Abboccato
An Italian term sometimes seen on Italian wine labels, meaning ‘off-dry’.

AC (also called Appellation controlee and AOC)
The French method of guaranteeing a wine’s authenticity. The AC/AOC law covers areas and regions, permitted grape varieties, density of planting, yields of vines and minimum alcohol level of the wine. The wines must be tasted and analysed before they are allowed to carry the AC.

Acetic
Tasting term used to describe wine with a sour, vinegary taste.

Acetic Acid (CH3COOH)
The acid component of vinegar. The product of oxidation of ethanol by the action of acetobacteria in the presence of oxygen. A volatile acid present in small quantities in all wines; excessive amounts result in a vinegary nose and taste.

Acidity
All wines have varying degrees of acidity, which is a natural component of wine. Wines without enough acidity do not age well and often taste ‘flabby’ and dull on the palate. Wines with good acidity taste crisp and fresh. Wines which are made from under-ripe grapes can taste too acidic if there is not enough fruit flavour to balance.

Aerobic
Anything that requires oxygen to live or occur.

Aftertaste
Tasting term used to describe the sensation left in mouth after wine has been swallowed. The intensity and duration can indicate the quality of wine; a long and pleasant aftertaste indicates a high-quality wine.

Ageing
The process by which wine changes certain characteristics (such as colour and taste) during the period of time it spends in the bottle or cask before it is drunk. The ageing process can be as short as a few months or as long as 100 years. In red wines, age causes colour to change from purple to shades of red and orange and finally to brown. The taste of both red and white wines usually softens with age. A peak occurs in the ageing process when taste is at its best. After that, however, the quality of wine tends to go downhill. The ideal length of ageing differs from wine to wine and is hotly debated among wine experts.

Aggressive
Tasting term used to describe a wine that has not aged enough. Its palate is hard and unapproachable, which is usually the result of too much tannin or acidity.

Airen
Although many people have never heard of it, this white grape variety is the most widely planted in the world. It is grown throughout Central Spain, where it is used to produce rather undistinguished white wine; it is also used in the production of brandy.

Albarino (Alvarinho)
This white grape variety from the Galicia region in northern Spain has become very fashionable in recent years. Well-made Albarino has an appealing peachy aroma and flavour and high acidity. In Portugal, the variety is called Alvarinho and is used to make the much less distinguished Vinho Verde.

Albariza
A chalky white soil type found in the sherry-growing region of Jerez de la Frontera. The soil helps grapes ripen by reflecting sunlight; the chalk in the soil also helps to retain water.

Alcohol
Alcohol as contained in alcoholic drinks is ethanol, sometimes called ethyl alcohol (C2H5OH). Alcohol is a colourless, odourless liquid produced by the action of yeast on natural grape sugar, through the process of fermentation.

Alcohol Content
Percentage of the volume of wine that is pure alcohol.

Aligote
Burgundy’s other white grape. Although not nearly as popular or reliable a variety as Chardonnay, for which Burgundy is much better known, Aligote can be very good in ripe years. The variety tends to have very high acidity.

Allier
An oak forest in central France which supplies some of the best wood used in barrel-making. The wood adds a particular fragrance and flavour to wines that are fermented or aged in Allier barrels.

Almacenista
The Spanish name for an individual who buys and ages sherry on a small scale.

Almondy
Tasting term used to describe wine either negatively (smell of bitter almonds) or positively (pleasant smell of almond-paste).

Alvarinho (also called Albarino)
In Portugal this white variety is used to make white vinho verde. In northern Spain’s Galicia region, the variety is known as Albarino and has become very fashionable in recent years. When well-made, the variety has an appealing peachy aroma and flavour and is high in acidity.

Amabile
An Italian term used to describe wines that are medium-sweet.

Amontillado
Amber-coloured, dry style of sherry made by maturing fino sherry without ‘refreshing’ it with younger wine in a solera system.

Ampelography
The study of grapevines and varieties.

Ampelographer
One who studies grapevines and varieties.

Anaerobic
Anything that is able to live or function without oxygen.

AOC (also called AC and Appellation Controlee)
The French method of guaranteeing a wine’s authenticity. The AC/AOC law covers areas and regions, permitted grape varieties, density of planting, yields of vines and minimum alcohol level of the wine. The wines must be tasted and analysed before they are allowed to carry the AC.

Appellation controlee (also called AC and AOC)
The French method of guaranteeing a wine’s authenticity. The AC/AOC law covers areas and regions, permitted grape varieties, density of planting, yields of vines and minimum alcohol level of the wine. The wines must be tasted and analysed before they are allowed to carry the AC.

Approved Viticultural Area (AVA)
The US system of defining winemaking areas, similar to the French appellation controlee system. AVAs generally follow natural boundaries, such as soil types and climate.

Appley
Tasting term used to describe a wine with the aroma or flavour of apples. This term can be used in two ways: to describe a tart, green-apple taste in an immature wine, or an old-apple smell in a mature wine.

Arneis
A dry, almond-scented white grape variety from Italy’s Piedmont region. Arneis is not very widely grown in Italy or outside the country.

Aroma
A tasting term. Basically, the aroma is the way a wine smells. ‘Nose’ is a synonym.

Aromatic
Tasting term used to describe a wine that has a lot of aroma and flavour. Usually applicable to the spicy or flowery grape varieties, such as Muscat or Gewurztraminer.

Ascorbic acid
Vitamin C. Used in winemaking along with sulphur dioxide to prevent oxidation.

Aspersion
Method of protection from spring frosts whereby the vines are sprayed with water, which freezes, coating the buds with ice. The buds are not damaged because of the latent heat of the ice.

Assemblage
The blending of a number of different wines that come from different parcels of land to make a single wine; the term is most often used in Champagne and Bordeaux.

Astringent
Tasting term used to describe a dry, mouth-puckering feeling caused by too much tannin or acidity. Common in young red wines.

Auslese
A wine term based on grape ripeness used in Germany and Austria. Auslese wines are made from selected bunches of very ripe grapes.

Austere
Tasting term used to describe wine that seems tough and severe. Usually indicative of a wine that is too young to drink.

Autolysis
A process whereby wines (usually white wines or Champagnes) take on the bready, biscuit-like flavours of the yeasts used in fermentation.

Auxerrois
A white grape variety grown in Germany, Luxembourg and eastern France, particularly Alsace. Although widely grown in Alsace, Auxerrois is almost never bottled as a varietal wine, as it is considered inferior to other grapes grown in the region.

AVA (Approved Viticultural Area)
The US system of defining winemaking areas, similar to the French appellation controlee system. AVAs generally follow natural boundaries, such as soil type and climate.

Azienda Agricola
Italian term for ‘wine estate’.

Bacchus
This white grape variety is the product of a crossing of three varieties, Silvaner, Riesling and Muller-Thurgau. Its most useful quality is that it ripens well in cool climates. When fully ripe, it can have an exuberant, floral aroma. Bacchus is most widely grown in Germany, but some is also grown in England.

Baked
Tasting term used to describe wine that seems stale, as if it had been baked in the sun.

Baga
The main red grape variety of the Bairrada region of Portugal. Baga is also the most widely planted red variety in Portugal. The wines made from it are often high in acidity and can be very tannic.

Balanced
Tasting term used to describe wines in which all the components are present in the correct proportions.

Balthazar
In Champagne, a large bottle, equivalent to sixteen 75cl bottles.

Barbera
A red grape variety grown widely in Italy, particularly in the northwest of the country. It tends to make juicy, fruity red wines that go well with various types of food. Barbera is also widely planted in Argentina and is being grown with some success in California.

Barrel
Generic term for a wooden container for storing and maturing wine. Barrels are most often made of oak, but other woods may be used.

Barrique
Cask with a capacity of 225 litres. Traditional to Bordeaux but now used extensively in other regions throughout the world.

Baume
French scale used in measurement of mustweight.

Beefy
Tasting term used to describe a (usually red) wine with full body and lots of flavour.

Beery
Tasting term used to describe wine with an undesirable yeasty or malty aroma.

Beerenauslese
A wine term based on grape ripeness used in Germany and Austria. Beerenauslese wines are made from carefully selected individual berries.

Bentonite
Clay-like material used in fining (clarifying) wines.

Bianco
Italian term for ‘white’.

Big
A tasting term used to describe wines that are intensely flavoured, often with a lot of tannin and ripe fruit.

Bite
Tasting term used to describe the sensation of acidity and sometimes tannin in the mouth. This actually is a desirable trait in a young wine destined for ageing.

Bitter
Tasting term used to describe wine with a sharp flavour.

Blackcurranty
Tasting term used to describe wine with the flavour and aroma of blackcurrants. Commonly used for wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon.

Black rot
Fungal disease of grapevines prevalent in warm, wet weather, which causes black stains on the leaves.

Blanc
French term for ‘white’.

Blanc de Blancsbr/> Indicates a wine made solely from white grapes. Although this term should in theory describe all white wines, this term is most useful for Champagne, where it indicates that only Chardonnay grapes were used (as opposed to both red and white grapes, which comprise most Champagnes).

Blanc de Noirs
Indicates a wine made solely* from black grapes. Although this seems contradictory, the juice of all grapes is white and it is actually the skin of red or black grapes that gives wine a red colour. This term is used mostly for white Champagne made only from black Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes.

Blanco
Spanish term for ‘white’.

Blaufrankisch (also called Kekfrankos, Limberger and Lemberger)
A red grape variety widely grown in Austria, where it produces a dark-coloured wine that is high in acidity. Also grown in Germany (known as Limberger), Hungary (known as Kekfrankos) and Washington State in the US (known as Lemberger).

Blush
Describes a type of rose wine made from black grapes. The term is most often used in the US.

Bocksbeutel
Short, round bottle typically used in the Franken region of Germany.

Body
Tasting term used to describe the weight of wine in the mouth. High alcohol content and high extract result in more body.

Bonarda
A red grape variety grown in northern Italy, where it is often used as part of a blend with other red varieties. A grape variety of the same name is also grown in Argentina, but is not related to the Italian Bonarda variety.

Bordeaux Mixture
Solution of copper sulphate and calcium hydroxide (lime) in water, used to spray vines as protection from fungal diseases.

Botrytis Cinerea (also known as Edelfaule, Noble rot and Pourriture noble)
Fungus that attacks grapes. In certain circumstances, it will form unwanted grey rot, in others, desirable noble rot. Botrytis cinerea is responsible for making possible of the world’s best sweet wines, such as Sauternes.

Botte
Traditional large barrels used in Italy of various sizes up to 160 hectolitres (plural Botti).

Bottle Age
Term used to describe wine that has spent a period of months or years in bottle. Wines that are so treated are marked by particular aromas and flavours as a consequence.

Bottle Sickness
A term used to describe the ill effects that bottling can often have on a wine for a short time after it is bottled.

Bottle Stink
The air trapped between the cork and the wine inside a bottle can take on an unpleasant stale odour, called bottle stink. This smell fades quickly after the cork is pulled.

Bouquet
Tasting term usually used to describe the aroma* of a wine. It is more accurately used to describe the characteristics of smell that develop as the wine ages in the bottle.

Branco
Portuguese term for ‘white’.

British Wine
Not to be confused with English wine, which is made from grapes grown in the UK, British wine is made from imported grape concentrate. The results are seldom noteworthy.

Brix
A scale used to measure ripeness in grapes.

Brunello
A red grape variety that comes from Italy’s Tuscany region, where it is used to make the famous red wine called Brunello di Montalcino. The grape is a variant of the better-known variety, Sangiovese. The two varieties are the same, apart from the regional uses of the name.

Brut
French term most often seen on bottles of Champagne. It means ‘very dry’.

Bush Training
Training of vines as free‑standing plants, not requiring the support of a trellis.

Butt
Traditional barrel used in sherry production with a capacity of 600 litres, usually filled only to about 500 litres.

Buttery
Tasting term used to describe wine with the aroma and flavour of butter. Commonly used for mature, oak-aged white wines.

Cabernet Franc
An important European red grape variety. In the Bordeaux region of France, Cabernet Franc has long been blended with the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot varieties to make red Bordeaux. It is also grown in the Loire region of France (where it makes a light red style) and in Italy. Small amounts are grown in California and other parts of the New World, where it is most often blended to make ‘Bordeaux-style’ red wines.

Cabernet Sauvignon
The undisputed king of red grapes. A very popular grape variety that is best known for its use in the red wines of Bordeaux. Cabernet Sauvignon is also used all over the world to make wines in a variety of styles. In California’s Napa Valley, it yields a blockbusting, broad-shouldered style, while in Chile it can be transformed into highly drinkable, user-friendly styles. It’s a thick-skinned variety that produces intense, deeply flavoured wines, often with long-term ageing potential.

Canaiolo
An Italian red grape variety that has traditionally been used in small quantities as part of the blend used to make Chianti, the famous red wine of Tuscany.

Cane
Partially lignified one‑year‑old part of a vine, pruned to between eight and 15 buds. If pruned to two or three buds, it is referred to as a spur.

Cane Pruning
System of vine pruning in which one or more long canes of one‑year‑old wood, each with between eight and 15 buds, remain to produce new shoots.

Cantina
Italian term for ‘cellar’.

Cantina Sociale
Italian term for a wine cooperative.

Cap
Floating mass of grape skins, stalks, etc, that forms on the surface of red grape must when fermenting.

Carbonic Maceration
Fermentation of whole bunches of black grapes with the berries initially intact. The intercellular fermentation results in well‑coloured, fruity red wines with little tannin.

Carignan (also called Carinena and Mazuelo)
A red grape variety that is widely grown throughout southern France, Spain and North Africa. In Spain’s Rioja region, the variety is known as Mazuelo. Carignan is usually blended with other red varieties, rather than bottled on its own.

Carinena (also called Carignan and Mazuelo)
A red grape variety that is widely grown throughout southern France, Spain and North Africa. In Spain’s Rioja region, the variety is known as Mazuelo. Carinena is usually blended with other red varieties, rather than bottled on its own.

Carmenere
This red variety was once widely planted in France’s Bordeaux region, but is no longer found there today. It is widely grown in Chile where, for many years, it was incorrectly identified as the Merlot variety.

Cask
Wooden barrel, usually made of oak, used for fermentation, maturation and storage of wines. Traditional sizes and names vary from region to region.

Casse
Unwanted haze in wine caused by instability.

Cassis
Tasting term used to describe wines with the aroma and flavour of blackcurrants (cassis is the French term for blackcurrant).

Castelao Frances
Red grape variety grown widely in the south of Portugal. It is often labeled as Periquita and produces quite lively, fruity red wines.

Cat’s Pee
Tasting term used to describe wine with a pungent yet fruity aroma. Commonly used for wines made with Sauvignon Blanc. The term is not necessarily pejorative.

Cava
A sparkling wine made chiefly* in Spain’s Penedes region.

Cave
A French term for a place where wine is made or stored, usually, but not always, underground.

Cave Cooperative
French term for wine cooperative.

Cedary
Tasting term used to describe wine with the aroma of cedar. Commonly used for mature, red Bordeaux.

Cépage
French term for grape variety.

Chambré
Indicates that a wine is at room temperature. Originally, however, room temperature was closer to 15 to17 degrees Celsius; today, red wines served at room temperature are often too warm.

Chaptalisation
Must enrichment performed by using beet or cane sugar. The name derives from M Chaptal, the French agricultural minister who first wrote about the process.

Chardonnay
Undoubtedly the best-known grape variety in the world. The Chardonnay white grape has probably done more to convince people of the joys of wine than just about any other grape. Chardonnay has a great affinity with oak. It is also a very easy grape to grow, and is capable of a huge range of flavours, from tropical fruit and pineapple in warmer climates to steely, long-lived wines in Chablis.

Charmat Method (also called the Tank method or Cuve close)
Sparkling wine production process in which the secondary fermentation takes place in a sealed tank.

Chasselas
This white grape variety is grown in regions of France and, most importantly perhaps, in Switzerland. It tends to yield pale-coloured, neutral wines.

Chai
An above ground cellar used for storing wine in barrels.

Chateau
French term for a wine estate.

Chenin Blanc
Chenin Blanc has a multitude of personalities. This white grape variety is used to make dry wines, off-dry wines, medium-sweet wines, sweet wines and sparkling wines. Its spiritual home is in France’s Loire Valley, where it is used to make styles right across the range, many of which are of excellent quality. Elsewhere, Chenin is usually used to make fairly simple, dry white wines, which can often be rather insipid. To its credit, however, the grape has high natural acidity, which means that, when they’re made well, Chenin Blanc wines can last for decades.

Chiaretto
Italian term for a pale rose wine.

Chocolatey
Tasting term used to describe wine with a rich, sweet, thick, chocolate-like aroma and flavour. Commonly used for some wines made from Gamay.

Cinsault (also called Cinsaut)
A full-flavoured red grape variety widely planted throughout the south of France and Corsica as well as North and South Africa. Cinsault is often used to make rose wines in southern France.

Cinsaut (also called Cinsault)
A full-flavoured red grape variety widely planted throughout the south of France and Corsica as well as North and South Africa. Cinsaut is often used to make rose wines in southern France.

Clairette
A white grape variety grown widely throughout southern France. It is generally an undistinguished variety, producing rather dull low-acid wines. It is perhaps best known in its guise as a sparkling wine, Clairette de Die, which comes from France's Rhone Valley.

Claret
Red Bordeaux wine. The term is most often used in Britain.

Clonal Selection
Selection of plants from a particular variety for specific, desirable features, (which may include early ripening, good fruit, high (or low) yields, disease resistance).

Clone
One of a population of plants that are the descendants of a single individual and have been propagated by asexual means. Unlike descendants by sexual propagation, each clone will have features identical to the parent plant.

Clos
French term for a small vineyard enclosed by (or once enclosed by) a wall.

Coarse
Tasting term used to describe a (usually cheap) wine as rough, unrefined.

Colombard
A rather undistinguished white grape variety from southwest France. Colombard has long been used as one of the base wines from which Cognac is distilled, but its innocuousness as a variety seldom recommends it for use as a table wine. It is widely grown in California where it is used to produce huge amounts of mediocre jug wine.

Colheita
A style of wood-aged port that is marked with a date of harvest.

Complex
Tasting term used to describe wine with many layers of aromas and flavours. Usually indicates a fine wine.

Congeners
Organic compounds giving flavouring and aroma in alcoholic beverages. Products of the fermentation, distillation and maturation processes, they include such compounds as ketones, esters and aldehydes.

Consejo Regulador
Spanish regulatory body that enforces vine-growing and winemaking regulations.

Cooperative
A facility through which wine growers who don’t own their own winemaking equipment can make wine communally with other growers in the area. Most often, the wines are used together in an anonymous blend, but some cooperatives will bottle single growers’ wines separately.

Copita
A small, tapered glass used for drinking sherry.

Cordon
Horizontal extension of a vine trunk.

Corked
Describes a bottle of wine that has been affected by a cork tainted with a naturally occurring bacteria. Corked wines have a horrible, mouldy smell.

Corvina
A red grape variety grown in northeast Italy. The wine it is used to make, Valpolicella, is much more famous than the grape variety. Corvina is also used in Italy to make a pale red wine called Bardolino, but it is seldom grown outside Italy.

Cortese
A white grape variety from northwest Italy's Piedmont region. Cortese is used to make Gavi di Gavi, one of the country's best white wines. The variety isn't used much outside the north of Italy.

Cosecha
Spanish term for ‘vintage’.

Cote
French word for ‘slope’.

Cot (also called Malbec)
The Cot grape has long been used in the Bordeaux region of France, where it is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and others to make red Bordeaux. It is grown in small amounts in Bordeaux, but is also grown in other parts of France as well as in Spain. The variety is also grown in Argentina, where it is used to make powerful, flavourful red wines.

Creamy
Tasting term used to describe a creamy richness in both flavour and texture. Usually used for wines of quality, especially Champagne.

Cremant
French term for sparkling wine made outside the Champagne region.

Crianza
A Spanish term used to denote wine that has been aged.

Crisp
Tasting term used to describe a wine with a very fresh taste. Commonly used for white wines.

Crossing
Breeding of new vine varieties by cross‑pollination of two different varieties of the same species. For wine production, this is usually two varieties of Vitis vinifera.

Cru
French term that translates as ‘growth’. The word is used to refer to the quality and official status of particular vineyard sites, as in ‘Cru Classé’ or ‘Cru Bourgeois’.

Cru Bourgeois
A classification of the chateaux of the Medoc region of Bordeaux. Cru bourgeois wines are one slot lower down the ladder from Cru Classé wines.

Cru Classé
The top ‘rung’ in the classification system of Bordeaux.

Crusted Port
A style of port comprising a blend of wine from several vintages. It is bottled without filtration, and throws a deposit - hence the name.

Cuvée
1. The juice resulting from the first pressing in Champagne, representing 80 litres from each 160 kilograms of grapes. The best-quality grape juice.
2. A blend.

Cuve Close (also called Charmat method or Tank method)
Sparkling-wine production process in which the secondary fermentation takes place in a sealed tank.

Decanting
Process in which wine is poured from its bottle to a glass decanter or other vessel. This process is usually used to remove the sediment that can occur in wine bottles. It is also useful as a means of letting red wine ‘breathe’ (permitting contact with air) before drinking.

Degorgement
Removal of the sediment from the bottle in traditional method sparkling-wine production.

Degree Day
A method of classifying climatic zones based on the sum of the average daily temperatures, less 10 degrees Celsius (the temperature at which the vine starts to grow) during the growing season.

Demi-Sec
French term used to describe a medium-dry wine.

Dense
Tasting term used to describe a wine with solid colour and/or packed with flavour.

Density of Planting
The number of vine plants per area of land, usually expressed as vines per hectare. Density will vary from 3,000 vines to 10,000 or more per hectare. Factors such as mechanisation will affect the choice of plant density.

Dessert Wine
Any of a group of sweet wine styles made to be drunk as part of the dessert course.

Developed<br/> Tasting term used to describe the state of maturity of a wine. Can be used to describe a young wine as ‘underdeveloped,’ a mature wine as ‘well-developed’ and an over-the-hill wine as ‘overdeveloped.’

Disgorgement
Removal of the sediment from the bottle in traditional method sparkling-wine production.

DO (Denominacion de Origen)
The Spanish system of guaranteeing a wine’s origin. Laws specify the vineyard area, permitted grape varieties, vine yields and winemaking practices.

DOC
Used to describe the wine laws governing the system of guaranteeing a wine’s origin. The term DOC applies to three countries: Italy (denominazione di origine controllata), Spain (denominacion de origen controlada) and Portugal (denominaciao de origem controlada). Basically, DOC laws cover delimited area, permitted grape varieties, ageing requirements, and vineyard and wine making practices.

DOCG (denominazione di origine controllata e garantita)
The highest rung on the ladder in the Italian classification system.

Dolcetto
The name of this Italian red grape variety translates as ‘the little sweet one’. Dolcetto is used in the Piedmont region of Italy to make a deep-coloured but easy-to-drink style of red wine.

Domaine
French term for ‘wine estate’.

Dosage (also called Liqueur d'expedition)
Liquid mixture of wine and (usually) sugar that is used to top up bottles (and adjust levels of sweetness) of Champagne and other wines made by the methode traditionelle. This process takes place after disgorgement.

Double Magnum
A large bottle equivalent to four 75cl bottles.

Dosage
In Champagne-making, the adjustment of the sugar level by the addition of liqueur d'expedition. The liqueur is added after degorgement to create the various styles of Champagne available.

Downy Mildew (also called peronospera)
Fungus appearing as downy patches on the vine leaves, reducing photosynthesis.

Dried-Out
Tasting term used to describe a wine in which the fruit flavours have faded. Usually the result of wine that has aged too long.

Dry
Tasting term used to describe a wine with no detectable sweetness.

Dulce
Spanish term for ‘sweet’.

Earthy
Tasting term used to describe a wine that smells earthy, soil-like. Can be used to describe more rustic wines.

Eau de Vie
Spirit, literally ‘water of life’. In France, a grape-derived spirit frequently flavoured with fruit, such as cherry or pear.

Edelfaule (Botrytis cinerea, also known as Edelfaule, Noble rot and Pourriture noble)
Fungus that attacks grapes. In certain circumstances, it will form unwanted grey rot, in others, desirable noble rot. Botrytis cinerea is responsible for making possible of the world’s best sweet wines, such as Sauternes.

Egrappage
Process where grapes are separated from their stems. In some red wines, the stem is left on the grape to add tannin, although the result can make a wine taste more bitter.

Eiswein (also called Icewine)
A German or Austrian wine made from the concentrated juice of frozen grapes, which have been left on the vine until after the first strong frost. A sweet and long-lived style of wine.

Elegant
Tasting term used to describe wines that are well-structured and well-balanced. Wines described as elegant are not made in an upfront, fruity style.

Espumoso
Spanish term for ‘sparkling wine’.

Estate Bottled
Term used to indicate wines that have been grown and bottled on the same estate.

Estufagem
The ‘cooking’ process used in Madeira production to caramelise the sugars in wine. This process gives Madeira wines their unique flavour.

Ethanol
Alcohol as contained in alcoholic drinks is ethanol, sometimes called ethyl alcohol (C2H5OH). Alcohol is a colourless, odourless liquid produced by the action of yeast on natural grape sugar, through the process of fermentation.

Extract
Soluble solids other than sugar that are found in wine and contribute to its body and structure. The term good/high extract can be used as a tasting term to describe a wine with good body and structure.

Extra Sec
Term used to describe Champagne that is drier than Sec but not as dry as Brut in the sweetness spectrum.

Fat
Tasting term used to describe a wine with a lot of body, and perhaps some sweetness. Usually caused by a high level of glycerol.

Fattoria
Italian term for ‘wine estate’.

Fermentation
The conversion, by the action of yeast enzymes, of sugar to alcohol.

Finesse
Tasting term used to describe a wine of high quality. Wines that are described as having finesse are often fine wines that are capable of ageing further.

Fining
Removal of matter in suspension in a wine by the addition of a fining agent such as bentonite, which acts as a coagulant.

Finish
Tasting term used to describe the intensity and nature of the final sensation in the mouth after swallowing wine. The term ‘long finish’ indicates a taste that persists for some seconds, an indication of good-quality wine.

Fino
A pale, very dry style of sherry.

Firm
Tasting term used to describe a wine with good structure, as in good tannin and/or acidity and noticeable fruit.

Fixed Acidity
The acidity in wine detectable only on the palate, composed of tartaric, malic and lactic acids.

Flabby
Tasting term used to describe a poor wine without good structure, usually due to insufficient acidity and/or over-ripeness.

Flat
Tasting term used to describe a wine that lacks freshness, usually due to insufficient acidity.

Fleshy
Tasting term used to describe a wine that is generously flavoured, with no perceivable ‘edge.’

Flinty
Tasting term used to describe wine with the aroma of gun flint. Commonly used for white wines made of Sauvignon Blanc.

Flor
A film of yeast which forms on the surface of fino and manzanilla sherries, giving them a distinctive taste and protecting them from oxidation.

Fortified Wine
Wines to which spirit (such as brandy) has been added. Port, sherry and Madeira are all examples of fortified wines.

Forward
Tasting term used to describe a wine that is unexpectedly mature.

Foudre
French term for a large wooden barrel.

Foxy
Tasting term used to describe a wine with an earthy flavour. Used when describing wines made from native American grapes, rather than from Vitis vinifera.

Fragrant
Tasting term used to describe a wine that has an attractive, often flowery, scent.

Freisa
An aromatic red grape grown around the Piedmont region of Italy. The variety is grown and produced in small amounts.

Fresh
Tasting term used to describe wine that seems vigorous and vibrant, usually owing to acidity.

Frizzante
Italian term used to describe a lightly sparkling wine.

Fruity
Tasting term used to describe wine with the flavours of many different fruits, from citrus to berries and currants. Commonly used for wines made of ripe grapes.

Full
Tasting term used to describe flavoursome wine that seems to fill the mouth, usually due to high alcohol and extract content.

Furmint
A white variety native to Hungary. Furmint is used throughout Hungary to make dry white wines, but is at its most distinguished when used as a component to make the famous Hungarian sweet wine, Tokaji, or Tokay.

Gamay
Chief red grape variety of the Beaujolais region. The Gamay grape has a light, fresh, overtly fruity nose - think red and black cherries - but it also has a bubblegum aroma that some find off-putting. In Beaujolais, the wine is often made using a technique called carbonic maceration, which helps retain the fruit aromas. Gamay usually yields a fairly light, simple, easy-drinking wine that is low in tannin. Although most is made to be drunk young, some Beaujolais can age for a few years. At its worst, it is acidic and thin; Beaujolais Nouveau often shows the variety at its nadir. It is not widely grown outside France, although some winemakers in California are showing limited success.

Garnacha (also called Grenache)
This red grape variety is grown widely throughout Europe and increasingly in the New World. In the south of France, Garnacha is used as part of a blend of grape varieties to make Cotes du Rhone and Chateauneuf-du-Pape. In Spain, it is blended with Tempranillo to make Rioja. It is used to good effect in Spain’s Priorato region and is also used to make Spanish rose wines. A lot of Garnacha is grown in Australia, although most of the wine it yields is of little note. In California, Garnacha has been adopted by an unofficial group known as ‘Rhone Rangers’, who are doing some good things with the variety. Garnacha adds a note of pepperiness to blends, but as a pure varietal wine it can be quite boring.

Garrafeira
Portuguese term used to describe red wine that has been matured for two years before bottling, then aged one year in bottle. It is also used to describe white wines that have at least a year’s ageing before they are released.

Gewurztraminer
Perhaps the most distinctive white grape variety. Gewurztraminer is easily recognisable by its wonderfully perfumed, exotic aroma and spicy, gingery palate. Although it smells sweet, it is most often made in a dry or off-dry style. The best Gewurztraminer wines come from Alsace in eastern France. Alsace Gewurztraminer is often very rich and can have an almost oily texture, while Gewurztraminer from the New World tends to be lighter in style. Its exotic flavours can be a great foil for spicy Thai curries.

Governo
Vinification technique occasionally used in the production of Chianti, in which a small quantity of semi‑dried grapes or concentrated grape must is added to the wine after fermentation to induce a slight secondary fermentation, increasing the glycerine content of the wine.

Graciano (also called Morrastel)
A red grape variety grown in southern France (where it is called Morrastel) and in the Rioja and Navarra regions of Spain. Although it yields wines with good aromas and ageing potential, Graciano is not widely grown outside France and Spain, except in Argentina, where it is called Graciana.

Graft
The union that results when a small piece of one plant, including a bud, (the scion), is inserted onto a supporting rootstock. In viticulture, the most important use is the grafting of a Vitis vinifera scion onto a rootstock having some American parentage, and therefore tolerant of the dreaded Phylloxera vastatrix vine pest.

Grand Cru
A French quality designation. The term is used in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and Alsace, but means slightly different things in each region.

Gran Reserva
Spanish term used to describe a level of ageing. In Rioja, it means a red wine that has been aged for two years in barrel and three years in bottle, or a white wine that has been aged for four years, with at least six months in barrel.

Grande Marque
A now outdated term that was used to describe Champagnes made by producers who were members of a ‘club’ called the Syndicat de Grands Marques de Champagne. Most of the best-known names were members of the Syndicat, but the term was never truly a mark of quality.

Grapy
Tasting term used to describe wine with the aroma and flavour of fresh grapes. Commonly used for wines made from Muscat.

Grassy
Tasting term used to describe wine with the aroma of freshly cut grass. Often used to describe wines made from Sauvignon Blanc.

Grechetto
A white grape variety grown in Italy's Umbria region. Italian wine-lovers will be more familiar with the wine that it is used to make, called Orvieto.

Greco
A white grape variety of Greek origin. It is grown in the Campania region of Italy, where it is used to make a wine called Greco di Tufo.

Green
Tasting term used to describe a wine that is young and raw. Usually indicates that the wine may develop further or that it may have been made with unripe grapes.

Grenache (also called Garnacha)
This red grape variety is grown widely throughout Europe and increasingly in the New World. In the south of France, Garnacha is used as part of a blend of grape varieties to make Cotes du Rhone and Chateauneuf-du-Pape. In Spain, it is blended with Tempranillo to make Rioja. It is used to good effect in Spain’s Priorato region and is also used to make Spanish rose wines. A lot of Garnacha is grown in Australia, although most of the wine it yields is of little note. In California, Grenache has been adopted by an unofficial group known as ‘Rhone Rangers’, who are doing some good things with the variety. Garnacha adds a note of pepperiness to blends, but as a pure varietal wine it can be quite boring.

Grey Rot
Malevolent form of Botrytis cinerea, affecting unripe berries or black grapes, causing off‑flavours and lack of colour.

Grignolino
A red grape variety grown in the Piedmont region of Italy. It is used to make light, pale red wines which are not widely available outside the region.

Grip
Tasting term used to describe a young wine with the tannin and/or acid potential to develop.

Gruner Veltliner
Austria's finest white grape variety and one of the most underrated of white grapes. Wines made with the variety are dry, well-balanced and have a trace of white pepper and spice. The variety is also planted in several Eastern European countries.

Gyropalette
Hydraulically operated, computer-controlled racks for mechanical remuage, or riddling, of sparkling wine bottles before disgorgement.

Halbtrocken
German word for medium-dry wines.

Hard
Tasting term used to describe a wine that has too much tannin and acidity, but which may be able to develop over time.

Harslevelu
A white grape variety native to Hungary that is an important component in the famous Hungarian sweet wine, Tokaji.

Heavy
Tasting term used to describe a wine that is full-bodied and alcoholic, but not in a positive way (unless describing fortified wines).

Hectare
Unit of vineyard area, equal to 2.47 acres. Often abbreviated as ha.

Hectolitre
Unit of measure equal to about 22 gallons. It is used to measure volume of wine. Often abbreviated as hl.

Herbaceous
Tasting term used to describe a wine with an aroma or flavour of grass, herbs and/or leaves. Can be used to describe red wines or white wines.

Hock
English term for German wines from the Rhine. The name derives from the name of the German town of Hochheim.

Hollow
Tasting term used to describe a wine with a good initial taste and aftertaste, but without much flavour in between.

Hot
Tasting term used to describe a wine that tastes of strong, out-of-balance alcohol. Usually describes a wine from a warm climate.

Hybrid
A vine variety resulting from the cross‑pollination of two vines of different species, usually one Vitis vinifera and one of American origins, to breed intolerance of the phylloxera vine pest. Also called interspecific crossing.

IGT
Indicazione geografica tipica. An Italian wine term similar to the French vin de pays classification.

Imperial
A large-format bottle used in Bordeaux. It holds the equivalent of eight 75cl bottles.

IPR
Indicacao de proveniencia regulamentada. A Portuguese wine term similar to the French VDQS classification.

Irrigation
The supply of water to the vine by means of artificial canals, overhead sprays, or drip‑irrigation systems on individual vines. Irrigation is forbidden in European Community countries except for young, unproductive vines and experimental vineyards, but is used widely in other countries.

Icewine
A New World wine made from the concentrated juice of frozen grapes, which have been left on the vine until after the first strong frost. A sweet and long-lived style of wine, similar in style to German or Austrian Eiswein.

Jammy
Tasting term used to describe wine that tastes of jam rather than fresh fruit. Usually describes wines from a hot climate.

Jeroboam
Large-format bottle. In Bordeaux it is equivalent to six 75cl bottles; in Champagne, four 75cl bottles.

Kabinett
German and Austrian wine category, based on ripeness of the grapes. These wines are usually light-bodied and low in alcohol.

Kekfrankos (also called Blaufrankisch, Limberger and Lemberger)
A red grape variety widely grown in Hungary, where it produces a dark-coloured wine that is high in acidity. Also grown in Austria (known as Blaufrankisch), Germany (known as Limberger), and Washington State in the US (known as Lemberger).

Lagar
Stone trough used for treading grapes. Superseded in most regions by more modern methods but still in use in Portugal’s Douro Valley in the making of port.

Lambrusco
Many wine drinkers will be familiar with the sweet, frothy red (often poor-quality) wine called Lambrusco, made from a grape variety of the same name. When well-made, Lambrusco can be very good, but the superior stuff has been swamped by inferior Lambrusco. The Lambrusco grape variety is not widely grown outside Italy.

Landwein
Category of German wine similar to vin de pays in France. There are 15 Landwein regions, but the category is little used, as qualification for Landwein status is so easy to acquire.

Lanolin
Tasting term used to describe wine with the soft aroma of wet wool. Commonly used for white wines made from the Semillon variety.

Late Harvest
A New World term used to describe wines made from grapes that were harvested late in the season. These are most often sweet, although if fermented to dryness, they can be quite high in alcohol. The term ‘late harvest’ is roughly equivalent to German Spatlese or French vendange tardive.

LBV
Late Bottled Vintage port. A style of port made from wine of a single year, matured in cask, and bottled four to six years after the harvest. It usually does not require decanting, although some producers make a bottle-aged style which does require decanting. LBVs are made in a lighter style than true vintage port. The two are quite different and shouldn’t be confused.

Lean
Tasting term used to describe a wine that lacks a spectrum of flavours.

Lees
The sediment of dead yeast cells which collects at the bottom of any fermentation vessel once fermentation is complete. Champagne is often aged on its lees, which gives it a rich, biscuitty character.

Left Bank
The western bank of the Garonne river and the Gironde estuary in Bordeaux, including the Medoc, Graves, Pessac-Leognan and Sauternes.

Lemberger (also called Kekfrankos, Limberger and Blaufrankisch)
A red grape variety widely grown in Washington State in the US, where it produces a dark-coloured wine high in acidity. Also grown in Austria (known as Blaufrankisch), Germany (known as Limberger) and Hungary (known as Kekfrancos).

Lemony
Tasting term used to describe wine with the flavour of citrus fruit. Commonly used for young, dry white wines.

Length
A tasting term used to describe how long the flavour lingers on the palate once a wine has been swallowed. Simple, inexpensive wines tend to have shorter length. With better-quality wines, the length should be much better.

Light
Tasting term used to describe wine low in alcohol with little body.

Liqueur de Tirage
Mixture of wine, sugar and yeast added to still wine to promote a secondary fermentation in the production of sparkling wine.

Liqueur d'Expedition (also called dosage)
Liquid mixture of wine and (usually) sugar that is used to top up bottles (and adjust levels of sweetness) of Champagne and other wines made by the methode traditionelle. This process takes place after disgorgement.

Limberger (also called Blaufrankisch, Kekfrankos, and Lemberger)
A red grape variety widely grown in Germany, where it produces a dark-coloured wine high in acidity. Also grown in Austria (known as Blaufrankisch), Hungary (known as Kekfrankos) and Washington State in the US (known as Lemberger).

Long
Tasting term used to describe wine with a taste that lasts (a positive feature).

Macabeo (also called Viura)
The white Macabeo variety is grown throughout southern France; it is also widely planted in Spain where it is called Viura. It is used in Spain to make a variety of styles from white Rioja to Spain's sparkling wine, cava. Despite its ubiquity, the variety has precious little character.

Maceration
Period of time when the grape skins are in contact with the fermenting must during red wine vinification.

Maderized
A tasting term used to describe wines that are over-mature, often with an unpleasant ‘cooked’ flavour.

Magnum
Large-format bottle equivalent to two 75cl bottles.

Malbec (also called Cot)
This red variety has long been used in the Bordeaux region of France, where it is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and others to make red Bordeaux wine. It is grown in small amounts in Bordeaux, but is also grown in other parts of France as well as in Spain. In France it is used in Cahors, where it is used to make the region’s famous ‘black wine’. The variety is also grown in Argentina, where it is used to make powerful, flavourful red wines.

Malolactic Fermentation
Conversion of harsh malic acid into softer lactic acid by the action of lactic bacteria in winemaking.

Malvasia
A white grape variety grown in many places in Europe and the New World. Confusingly, a number of sub-varieties are also grown, particularly in Italy. It is used to make wines as diverse as Frascati, white Rioja and Madeira. When well-made, Malvasia can produce a full-bodied, scented white wine.

Manzanilla
A pale, dry style of sherry that is very similar to fino. Manzanilla is basically a fino that has been matured in Sanlucar de Barrameda, on the Spanish coast. The sea air, it is claimed, gives the wine a salty tang.

Marc
1. The residue of skins, pips and stalks left in a press after the extraction of grape juice or wine, sometimes distilled to produce eau‑de‑vie de marc.
2. The name given to one charge of a traditional press, especially in Champagne.

Marsanne
A white grape variety that has long been grown in France's Rhone Valley. It is used as a component in the region's white wines, including Saint-Peray and Crozes-Hermitage. Marsanne is gaining in popularity, aided by its presence in Australia, where it makes good-quality, full-bodied white wines.

Mataro (also called Monastrell and Mourvedre)
A red grape variety grown in southern France and Spain, but gaining favour in the New World. In France, the variety is known as Mourvedre, while in Spain it is called Monastrell. The variety produces rich, spicy, scented wines which often have a great deal of tannin and alcohol.

Mature
Tasting term used to describe wine that is at the ideal age for drinking. Depending on provenance, grape variety, wine making, vintage and style, there is a great deal of variation as to when a wine is mature. Mature wines will have a perfect balance of acidity, alcohol, tannin and fruit.

Mazuelo (also called Carignan and Carinena)
A red grape variety in Spain’s Rioja region that is also widely grown throughout southern France, Spain and North Africa. Mazuelo is usually blended with other red varieties, rather than bottled on its own.

Meaty
Tasting term used to describe a wine that is rich in flavour with a full body (can actually be reminiscent of savoury meats).

Melon de Bourgogne
This white grape variety is best known for making one of the world's most popular wines, Muscadet. Although widely grown in Muscadet’s home, France's Loire Valley, it is little known elsewhere. Also known simply as Muscadet.

Merlot
Popular red grape variety often used in Bordeaux as a blending component with Cabernet Sauvignon. In Bordeaux, it is the main portion of the blend in Pomerol (most famously Petrus and Le Pin) and Saint-Emilion, where it makes wines with a silky complexity. The grape is very popular in California as well as northern Italy, and Chile (though much of what is labelled as Chilean Merlot is actually a rather obscure variety called Carmenere).

Methode Traditionelle
A term used to describe wines that have been made using the same technique traditionally used to make Champagne. The term used to be called ‘methode Champenoise’ but that term can no longer be used outside Champagne.

Methuselah
A large-format bottle used in Champagne. It holds the equivalent of eight 75cl bottles.

Metodo Classico
Italian term for ‘methode traditionelle’, the traditional way of producing sparkling wine, as used in Champagne.

Moelleux
French term used to describe a sweet wine, often from the Loire region.

Monastrell (also called Mourvedre and Mataro)
A red grape variety grown in southern France and Spain. In France, the variety is known as Mourvedre, while in Spain it is called Monastrell. The variety produces rich, spicy, scented wines that often have a great deal of tannin and alcohol. Monastrell is gaining favour in the New World where it is known as Mataro.

Montepulciano
A red variety grown widely throughout Italy, where it is used to make wines of decent to good quality. Montepulciano the grape variety shouldn’t be confused with a wine from Tuscany called Vino Nobile de Montepulciano; just to make things more difficult, that wine is not made with the Montepulciano variety at all.

Morrastel (also called Graciana and Graciano)
A red grape variety grown in southern France and the Rioja and Navarra regions of Spain. Although it produces wines with good aromas and ageing potential, it is not widely grown outside France and Spain, except in Argentina, where it is called Graciana.

Mourvedre (also called Monastrell and Mataro)
A red grape variety grown in southern France and Spain. In France, the variety is known as Mourvedre, while in Spain it is called Monastrell. The variety produces rich, spicy, scented wines that often have a great deal of tannin and alcohol. The variety is gaining favour in the New World where it is known as Mataro.

Mousseux
French word for ‘sparkling’. Usually the term is used to describe wines that have been made using methods other than the traditional method used in Champagne.

Mouth-Filling
Tasting term used to describe a wine with a rich texture and flavour that seems to fill the mouth.

Muller-Thurgau
Despite its mediocrity, this white grape variety is very widely grown. Muller-Thurgau is the result of a cross between two other varieties, Riesling and Silvaner. Its claim to fame is that it ripens early, which has made it a popular variety in cool regions. It is grown in Germany, England, northern Italy, Austria and Hungary, but nowhere is it used to make wine of any great note.

Muscadelle
A white grape grown in France's Bordeaux region, where it is used in small quantities to make dry and sweet wines. In Australia, the variety is transformed into thick, sweet dessert wine styles. Despite its name, Muscadelle is not related to the Muscat grape.

Muscat
Strangely, most wines don’t smell or taste of grapes — unless they’re made from Muscat. Muscat, a white grape variety, is used throughout Europe and the New World to make dry, medium and sweet wines. It is also used to make sweet sparkling wine in Italy (Moscato d’Asti) and France (Clairette de Die). In Australia and South Africa, Muscat is turned into a rich, sweet, aged liqueur style of wine. There are numerous sub-varieties of Muscat. Regardless of style, all wines made from Muscat have a distinctive fresh grape juice smell and taste. Dry Muscat is a good foil for spicy, aromatic Vietnamese and Thai food.

Must
Unfermented grape juice destined to become wine.

Must Enrichment
The addition of sugar or rectified concentrated grape must to grape juice prior to fermentation to increase the final alcoholic content of the wine. Strict controls govern its use in winemaking.

Must Weight
Density, or specific gravity, of grape juice prior to fermentation. Measurement of the must‑weight enables the winemaker to estimate the final alcoholic content of the wine.

Musty
Tasting term used to describe wine with a stale aroma and/or flavour, which may indicate corked wine.

Nebuchadnezzar
Large-format bottle used in Champagne. Equivalent to twenty 75cl bottles.

Negociant
A French term for a person (or company) who deals in buying, selling and sometimes maturing wine.

Nebbiolo
One of the great red grapes of Italy. This is the variety that is used to make Barolo and Barbaresco, two of Italy’s finest wines. It is most widely grown in the Piedmont region of northeast Italy. Nebbiolo is capable of making wines that can age well for decades, though they are often tannic in their youth. In Piedmont, Nebbiolo wines can have a great deal of complexity, with full flavours and a cocktail of dark, spicy aromas.

Negroamaro
A red Italian grape variety widely planted throughout the south of Italy. It’s a particularly important variety in Puglia, where it is being used to good effect to make good-quality, rich red wines.

Nero d’Avola
One of the best red grape varieties grown in Sicily. When well made, Nero d’Avola can produce wines of good quality with the potential for ageing.

Neutral
Tasting term used to describe a wine that is short on aroma or flavour. Commonly used for inexpensive dry white wines.

Nevers
Oak forest in France. Trees from this forest are used to make some of the best barrels for ageing wine. Nevers oak works particularly well with the wines of Burgundy.

Noble Rot
Benevolent form of Botrytis cinerea, a mould that concentrates the sugars of ripe grapes, facilitating the production of the finest sweet wines.

Non-Vintage (NV)
A term used to describe wines for which no year of harvest is shown on the label. The term is frequently used in Champagne for wines made from a blend of several vintages, with the aim of producing Champagnes with a consistent style. Simple table wines may also be non-vintage.

Nose
A tasting term. Basically, the nose is the way a wine smells. ‘Aroma’ is a synonym.

NV (Non-vintage).
A term used to describe wines for which no year of harvest is shown. The term is frequently used in Champagne for wines made from a blend of wines from several vintages, with the aim of producing Champagnes with a consistent style. Simple table wines may also be non-vintage.

Oaky
Tasting term used to describe wine with sensations ranging from the aroma of freshly sawn wood, to vanilla to cinnamon and toast. These sensations result from ageing in oak casks.

Oechsle
German scale for measuring must‑weight (and ripeness of grapes).

Oily
Tasting term used to describe wine with a rich, slightly oily texture in the mouth.

Oloroso
A style of sherry characterised by a dark colour and a nutty flavour, which comes from lengthy ageing in wood barrels.

Organic
Wines that are made without the use of herbicides, chemical fertilisers or other chemical additives (sulphur dioxide excepted, at least for the present).

Oxidation
Reaction that occurs when wine is exposed to oxygen from the air. Oxidation can be beneficial (occurring slowly during the maturation of wine in a barrel) or disastrous (occurring quickly once a bottle of wine is opened). Too much oxidation spoils the taste of wine, turning the alcohol to acetic acid and ethyl acetate.

Oxidised
Tasting term used to describe wine with a stale, off-flavour caused by excessive oxidation.

Palate
1.A tasting term used to describe the way a wine tastes and feels in the mouth.
2.A word used to describe a wine taster’s tasting ability, as in ‘good palate’ or ‘rusty palate’.

Pale Cream Sherry
A sweet sherry style made by sweetening dry fino sherry with sweet grape-juice concentrate.

Palo Cortado
A style of sherry that has a deep amber colour and a nutty flavour, similar to both amontillado sherry and oloroso sherry.

Palomino
This white grape is used to make almost all sherry. It is a rather neutral variety when used to make table wine, but its neutrality doesn't detract from its usefulness as sherry's base wine. The variety is also grown in South Africa, California and Australia.

Parellada
A white grape variety grown in Spain's Penedes region. It is used to make the sparkling cava, as well as the region's still wines.

Passito
Italian term used to describe wines made from the concentrated juice of semi-dried grapes.

Pedro Ximenez
A white grape variety grown in Spain. It is used to make the sweeter sherry styles, as well as the sweet wines made in Spain's Montilla and Malaga zones.

Penetrating
Tasting term used to describe wine with intense aromas and flavours.

Perfumed
Tasting term used to describe wine that is fragrant, scented, often flowery.

Peronospera (also called downy mildew)
Fungus appearing as downy patches on the vine leaves, reducing photosynthesis.

Petillant
French term for a lightly sparkling wine.

Petite Sirah
Despite the name, this red grape variety is not related to the Syrah variety. Mystery surrounds the vine’s origins, although it probably comes from France. The variety has become popular in California where it is often bottled as a single-varietal wine, which often isn’t true Petite Sirah at all. Petite Sirah is also grown in Argentina.

Petit Verdot
One of the classic red grape varieties of Bordeaux. Traditionally, Petit Verdot has been used in small quantities as a blending component to make red Bordeaux. The variety is grown only in small amounts in Bordeaux, but is gaining some popularity in California’s Napa Valley.

Petrolly
The kerosene-like aroma that wines made from Riesling develop as they age. A complimentary term.

Photosynthesis
The conversion of carbon dioxide and water by plants into usable organic compounds – especially carbohydrates – using light energy absorbed by the chlorophyll in their leaves.

Phylloxera Vastatrix
The most important insect pest of the grapevine. It feeds on the roots of the vine and, in the case of the European Vitis vinifera, will kill it. There is no known way of eradicating the louse, but its effect can be stopped by grafting a Vitis vinifera scion onto American rootstock. The phylloxera louse decimated Europe’s vineyards in the late 19th century.

Pinot Bianco (also called Pinot Blanc and Weissburgunder)
Pinot Bianco is a widely planted white grape variety that tends to yield a fairly neutral wine with high acidity. The variety probably performs best in Alsace, where it is used to make rich-textured white wines labelled as Pinot Blanc. It is also used to make Alsace's sparkling white Cremant d'Alsace wine. It is best-known in France and Italy, but the variety is also grown in Germany (where it's called Weissburgunder), Austria, Eastern Europe and California.

Pinot Blanc (also called Pinot Bianco and Weissburgunder)
Pinot Blanc is a widely planted white grape variety that tends to yield a fairly neutral wine with high acidity. The variety probably performs best in Alsace, where it is used to make rich-textured white wines labelled as Pinot Blanc. It is also used to make Alsace’s sparkling white Cremant d’Alsace wine. It is best-known in France and Italy, but the variety is also grown in Germany (where it's called Weissburgunder), Austria, Eastern Europe and California.

Pinot Grigio (also called Pinot Gris)
Called Pinot Grigio in Italy and Pinot Gris in France. The Italian version of the grape is often light, fresh and not particularly characterful. Although the variety is grown throughout France, it is in the Alsace region in eastern France where the variety performs best. Here it makes rich, full-flavoured, characterful wines that go very well with a wide range of foods.

Pinot Gris (also called Pinot Grigio)
Called Pinot Gris in France and Pinot Grigio in Italy. The Italian version of the grape is often light, fresh and not particularly characterful. Although the variety is grown throughout France, it is in the Alsace region in eastern France where the variety performs best. Here it makes rich, full-flavoured, characterful wines that go very well with a wide range of foods. Pinot Gris is also gaining favour in many parts of the New World.

Pinot Meunier
A red grape variety that is one of the main grape varieties used to make Champagne. Although not as well-known as the other two Champagne varieties (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir), it is the most widely planted in the region.

Pinot Noir
The great red grape of Burgundy, widely favoured for its finesse and subtlety. Unlike other red varieties, Pinot Noir is very difficult to grow. If the climate is too warm, the wine tastes one-dimensional, like strawberry jam. If it is too cool, the grapes just won’t ripen. The best Pinot Noirs have dazzling complexity, with wild and often weird aromas, and a sensual charm. Unfortunately, owing to the variety’s fickleness, wines made from Pinot Noir can be rather hit and miss.

Pinotage
South Africa’s very own grape variety. Pinotage is a cross between two other red grape varieties, Pinot Noir and Cinsault. It is a versatile grape that can be made in a variety of styles, and is beginning to be grown outside South Africa, albeit in small amounts.

Pipe
Traditional cask used in Portugal’s Douro Valley for port production. Two sizes are recognised, the production, or Douro, pipe of 550 litres and the shipping pipe of 534 litres.

Port
A fortified wine made in the Douro Valley of Portugal. Port is most often red but can be made in a white version. There are numerous styles of port, which vary according to how they are made and matured and when they are bottled.

Noble Rot
Benevolent form of Botrytis cinerea, a mould that concentrates the sugars of ripe grapes, facilitating the production of the finest sweet wines.

Powdery Mildew
A fungus that attacks the vine, initially appearing as floury white dust on the leaves and grapes, eventually causing the berries to split open. Also called Oidium tuckerii.

Premier Cru
A term used in France to designate the quality of particular wine-producing chateaux. The term is used in various ways in Bordeaux, Burgundy and Chablis.

Primitivo
Primitivo is the same grape variety as California’s Zinfandel. In its homeland of southern Italy, it is known as Primitivo. In Italy, too, it produces rich, spicy red wines, which can be high in alcohol.

Pruning
Removal of unwanted parts of the vine, mostly wood that is one year old or less, in order to regulate the yield and control the vine's shape. The main pruning, usually carried out by hand, is done during the vine's dormant period in the winter.

Pupitre
Rack consisting of two hinged boards through which holes have been bored to hold the necks of sparkling-wine bottles during remuage, or ‘riddling’, of the bottles.

QbA
German qualitative term used to describe a wine from a specified region and made from specified grape varieties.

QmP
German qualitative term used to describe the highest category of quality wines. Wines are classified according to must-weight. This broad category includes Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein.

Quinta
Portuguese term for ‘wine estate’.

Racking
A winemaking term that refers to the drawing off of clear wine from a cask or vat and moving it to another, thus leaving any sediment behind.

Rancio
Tasting term used to describe wine with a pungent aroma due to intentional oxidation. Commonly used for some wood-aged fortified wines.

Recioto
An Italian term used to describe wines that have been made using partially dried grapes.

Refractometer
Handheld instrument consisting of a prism and a series of lenses used for gauging the must‑weight of grape juice to assess its ripeness.

Rehoboam
Large-format bottle used in Champagne, equivalent to six 75cl bottles.

Remuage
The process of moving the sediment to the neck of the bottle prior to degorgement in traditional method of sparkling-wine production.

Reserva
Spanish term used to describe wines that have been aged in barrels for a certain minimum period of time.

Residual Sugar
Unfermented sugar remaining in the wine after bottling. Even dry wines will contain a very small amount.

Retsina
A wine made in the Attica region of Greece. Pine resin is added as part of the winemaking process.

Rich
Tasting term used to describe a wine with a depth and breadth of flavour.

Riesling
Perhaps the world’s most underrated white grape variety. Riesling is capable of making some of the most elegant and long-lived of white wines. Sadly, Riesling is still associated with cheap, poorly made sweet wines, yet it can be made across the sweetness spectrum, from bone-dry styles through medium to sweet styles. Wines made from Riesling have high acidity, which makes them refreshing and long-lived. Aged Rieslings develop an interesting aroma reminiscent of diesel or petrol. Rieslings from the New World, particularly Australia, are helping to popularise the variety among younger drinkers.

Riserva
Italian term used to indicate wines of a higher than average quality.

Rkatsiteli
Although not many wine-lovers have heard of this Russian red grape, it is one of the most widely planted varieties in the world. It is still planted throughout the former Soviet Union, including Bulgaria and Moldova.

Robust
Tasting term used to describe wine that is full-bodied and sturdy. Usually used for red wines.

Rootstock
Phylloxera-resistant or -tolerant vine with some American parentage onto which a Vitis vinifera scion is grafted.

Rosado
Spanish and Portuguese term for rose wine.

Rosato
Italian term for rose wine.

Rosso
Italian term for red wine.

Rough
Tasting term used to describe a wine that is coarse, basic.

Round
Tasting term used to describe a wine with no hard ‘edges’, with a smooth, often ripe, character.

Roussanne
A white variety grown in France’s Rhone and Languedoc-Roussillon regions. It is often used with the Marsanne grape to make the white wines of the Rhone. The variety is valued for its aromatic quality.

Ruby Cabernet
The Ruby Cabernet variety is the result of crossing two other red grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan. Although the variety was widely grown in California in the 1960s, its popularity has faded since then and it is now seldom found in top-flight wines.

Ruby Port
A simple style of port designed for early drinking. It is released at about three years of age and doesn’t require decanting.

Saint-Laurent (also Sankt Laurent)
One of the most important red grape varieties of Austria. Wines made from the variety tend to be fruity and low in tannin and are generally very drinkable. The variety is also grown in eastern France, Germany and Eastern Europe.

Salmanazar
Large-format bottle used in Champagne, equivalent to twelve 75cl bottles.

Sangiovese
A classic red grape of Italy, and the principal variety in such famous wines as Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. At its worst, Sangiovese can be toughly tannic and astringent in flavour. It also has a tendency to be high in alcohol in hot vintages. At its best, it makes a rich, powerful wine that ages well. It is believed to be native to Tuscany; in recent years the grape has been finding favour in California. In fact, some critics are predicting that it will be the next big cult wine in the US.

Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc is one of those grapes that is instantly recognisable after just a very quick sniff. You’ll almost certainly get aromas of gooseberry, fresh-cut grass and elderflower, as well as asparagus - even cats’ litter trays. It is a variety you either love or hate. Its zingy, assertive freshness makes it a great aperitif, but it can be aggressive, too, and is essentially one-dimensional. Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t age as well as, say, Riesling, Semillon or Chardonnay.

Sauvignon Vert (also called Sauvignonasse)
This white grape variety is widely planted in Chile, where it was believed to have been Sauvignon Blanc. The variety has less aromatic character than Sauvignon Blanc; the flavour tends to fade quickly, producing wines for early drinking.

Sauvignonasse (also called Sauvignon Vert)
This white grape variety is widely planted in Chile, where it was mistakenly believed to be Sauvignon Blanc. The variety has less aromatic character than Sauvignon Blanc; the flavour tends to fade quickly, producing wines for early drinking.

Scented
Tasting term used to describe wine that is fragrant, perfumed, often flowery.

Scheurebe
A white grape variety that is the result of crossing two other white varieties, Silvaner and Riesling. The grape is grown in Germany where it makes a good-quality wine, with a flavour reminiscent of grapefruit. It is also grown in Austria.

Scion
Section of Vitis vinifera vine grafted onto American rootstock.

Sec
French term for ‘dry’; confusingly, this term is also used to describe Champagnes that have more sweetness than brut styles have.

Secco
Italian term for ‘dry’; when applied to sparkling wines, it means off-dry.

Semi-Secco
Italian term for ‘off-dry’.

Semi-Seco
Spanish term for ‘medium-dry’.

Semillon
Semillon is the main white grape variety in Bordeaux. It is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc to make the dry white wine of the region and the luscious dessert wines of Bordeaux, of which Sauternes is the most famous example. Outside France, Semillon has not proved as popular as either Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, although it has earned itself an enviable reputation in Australia. Wines made from Semillon tend to have high acidity and can be aged for long periods of time.

Sharp
Tasting term used to describe wine with a sharp, acid flavour. More commonly used for white wines that may need more time to develop.

Shiraz (also known as Syrah)
Very popular red grape variety from Australia. Wines made from Shiraz contain rich, meaty, spice-laden flavours and aromas and can also be quite high in alcohol. The most famous Australian Shiraz is Penfold’s Grange. In France, the Shiraz grape is used in the Rhone Valley to make wonderful, complex, flavoursome wines (best-known examples are Hermitage and Cote-Rotie). It is an adaptable variety that likes a warm climate, as in the Rhone or its Australian spiritual home, the Barossa and Hunter Valleys. Warm climates make for deeply coloured, long-lasting wines with character and complexity. In cooler climates or in cooler years the wines tend to be paler and less tannic, with a pronounced pepperiness.

Short
Tasting term used to describe a wine with no aftertaste (a sign of poor quality).

Silky
Tasting term used to describe wine with a smooth, elegant texture (indicates a high-quality wine).

Silvaner
Although this white variety produces fairly neutral white wines that are high in acidity, it is widely grown in Europe, particularly in Germany. It is also grown in Alsace and northern Italy.

Simple
Tasting term used to describe wine that is drinkable but not distinctive.

Sin Crianza
Spanish term used to describe wines designed to be drunk young, with little or no oak ageing.

Single-Quinta Port
A category of port made from grapes (usually from a single estate) in a single year. Similar to Vintage port, but with a shorter period of ageing in bottle.

Smooth
Tasting term used to describe the texture of a wine. Indicates a balance of tannin and acidity.

Smoky
Tasting term used to describe wine with the subtle aroma of wood-smoke. Commonly used for some good-quality white wines made from Chardonnay as well as some good-quality red wines made from Pinot Noir, Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Soft
Tasting term used to describe wine with soft, mellow flavours.

Solera
System of fractional blending used in the production of sherry and some Madeira wine, wherein older wine is ‘refreshed’ by the addition of younger wine.

Solid
Tasting term used to describe a wine with much substance and full body. Most often used to describe red or fortified wines.

Sour
Tasting term used to describe a wine that is too acidic or vinegary.

Spatlese
A qualitative term used in Germany and Austria to describe wines made from late-picked (and thus riper) grapes.

Spicy
Tasting term used to describe wine with the flavours or fresh or dried spices, such as pepper or nutmeg. Commonly used for wines made from Syrah or aged in oak casks.

Spritz
Tasting term used to describe wine that makes your tongue prickle. Caused by carbon dioxide in young, light-bodied wines.

Spumante
Italian term for ‘sparkling wine’.

Spur
A short cane of one‑year‑old wood with two or three buds.

Stalky
Tasting term used to describe wine with a sappy, bitter aroma that tastes of stalks and stems. Commonly used for young, raw red wines.

Steely
Tasting term used to describe wine with a firm, sinewy character. Commonly used to describe young French wines that are high in acidity and wines made from Riesling, as well as some Chablis.

Stewed
Tasting term used to describe wine that is coarse and may have been made with over-ripe grapes or gone through a too-hot fermentation.

Stringy
Tasting term used to describe wine that has a thin, mean flavour.

Structure
Tasting term used to describe the balance and strength of the basic elements, such as acidity, tannin, fruit, alcohol, and sugar.

Sulphur dioxide (SO2)
Highly reactive and pungent gas that is used in winemaking as an antioxidant and antiseptic. May be added to wines and grape musts as gas, in the form of metabisulphite (solid) or produced in an empty cask by burning a sulphur candle.

Sussreserve
Unfermented, sterile grape must added to dry wine prior to bottling to increase sweetness and balance excess acidity.

Supple
Tasting term used to describe wine with a round and smooth texture and flavour. Wines described as supple are generally those in which the tannins are soft, rather than harsh.

Sur Lie
French term used to describe wines that have been matured on their lees (dead yeast cells). Such wines often have a biscuitty, bready flavour and aroma.

Sweaty
Tasting term used to describe wine with a pungent, leathery aroma. Commonly used for wines made from Syrah.

Sweet
Tasting term used to describe white wines with a high level of sugar, or some red wines which may have rich, ripe fruit flavours.

Syrah (also called Shiraz)
Very popular red grape variety grown widely in France and Australia. Wines made from Syrah contain rich, meaty, spice-laden flavours and aromas and can also be quite high in alcohol. In France, the Syrah grape is used in the Rhone Valley to make wonderful, complex, flavoursome wines (best-known examples are Hermitage and Cote-Rotie). It is an adaptable variety that likes a warm climate, as in the Rhone or its Australian spiritual home, the Barossa and Hunter Valleys. Warm climates make for deeply coloured, long-lasting wines with character and complexity. In cooler climates or in cooler years the wines tend to be paler and less tannic, with a pronounced pepperiness.

Systemic Fungicides
Chemicals used to combat fungal diseases of the vine by being absorbed into its tissues rather than remaining on the surface.

Table Wine
Unfortified wine that is not entitled to any other quality or regional designation.

Taille
The juice resulting from the second pressing of grapes in Champagne, yielding 25 litres from each 100 kilograms of grapes.

Tangy
Tasting term used to describe wine with a lively aftertaste. Commonly used for white wines, sherries and Madeira.

Tank Method (also called Charmat method or cuve close)
Sparkling-wine production process in which the secondary fermentation takes place in a sealed tank.

Tannat
The Tannat variety is most commonly found in the southwest of France, where it produces thick, deeply coloured red wines that are high in tannins.

Tannic
Tasting term used to describe red wines with a high level of tannin, often perceived as a dry sensation in the mouth which may be accompanied by a leathery aroma and flavour.

Tannin
Chemical compound present in the skins, stems and pips of grapes, which is extracted during vinification. Tannin is a preservative in red wine, and gives a drying sensation on the gums when present.

Tartaric Acid
The acid responsible for most of a wine's acidity. May be added to wines lacking acidity, such as those made in warm vineyard regions.

Tastevin
Cup used for wine tasting, especially for Burgundy. It is round, shallow, and usually made of silver or silver plate.

Tempranillo
The great red grape of Rioja. The name derives from the Spanish word ‘temprano’, which means ‘early’, probably for the fact that it is a fairly early ripener. Depending on where it is grown, Tempranillo varies from light, pale styles to darker, more tannic styles. In Rioja, the wine is often aged for long periods in American oak barrels, so the oak flavour can be more dominant than the grape variety. It is also the main variety in the Ribera del Duero region of Spain. When young, Tempranillo has an intriguing fruitiness, but develops complexity with age.

Tenuta
Italian word for ‘wine estate’.

Teroldego Rotaliano
A red grape variety from north eastern Italy. Unlike many Italian varieties, wines made from this grape are deeply coloured but not heavy. They’re lively, fruity and low in tannin and good for early drinking.

Terra Rossa
A special red clay-limestone soil found in Australia’s Coonawarra region. It is said to give an added dimension of flavour to the grapes grown on it, most notably to Cabernet Sauvignon.

Terroir
A French term used to describe all the characteristics specific to a particular piece of land (soil type, aspect, climate, temperature variation, etc) that make wines taste the way they do. Although the term has been used in France for centuries, terroir is becoming increasingly popular as a concept in New World countries.

Thin
Tasting term used to describe wine that lacks flavour and body.

Tinta Barroca
One of the five main grape varieties used to make port in Portugal’s Douro Valley. The variety is more gently fruity than other grapes grown in the region. Tinta Barroca is also grown in South Africa.

Tinta Cao
One of the five main grape varieties grown in Portugal’s Douro Valley. Most of the Tinta Cao grown in the Douro is used to make port, but the variety is also used to make good-quality red table wine.

Tinto
Spanish and Portuguese term for ‘red’.

Torrontes
An aromatic white grape variety grown in Argentina. The variety is gaining in popularity owing to its fresh aromas and clean flavours.

Tough
Tasting term used to describe wine with too much tannin.

Touriga Francesa
One of the five main grape varieties grown in Portugal’s Douro Valley. Most of the Tinta Francesa grown in the Douro is used to make port, but the variety is also used to make good-quality red table wine.

Touriga Nacional
Widely accepted as the best grape variety for making port. The variety is grown in Portugal’s Douro Valley and Dao regions. As well as being used in port production, Touriga Nacional is also used to make good-quality red table wine.

Trebbiano (also called Ugni Blanc)
Perhaps one of the least distinguished white varieties in the world. The grape is popular because it produces a lot of wine, but little of it is of notable quality. It is widely grown in Italy as well as in France, where it is called Ugni Blanc. In France, the variety is grown in the southwest, where it is used as the base wine from which Cognac and Armagnac are distilled.

Trellis
Any man made system of support for the vine, usually consisting of posts and wires.

Trocken
German word for ‘dry’.

Trockenbeerenauslese
A wine term based on grape ripeness used in Germany and Austria. Trockenbeerenauslese wines are made from carefully selected, individual, over-ripe and shrivelled berries. Often these berries are affected by botrytis. The resulting juice is highly concentrated and sweet.

Troncais
Oak forest in France. The trees grown here are used to make some of the best barrels for ageing wine.

Ugni Blanc (also called Trebbiano)
Perhaps one of the least distinguished white varieties in the world. The grape is popular because it produces a lot of wine, but little of it is of notable quality. It is widely grown in France as well as in Italy, where it is called Trebbiano. In France, the variety is grown in the southwest, where it is used as the base wine from which Cognac and Armagnac are distilled.

Ullage
Refers to a low level of wine in a bottle, usually caused by a faulty cork. If the level of wine falls below the bottle’s mid-shoulder, excessive oxidation may have occurred, resulting in a poor-quality wine. Also describes the amount of air in a wine barrel.

Unbalanced
Tasting term used to describe wine in which one or more of the flavour elements (sweetness, tannin, acidity, etc) is out of sync with the others, making the wine taste clumsy.

Vanilla
Tasting term used to describe wines with a vanilla-like aroma, usually due to oak ageing.

Varietal
Wine made from a single variety of grape.

Variety
One of a number of recognisable members of a particular vine species. They may result from natural mutation or deliberate crossing.

VDQS
Vin Delimite de Qualite Superieure. A French wine classification that lies just below AC (appellation controlee). Wines with VDQS on their labels must conform to rules governing permitted grape varieties, yields, and delimited areas. The VDQS is seen as a ‘halfway house’ for wines that will eventually gain AC status.

Vegetal
Tasting term used to describe wine with a vegetable-like, slightly rotting aroma. Commonly used for mature red Burgundy.

Velvety
Tasting term used to describe wines with a rich, opulent texture. Usually used to describe red or fortified wines.

Vendange
French word for ‘harvest’.

Vendange Tardive
French word for ‘late-harvest’ grapes and the sweet wines that often result from them.

Vendimmia
Italian word for ‘harvest’.

Vendimia
Spanish word for ‘harvest’.

Veraison
Refers to the change in colour of a grape as it ripens on the vine. This is an important indicator in choosing the best time to harvest the grapes. In red grape varieties, colours can go from green to reddish-black.

Verdejo
A characterful, aromatic white grape variety with a fresh, clean flavour. The variety is used to good effect in the Rueda region of Spain.

Verdelho
This white grape variety is used widely on the Portuguese island of Madeira to make Madeira wine. The grape is also gaining popularity in Australia, where it is used to make a fresh, lemon-lime flavoured wine.

Verdicchio
An Italian white grape variety grown in the central regions of the country. Verdicchio can produce wines with a pleasant nutty character, but often wines made from it tend to be neutral.

Vielles Vignes
French term used to describe wines made from old vines. Old vines tend to have lower production and often make more complex, concentrated wine.

Vigneron
Franch term for ‘vine grower’.

Vignoble
French term for ‘vineyard’.

Vin
French term for ‘wine’.

Vin de Pays
French wine classification term that translates as ‘country wine’. It comes below the VDQS and AC designations in the French classification system, but, ironically, its more flexible production laws have made some vin de pays regions (particularly in the south) very forward-looking areas producing good-quality varietal wines.

Vin de Rebeche
Any juice remaining in the grapes after the extraction of the tailles in Champagne. It must be distilled and cannot be made into wine.

Vin de Table
French term for ‘table wine’. It is the lowest tier in the French classification system and usually designates fairly basic wine of no great quality.

Vin Doux Naturel (VDN)
A type of sweet fortified wine made in southern France.

Vine Variety
One of a number of recognisable members of a particular vine species. They may result from natural mutation or deliberate crossing.

Vine Species
Any of the members of the genus Vitis. Most wine is made from the European species, Vitis vinifera, but using American rootstocks from the species Vitis rupestris or Vitis riparia.

Vin Gris
French term for pale rose wine styles

Vin jaune
A style of wine with a distinctive sherried, nutty flavour made in the Jura region of eastern France from the Savagnin grape.

Vin Mousseaux
French term for ‘sparkling wine’.

Vin Santo
A type of wine made in Italy’s Tuscany region from semi-dried grapes. The juice is placed in small barrels in which it ferments and matures for at least three years. The barrels are often stored in rafters, where they are exposed to wide temperature variation. The resulting wine ranges from very sweet to almost dry.

Vina
Spanish term for ‘vineyard’.

Vinho
Portuguese term for ‘wine’.

Vinification
Winemaking.

Vino
Italian term for ‘wine’.

Vino da Tavola
Italian term for ‘table wine’. In theory, these wines are on the lowest rung of the Italian classification system. In practice, some excellent (and expensive) wines are made within this designation, as the more flexible rules allow winemakers more freedom in terms of grape varieties and techniques used.

Vino de la Tierra
Spanish wine classification term similar to the French Vin de Pays designation.

Vino de Mesa
Spanish term for ‘table wine’.

Vintage
The year in which the grapes used to make a particular wine were harvested.

Vintage-Character Port
Despite the name, these are not similar to vintage port proper. In fact, Vintage-character port is made from a blend of wines from several vintages, and is more similar to Ruby port (although of a higher quality). It is bottled and sold when it is ready to drink.

Vintage Port
The highest-quality port. It is made only in the best years from grapes of a single vintage. The wine is bottled after two years and is capable of ageing for decades thereafter. Vintage ports are hugely complex and concentrated.

Viognier
Although this white grape was scarcely heard of ten years ago, it has become increasingly popular over the last decade. Many people have predicted that Viognier will rival Chardonnay in popularity, but so far it is still a minority grape variety. Viognier is the main grape used to make the very famous (and rare and expensive) wine of Condrieu in the Rhone region of France. It is an appealing, aromatic variety, with an aroma of peaches, apricots and freesias. The variety has a great deal of potential.

Viscous
Tasting term used to describe wine that is heavy and dense.

Viticulture
Grape-growing.

Vitis Vinifera
Species of vine from which most wine grapes come. Because of the vine’s susceptibility to the vine pest phylloxera, most Vitis vinifera vines are grafted on to phylloxera-resistant Vitis labrusca rootstock.

Viura (also called Macabeo)
The white Viura variety is grown throughout Spain; it is also widely planted in southern France where it is called Macabeo. It is used in Spain to make a variety of styles from white Rioja to Spain's sparkling wine, cava. Despite its ubiquity, the variety has precious little character.

Volatile Acidity
Acetic acid in a wine. A small amount exists in all wines and is an important part of the aroma or bouquet; excessive amounts indicate a faulty wine.

Watery
Tasting term used to describe wine that is feeble, thin and weak.

Weissburgunder (also called Pinot Bianco and Pinot Blanc)
Weissburgunder, as it is known in Germany, is a widely planted white grape variety that tends to yield a fairly neutral wine with high acidity. It probably performs best in Alsace where it is used to make rich-textured white wines labelled as Pinot Blanc. It is also used to make Alsace’s sparkling white Cremant d’Alsace wine. Weissburgunder is best-known in France and Italy (where it’s called Pinot Bianco), but the variety is also grown in Germany, Austria, Eastern Europe and California.

Weissherbst
German name for a style of pale rose wine.

Well-balanced
Tasting term used to describe wines in which all the components are present in the correct proportions.

Wine
Fermented grape juice.

Woody
Tasting term used to describe wine that smells of old, dirty casks.

Xarel-lo
This oddly-named white grape variety is grown in Spain’s Penedes region. It is used as part of the blend used to make Spain’s best-known sparkling wine, cava. It is this variety that adds an earthy quality to some cava wines.

Yeast Autolysis
Breakdown of dead yeast cells after the secondary fermentation in sparkling-wine production, giving the wines a yeasty or biscuitty nose.

Yeast
Generic term for a number of single‑celled micro‑organisms which produce zymase, the enzyme responsible for converting sugar to alcohol. The most important wine yeast is Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Yeasty
Tasting term used to describe wine with a distinctive yeast aroma. Usually indicates a poor-quality wine except for some wines made the Chardonnay grape, or Champagne.

Yield
Amount of wine produced by a vineyard, most commonly expressed as hectolitres per hectare. Traditionally, a lower yield is usually associated with higher quality, although this matter is debatable.

Zesty
Tasting term used to describe wine that is fresh, crisp and lively. Commonly used for young white wines.

Zinfandel
The honourary ‘native grape’ of California, Zinfandel is the same red grape variety as the Primitivo grape of southern Italy. Although there was a fashion for big, alcoholic, tannic Zinfandels early last decade, most are now made in a much more approachable, fruity style. When made well, Zinfandel can be richly spicy and supple, with ripe berry flavours.


‘Thanks to WSET ™ in compiling the Jargon Buster’.