Wine Glossary

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There are currently 99 names in this directory beginning with the letter C.
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.

Cantina (cahn-tee'-nah)
Italian for "cellar."

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.

Cava (cah-vah)
The Spanish term for "cellar" it is also refers to Spanish sparking wine.

Cave (cah'v)
The French term for "cellar."

A storage place for wine, and by extension, a winery.

Cepage (seh-pahj)
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.

Chablis (shah-blee)
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.

Chai (shay)
The French term for above the ground wine storage.

Chambertin (sham-bair-tan)
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.

Chaptalization (shap-it-al-iz'-ae-shun)
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.

Chardonnay (shar-doh-nay)
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.

Chateau (shah-toe)
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.

Chateau Bottled
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.

Chianti (k'yahn-tee)
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.

Chinon (shee-nohn)
A picturesque village in the Loire Valley of France where light red wines are made from Cabernet Franc.

Cinsault (san-so)
A red wine grape used primarily for blending. One of the 13 grape varieties allowed in Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Claret (clare-eht)
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."

Climat (clee-mah)
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.

Clos (cloh)
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).

Cold Duck
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.

Commune (com-myoon)
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.

Condrieu (coh'n-dree-uh)
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.

One of any number of devices that are used to extract corks from bottles.

Cornas (cor-nahss)
A tiny wine producing commune in the northern Rhone in France. The red wines from this town are made from the grape Syrah.

Cortese (cor-teh'-zeh)
A high quality white wine grape of northern Italy. The best known examples are the Gavi wines.

Corton (cor-tawn)
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.

The local name of the Malbec grape in Bordeaux, France.

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.

Coulant (coo-lahn)
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."

Coulure (coo-loo'r)
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.

Cramant (crah-mahn)
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.

Cremant (creh-mahn)
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:

Cremant d'Alsace
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.

Crianza (cree-ahn-zah)
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.

Cru (crew)
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 English language term (especially in California) for the harvest.

A cultivated grape variety. Some use this as a more precise term than "grape variety."

Cuvaison (coo-veh-zohn)
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."

Cuvee (coo-vay)
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.

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