Wine Glossary

Acidity
The presence of natural fruit acids that give wine a tart, crisp, or sour taste.
Aging
The process of holding wine in barrels, tanks, or bottles to affect its character.
Appellation
The geographic origin of a wine or the specific area where its grapes were grown.
Aroma
The scents of a wine that originate from the grape.
Astringent
Bitter; causing a drying sensation in the mouth that results from strong tannins or high acidity.
Balance
The relationship between a wine’s alcohol, acid, fruit, residual sugar, and tannins. A wine is considered well balanced when all of these components live in harmony.
Barrel
A wooden container (typically oak) used for fermenting or aging wines.
Barrel Aging
The maturing of wines in oak barrels to achieve deeper color, softer texture, or sweeter taste.
Blanc de Blancs
Literally, “white from whites”; sparkling wine made from 100% white grapes (e.g., Chardonnay).
Blanc de Noirs
Literally, “white from blacks”; sparkling wine made from 100% “black” (red) grapes (e.g., Pinot Noir).
Body
The weight or “fullness” of a wine in the mouth, closely correlated with alcohol and sugar levels.
Bouquet
The scents of a wine attributed to the winemaking process, particularly those that develop after bottling.
Brut
A Champagne or sparkling wine with little to no discernible sweetness.
Buttery
Rich or creamy in flavor, often due to oak barrel fermentation.
Character
The distinct attributes of a wine.
Complexity
The sum of a wine’s flavor, weight, volume, balance, and finesse.
Corked
Wine that’s been tainted by a bad cork, often resulting in a musty odor.
Cuvée
A special blend or lot of wine.
Crisp
Having a clean and slightly brittle feeling in the mouth, generally due to high acidity.
Disgorgement
The removal of collected sediment from bottle-fermented sparkling wine by using the pressure of gas in the wine bottle.
Dosage
The addition of wine (often blended with sugar) to sparkling wine to replace any wine lost after disgorgement; also used to adjust the sweetness of the finished wine.
Dry
Having no sweetness remaining after fermentation.
Earthy
Having aromas or flavors of earth, mineral, or soil.
Fermentation
The process of using yeast to convert grape juice into wine by converting sugars into alcohol.
Finish
The lingering flavor a wine leaves in the mouth.
Flabby
Lacking sufficient acidity or texture.
Floral
Having aromas of flowers such as rose, gardenia, or honeysuckle.
Fruity
Having aromas or flavors of fruit.
Green
Having tart, unripe flavors.
Full-Bodied
Rich or heavy in the mouth.
Herbaceous
Having aromas or flavors of herbs.
Legs
Teardrop impressions visible on the inside of a wine glass, indicative of alcohol weightiness.
Length
A wine’s sustained sensory impression; the duration of flavors that linger after swallowing, the longer the better.
Light-Bodied
Delicate in flavor, aroma, and texture.
Malolactic Fermentation
A form of secondary fermentation in which hard, malic acid (green apple flavor) ferments into softer, lactic acid (rich, buttery flavor), thereby lessening fruitiness and acidity.
Medium-Bodied
Solid, but not rich in weight and texture.
Méthode Champenoise
The traditional method used to make Champagne/sparkling wine in which wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle.
Nose
The smell or aroma of a wine.
Oaky
Having a toasty, smoky, or vanilla aroma due to oak barrel aging.
Off-Dry (Semi-Dry)
Having very low levels of residual sugar.
Oxidized
Wine that’s been exposed to air, which results in a loss of fresh flavors.
Residual Sugar
The grape sugar remaining in a wine after fermentation.
Rich
Having a weighty texture and an abundance of flavor.
Round
Having smooth flavors and texture; well-balanced.
Sec
French term for dry, not sweet.
Smoky
Having a smoky or toasty aroma due to barrel aging.
Sommelier
A trained wine professional who advises upon and/or serves wine in a restaurant.
Structure
The sum of a wine’s features (i.e., acidity, alcohol, and tannins), excluding flavor.
Sweet
Having noticeable residual sugar.
Tannin
A substance in wine derived from grape skins, seeds, and stems, as well as oak-barrel aging; the principal component of red wine’s structure. They create the drying, astringent sensations that cause the mouth to pucker.
Terroir
The expression of geography, altitude, soil, and climate in a wine.
Thin
Lacking in flavor or having a watery texture.
Varietal
A wine featuring a single principal grape (e.g., Zinfandel).
Vegetal
Having an aroma or flavor of green vegetables or plants.
Vintage
The year a particular wine’s grapes were harvested and fermented.
Viscosity
The wine’s appearance and thickness.