Most Commonly Used Wine Terms:


Acid
Acid is a major element in wine to enhance its balance.


Alsace

See Alsace guide.


Appellation d'origine contrôlée

AOC represents France's highest quality classification of wine. Hence, we selected the name AOC Wines to pay homage to the origin of the wines we enjoy and represent. See about AOC Wines.


Balance

Tasting term
. Balance is an indicator of quality – where all elements come together


Barrique

Wooden barrel from France with a capacity of 59 gallons/225 liters.


Bâtonnage

French for stirring of the lees.


Biodynamic viticulture

Method of farming which prohibits the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, other synthetic matters and any filtering. Biodynamic winemaking is one step beyond organic viticulture: using strict schedules in accordance with the cycles of the moon, planets and stars.


Blanc de Blancs

Champagne made from entirely white grapes.


Body

Tasting term
. The “volume” of a wine from light to full.


Bordeaux

See Bordeaux guide.


Botrytis Cinerea

A fungus, noble rot, is deliberately cultivated to infect the grape with mold.


Brut

Sparkling unsweetened wine, which is very dry.


Burgundy

See Burgundy guide.


Champagne

See Champagne guide.


Chaptalization

Process of adding sugar before or during the fermentation.


Clean

Tasting term
. No tasting defects.


Complex

Tasting term
. A wine that contains many different elements of wine with i.e., fruit, flowers, minerals, and scents.


Corked

Tasting term
. Spoiled wine that smells damp and/or moldy.


Côte

A slope or hillside used in many regions in France.


Cremant

Sparkling wine made by the Méthode Champenoise.


Cru

Vineyard or group of vineyards, one of recognized quality.


Cru Bourgeois

Bordeaux châteaux that are classified below the Cru Classé. See Bordeaux Classifications.


Cru Classé

The upper classification for the châteaux of the Médoc, which is divided into five tiers.


Demi-Sec

Off dry wine.


Domaine

Wine Estate.


Dry

Tasting term
. Opposite of sweet.


Filtration

Finishing process performed before bottling which removes dead yeast and bacteria.


Finish

Tasting term.
The finish is the aftertaste. After finish comes the length.


Firm

Tasting term.
A wine that tannic.


Grand Cru

Refers to the best vineyard sites usually located on the slopes of Burgundy, Champagne and Alsace.


Green Harvest

The practice of removing unripe bunches of grapes in midsummer in order to reduce the yield per plant and increase the quality.


Hectare

Measurement used in viticulture, approximately 2.5 acres.


Lies (French for Lees)

Heavy sediment consisting of dead yeast cells and other solid matter such as grape, pulp, and pips left in the bottom of a vat, tank or barrel.


Left Bank

See Bordeaux guide.


Length

Tasting term
. The length is how long the flavor of the wine prolongs on the palate after it has been swallowed.


Lieu-dit

Often used in Burgundy and Alsace. For a specific named plot of land which is in practice used on labels for vineyards below 1er Cru in rank.


Loire

See Loire guide.

Malolactic fermentation
Process used to reduce acid in wine where malic acid (appley) is altered by natural means to softer-tasting lactic (milky) acid.


Méthode Champenoise

Traditional method
for making Champagne in which the second fermentation is in the bottle.


Méthode Traditionelle

Winemakers outside the Champagne region using the Méthode Champenoise.


Midpalate

Tasting term
. The midpalate is a term for the taste and feel of a wine when held in the mouth.


Mise en bouteille

Bottled.


Moelleux

Sweet or medium sweet wine.


Négociant

Term to describe a wine merchant that buys grapes or juice and bottles the wine under their own name and label.


New World

Wines produced outside Europe.


Noble rot

See Botrytis cinerea. Conditions of foggy damp, misty mornings followed by warm sunny afternoons. The Noble rot leaves the grapes shriveled, dehydrated and thus rich in sugar.


Nose

Tasting term
. The nose of the wine describes the “aromas” of a wine.


Oenology

Science behind wine and winemaking.


Organic Viticulture

Winemaking with no fertilizers, pesticides or other chemicals.


Pigeage

Method of submerging the cap of skins and grape solids which is kept in contact with the fermenting wine to increase extract during cuvaison.


Pip

Grape seeds.


Pruning

Essential vineyard practice important in canopy management.


Racking

Process involving the transfer of wine from one vessel into another after fermentation.


Remuage

French for “riddling”, which brings the lees into the neck of the bottle prior to their removal. Step in the production of Champagne involving gradual turning and inversion of the bottle.


Residual

Any substance that remains after fermentation.


Right Bank

See Bordeaux guide.


Sec

French for dry except in case of Champagne where it mean sweet.


Structure

Tasting term
. Structure is an aspect of taste.


Sugar

Large collection of organic compounds present in grapes as a result of photosynthesis. Sugar is a substrate utilized by yeast in the production of alcohol, a process known as fermentation.


Sulphites

Compounds that are added to wine to prevent spoilage and oxidation.


Sur lie

French term used to describes a wine that has allowed to lie on its lies for some time before being racked off.


Tannin

Polyphenolic compounds found in grape skins, pips and stalks.


Tart

Tasting term.
Too much acid.


Terroir

French for “soil”, the physical environment characteristics that give a wine its uniqueness. A group of vineyards from the same region, belonging to a specific appellation, and sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions, grapes and wine making savoir-faire, which contribute to give its specific personality to the wine.


Texture

Tasting term.
The texture of a wine describes how the wine feels on the palate.


Toasty

Tasting term.
Smelling or tasting of toast.


Tertiary notes

Tasting term.
Describes aromas such as mushrooms, truffles, baked meats or tobacco usually inherent to older wines.


Vielles vignes

French for old vines, 30 years and older.


Vin

French for wine.


Vintage

The year the grapes were harvested.


Vinification

The process of making grape juice into wine.


Viticulture

The cultivation of grapes.