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Wine Glossary        -        “an easy to use layman’s guide”

This glossary is a selection of wine related terms which are fun to know but no one should feel it a necessity to know these words in order to enjoy a nice glass of wine.
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ABC: Abbreviated for “Anything But Chardonnay” The term was first used by Randall Graham and could also refer to Cabernet.

ABV: Alcohol by volume

appellation: The legal geographical designation for grapes

aroma: After swirling your glass of wine, sniff the wine; what you smell is the aroma of the wine.

attack: A wine’s first impression

balance: A combination of tannins, fruit, alcohol and acids working together. If one aspect overrides the others, it is not concerned to balanced.

brix: Measurement to determine the sugar content

bouquet: All of the scents from the wine

brut: Refers to a very dry sparkling wine or champagne

chaptaliazation: Adding sugar to wine to increase the residual sugar



fermentation: The process where yeast converts sugar into alcohol

fining: A process whereby a substance is added to the wine to clarify the wine. The substance has particles adhere to it and then falls to the bottom of the container. The result is ultimately a bottle of wine without sediment.clear wine.

finish: After a taste of the wine the last favor you notice.

fruit wines:wine can be produced from apples, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and more, some of these fruit wines are 100% fruit while others are blended with grapes (yes, we know grapes are fruit but….)
refers to wine made from fruit including: blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, blackberry

gyropalette: A large grate holding bottles of sparkling wine or champagne. This crate turns to allow riddling to take place.

harvest: The time of year when the grapes are picked by hand or machine. In the northern hemisphere this is typically between August and November. Harvest occurs in the southern hemisphere between February and April.

lees: The sediment at the bottom of a barrel

maceration: A winemaking process where grape skins are combined with the juice. This gives the color to red wine and intensifies the flavor.

malolactic fermentation: A secondary fermentation whereby malic acid which is harsh is converted to lactic acid which is softer.

must: A thick mixture of skins, pulp, seeds and juice

phylloxera: A grapevine disease caused by small aphids that destroy grapevines


refractometer: Instrument used to determine the sugar level in grapes, some are small enough to take to the vineyard to analyze the sugar level


Riesling: a white grape that may have a fruit or mineral taste depending on the area it is grown in, prefers a cooler climate, frequently found in Finger Lakes, New York and Alsace France

Sauvignon Blanc:

sommelier: wine consultant in a restaurant

stave: the oak pieces of wood that are put together and formed to make an oak barrel


tannins: compounds found in grape seeds and skins that cause the mouth to pucker

terroir: the effect of the combination of soil, weather, and climate on grapes in a given area

thief: instrument used to take wine from a barrel for a tasting

tierce: one third of a barrel

toast: Oak barrels are fired to achieve different levels of toast; the toast of the barrel affects the final flavor of the wine.


umami: The overall experience of the wine including taste aroma etc.

veraison: When grapes are just beginning to show signs of turning color.

weeping: Just before bud break, a small drop of clear liquid will form where a grape leaf is to emerge

wine enthusiast: One who enjoys wine and is eager to learn more about it.

wine snob: One who believes he or she has a perfect palate and knows “everything” about wine

yeast (commercial): Hundreds of different yeasts are available for winemakers to choose from
            (natural): Yeast naturally occurs in the vineyard and some winemakers rely on naturally occurring to use in fermenting their grapes.




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