Glossary of Wine Terms

The Glossary of Wine Terms are listed alphabetically


Acidity: Natural acids that appear in wine are tartaric, citric, malic and lactic. These acids help to preserve the character of the wine and to keep it fresh. Wines produced in warmer years tend to be lower in acidity while wines produced in cooler or rainy years tend to be higher in acidity.

Aftertaste: In all types of wines aftertaste is the taste left in your mouth after swallowing. A wine with a longer and pleasant aftertaste means a better quality of wine.

Alcohol: The amount of alcohol in wine is determined by the measure of concentration of Ethanol which is a natural by-product of the fermentation process. Alcohol volumes for wines range from 9 percent to 15 percent.

American Viticultural Area: A glossary of wine term, The American Viticultural Area designation, or A.V.A. plays an important role for all types of wines in distinguishing regions best suited for growing specific grape varieties based on the climate and the soil. If A.V.A. is listed on a wine label, at least 85% of the grapes must be from that specific region.

Appellation: Of particular importance to the wine advocate, an appellation is legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify where the grapes for wines are grown.

Aroma: The smell of a young wine. Aroma is often mentioned in wine tasting notes.

Astringency: : An element found primarily in many types of red wine. The levels of tannins in a wine will contribute to its degree of astringency.

Austere: A glossary of wine term used for a hard dry wine that lacks richness. A wine tasting sheet will often use this term to describe young wines.


Bacchus: also known as Greek Dionysus god of wine in both Greek and Roman mythology. As the fertility god of wine, his name has been a part of the history of wine for many centuries and is an essential glossary of wine term.

Balance: One of the most important traits for all types of wines. It is when the concentration of fruit, acid, tannin, alcohol and sugar are in complete harmony with one another. Wine tasting courses teach that an excellent wine is one that is “well balanced.”

Barrel-Aged: A wine that is already fermented and placed in oak wine barrels to mature.

Barrel-Fermented: A wine that is fermented partially or sometimes fully in an oak wooden barrel.

Body: Included in wine basics, body refers to the weight and fullness of a wine as it crosses the palate.

Botrytis Cinerea: A grape fungus that causes the grape to naturally dehydrate and become highly concentrated with sugars and flavors. Also known as “Noble Rot,” this fungus is essential to making sweet wines and dessert wines.

Bouquet: As a wine matures it tends to develop more complexity and a pleasant aroma which is often referred to as the bouquet. This wine glossary term is often included in wine tasting notes, it is also used to refer to the smell of a wine that has been aged in oak wine barrels.


Carbonic Maceration: A fermentation technique used to make soft and fruity wines. Entire clusters of grapes are placed in a vat that is then filled with carbonic gas. Commonly used for wines meant to be consumed immediately such as Beaujolais.

Complex: Often used in wine tasting notes and in a glossary of wine term, a complex wine is a wine that the wine taster never gets bored with and finds interesting to drink.

Corked: The term used when wine has spoiled and taken on the musty smell of a faulty cork.

Cru: In a glossary of wine, the French term means “growth”, which refers to the vineyard’s ranking of harvested grapes.


Decant: The transfer of wine from the bottle to another container for the purpose of aerating before consuming. Decanters and aerators make excellent wine related gifts.

Delicate: Wine that is light, subtle and understated. White wines are usually more delicate than red wines. Delicate wines are popular with a wine and food pairing such as a wine and cheese party.

Diffuse: Wines that smell and taste unstructured.

Dry: A wine that does not taste sweet.


Elegant: Wine recommendations for elegant wines refer to those red and white wines that are lighter styled, graceful and balanced.

Enology: A glossary of wine term also known as Oenology is the science and study of how to make wine. It is different from Viticulture which is the study of how to grow grapes and vines. When the grapes are used for winemaking, it is also known as Viniculture.

Estate-Bottled: Wine whose grapes have been grown and bottled on the premises of the owner’s vineyard.

Extract: The substances that contribute tannin and color to wines.


Fermentation: The natural process during which active yeasts interacts with sugars in the grape juice to create alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Finish: In all types of wines finish is the taste left in your mouth after swallowing. A wine with a longer and pleasant aftertaste means a better quality of wine.

Fruity: When wine recommendations include the term “fruity”, it refers to a very good wine that has just enough and not too much concentration of fruit.

Full-Bodied: When wine tasting notes include the term “full-bodied”, it refers to wines that are rich in extracts, alcohol and glycerin.


Hectare: A glossary of wine term meaning a metric measurement that is equal to 2.471 acres.

Herbaceous: Part of the history of wine includes the aroma of herbs in all types of wines. Specifically herbal smells can include rosemary, thyme, lavender and fennel.


Jammy: A wine that has a great intensity of fruit with the berry aroma or flavors of jam. Many types of red wine such as Zinfandel can be considered jammy.


Late-Harvest Wine: A sweet wine produced from grapes harvested after maturity on the vine.

Lees: The sediment left behind after fermentation from yeast cells, seeds, skins and pulp.

Length: In all types of wines length is the taste left in your mouth after swallowing. A wine with a longer and pleasant aftertaste means a better quality of wine.

Long: In all types of wines long relates to the taste left in your mouth after swallowing. A wine with a longer and pleasant aftertaste means a better quality of wine.


Maceration: During the wine making process maceration occurs when the grape juice is in contact with the grape solids including skins and stems.

Malolactic Fermentation: A secondary and optional fermentation process in which malic acid is converted into softer lactic acid. This process often is used to produce softer red wines.

Monopole: In all types of wines a term used to denote that a vineyard is owned by a sole proprietor.

Musty: Wines that taste musty have been produced in faulty wine barrels.


Non-Vintage: Wine and champagne that has been made by blending the juice of grapes from multiple vintages.

Nose: Wine recommendations and wine glossaries will often refer to the wine’s nose which is the aroma or bouquet of a wine as sensed through one’s nose.


Oaky: Wine having the aroma and the flavor of oak as a result of aging in oak wine barrels.

Oenology: Also known as Enology is the science and study of how to make wine. It is different from Viticulture which is the study of how to grow grapes and vines. When the grapes are used for winemaking, it is also known as Viniculture.

Overripe: If grapes are harvested too late, they lose their acidity and will produce wines that are too heavy.

Oxidized: When wines that have been excessively exposed to air during the wine making or aging process resulting in a loss of freshness.

Off-Dry: A glossary of wine term used to describe a slightly sweet red wine or white wine.


Palate: A glossary of wine term. The palate confirms flavors detected on the nose during wine tasting.

Peppery: The aroma or flavor of white or black pepper. Some pinot noir wine can be considered peppery.

Perfumed: Fragrant and aromatic wines, in particular white wines.

Phenolics: Compounds found in wine that mostly come from grape skins. These compounds include tannins, pigments and flavors.

Plummy: Rich and flavorful wines with plum overtones.


Residual Sugar: The amount of sugar remaining in a wine when fermentation has stopped.

Rich: A wine glossary term for wines high in flavor and intensity.

Ripe: When grapes have reached their optimum level of maturity.

Round: Roundness occurs in mature wines and also in young wines that are low in acidity and have soft tannins.


Smoky: In a glossary of wine terms, smoky is used to describe wines that have a distinctive smoky character due to the type of soil or the type of wine barrel used in the wine making process.

Sommelier: A French term for a professional who orders and maintains the wines sold in a restaurant or wine store and has an extensive knowledge of food and wine pairing.

Spicy: The aroma or flavor of pepper, cinnamon or other popular spices. Some pinot noir wine can be considered peppery.

Stainless Steel Wine Barrels: An alternative to oak wine barrels, stainless steel is used to ferment some wines because of their reliable temperature control. Especially popular with white wine making and when the desired result is a less oaky flavor.

Structure: A wine glossary term describing a wine that has an excellent combination of acidity, tannins and alcohol and should be allowed to age.

Sulphur Dioxide: An important additive used in how to make wine. It is an antiseptic and antioxidant.


Tannin: Tannins are a wine glossary term that refers to a wine firmness and a natural chemical that helps to preserve red wine and flavor. Tannins are found in grape stems, pips and skins. It can also occur from aging wine in oak wine barrels. Tannins are key to enabling a wine to age in the bottle.

Tartness: Sharp, acidic unripe wines.

Tobacco: Some red wines such as pinot noir wine have the scent of tobacco. It is a delightful unexpected aroma and flavor to a wine.


Unfiltered Wine: Wine that has been bottled without filtration.

Unctuous: A wine glossary term describing wines that are rich and intense with layers of soft velvety fruit.


Varietal wine: A glossary of wine term describing a wine that has been labeled with the predominant grape used to make the wine.

Velvety: A velvety wine is a rich, soft and smooth wine to taste.

Viniculture: In a glossary of wine terms, Viniculture is the study and science of grape and vine growing when used for winemaking.

Vintage: A wine glossary term for the year in which the grapes for wine were harvested.

Vintner: A wine merchant of one who makes wine.

Viticulture: The science, production and study of grapes. When the grapes are used for winemaking, it is also known as Viniculture. The history of Viticulture is related to the history of wine with evidence of farmers cultivating wild grapes to make wine dating as far back as the Neolithic period.

Volatile: A wine that smells of vinegar as a result of an excessive amount of acetic bacteria.


Woody: Wines that have a tendency to be oaky are often called woody.


Yeast: The essential element used in the fermentation process.

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