (toe-kay d'al-zass)
The local name for Pinot Gris in Alsace, France. Some Alsatian wines are bottled with the name Tokay. Do not confuse this with the Hungarian wine of the same name (the word Tokay used to refer to Tokaji is now rare). There is no relation either to the grape or the wine. The EEC now stipulates that the name Pinot Gris must also appear on the bottle to help reduce confusion.
A measure of wine in Bordeaux, France equivalent to 100 cases (1200 bottles). The term is not used much any more, as most wine makers simply talk about cases or bottles.
The winery practice of replacing evaporated wine in the barrel. The "head space" is also called "ullage." This is an important step to reduce the oxidation of the wines, and to ensure quality.
A wine producing region in the Loire Valley of France. The well known Vouvray is made in this region. More red and rose is made here than elsewhere in the Loire, and it is primarily made from Gamay and Cabernet Franc. The white wines are based on Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc.
One of the more economical (and common) ways to make a sparkling wine. The wine is placed in a closed bottle, to allow yeast to make the bubbles, as in the champagne method, but then the bottles are opened, and all "transferred" into a tank to be blended. This blend is then filtered (as opposed to riddling in the champagne method) and rebottled. A key phrase on the bottle may be "Fermented in the bottle" as opposed to "Fermented in this bottle" which can only be said of wine made in the higher quality champagne method. Champagne from the Champagne region can not be made via the transfer method.
This is the classic image of a group of people stomping on grapes. The technique (almost extinct now) was used to crush the grapes, to improve the color of the wine and to speed the start of fermentation, rather than to press the juice out of the grapes, as many people may think. It was particularly important for making Port, which is deeply colored, and benefited greatly from the technique. Some Port producers still hold to the tradition, but most opt for modern wine making techniques which yield similar results, with greater control.
The white wine grape responsible for more wine than any other (there are other varieties that have more plantings, but the yields are so high, this one makes the most wine). Throughout Italy Trebbiano seems to pop up in a vast majority of white wines. Often blended with grapes that have more character, Trebiano's main claim to fame is that it is easy to grow, and it yields more wine per vine than almost any other grape. The wines it makes tend to be thin, and boring. It is for exactly this reason that in France (where it is called Ugni-Blanc or Saint-Emilion) the grape is used as the base for Cognac, and Armagnac and other brandies. Trebbiano has spread to most major wine making regions of the world to the dismay of critics everywhere. Because of the huge number of names for this grape, some wine makers may not even know that they are using Trebbiano.
Trentino-Alto Adige (tren-tee'-no ahl'-to ah'-dee-jay)
The northernmost of Italy's wine producing regions. A large amount of red wine is made here as well as whites, and even sparkling wines. This is a huge region with a great many wines and a great many grape varieties.
The German word for "dry." Legally it means a wine that has less than 1% residual sugar. The Germans have been experimenting more with drier wines, to give them more universal appeal, and to match more cuisines. Halbtroken, meaning "half-dry" has also become popular.
The top German wine. Sweeter and more expensive than any other of the QmP class. The English language term would be "Individual Berry Special Select Late Harvest." The grapes must not only be late harvested, but they must be dried (troken) to an almost raisin state before picking. This intense dessert wine, which is usually abbreviated to TBA, is only made in very special vintages, often less than once a decade. It ages unbelievably well. I have tasted 40 year old examples that still seemed to be quite young.
Trotanoy, Chateau (troh-tahn-wah)
One of the top producers in the Pomerol region of Bordeaux, France. Considered, unofficially since there is no official classification in Pomerol, to be second only to Ch. Petrus. The 2,000 or so cases of this wine produced each year is made primarily from Merlot.
A wine region in central Italy that extends from the city of Florence to the south. Some of the best known Italian wines come from this region. Notable are the Chianti wines, and Brunello di Montepulciano. The rising trend to create Cabernet Sauvignon based, or blended wines, has led to the unofficial designation "Super Tuscans" for these expensive and much sought after wines. Sangiovese (or Brunello as one of the clones is called) is the important red wine grape of the region. Malvasia is the important white for quality, and Trebbiano for quantity.
Ugni Blanc (oo-n'yee blahn)
The French name (or at least one of the many French names) for the Trebbiano grape. In France this rather undistinguished grape (that is responsible for more wine than any other grape) is often used to make the base wine that will be distilled into brandy. Cognac and Armagnac are two well known brandy regions that use the grape.
The amount of air that results in a barrel or bottle due to evaporation. In the barrel the missing wine is replaced to keep the wine from becoming oxidized (topping). In theory the same could be done with old bottles of wine (this is called recorking). It is rare to see recorked bottles of wine, and if it is done, there needs to be a complete explanation of the process and a certificate from the company that performed the task. The amount of ullage in a bottle greatly influences the value of the wine at auction.
A wine tasting term from the French for "worn out." A more common english language term is "over the hill."
A group of red and white Italian wines made in the region north of Verona.
One of the most important wine producing regions of Switzerland. The red Dole and the white Fendant wines are both from this region.
A wine producing district in central Spain, known for its light reds.
Valle d'Aosta (vah'-leh dah-aw'ss-tah)
The smallest wine producing region in Italy. Skiers know the area for the famed Courmayeur ski resort, which is just on the other side of Mount Blanc from France's famed ski town Chamonix. The crisp, dry white wines of the region are enjoyed by skiers, but rarely seen elsewhere.
One of the Grand Cru vineyards of Chablis, in the Burgundy region of France. The wine is made from the Chardonnay grape, and is often cleaner and more crisp than other Chardonnay or even other white Burgundy.
One of the best known red wines of Italy. The name which means "valley of many cellars" is a testament to the region, north of Verona where it is made. When the vintage permits, a portion of the grapes are brought from the vineyard to be dried on straw mats. The sweet version of the wine, which is hard to find in the US is called Recioto della Valpolicella and the better known dry version is Recioto della Valpolicella Amarone, or simply Amarone.
Any wine that takes its name from the predominant grape variety. This is very common in the US and the rest of the New World, but in Europe wines are usually labeled with the place name. In the US there must be 75% of the named grape. Elsewhere the percentage is usually around 85%, but is never lower than 75%.
Another name for a tank. A container for fermenting, storing and blending wine. Wood was a traditional material for centuries, but that was replaced by cement vats which in turn have largely been replaced by stainless steel, with modern temperature controls. Some wine, such as Pinot Noir, can still benefit from the proper use of classic wooden, open topped vats.
A French Departement (equivalent to a state) that encompasses the southern Rhone Valley.
The other major wine producing region of Switzerland (after the Valais). The white wine Aigle is one of the best known from the area.
One of the Grand Cru vineyards of Chablis, in the Burgundy region of France. The wine is made from the Chardonnay grape, and this vineyard is often considered the finest among the Grand Crus of Chablis.
Vins Delimites de Qualite Superieure (van deh-lee-mee-tay' duh cah-lee-tay' soo-pehr-yur'), the now no longer used (as of 2011) French designation for wines of superior quality, that do not quite make it to the top echelon status of Appellation Controlee. As with AC wines, those labeled VDQS had to adhere to regional rules of production.
Vega Sicilia (vay'-gah see-see'-l'yah)
A Spanish wine that is very famous, among a select few. Vega Sicilia Unico which is often aged for decades before bottling, sells for prices that rival the finest Bordeaux or Burgundies.
The French term for harvest or vintage. As with the Italian term "vendemmia" and the Spanish "vendima" vendage refers to the actual harvest, rather than the year (which is how vintage is commonly used in English). The French term for the year that appears on the label is "millesime."
Vendage Tardive (vahn-danj tahr-deev)
French for "late harvested." The term is used in the Alsace region where a tiny amount (sometimes less than 1%) of the grapes are picked late. While this practice results in a sweeter style wine elsewhere, the Alsatians ferment the wine until it is dry, producing instead a very rich, and intensely flavored wine.
The Spanish term for harvest or vintage. It refers to the actual harvest, rather than the year (which is how vintage is commonly used in English).
A large Italian wine region that includes the cities of Venice and Verona. Nearly a fifth of all the DOC wines of Italy come from this region. Soave and Valpolicella are two of the best known wines that are produced here.
A viticultural term originally from the French. Young grapes are tiny, hard and green. As they swell and ripen they take on the color they will be when they are harvested. Veraison is the point where the grapes just start to turn color.
Originally a white wine grape used to make a medium dry style of Madeira. Now the term is common, even if the grape is not often used.
An Italian white wine made from the grape of the same. There are several versions made, but the best known in the US comes in a curved bottle, reminiscent of the clay amphora that stored wine in ancient times.
An Italian white wine and grape. Many of the best examples are somewhat sweet.
Some may be surprised to find out that this classic addition to a martini started out as wine. In a technical sense a vermouth is any wine that has been infused with herbs or fruits. The Vermouth that is well known today comes in either a white (dry) or red (sweet) version. The name "Vermouth" comes from the German word "wermut" which means "wormwood" a common ingredient in Vermouth. Wormwood is incredibly bitter and has been used for medicinal purposes since the dawn of time.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano (vair-nah'-t'chah dee san-d'jee-mee-n'yah'-no)
A well known Italian dry white wine and grape. San Gimignano itself is a quaint tourist town, not far from Florence. It is famous for its towers, and visitors often come home with a taste for the local wine.
French for "green." A wine that is green will have the smell of vegetation and be highly acidic.
Vielle Vigne (v'yay veen-yuh)
The French term for "old vines." The concept is important because older vines yield more intense juice.
The French word for old. Sometimes found in the name of the producer or vineyard. The feminine form of the word is "vielle."
The French word for "vine." Related words are "cep de vigne" which refers to the actual grape vine and cepage which means grape variety.
The French term for someone that works in a vineyard. It is also sometimes used in a more general sense for anyone who works anywhere in a winery. See also Viticulteur.
The French term for a wine producing region. Can also be used for a single vineyard or estate.
Vila Nova de Gaia (vee-lah no-vah deh gah'-yah)
The town in Portugal where all the Port "lodges" (warehouses) are located. It is across the Douro river from the city of Oporto, because of the danger of fire.
Vin Bourro (van boo-rew)
The French term for a wine that has just been pressed. It is not uncommon for vineyard workers and others to consume this incredibly young wine. It is often still sweet, and full of carbon dioxide, since the wine is not altogether finished being made.
Vin de France (van du frans)
Since 2010 the term for the lowest category of French wine. Most of these wines simply have the name of the producer on them, and may contain any wine from anywhere. Replaces Vin de Table.
Vin de Paille (van duh pah'y)
A wine made primarily in the Jura region of France by first drying the grapes on straw mats. This is the French term, but the Italian Vin Santo is one of the best known examples of wines made in this style (which in Italian is called Passito). This process increases the ratio of sugar to water in the grape. The result is a wine with more alcohol, and / or that is somewhat sweet.
Vin de Pays (van duh peh-yee')
The second category of French wines after AOC and the now no longer used VDQS. This category was created in 1973, almost 50 years after the others. It includes the simple wines found throughout the country. As with the other categories these wines must conform to local standards for grape variety and yield. The term is being phased out in favor of IGP which means Indication Geographique Protegee.
Vin de Table (van duh tabl)
The original name for the lowest category of French wine. Most of these wines simply have the name of the producer on them, and may contain any wine from anywhere. Now called Vin de France since 2010.
Vin Doux Naturel (van doo nah-too-rel')
Literally this means "naturally sweet wine" in French. To be confusing it refers to wines that are not naturally sweet at all, but have had neutral grape spirits added to them to stop the fermentation process while there was still some unfermented sugars left. The process is called "fortification." Quite a few Muscat based wines are made this way in France, as well as the rare and incredible "Banyuls." Often abbreviated to VDN.
Vin Gris (van gree)
French for "grey wine." It refers to wines that are made from red wine grapes (which are called black grapes) but are almost without color. A Rosé is a pink wine, made the same way, but with more color.
Vin Jaune (van jawn)
This French "yellow wine" is made in the Jura district. By all accounts it most resembles a light Sherry.
Vin Santo (veen sahn'-toe)
An Italian white wine from the Tuscany region. Made from Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes that have been dried before making the wine (Passito is the term). The very sweet grapes are then fermented in small barrels that have some air in them, allowing the wine to maderize (oxidize). The result is a slightly brown wine that is either sweet, or very dry and alcoholic.
A group of grape vines. The boundaries of a vineyard may be determined by ownership or by geological / geographical considerations.
Vinho Verde (veen'-yoh vair'-day)
This Portuguese "green wine" may be red or white, and is often slightly sparkling. Green in this case refers to the youth of the wine, rather than its color. The wine is produced far up the Douro river, almost to the border of Spain.
This term is used for the entire scope of wine. For the business and science of growing grapes, making the wine, and then selling it.
There are over 40 species of grape, each belonging to the genus "vitis." Vinifera is the species responsible for almost all wine. The original Vinifera is often thought to be the Muscat grape, but the use of these grapes goes back long before written history. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and indeed almost any grape variety you can name, are all Vitis Vinifera.
Vino da Tavola (vee-no dah tah'-voh-lah)
The Italian term for "table wine." As with other European countries, this is the lowest designation for wines. Since some of Italy's greatest wines are made in a style or grape variety inconsistent with their regions, this lowly designation has appeared on the label of some of the most popular and expensive wines.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (veen-no noh'-bee-leh dee mon-teh-pool-t'cha'-no)
An Italian red wine from the Tuscany region. Made from the Sangiovese grape in and around the town of Montepulciano. The region neighbors the southern Chianti area, and many examples are similar in style to Chianti.
A wine tasting term used for wines that have no real flaws, but the best thing you can say about them is that they taste like wine.
This term refers both to the actual grape harvest as well as the year of the harvest. The term is also applied to wines that bear this year of harvest on their labels. Wines that are a blend of years are considered non-vintage wines (or N.V.). Until modern winemaking allowed fine wine to age consistently, dates were not associated with wines, and the "freshest" wine was the wine that was most in demand.
The most expensive, and longest live style of Port. These wines are only made in years of exceptional quality, usually only a few times a decade. They are bottled when they are young, but are intended to age for 20 years or more before they are consumed. As they age Vintage Ports will throw sediment and will need to be decanted before serving. This is the best wine to buy to celebrate the life of a child, as the wine will age in much the same way as a person. First the parent, and then the offspring can celebrate 12 milestones in their life with a case of Vintage Port. In its youth the Vintage Port is but a hint of what it will be. As it reaches it teens, it starts to develop character, but remains fiery. By the time it is 21 years old, it is fully mature, but without the character further age will bring. By the time it is 40 years old, it has mellowed from a hot plum like flavor, to a soft nutty taste, full of complexity. As the port continues to age, it starts to loose some of its strength and intensity, but gains complexity and character. 60 to 80 years is often the upper limit of a Vintage Port, and few have the opportunity to taste them this mature, but few forget the experience. Only the greatest Port Vintages make it to the 100 year mark, while lesser years have faded long before this. While I eschew anthropomorphism in wine jargon, for Vintage Port it seems appropriate to make this connection to a human life span.
An exceptional white wine grape that is primarily found in the Northern Rhone region of France. The wines of Condrieu are made from Viognier, and the red wines of Cote-Rotie sometimes use a little of this white grape to improve their aroma. At one time the grape was much more widespread in France, but with the wine laws that were enacted in the early 20th century, the grape was overlooked in most regions. It produces wines that are highly scented with good acidity. This combination makes it ideal for late harvest style wines. Such was the custom in the 19th century, but again the French wine laws overlooked this use and late harvest Viognier became rare. California has recently become a new bastion of Viognier and producers there are even making late harvest wines (I would like to think that the resurgence of late harvest Viognier was due in part to my campaigning efforts).
The French term for a vineyard manager or owner. The person that is in charge of the vines. Sometimes also used for the wine maker. See also Vigneron.
A wine producing village in the Burgundy region of France. Situated in the southern portion of the Cote d'Or, known as the Cote de Beaune. Most of its neighbors produce white wine, while Volnay is justifiably famous for its red wines made from Pinot Noir.
One of the finest wine producing villages in the northern Cote d'Or region of Burgundy, France. This village, situated in the southern end of the Cote de Nuits is home to five of the most famous Grand Cru vineyards: Romanee-Conti, La tache, Richebourg, La Romanee, and Romanee-Saint-Vivant.
A primarily red wine town in the Cote de Nuits region of Burgundy, France. It has one large Grand Cru vineyard, Clos de Vougeot, which is notable as an example of how confusing Burgundy can be for the consumer. There may be as many as 60 different producers of Clos de Vougeot alone. A small quantity of white wine is also produced in the village.
The region and wine from the Loire Valley in France. Planted almost exclusively to Chenin Blanc, these white wines can range from crisp and dry to luscious and sweet. Sparkling wine from the region has increased in production and popularity of late.
Literally: Vins de Qualite Produits des Regions Determinees, it is a European Common Market designation for "quality wines produced in specific regions." In theory almost any quality wine from Europe can use this designation, but in practice they use their local terms instead.
The German term for a vineyard estate. If it appears on a bottle the grapes must come entirely from vineyards the producer owns.
The German term for a wine cellar. If you see this on the label, it may be an off hand way of telling you that the grapes for this wine do not come from the producers own vineyards.
A white wine grape that is not related to, but is trying to capitalize on the name of Riesling. It is planted throughout Europe, especially in and near Austria.
A rosé (pink) wine made from the red wine grape Zinfandel. It tends to be somewhat sweet and easy to enjoy. This is the wine that snobs love to hate. Do not mistakenly call this pink wine "Zinfandel," as the red wine made from Zinfandel is one of California's greatest wines.
A mix of wine and fruit juices (or lime flavored soda). The practice of disguising bad wine with sweetened juice is as old as wine itself. The name has developed a negative connotation for many wine lovers, since the prepackaged, sweetened and carbonated version is little more than soda pop with a touch of alcohol.
When a wine has had extensive aging in a barrel it takes on the barrel taste, hence it is "woody." The taste of wood, usually oak, should not dominate the flavor of the wine. It is there to help the wine age, and will diminish over time. Some winemakers disguise the taste of their wines with wood, especially in regions where the grapes do not ripen completely. In the New World this taste has become synonymous with Chardonnay for many wine lovers, although one may debate that this is not a positive thing.
A good sized German wine region. It is situated around the well known German city of Stuttgart, home of the German automobile industry. The red wines made in the region are of the greatest interest. Besides the usual red wine grape Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) here you will also find local varieties such as Trollinger, Lemberger and Schwarzriesling (which is not a black riesling at all, rather it is the Pinot Meunier grape which is also found in the Champagne region of France).
The old name for the town of Jerez de la Frontera in Spain, where Sherry is produced. It was the mispronunciation of this word that led to the name of Sherry.
The single cell organisms that are responsible for fermentation. This is as true in wine as it is in beer or even bread. In the case of wine, the primary yeast responsible for the first (alcohol) fermentation belong to the class "Sacharomyces." Not all yeast is good yeast, and some can lead to spoilage. Many types of yeast may be found in and around wineries, and due to the need to control the specific yeast in wine, sterility is extremely important in a winery.
A wine taster's term for a wine that has a pronounced flavor of yeast. Reminiscent of fresh bread, this flavor is common in sparkling wines and wines aged "sur lie." For all other types of wine, this flavor should be considered a fault. It should never be too pronounced, and in sparkling wines, it should be more toasty (like burnt bread) than a freshly baked loaf.
When related to wine this term refers to the amount of fruit any given vine or vineyard produces. As with so many things in wine, this is a balancing act. You want to get enough fruit to remain profitable; however, by reducing the yield you attain more flavor fruit. In Europe the relative yield of a vineyard or vine is often regulated by law. This ensures quality wines. Modern vineyard techniques have managed to increase yields while still maintaining quality. The laws and the world of wine remain in flux as the perfect balance of the number of vines per area and the yield per vine are sought.
A designation for any wine that is not quite ready to drink. In the case of lighter wines, this may be directly on release; but, for Cabernet Sauvignon based wines, and others designed for prolonged aging, the period of youth may last a decade or more.
Yquem / d'Yquem, Chateau (ee-kem / dee-kem)
The highest rated wine of the Bordeaux region of France. In a land where long lived red wines are common, Chateau d'Yquem is an even longer lived sweet white wine. Made from the Semillon grape with a bit of Sauvignon Blanc, this is a dessert wine like no other. As with other wines from the Sauternes district, the grapes achieve their intense sweetness after being effected by the botrytis mold, which removes the water from the grape. The shriveled remains of these grapes are then picked, at their peak of perfection, a task that often takes several "tries" or trips to the vineyard, over a period of weeks to accomplish. While other Sauternes may be described as sweet apricots and figs, I am fond of saying that d'Yquem is "a cornucopia of fruit, that is ever changing in your mouth." There are other Sauternes, and other dessert wines, but nature and man have teamed up to put Chateau d'Yquem in a class by itself.
A red wine grape found almost exclusively in California. Now proven to be the Crljenak Kastelanski, of Croatia, where it is all but extinct. In Italy it is known as Primitivo, but evidence suggests that it came to Italy from California, and not the other way around as was originally thought. Zinfandel has been widely planted in California for generations. These vines are older than most other vines in the area, and for this reason produce some of the most intense fruit. For the uninitiated, Zinfandel means a pink wine. It is important to remember that pink wine can be made from any red wine grape, and that the true red Zinfandel shares little with its pink counterpart. Known for its wide variety of styles, most Zinfandel is not particularly tannic (and does not age well) while having an abundance of fruit, to the point of being "jammy." While Zinfandel is one of my personal favorites, especially in the moderate price range, some find the forward fruit to be too much of a good thing.
The enzymes excreted by yeast that actually do the work of fermentation. While this is so technical that most books do not even bother to mention zymase, it has yet another claim to fame. It is the root of the word Zymurgy which ends nearly all english language dictionaries.
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