Wine Glossary

Ageing Storage of the wine for a good period of time which allows the constituents of the wine to harmonize and develop, adding complexity and flavour to the wine. Usually this is done in an Oak barrel which will add Oak overtones to the wine, the longer the ageing, the stronger the taste.
Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) Loosely translated, this means "controlled name of origin." It is a strict set of enforced French laws that specify wines by geographical origin and strict production values. The more specific the appellation, the higher status of the vineyard and hopefully the better the wine. For instance the Bordeaux appellation is ranked as follows: Bordeaux (overall region), Bordeaux Supérieur, district name (such as Médoc; Graves; Entre-deux-Mers), and finally commune or village name (such as Listrac or Pauillac). For instance there are 57 different appellations in Bordeaux (Heinz had nothing to do with it!).All the other French regions have simular appellation structures. Also, both Italy and Spain have forms of wine AOC controlling the quality of their wines. An Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) system across all 3 countries is slowly coming into effect. Unfortunately the ‘New World’ does not, although Chile is bringing in something similar.
Bacchus The Roman god of wine. Also a white grape variety, the product of a cross between a Silvaner-Riesling hybrid and Müller-Thurgau. A variety doing very well in the UK and producing some very nice white wines.
Balance A wine tasting term that means a wine has a harmonious balance between tannin, acidity, texture and flavour.
Bianco/Blanc/Blanco A white wine.
Biodynamics A method of organic farming, an holistic approach to viniculture that emphasises the relationships between the soil, plants, animals, climate and the earth as a single ecosystem with focus on an ecological sustainable approach to agriculture. It emphasizes the use of manures and composts and excludes the use of artificial chemicals on soil and plants. Sometimes portrayed as mystical (and controversial) with practices things like using the Moon phases to set harvest times, it actually seems to work!
Blanc de Blancs A French white ‘table’ wine made entirely from white grapes.
Blanc de Noirs A French white ‘table’ wine made entirely from black grapes.
Bodega A Spanish winery/Vineyard.
Botrytis cinerea The cause of ‘Noble Rot’, Botrytis cinerea is a fungus which attacks grapes on the vines, sucking all water out of them and leaving them shrivelled and dehydrated. The process is invaluable in the production of sweet wines in Bordeaux, Austria, Germany and Tokaji.
Brut A French term used to describe a dry wine (usually Champagne or other sparkling wine).
Cantina An Italian winery or cellar.
Carbonic maceration Whole, uncrushed grapes are fermented in a sealed vat. This is the method used throughout France’s Beaujolais region, resulting in fruity and soft red wines. These wines have little tannin and are immediately drinkable.
Cave French wine cellar.
Château The French term ‘Castle’ is used to describe a vineyard of a regulated size that has wine-making and storage facilities on the property. There is not necessarily a big house or Castle on the vineyard.
Alternatively the word ‘Clos’, which means ‘Enclosed vineyard’ or ‘Domain’, which means ‘area’ are used. There are over 8,000 individual château in Bordeaux! These words are generally used to label wines. The name on a second wine could be a completely factious place!
Chêne Chêne is the French word for oak. "Elevé en fûts de chêne" on the label means aged in oak barrels.
Crianza A Spanish term describing the ageing that a wine has undergone. This is the youngest category, which is aged for two years, with at least six months in barrel. Related terms include Reserva and Gran Reserva.
Clairet In the UK this name has become known as a reference simply to a Bordeaux Red wine (claret), but it is actually the name of a little known pale red Bordeaux wine – not to be confused with a Rose. Made in the same way as a red wine, from red-wine grapes, the skin of the grapes is only left in the ot;Must" (see below) for a short period, when it is removed leaving just the juice and ‘meat’ of the grape. This makes for a pale red colour wine, darker than a rosé, but lighter than a full Red.
Côtes and CôteauxHillsides planted with vineyards.
Corked A term used to describe when a wine has gone bad, because of a break down in the cork, either by a mould infection in the cork itself or a breakdown of the air tight seal.
Cru or Crue High-quality vineyards. "Grand Cru Classé" means the wine comes from an excellent officially classified vineyard.
Cru Bourgeois This classification on the label indicates a highly ranked château-bottled wine from a Médoc vineyard not included as Crus Classe in 1855 that has met specific technical and qualitative standards. These wines are good value.
Crus Classé This ‘Médoc’ vineyard classification was introduced in 1855 and ranked the vineyards on a 1 to 5 scale (First to Fifth ‘growth’).CuvéeA blend of different wines.
DO The abbreviation for Denominación de Origen, or “place name”. This is Spain’s designation for wines whose name, origin of grapes, grape varieties and vineyards are ‘classified’.
DOCThe abbreviation for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, or “controlled place name.” This is Italy’s designation for wine whose name, origin of grapes, grape varieties and vineyards are ‘classified’. It is also the abbreviation for Portugal’s highest wine category, which has the same meaning in that country.
DOCG The abbreviation for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, or controlled and guaranteed place name, which is the category for the highest-ranking wine in Italy.
Élevé en fûts de chêne May appear on French wine labels showing the wine has been aged in oak barrels.
Fining Agent A substance added to wine after fermentation and before bottling that removes suspended particles from the wine. This can be egg whites, regularly used in the Bordeaux region.
Finish The taste or flavors that linger in the mouth after the wine is tasted, spit. This is an important factor in a wine’s character and quality. Great wines have rich, long, complex aftertastes.
Fortified wine Wine to either alcohol other strong wine has been added, generally to increase the concentration to a high enough level to prevent fermentation. I.e. Port and Sherry.
Grand Cru French term for “Great growth” or “Great Vineyard”. The term is used to define top vineyards.
Grand vin Denotes a French vineyards “first wine” (or “Top wine” which is named after the vineyard). This distinguishes the wine from an estate’s second or third wines which may have other names.
Ice wine Wine made from late harvest ‘frozen’ grapes. Usually harvested in the first frosts of winter, well after ripening. Makes a very sweet wine.
IGT Abbreviation for “Indicazione Geografica Tipica”, the lowest-ranking of the three categories of Italian wine regulated by Italian law.
Jeroboam Wine bootle 4 to 6 times the size of a standard bottle (size varies)
Lees The sediment (dregs) that occur during fermentation and ageing.
Magnum A bottle twice the size of a stadnard bottle, holding 1.5 litres.
Marc The skins, pulp and pips that remain after grapes have been pressed.
Master of Wine A UK qualification (not an academic degree) by The Institute of Masters of Wine, to a elite of wine tasters/experts.
Methuselah A bottle holding 6 litres, eight times the size of a standard wine bottle.
Mis en bouteille au château A French phrase for “bottled in the vineyard”. Basically the people who grew the grapes, made the wine and bottled it – a good guide that the vineyard has an invested interest in the wines quality and therefore the vineyards reputation. Also could say “au domaine” or “a la propriete”. Also known as an “Estate Wine” outside of France.
Must The juice extracted from the grapes.
Nebuchadnezzar A bottle holding 15 litres, 20 times a standard wine bottle.
Négociant French for “trader”. A middle man who assembles the produce of smaller growers and winemakers and sells on behalf of the Vineyard or the blended result under its own name.
New World wine Basically wines produced outside of the traditional wine growing areas of Europe. Can also refer to a style of wine usually fruity, but short lasting in both age and taste in the mouth.
Noble Rot Botrytis Cinerea attacks the grapes late in the season producing dehydrated and shrivelled grapes that are high in concentrated sugar and sweet wines.
Nose The aroma or bouquet of a wine.
Oaked This is not to be confused with aging in oak barrels. It refers to the practice of putting oak chips into the wine during ferment to give the wine an oak flavour.
Old World Wine Wines produced inside of the traditional wine growing areas of Europe. Can also refer to a style of wine usually long lasting in both age and taste in the mouth.
Port A sweet fortified wine, produced from grapes grown and processed in Portugal. This wine is fortified with the addition of distilled grape spirits in order to boost the alcohol content and stop fermentation thus preserving some of the natural grape sugars.
Premières Cru French term for a “First growth”. A classification used to denote a high-quality vineyard.
Qualitätswein A German designation of a quality wine.
Quinta A Portuguese term for an estate wine.

Rehoboam A large bottle holding 4.5 litres, 6x a regular wine bottle.
Reserva or ReverseA term used to indicate that the wine is of higher quality than usual.
Sherry A fortified wine that has been subjected to controlled oxidation to produce a distinctive flavor.
Sommelier A wine expert who stocks, buys and sells wine for a company, often working for a restaurant – not to be confused with a waiter!!!!
Table Wine A basic level of wine quality.
Tannins Organic compounds in grape stems, seeds and skins that add richness and character to wine and act as a preservative for proper ageing of red wines.

Varietal A single grape variety.
Vieilles Vignes In French this literally means “old vines”. There is no official or legal definition of “Vieilles vignes” so it can be added to a label by wine makers as they see fit.
Vigneron A French vine grower.
Vignoble French for “Vineyard”
Vin or Viña or Vino Wine!
Vin de Pays French classification system denoting wines that are above the “Vin de Table” classification, but below a AOC region.
Vin de Table The lowest classification of the French AOC system.
Viñedo Spanish for “Vineyard”.
Vinho Portuguese for wine.
Vinho Regional The lowest level of the Portuguese classification system. Similar to a Vin de Pays.
Vin Nouveau French term fora very young wine meant consumed within the same year it was produced. An example would be “Beaujolais Nouveau”.
Vino Italian and Spanish for wine.
Vintage The single year in which the grapes were harvested and the wine made. If there is any deviation from this, the wine will have no Vintage.
Véraison Colour change in the berries.
Vinify The making of wine from grapes.
Vintage The year in which the grapes were picked.


The Wine Review is designed and themed by Mike Bird