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Half-bottle (demiboite): Champagne or wine bottle with 0.375-liter capacity.
Hard: Firm; a quality that usually results from high acidity or tannins. Often a descriptor for young red wines.
Harmonious: Well balanced, with no component obtrusive or lacking.
Harsh: Used to describe astringent wines that are tannic or high in alcohol.
Haut: A French word meaning "high." It applies to quality as well as altitude.
Hectare: A metric measure of area equal to 10,000 square meters or 2.47 acres.
Hectoliter: A metric measure equal to 100 liters or 26.4 gallons.
Herbaceous: An aroma or flavor similar to green; often an indication of underripe grapes or fruit grown in a cool climate.
Herbal: Having aromas and flavors that suggest herbs.
Hollow: A term used to describe a wine that doesn't have depth or body.
Hybrid: The genetic crossing of two or more grape types
Imperial: Wine bottle with a 6-liter capacity.
Institut Nationale des Appellations d'Origine: The French governing body that created and manages the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system.
Intense: Wines that express themselves strongly. How strong is the aroma or flavor in relation to the total expression?
Jeroboam: Champagne bottle with a 3-liter capacity (equal to four standard 750ml bottles), or wine bottle with a 4.5-liter capacity (equal to six standard 750ml bottles). There are also some 5-liter Jeroboams.
Late harvest: A term used to describe dessert wines made from grapes left on the vines for an extra long period, often until botrytis has set in.
Leafy: Describes the a quality reminiscent of leaves. Can be a positive or a negative, depending on whether it adds to or detracts from a wine's flavor.
Lees: Heavy sediment (dregs) left in the barrel by fermenting wines; a combination of spent yeast cells and grape solids. (fr. lie) The expression, "boire le calice jusqu'à la lie" means to: (1.) drink to the bitter end; (2.) drink to the dregs.
Legs: A term used to describe how wine sticks to the inside of a wine glass after drinking or swirling. Also called tears.
Length: A characteristic of fine wines. The amount of time the sensations of taste and aroma persist after swallowing.
Lively: Describes wines that are crisp, fresh and fruity, bright and vital.
Loire: A river in central France as well as a wine region famous for Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc.
Luscious: Rich, opulent, and smooth; most often said of sweet wines but also intensely fruity ones.
Maceration: The process of allowing grape juice and skins to ferment together, thereby imparting color, tannins and aromas.
Magnum: Champagne or wine bottle with 1.5-liter capacity (equal to two standard 750ml bottles).
Malbec: A hearty red grape of French origin now exceedingly popular in Argentina.
Malolactic fermentation: A secondary fermentation, often occurring in barrels, whereby harsher malic acid is converted into creamier lactic acid.
Maturation: The aging period at the winery, where a wine evolves to a state of readiness for bottling.
Mature: A bottle of wine that is ready to drink.
Meaty: A wine with chewy, fleshy fruit; sturdy and firm in structure. It may even have the aroma of cooked meat.
Medium-dry: A term to indicate the perceived sweetness of wines that are slightly sweet.
Médoc: A section of Bordeaux on the west bank of the Gironde Estuary known for great red wines; Margaux, St.-Estèphe and Pauillac are three leading AOCs in the Médoc.
Mellow: Smooth and soft, with no harshness.
Merlot: A lauded red grape popular in Bordeaux and throughout the world; large amounts of Merlot exist in Italy, the United States, South America and elsewhere.
Méthode champenoise: The traditional method of making Champagne, whereby the carbonation occurs naturally during a second fermentation, rather than by injection of CO2.
Methuselah: Champagne bottle with a 6-liter capacity.
Millésime: French for vintage or year.
Mise en bouteille: Where a wine is bottled, generally indicated on the bottle's label. Examples: Mise en bouteille au Château or Mise en bouteille au Domaine.
Minerally: Having flavors or aromas suggestive of minerals. It may be described as chalk, iron, etc.
Moelleux: Sweet, mellow.
Moldy: Wines with the smell of mold or rot, usually from grapes affected by rot or from old moldy casks used for aging.
Mousse: The foam, or head, on the surface of a sparkling wine.
Mousseux, -euse: adj. Sparkling, bubbly; n.m. sparkling wine.
Nebbiolo: A red grape popular in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy; the grape that yields both Barolo and Barbaresco.
Nebuchadnezzar: Champagne or wine bottle with a 15-liter capacity.
Négociant (or) négociant-éléveur: French term for a company or wine merchant who buys wines from others and then labels it under his or her own name; stems from the French word for "shipper."
New World: Collective term for those winemaking countries outside of Europe.
Noble: A great wine. A perfect balance and harmonious expression.
Noble rot: (see Pourriture noble)
Nose: Synonymous with bouquet; the sum of a wine's aromas.
Nutty: Aromas or flavors that suggest nuts. It can be a "good-nose" or an "off-nose."
NV (or) non-vintage: A wine that is made without a majority of grapes coming from a single year.
Oaky: A term used to describe woody aromas and flavors; butter, popcorn and toast notes are found in "oaky" wines.
Oeil de perdrix: French term meaning partridge eye, used to describe the color of a pale rosé wine.
Off dry: A general term used to describe wines that have a slight perception of sweetness.
Off: A wine that's not quite right, referring to either the aroma or flavors.
Old World: A collective term used for European winemaking countries.
Open: A wine that reveals a full character.
Organic: Grapes grown without the aid of chemical-based fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.
Oxidized: A wine that is no longer fresh because it was exposed to too much air, turning it a brownish color.
Perlant: French term used to describe a wine containing a faint amount of gas.
Pétillant: Lightly sparkling, bubbly, carbonated, fizzy. Vin pétillant = sparkling wine.
pH: An indication of a wine's acidity expressed by how much hydrogen is in it.
Phenolic compounds: Tannins, pigments and flavanoids found primarily within grape skins, but also in grape seeds and barrel oak.
Phylloxera: A voracious, nearly microscopic vine louse that over time has destroyed vineyards in Europe and California.
Pigeage: Punching down the grape skins to drown aerobic bacteria and encourage cuvaison. (see also Cuvaison)
Pinot Noir: The prime red grape of Burgundy, Champagne and Oregon.
Pomace: The mass of skins, pits, and stems left over after fermentation; used to make grappa in Italy and marc in France.
Pourriture noble: French term meaning "noble rot"; called Edelfäule in Germany, muffa nobile in Italy. A fungus that attacks ripe grapes in certain areas, resulting in higher sugar content and finer sweet wines. (see Botrytis cinerea)
Premier cru: French for "first growth;" a high-quality vineyard but one not as good as grand cru.
Press: A machine that extracts juice from grapes (fr. fouloir, pressoir); the process by which grape juice is extracted prior to fermentation.
Primeur, en: A French term for wine sold while it is still in the barrels; known as "futures" in English-speaking countries.
Propriétaire-récoltant: Proprietor, owner, or manager overseeing the tending of a vineyard, grape harvest and winemaking.
Pruning: The annual vineyard chore of trimming back plants from the previous harvest.
Pulp: The soft, moist, juice-laden part of the grape.
Punt: Term used to refer to the dimple, or indentation, at the bottom of a wine bottle. Also known as a kick-up. There is some debate as to the history and purpose of the punt, or whether its depth is any indicator of a wine's comparative value.
Quarter-bottle, split, or piccolo: Champagne bottle varying in capacity from 0.187-liter to 0.2-liter.
Racking: The process of moving wine from barrel to barrel, while leaving sediment behind, for the purpose of clarifying it. (fr. soutirage)
Récolte: Harvest, crop; also: vintage.
Rehoboam: Champagne or wine bottle with a 4.5-liter capacity.
Rhône: A river in southwest France surrounded by villages producing wines mostly from Syrah; the name of the wine-producing valley in France.
Riddling: The process of rotating Champagne bottles in order to shift sediment toward the cork. (fr. rémuage)
Rosé: French for "pink," and used to describe a category of refreshing wines that are pink in color but are made from red grapes.
Salmanazar: Champagne or wine bottle with a 9-liter capacity.
Sancerre: An area in the Loire Valley known mostly for wines made from Sauvignon Blanc.
Sauternes: A sweet Bordeaux white wine made from botrytized Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
Sauvignon Blanc: A white grape planted throughout the world; increasingly the signature wine of New Zealand.
Sec: French term for dry. (see Dry)
Sémillon: A plump white grape popular in Bordeaux and Australia; the base for Sauternes.
Silky: A term used to describe a wine with an especially smooth mouthfeel.
Soutirage: Clarifying wine by drawing it off from its sediments. (see Racking)
Spicy: A term used to describe certain aromas and flavors that may be sharp, woody or sweet.
Split: A quarter-bottle of wine; a single-serving bottle equal to 175 milliliters.
Standard bottle: Champagne or wine bottle with 0.75-liter or 750ml capacity (still sometimes referred to as a "fifth", the old U.S. value of 0.2 gal. or about 0.757 liter).
Steely: A term used to describe an extremely crisp, acidic wine that was not aged in barrels.
Stemmy: A term used to describe harsh, green characteristics in a wine.
Sulfites: An antioxidant and anti-microbial used to preserve wines.
Supple: A term used to describe smooth, balanced wines.
Syrah: A red grape planted extensively in the Rhône Valley of France, Australia and elsewhere; a spicy, full and tannic wine that usually requires aging before it can be enjoyed.
Table wine: A term used to describe wines of between 10 and 14 percent alcohol; in Europe, table wines are those that are made outside of regulated regions or by unapproved methods.
Tannins: Phenolic compounds that exist in most plants; in grapes, tannins are found primarily in the skins and pits; tannins are astringent and provide structure to a wine; over time tannins die off, making wines less harsh.
Tastevin: The silver tasting cup used by the Sommelier to taste the wine before pouring for the customer.
Terroir: A French term for the combination of soil, climate and all other geographic factors that influence the ultimate character of a wine.
Texture: The overall feeling of a wine when it's in the mouth.
Tonneau: A barrel or cask with a capacity of 900 liters.
Troisième cru: A French term meaning third growth, a Médoc category specified in the Classification of 1855.
Ullage: The space in any wine storage container that develops as wine ages and evaporates.
Varietal: A wine made from just one grape type and named after that grape; the opposite of a blend.
Vat cuvée: a specific vat of wine selected for its quality.
Vendange: n.f. French term for grape harvest. vendanger v.tr.: to harvest the grapes of (a vineyard, etc.).vendangeur n.m.,f. -euse: grape picker, harvester.
Vigneron, -onne: Cultivator of grape vines, winemaker.
Vignoble: French term for vineyard. (Italian: vigna or vigneto; Portuguese: vinha; Spanish: viña or viñedo)
Vin Délimités de Qualité Supérieure (VDQS): Literally translated as wines of superior quality, these wines are produced in AOC regions but fall slightly below AOC quality standards. The category will be eliminated in 2011.
Vin de pays: An official category of French wines above the level of vin de table (but lower than AOC), comprising about one quarter of the wine produced in France. Wines bearing this designation should demonstrate a certain degree of regional character.
Vin de table: French for table wine. (see Table wine)
Vin doux naturel (VDN): Sweet dessert wines primarily from southern France, made in a process similar to Port, i.e.: fortified to 18-21% alcohol by volume. White versions are typically made from the Muscat grape, reds from Grenache.
Vinicole: adj. Related to the growing of grapes, viniculture, wine industry, or wine tourism.
Viniculture: The cultivation of the vine, esp. for making wine; viticulture. [1913 Webster] The craft and science of growing grapes and making wine. [WordNet 2.0]
Vinification: The process of turning grapes into wine.
Vins de primeur (or nouveaux wines): French wines which are permitted by AOC regulations to be sold in the same year that they are harvested. The most widely exported nouveau wine is Beaujolais nouveau.
Vintage: A particular year in the wine business; a specific harvest.
Viognier: A fragrant, powerful white grape grown in the Rhône Valley of France and elsewhere.
Viticulture: The science and business of growing wine grapes. (see Viniculture)
W X Y Z
Wine thief: A long tube used for taking samples of wine from barrels.
Yeast: Organisms that issue enzymes which trigger the fermentation process; yeasts can be natural or commercial.
Yield: The amount of grapes harvested in a particular year.
Glossary of French wine
Acidity: A naturally occurring component of every wine; the level of perceived sharpness; a key element to a wine's longevity; a leading determinant of balance.
Alcohol: The end product of fermentation; technically ethyl alcohol resulting from the interaction of natural grape sugars and yeast; generally above 12.5% in dry table wines.
Alsace: A highly regarded wine region in eastern France renowned for dry and sweet wines made from Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and others.
AOC: Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (see Classifications), a French term for a denominated, governed wine region such as Margaux or Nuits-St.-Georges.
Apéritif: An alcoholic beverage consumed before a meal to stimulate the appetite, such as sparkling and fortified wines.
Aroma: A scent that's a component of the bouquet or nose; i.e. cherry is an aromatic component of a fruity bouquet.
Astringent: The tannins, or acid, or combination that leaves a mouth-drying feeling. Tannin will usually decrease with age. A little bit of astringency is to be expected in robust, rich, full-bodied red wines.
Balance: The level of harmony between acidity, tannins, fruit, oak, and other elements in a wine; a perceived quality that is more individual than scientific.
Balthazar: Champagne or wine bottle with a 12-liter capacity.
Barrel aged: Wines that are fermented in containers such as stainless steel, and then placed into wooden barrels for maturation. It may also refer to wines that are both fermented and aged in the barrel.
Barrel fermented: A process by which wine (usually white) is fermented in oak barrels rather than in stainless steel tanks; a richer, creamier, oakier style of wine.
Barrique: French for "barrel," generally with a capacity of 225 liters (equal to 300 bottles).
Batonnage: Stirring the lees with a stick to increase flavor extraction.
Beaujolais: A juicy, flavorful red wine made from Gamay grapes grown in the region of the same name.
Beaujolais Nouveau: The first Beaujolais wine of the harvest; its annual release date is the third Thursday in November.
Big: Used to describe wines that are very full or very intense.
Blanc de Blancs: The name for Champagne made entirely from Chardonnay grapes.
Blanc de Noirs: The name for Champagne made entirely from red grapes, either Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier, or both.
Blend: The process whereby two or more grape varieties are combined after separate fermentation; common blends include Côtes du Rhône and red and white Bordeaux.
Blush: A wine made from red grapes but which appears pink or salmon in color because the grape skins were removed from the fermenting juice before more color could be imparted; more commonly referred to as rosé.
Body: The impression of weight on one's palate; light, medium and full are common body qualifiers.
Bordeaux: A city on the Garonne River in southwest France; a large wine-producing region with more than a dozen subregions; a red wine made mostly from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc; a white wine made from Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.
Botrytis cinerea: [boh-TRI-tihs sihn-EHR-ee-uh] A beneficial mold that causes grapes to shrivel and sugars to concentrate, resulting in sweet, unctuous wines; common botrytis wines include French Sauternes, Hungarian Tokay, and German beerenauslese. (see Botrytis cinerea)
Bouquet: The sum of a wine's aromas; how a wine smells as a whole; a key determinant of quality.
Breathe: The process of letting a wine open up via the introduction of air. (see also Decant)
Bright: A wine can be visually bright, have bright aromas, or flavors. In each instance the wine is perceived vividly.
Brix: A scale used to measure the level of sugar in unfermented grapes. Multiplying brix by .55 will yield a wine's future alcohol level.
Brut: A French term ("very dry") used to describe the driest champagnes, ciders, or sparkling wines — with less than 15 grams of sugar content per liter.
Brut nature: Totally dry, i.e.: 0 grams of sugar content per liter. (see Extra Brut)
Burgundy: A prominent French wine region stretching from Chablis in the north to Lyons in the south; Pinot Noir is the grape for red Burgundy, Chardonnay for white.
Cabernet Franc: A red grape common to Bordeaux; characteristics include an herbal, leafy flavor and a soft, fleshy texture.
Cabernet Sauvignon: A powerful, tannic red grape of noble heritage; the base grape for many red Bordeaux and most of the best red wines from California, Washington, Chile and South Africa; capable of aging for decades.
Cap: Grape solids like pits, skins and stems that rise to the top of a tank during fermentation; what gives red wines color, tannins and weight.
Carbonic maceration: A process commonly used with young fruity wines such as Beaujolais Nouveau, where grapes at the bottom of the vat are gradually crushed under pressure from the top grapes, releasing CO2 to ferment the top grapes in their skins.
Cave: Basement, cellar, wine cellar.
Caveau: A wine-tasting cellar.
Cave à vin: Wine cellar, wine storage cabinet.
Cépage: Variety of vine. Some well-known varieties include: Cabernet-Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Gamay, Grenache, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Syrah, etc. (see list)
Chablis: A town and wine region in the northernmost sector of Burgundy (east of Paris) known for steely, minerally Chardonnay. The name "Chablis" has also been used on bottles of generic-quality American-grown white wine with no connection to the French region (see foreign branding).
Champagne: A denominated region northeast of Paris in which Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes are made into sparkling wine. Also the name of sparkling wine which is made by the méthode champenoise.
Chaptalization: The process of adding sugar to fermenting grapes in order to increase alcohol.
Character: A description when the wine is perceived as being solid and having substance.
Chardonnay: Dry white table wine resembling Chablis but made from Chardonnay grapes. Arguably the best and most widely planted white wine grape in the world.
Château: French for "castle"; an estate with its own vineyards. However, not all wine producers using Château on their wine labels actually have a castle.
Chenin Blanc: A white grape common in the Loire Valley of France.
Clairet: n.m. — A light red or deep rosé wine. adj. Ruby-red (color of clairet wine).
Claret: An English name for dry red Bordeaux or Bordeaux-like wine.
Clarity: Refers to the cloudiness or sediment in a wine.
Classification of 1855: A system of classifying the quality of France's best Bordeaux wines, requested from wine industry merchants by Napoleon III for the benefit of visitors to the 1855 Exposition Universelle de Paris. The result was the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855.
Clos: Pronounced "cloh," this French word once applied only to vineyards or orchards surrounded by walls, but now can connote any wine brand, vintner, or estate — as in Clos Pitois, Clos Saint Martin, etc.
Colour: A key determinant of a wine's age and quality; white wines grow darker in color as they age while red wines turn brownish orange.
Compact: Used when a wine is intense, but not full.
Complex: Describes a wine with multiple layers of flavors and bouquet that are well balanced. A common attribute of a classic wine.
Cooperative: A winery owned jointly by multiple grape growers.
Corked wine: A wine with musty, mushroomy aromas and flavors resulting from a cork tainted by TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole).
Cork taint: (see Corked wine) The presence of TCA can be caused by the cork tree's exposure to pesticides, or by the chlorine bleaching process used to sterilize corks. The latter cause has led to the increasing adoption of methods such as peroxide bleaching.
Crisp: The acidity gives the wine a clean feel in your mouth. Often crisp wines are light in body.
Cru: A French term for ranking a wine's inherent quality, i.e. cru bourgeois, cru classé, premier cru and grand cru.
Cuvaison: Maceration of the grape skins during fermentation of red wine in order to transfer aroma, colour, and tannin to the wine.
Cuve: A vat or tub used for winemaking.
Cuvée: A specific vat of wine selected for its quality.
Cuver: v. To ferment wine in a vat. Also: expr. To sleep off (~ son vin / one's drunkenness).
Cuvier: The building within a château where the wine is made.
Decant: The process of transferring wine from a bottle to another holding vessel. The purpose is generally to aerate a young wine or to separate an older wine from any sediment.
Deep or Depth: Describing wines with layers of taste. Often refers to a more mature wine.
Dégustation: French term for any kind of tasting — cheese, wine, etc.
Demi-sec: Although the literal translation is "medium-dry", a sparkling wine with this description is actually fairly sweet, with 33 to 50 grams of sugar content per liter. Demi-sec wines were particularly popular during the 18th century.
Destemming: The process of removing grape stems prior to fermentation, to avoid adding tannins from the stems to the wine. (fr. égrappage)
Dilute: A description of a wine whose aromas and flavors are thin and watery.
Disgorge: The process by which final sediments are removed from traditionally made sparkling wines prior to the adding of the dosage. There are two methods of disgorging: the traditional way — à la volée, and the modern way — à la glace. (see Disgorging Champagne and an explanation in French)
Domaine: A French term for a wine estate.
Dosage: A sweetened spirit added at the very end to Champagne and other traditionally made sparkling wines. It determines whether a wine is brut, extra dry, dry or semisweet. (fr. liqueur de tirage)
Double Magnum: Wine bottle with 3-liter capacity.
Dry: A wine containing no more than 0.2 percent unfermented sugar. Also a subjective term. Opposite of sweet. It can describe wines with a rough feel on the tongue.
Dull: Lacking liveliness and proper acidity; uninteresting. It may be applied to appearance, taste, or aromas.
Earthy: A term used to describe aromas and flavors that have a certain soil-like quality. A bit of earthiness can be appealing; too much makes the wine coarse.
Elegance: Characteristic of wines that express themselves in a fine or delicate manner, not intense.
Enology or œnology: The science of wine production; an enologist (œnologist) is a professional winemaker; an enophile (œnophile) is someone who enjoys wine.
Extra Brut: The very driest sparkling wine, with sugar content of 0-6 grams per liter.
Feuillette: A great barrel (grand tonneau). In wine making, a half-sized cask with capacity ranging from 114 liters in Côte d'Or and Saône-et-Loire, to 132-136 liters in Yonne.
Fermentation: The process by which sugar is transformed into alcohol; how grape juice interacts with yeast to become wine.
Fillette: Charming name used in the Val-de-Loire and Paris, describing a bottle with a 35-centiliter capacity.
Filtration: The process by which wine is clarified before bottling.
Fining: Part of the clarification process whereby elements are added to the wine, i.e. egg whites, in order to capture solids prior to filtration.
Finish: The total impression of a wine after you have swallowed it. A long finish is preferred.
Fleshy: Fatness of fruit; big, ripe.
Flinty: Dry, mineral character that comes from certain soils, mostly limestone, in which the grapes were grown; typical of French Chablis and Loire Valley Sauvignon Blancs (Sancerre).
Flute: A narrow Champagne glass; also a narrow bottle used for Alsace wine (fr. flûte).
Fortified Wine: A wine in which brandy is introduced during fermentation; sugars and sweetness are high due to the suspended fermentation.
Foudre: A large oak or chestnut cask used for aging wine (mostly in Provence and Alsace), with a capacity between 150 and 350 hectoliters (3,960 to 9,240 gallons).
Frais, fraîche: Fresh, cool, chilly.
Frappé: Iced, chilled. (see Frais, fraîche)
French oak: Oak wood from the forests of France, considered the preferred type of oak for aging most white wines.
Fruity: Aroma and/or flavor of grapes; most common to young, light wines but refers also to such fruit flavors in wine as apple, black currant, cherry, citrus, pear, peach, raspberry, or strawberry; descriptive of wines in which the fruit is dominant.
Full: A description of wines that give the impression of being large or heavy in your mouth.
Fumé Blanc: A name created by Robert Mondavi to describe dry Sauvignon Blanc.
Fût: An oak cask or barrel. (see Barrique)
Gamay: A red grape exceedingly popular in the Beaujolais region of France.
Generous: A wine whose characteristics are expressive and easy to perceive.
Gewürztraminer: A sweet and spicy white grape popular in eastern France, Germany, Austria, northern Italy and California.
Graceful: Describes a wine that is harmonious and pleasing in a subtle way.
Graft: A vineyard technique in which the bud-producing part of a grapevine is attached to an existing root..
Grand Cru: French for "great growth", denotes the very best vineyards.
Grapy: Characterized by simple flavors and aromas associated with fresh table grapes; distinct from the more complex fruit flavors (currant, black cherry, fig or apricot) found in fine wines.
Green: A term used to describe underripe, vegetal flavors in a wine.
Grenache: A hearty, productive red grape popular in southern France as well as in Spain, where it is called Garnacha.
Gris: A very pale rosé color.