A partial list of words used to describe the wine making process.

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Acidity: Perceived in the taste of the wine as a level of tartness, acidity is a naturally component consisting of mainly tartaric acid, at about 0.5 to 0.7 percent of the wine by volume.

Aerate: Exposing the wine to oxygen either through decanting or allowing the wine to "breathe" in an opened bottle or glass; thought to allow off-odors to bow off in older wines and to soften aromas in younger ones.

Alcohol: The sugar in wine grapes is fermented through the winemaking process into alcohol and is measured as a percentage of volume. In white wines, this ranges between 9 and 14 percent; in red wines between 11 and 14 percent.

American Oak: Oak wood for wine barrels sourced in American forests; favored by many winemakers, particularly those in Australia and Spain.

Anthocyans: Natural organic chemical compounds responsible for the red, blue and purple colors of grapes and wine. Include anthocyanins, anthocyanidins and pro-anthocyanidins.

AOC: Short for Appellation d'Origine Controlee (sometimes Appellation Controlee abbreviated as AC). Translates literally to protected place name and is the official French category for higher-ranking wines. AOC wines are categorized according to name, origin, grape varieties and other legal definitions.

Appellation: Official name referring to a wine's geographic region of origin.

Aroma: The smell of a wine. Some people use the term aroma for younger wines; bouquet for those that have been aged.

Aromatic: Used to refer to a wine, particularly white wines with intensely floral or fruity aromas, such as Muscat or Viognier.

Astringent: Caused by acid or tannin or a combination of both, refers to the mouth- puckering character of some wines.

Attack: In wine tasting, the first impression of a wine on the mouth, usually perceived as a first "hit" on the tip of the tongue and at the front of mouth.

A V A: Acronym for American Viticultural Area, indicating wine-growing regions as defined through geographic and climatic boundaries by the Federal Government, theoretically, the American version of the French AOC system.

Balance: The relationship of the components of the wine including alcohol, residual sugar, acid and tannin. When no one component stands out against the rest, the wine is said to be well balanced, an indication of quality.

Barrel: A small wooden barrel used for aging red wine, and fermenting some styles of white wine. Barrels are about 60 gallons in size and are made of oak, primarily from French and American forests.

Barrel Aged: Refers to wines that are fermented in containers such as stainless steel then placed in oak barrels to mature. Also refers to wines that are fermented in the barrel.

Barrel-fermented: Some white wines, notably Chardonnay may be fermented in barrels rather than in stainless steel to impart a subtle oak character.

Barrique: Small French oak barrel.

Big: Used to describe wines that are very full and intense, considered the opposite of elegant.

Black Fruits: Aromas and flavors found typically in red wines including those of blackberries, black currants, blueberries and black cherries.

Black Grapes: Grapes with reddish or blue pigment in their skins used to make red wine.

Blend: To assemble individual lots of wine together to make one wine, can apply to different grape varieties or grapes of the same type from different vineyards, regions and vintages.

Body: The tactile impression of wine in your mouth. Think in terms of light, medium and full-- or skim milk, whole milk and cream!

Bordeaux blend: A style of wine assembled from the classic red grapes of Bordeaux including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.

Bottle Aging: The winemaker decides how long a wine will age in the bottle before it is released for sale. Many wines are made to be consumed upon release; finer wines, particularly reds, may require additional bottle aging by the consumer. In the case of Champagne and sparkling wine, bottle aging allows the wine to acquire complexity, depth and fine texture; it is also known as aging "on the yeast" or "en tirage".

Bouquet: The more developed and complex aromas said to be evident in older and mature wines.

Bright: A wine descriptor referring the character of the wine, including its appearance in the glass, to be fresh and exciting and refracting light.

Brix: Scale of measurement of total dissolved compounds in grape juice and approximate concentration of sugars used in the United States as one gauge of ripeness at harvest. One degree Brix is approximately 12-g/1 sugar.

Brut: Champagne style that is very dry, meaning little or no residual sugar.

Bung: Barrel stopper made of glass, plastic, rubber, silicone or other material which seals the bung-hole in the barrel like a cork, can be removed to permit topping up or racking. The position of the bunghole can be changed to maximize or reduce aeration.

Buttery: Descriptor often applicable to Chardonnay that has undergone malolactic fermentation; describes both texture and flavor attributes.

Castello: The Italian word for castle which refers to a wine estate, such as Castello d'Albola.

Cedary: A woody aroma that characterizes certain red varietals.

Champagne: Refers to sparkling wines made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France and vinified using the Methode Champenoise winemaking process. Term is sometimes used to refer to sparkling wines from different regions, but only sparkling wine from Champagne may be called Champagne.

Charry: Aromas and flavors of a toasty nature created by the application of oak barrel aging to the wine.

Chateau: A French winery estate, typically found in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley, the architecture of chateaux can range from grand to mundane.

Classico: Italian term indicating that wine comes from the heart of a specific region. While Chianti Classico is a demarcated DOCG district, the Classico for Verdicchio, for example, refers to the central part of the appellation.

Clone: A selection within a grape variety which exhibits certain characteristics distinct from others in the group. Viticulturists and winemakers experiment with different clones of the same variety to optimize their plantings and provide specific flavor and tactile characteristics.

Colheita: Term used in Port winemaking referring to vintage.

Commune: Typically refers to a wine-growing village in the Burgundy region of France.

Compact: Wine described as intense but not full.

Complex: Opposite of simple, a wine that has a lot going on.

Concentrated: Dense aromas and flavors.

Concentration: wines with dense aromas and flavors evidence (as opposed to weak and watery).

Cooperage: Collective term for wooden containers, also used to refer to the activities and workplace of coopers, who make and repair small barrels and large wooden vats.

Creamy: Wines, particularly barrel-fermented Chardonnay that has undergone a secondary, malolactic fermentation, that have a rich, smooth mouth feel and are fuller in body are often characterized as creamy.

Crisp: Describes wines that are clean and possibly a bit on the tart side. Opposite of soft,wines that are crisp are typically higher in acid and go well with food.

Cuvee: A blend of many lots of still wines, particularly Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, designed to become a well-balanced Champagne or sparkling wine.

Decant: To transfer wine from the bottle into another container, to aerate or to separate a red wine from its sediment

Demi-sec: A Champagne style that is semi-dry, but sweeter than sec.

Depth: The impression of many layers of complexity in a fine wine.

Disgorging: The process by which the sediment collected in the neck of the Champagne bottle during the riddling process is frozen and expelled prior to the final corking.

District: Refers to a geographic area more specific than region, but less specific than commune.

DO: Abbreviation for Denominacion de Origen, which means place name and refers to Spain's official category for wines whose name, region of origin, variety and other defining factors are regulated by law.

DOC: Abbreviation for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which means controlled place name. It’s Italy's official category for wines whose name, region of origin, variety and other defining factors are regulated by law. In Portugal, DOC is also an abbreviation for the highest official wine category, Denominacao de Origem Controlada.

DOCG: Abbreviation for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita , meaning controlled and guaranteed place. This is Italy's official category for its highest ranking wines.

Dosage: The liqueur or sugar dissolved in reserve wine, added to the Champagne just before final corking. The dosage finishes the Champagnes and determines its level of sweetness.

Doux: A Champagne style that is sweet.

Domaine: French term for wine estate, commonly used in Burgundy.

Dry: Refers to a wine that is not sweet, can also mean a wine that feels rough or dry in the mouth.

Dull: Opposite of bright and clean; can refer to a wine's appearance, aromas and flavors or overall style.

Earthy: Refers to aromas and flavors that suggest wet or dry earth or minerals.

Elegance: Suggests a wine of a certain delicacy and grace as opposed to power and intensity.

Estate: A property that grows grapes and makes wine from its own vineyards.

Extra-sec: A Champagne style that is extra dry but sweeter than Brut .

Fermentation: A naturally occurring process by which the action of yeast converts sugar in grape juice into alcohol and the juice becomes wine.

Finish: The final impression of the wine in the mouth after swallowing, particularly in terms of length and persistence of flavor.

Firm: Describes a wine neither soft nor harsh in reference to tannins in a red wine and acidity in a white.

Flabby: Describes wines that are too soft.

Flavor Compounds: The organic compounds in grapes that are responsible for many of the aromas and flavors in wine.

Flavor Intensity: How strongly wine flavors are perceived.

Flavors: The aromatic components of wine that define its varietals characteristics as noted in the mouth.

Fleshy: Wines described as fleshy have a rich texture and mouth feel.

Fortified Wine: Wines such as Port to which alcohol has been added.

French Oak: Considered by many to be the finest oak for the aging of white wines; also used for reds.

Fruit Character: The characteristics of the wine has derived from the fruit, including aromas, flavors, tannins, acidity and extract.

Fruity: The fruit aromas and flavors evident in wine can be fresh, dried or cooked. Examples include fresh apples, dried figs and strawberry jam.

Grape Tannin: Tannins in a red wine attributed to the grapes as opposed to winemaking methods.

Grape Variety: Type of grape, such as Chardonnay or Merlot.

Harmonious: Referring to a pleasant and graceful balance of components in a wine.

Herbal: Aromas and flavors in wine that suggest those of herbs.

IGT: Indicazione Geografica Tipica, a category of wines created in Italy by Wine law 164 in 1992 to approximate the French Vin de Pays and German landwein.

Intense: Used to describe wines that express their character powerfully.

Lees: The grape solids and spent yeast cells that fall to the bottom of a white wine after fermentation.

Length: The sustained impression of a wine across the tongue.

Maceration: The process of soaking the skins of red grapes in their juice to extract color , tannins and other substances into the wine; can occur pre or post fermentation.

Malolactic Fermentation: A natural, secondary fermentation optional in the winemaking process, which softens the total acidity of the wine through the conversion of malic into lactic acid.

Maturation: The process by which a wine reaches a point of readiness for bottling, can continue in the bottle.

Methode Champenoise: The traditional French Champagne winemaking method used for producing sparkling wine.

Methode Traditionelle: The equivalent of the traditional French Champagne process known as Methode Champenoise, but applied to the making of sparkling wines outside the Champagne region.

Minerally: Used to describe flavors and aromas that suggest minerals, such as flint, steel, chalk etc.

Mousse: The ring of light foam at the top of a glass of sparkling wine.

New World Winemaking: countries such as Australia, New Zealand, USA, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Canada etc. outside of Western Europe.

New Oak: Can refer to brand new barrels or barrels that have been used from one to four years previously.

Non-vintage: Refers to those Champagnes whose Cuvee contains wine from a previous vintage.

Nutty: Broad descriptor to describe aromas and flavors of nuts in a wine, more specifically hazelnut, almonds, roasted nuts etc.

Oaky: The aroma and flavor characteristics imparted to a wine through the use of oak barrel fermentation and/or aging. These may be characterized as vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, toast, smoke or char, sometimes associated with imparting a higher tanning level than the wine might ordinarily have.

Off-dry: Term for wines that are neither fully sweet not dry.

Old World: Refers to the winemaking countries of Western Europe including France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Germany.

Old Oak: Barrels old enough to have lost much of its woody character, generally five year or older.

Old Vines: Term referring to vines that are generally 40 years or older, presumed to deliver small yields but good quality.

Palate: Referring to the mouth or how wine characteristics manifest themselves in the mouth.

Petrol: Aromas or flavors reminiscent of gasoline, classic in European versions of Gewrztraminer and Riesling.

Phylloxera: A parasite that feeds on the roots of vi tis vinifera grapes, resulting in decline and premature death.

Plummy: Aromas and flavors that suggest ripe plums.

Plush: Describes a wine that feels luxurious in the mouth.

Powerful: Describes a wine of intensity and strength.

Pretty: Describes a wine of delicacy and finesse.

Primary Aromas: Fresh fruit aromas suggestive of the wine varietals.

Punt: The dome-shaped indentation in the bottom of a wine bottle.

Racking: The process by which clear wine is removed by siphon from the settled sediment or lees in the bottom of a container.

Red Grapes: Also called black grapes, with skins that have reddish or blue pigment in their skins.

Region: Geographical area for wine growing less specific than a district; more specific than a state or country.

Reserve: Loose designation for presumably higher quality than "standard" version of the wine. In the case of Champagne, reserve wine refers to wine from previous vintages added to the cuvee for consistent quality and style.

Residual Sugar: Remaining sugar in wine after fermentation.

Riddling: The art of turning and tilting bottles of sparkling wine in order to ease the sediment into the neck of the bottle, often performed mechanically in modern facilities.

Riserva/Reserva: Italian/Spanish term for "reserve" indicating longer aging before release and suggesting higher quality. Regulations determine how long this is for individual wines.

Rose: In still wine or Champagne, a slightly pink tint comes from contact with the grape skins or the addition of a small portion of red wine to the cuvee.

Round: As opposed to flat or angular, refers to a wine's structure, particularly acid, tannin, sweetness and alcohol.

Sec: A Champagne style that is dry, but sweeter than extra-sec.

Second-label: A less expensive or second brand made from grapes or wine a level down from primary label.

Sediment: Residue in the bottom of a bottle of red wine that forms as the wine ages.

Serious: Describes a high-quality wine.

Silky: Refers to a smooth, supple texture.

Single-vineyard Wine: Wine made from the (presumably) good grapes of a single plot of land and not blended with any other grapes.

Skin Contact: The pre-fermentation period in which the grape juice rests in contact with the skins of the grapes; used in red winemaking to enhance colors and texture; may be used briefly in white winemaking to enhance aromas.

Smoky: Aromas and flavors suggesting smoke or smoked wood imparted by oak barrel fermentation or aging.

Smooth: Describes a wine that is not rough or harsh.

Soft: Wine lacking in hardness or roughness and present when alcohol and sugar dominate acidity and tannin.

Sparkling: Refers to all effervescent wines outside those from the Champagne region of France, vinified the Methode Champenoise, correctly known elsewhere are Methode Traditionelle.

Stemmy: Red wines with green or stalky tannins.

Stems: Woody part of the grape bunch which are high in tannin. Usually removed and discarded before fermentation.

Stony: Aromas or flavors that suggest the mineral quality of stones.

Structural Components: A wine's alcohol, tannin, acid and sugar if any.

Structure: How a wine's structural components are perceived. Ideally structure should be well-balanced, without anyone component dominant.

Style: Characteristics that form the personality of the wine.

Supple: Describes a wine that is fluid in texture in the mouth without roughness or harshness.

Sweetness: The impression of a sugary taste in a wine, can be due to the presence of residual sugar or other sweet-tasting substances such as alcohol.

Tannic: Describes wines too high in tannin.

Tannin: A substance found in the skins, stems and seeds of grapes (grape tannins) and imparted by oak barrels (wood tannins) that in balance can lend structure, texture and ageability to red wines.

Tarry: Aromas and flavors that suggest fresh tar.

Tart: A term that can be applied to wines that are too high in acid or made from under ripe grapes.

Taste: The impressions formed by wine in the mouth perceived as bitter, sweet and sour.

Terroir: French term referring to the growing conditions in the vineyard, including climate, soil, elevation, slope, drainage, topography etc.

Texture: How a wine feels in the mouth.

Tight: Can refer to a certain lean or underdeveloped quality of the wine in its aromas, flavor or structure.

Tirage: The process of bottling a cuvee with the addition of active yeast and sugar in order to induce a second fermentation. The carbonation produced by this second fermentation is trapped in the bottle, producing the effervescence of Champagnes and sparkling wines.

Topping Up: The process by which evaporated wine is replaced in the barrel or carboy.

Varietals: Term for grape variety.

Varietals Character: The unmistakable set of sensory characteristics attributable to a grape variety.

Vegetal: Aromas or flavors that suggest vegetables.

Vin de Pays: French phrase for country wine, lower status than AOC.

Vinification: The activity of making grape juice into wine.

Vintage: The year in which a wine I s grapes were harvested; sometimes referring to the grape harvest itself. Vintage designations are only given to Champagnes whose cuvees contain wines made from a single year's harvest. As with Port, a Champagne vintage is only declared in a year of exceptional quality.

Viticulture: The activity of growing grapes.

Vitis Vinifera: Species to which most of the worlds wine grapes belong.

Weight: Impression of heft and volume of the wine in the mouth.

Well-balanced:Used to describe wines in which all component--alcohol, acid, tannin (if any) and sugar (if any)--relate to each other in such a way that none seems dominant.

Wood Tannin: Describes tannins attributable to barrel aging, rather than the grapes.

Yeast: One-celled organisms responsible for turning grape juice into wine.

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