A.O.C : Appellation d'origine contrôlée - this is the highest French wine classification.
It indicates that the wine meets the strict requirements concerning the
vineyard of origin, the type of vine grown, the method of production, and the
volume of alcohol present.
A.O.S : Appellation d'origine simple (abolished in November 1973)
Abstème : Know as a teetotaller, a person who does not drink wine
Acescence : Illness caused by acetic bacteria which have a tendency of making the wine
Acidity : Being part of the four basic savours of the sense of taste, acidity is detected
on the sides of the tongue.
Acidulous : Very young wine with a high level of acidity.
Acrid : An "acrid" wine is an unpleasant wine, which is also rough and tart.
Aggressive : Wine with an excess of acidity or tannin.
Alcohol : The natural sugar from the grape is transformed into alcohol, caused by the
action of yeast, when the must is fermented.
Alcoholic Chemical reactions which allow us to obtain, from the sugar of the grape,
fermentation : alcohol and glycerol.
Aleatico : Italian grape variety which produces a red wine of the same name.
Alentejo : Portuguese vineyard situated south-east of Lisbon.
Aligoté : Grape variety producing a white wine grown mainly in Bourgogne. The
Bourgogne Aligoté is a pleasant wine, light and thirst quenching, to be drunk
Aloxe-Corton : Bourgogne municipality (commune) belonging to the Côte de Beaune.
Alsace : The best grape varieties used in the production of Alsacien white wines are
"gewurztraminer", "muscat", "pinot gris" or "tokay" and "riesling".
Amber-yellow : Golden colouring of certain old white wines due to the oxidization of the
wine, but which should not be accompanied by maderization at the time of
Ampelography : The study of grape varieties.
Ample : An "ample" wine a rich and ample flavour which assures good harmony.
Anjou : Wine growing region of Tourraine producing red, white and rosé wines.
Anthocyanes : Red pigments from the grape; found in the skin, which give the colour to
rosé and red wines.
Aquitaine et Charente : Wine growing region which produces some very pleasant "vins de Pays"
made from grape varieties of the Bordelais region for the red wines of
Sémillon, Ugni banc and Baroque for the white wines.
Arbois : A vineyard in the Jura region, having an "appellation contrôlée" (label
guaranteeing the origin of wine and cheese) since 1936. To be endowed
with an "appellation" (designation) white wines must come from the
Sauvignon, Chardonnay or Pinot blanc grape varieties and red wines from
the Poulsard, Trousseau or Pinot Noir varieties
Arcure : Curve imposed upon a climbing stem by cutting and folding in order to
encourage fruit growth.
Aroma : Also known as fruit, flavour or bouquet, the aromas are the smells given off
by the wine.
Aromatic : An aromatic wine has pervasive and intense aromas. Certain grape varieties
are said them to be "aromatic".
Ascorbic acid : Anti-oxidizing agent strictly regulated by the EEC who impose a limitation of
150mg per litre of wine.
Asti : An Italian wine which comes from the city of Asti, south of Turin.
Astringent/Tart : An "astringent" wine is "chewy".The tannin, which is very concentrated, is
rough and causes the gums and tongue to tighten.
Aubance : Vineyard in Anjou which stretches from the Loire to Layon.
Bacillus : Living organism, which attacks the parasite fungi on the vines.
Badacsony : Hungarian vineyard, situated near Balaton lake.
Baden : Wine region in South-West Germany
Bandol : Wine region in Provence between Ciotat and Toulon
Banyuls : Wine growing region in the extreme South of France near to Spain,
reputed for its naturally sweet wines.
Barbaresco : Italian red wine which comes from Piémont. The grape variety used
is the "Nebbiolo.
Barbera : Red wine from Piémont, in Italy, and which comes from the grape
variety of the same name.
Bardolino : A very good wine from Italy, "appellation contrôlée" produced east
or Lake Garde.
Barolo : Italian red wine produced in the village of the same name, in the
South of Piémont, near Turin.
Barreling : The action of putting the wine in barrels
Barsac : Municipality of Sautenais with two "appellations" "Barsac" and
Bâtonnage : Re-suspension of the lees when the wine is resting in the casks.
Beady : A very slightly sparkling wine.
Beaumes-de-Venise : Municipality situated in the Vaucluse region, reputed for its
excellent Muscat "appellation contrôlée"
Bellet : Small Provençal vineyard which has had an "appellation contrôlée"
Bentonite : Special "clay" which acts as a "fining" agent for the wine, in order to
avoid the formation of a sediment in the bottle.
Bergerac : Vineyard in Dordogne in the South-West of France, producing
excellent full-bodied red wines, and also dry, syrupy white wines.
Berry : Old province which has now become the department of Cher and
the department of Indre. This region has an internationally renound
status thanks to its wines: Sancerre, Ménetou-Salon, Quincy and
Blending : Operation consisting of mixing several wines in a vat.
Burgundy : Wine made solely from "Pinot Noir"
Cabernet-franc : Red grape variety, often blended with Cabernet-Sauvignon and
Merlot in the Gironde in the South-West. Its is the grape variety of the
wines from the Loire region (Chinon, Bourgueil…)
Cabernet-sauvignon : Red grape variety typical of the Bordelais, these dark wines are full
of tannin in their youth. These are wines that become soft in the
mouth and delicate with age.
Capiteux : Wine with a high alcohol content, warming
Chablis : Wine from the unique Chardonnay vine
Chambrer ( bring to room Act of leaving a wine in a room which is not directly heated, with the
temperature ) : intention of raising its temperature to about 14-16°. This is suitable
for most red wines.
Champagne : Only the Chardonnais, le Pinot meunier and the Pinot noir are
authorized to produce this wine.
Chaptalisation (addition of This is a way of enriching the must with sugar, with the aim of
sugar) : obtaining a higher degree of alcohol in the wine. This process
obtains its name from the French Chemist Chaptal. This technique
is prohibited in many countries and controlled very strictly in the
countries where it is permitted.
Character : Wines are naturally full of good qualities. These qualities themselves
are defined by the grape variety or varieties used to make the wine.
Charnu : Very rough wine
Chenin blanc : This is the exclusive grape of all white wines coming from the Loire
Valley ( Vouvray, Crémant de Loire ... ).
Citric acid : Acid present in green and ripe grapes.
Claret : A light and fruity red wine produced in the region of Bordeaux.
Clear : A pleasant wine, clean and without any abnormalities.
Closed : Said of a wine which has little olfactory expression, and has not
opened as it should.
Cloudy / suspect : Cloudiness caused by visible particles in the wine.
Crushing : Optional procedure where by the grape is crushed slightly just
before barrelling for fermentation, in order to free the juice contained
in the pulp. Crushing does not apply to manually harvested grapes
such as the Gamay or even the Beaujolais grapes.
Decanting : To decant a wine into a carafe illuminated by a candle at the neck. The idea
behind decanting is to separate the sediment from the wine.
Delicate : Designates the subtle taste of a wine with less than 12% alcohol.
Denatured : A spirit to which a substance is added to render it unsuitable for
consumption, with the aim in mind to avoid the heavy taxes which are
Deposit : In white wines, this is generally a trace of colourless tartaric acid which has
no taste and is in no way dangerous. On the other hand, in red wines, the
same deposit generally contains a bitter tannin and a pigment; it should be
left as it is in the bottle so as not to disturb the wine.
Diluted : Signifies that the wine has been diluted (mixed) with water.
Disgorging : Principal phase in the champagnization which consists of eliminating the
deposit in the bottles caused by the "riddling" on the cork, by elimination or
freezing. Depending on the case, this deposit is replaced by either one of the
following: wine or the dosage(=sugar based preparation).
Douro : Area where Port is produced in the North of Portugal
Dry : Designates white wines without sugar
Dur : Said of a wine which is too acidic
Elegant : Harmonious wine.
Elevage sur lies : Conservation of a wine without removing the sediments during the ageing
England : The climate is favourable to white grape varieties which are able to ripen in
these regions. The most widely known are the "müllerurgau" and the
Epaule : Corresponds to the part of a bottle where the neck widens
Erinose : Sickness caused by very small insects which only destroy certain varieties of
Eudemis : Microscopic butterfly which destroys the grape.
Fatty : A full unctuous wine.
Filtration : Technique which consists of making the wine clearer by passing the wine
through a filter (soil, a membrane or a plate)
Finesse : Delicate and elegant wine
Firm : A wine with a lot of body and bite. Very rich in tannin.
Fish Glue : Coming from the bladder of certain fresh-water fish, in particular from the
sturgeon. This whitish, jelly-like, translucent substance is used as fining
agent for wine and beers.
Floral : Wine with an aroma of accacia flowers, violets, jasmin...
Fresh : Said of a young fruity wine with moderate acidity, such as Muscadet and red
wines from the Gamay grape.
Fruity : A young wine which has aromas of fresh fruits.
Funnelling : The action of putting the wine in barrels
Gamay : A red vine with white juice, exclusive to Beaujolais
Garde : A wine which keeps a long time, ages well and is worth leaving for a few
years in order to fully enjoy.
Goutte : In the making of red wine, one talks about a "Vin de Goutte", a wine drawn
directly from the barrel, in other words it is obtained before the pressing of
the wine harvest. It is the opposite of "Vin de Presse" which is poured from
Grafting : Callus point between two vine shoots. An operation made widespread after
1880, after the Phylloxera crisis, on American vinestock.
Grand wine : This corresponds to the first blended wine from the best selections of a
Bordeaux "grand cru" (great wine)
Grape-variety : Word used to indicate the variety of the vine plant (Pinot, Riesling, etc....)
The choice of the grape-variety or varieties is chief to the quality of the wine,
this is why each region chooses the best suited to the particular soil. The ten
biggest "classical" grape-varieties are: for red wines "cabernet sauvignon",
"pinot noir", "merlot", "cabernet franc" and " syrah"; for white wines,
"riesling", "chardonnais", gewurztraminer" "sauvignon blanc", and "muscat".
Grappa : Eau-de-Vie (digestive liqueur) produced in Italy
Graves : The white wines come from the Sauvignon and Sémillion grape varieties; the
red wines from traditional Bordeaux varieties.
Greece : The strong Greek red wines are produced from grape varieties such as the
"Mavrodaphne", the "Xinomavro" or even the "Liatiko".
Harmonious : Wine with a balanced level of alcohol acidity and sugar
Heady : Wine with a high alcohol content, warming
Heavy : Wine lacking in finesse, strong in alcohol and tannins
Hybrid : Said of a vine-plant which is the result of a cross between two distinct types
of wine. If the two varieties which have been crossed are of the same family,
an intraspecific hybrid is obtained; if they are of different families, an
interspecific hybrid is obtained. The most widely spread crossbreeding is
that of American and European species, which produces hybrids resistant to
phylloxera. Unfortunately the wines which result from this are only of
Hydrometer : Instrument for measuring the sugar content of the must.
Hygrometry : Rate of humidity in the air : for optimum conservation of a wine the level of
hygrometry in the cellar should be about 70%.
I.N.A.O : Institut National des Appelletions d'Origine (National institut for Appelations
of Origin); public organization whose role is to determine and inspect
production conditions of French wines which have the "appellation d'origine
Iced / Chilled : Action consisting of cooling the wine.
Impériale (Big Bottle containing about 6 liters ( 8 bottles of normal size Bordeaux) and
Bordeaux Bottle) : which is used for the conservation of the Great Bordeaux wines.
Incrustation : The formation of a crust on the wine, in particular with port
Jeroboam (double Magnum) : Bottle able to contain 3 bottles of Champagne, or 6 bottles of
Jura : Wines made up of several grape varieties: for red wines
"Poulsard", "Trousseau" and "Pinot Noir"; for white wines
"Savigny", " Chardonnay" and "Pinot"; and for yellow wines
Klevener or Traminer, Vine plant from Alsace which is used to produce flavoured white wines with low a
Lactic Acid : Acid which is formed at the time of the malolactic fermentation of
Lagare : Large, low granit vat which has a capacity of 110 hectolitres,
traditional vignification container for Douro wine.
Lath : Ripe vine shoot.
Lees : Deposit which forms in the vats after fermentation or storage of
the wine, forced from impurities, yeast, tartar and residual matter
from the crop.
Legs : When you swill wine in a glass, it leaves a liquid film on the inside
of the glass. These "tears" (as they can also be called) are the
result of the difference in evaporation and capillary tension
between the water and the alcohol, the latter evaporating much
more quickly than the water. As water is the principal constituent,
there will be more tears when the percentage of alcohol is higher.
Length on the palate : The length of time in which one continues to perceive the
sensations of the wine after having swallowed or spat the wine
out; the duration of this time period is proportional to the quality of
Light : A low alcohol wine, not much body
Louche : A wine troubled by the presence of suspended particles which
cause it to be cloudy.
Maceration : The prolonged contact of the must and the sediments during
fermentation; maceration is longer or shorter depending on
whether one wishes to obtain a red or rosé wine. It is during
maceration that the aromas and tannins are diffused.
Macération préfermentaire : The soaking of the grape before fermentation
Mâché : Wine of which the balance has been destroyed either at the time of
its drawing off or during transport.
Magnum : The contents of this bottle are twice as much as the capacity of a
normal bottle. In other words this bottle contains one and a half
litres. Bottles with a large capacity, like the magnum, allow certain
red wines to age better.
Malic acid : Acid abundant in green grapes and which gives a tarty taste to the
Malolactic fermentation : Fermentation which follows on from alcoholic fermentation and
during which the malic acid is transformed into lactic acid. The
wine is therefore less acidic and softens. It is chiefly favorable to
Marsanne : Vine from which white wine is made and which is found above all
in Provence, Savoie and Algérie
Méchage : Opération qui consiste à faire brûler une mèche de souffre dans un
fût, ceci dans le but de l'assainir.
Medium-dry : Contrary to popular belief, this term does not refer to a dry
Champagne, but a rather sweet Champagne.
Médoc : Red wines obtained from vines such as cabernet sauvignon and
the cabernet franc.
Mercaptan : Smell of rotten eggs
Mou: Wine lacking in character and body
Nature : Wine which hasn't had any sugar added ; for a Champagne, this means
that the wine will not be sparkling.
Nebbiolo : A grand vine from Italy, whose wines are fine and tannic.
Nectar : During ancient times, nectar was the drink of Greek gods ; today we
speak about nectar for wines of exceptional quality.
Nerveux : Sharp and acidic wine
Net : Pleasant and refreshing wine, without a "false" taste
Nose : We speak about the nose when we are talking about a wine's bouquet.
Octave : A small barrel with a capacity varying between 54.5 litres and 81.8 litres
(in general 63.6 litres ).
Oenology : The science and study of wine from production to tasting.
Oily : Wine of which the appearance and the consistency oil : it is a "sick"
Onctuosité : A full, mellow, rich wine.
Ordinary : Wine consumed regularly in France.
Oxidized : Concerns a wine who's taste reminds us of Madeira ; the wine, in this
case, is oxidized and has a dark amber colour for white wines
Partrige-eye pink : Designates the rosy colour which is perceived in certain white and
almost-rosé wines of Bourgogne and Champagne.
Persistent : Wine of which the taste remains in the mouth
Petite Champagne : No relation to Champagne ; comes from the second region of Cognac.
Pleasant : The wine cannot be talked about as being a "Grand Wine", but a
pleasant without any shortcomings, balanced and with neither vice or
Plein : Wine having more taste, body and alcohol than average
Pungent : Tarty acidic wine with a bite
Race : Sharpness of a wine
Racking of the Stage in the wine-making process which consists of eliminating, just
must : before fermentation, the deposit from the must of a wine made from
Regional Grape Varieties : Association of grape varieties authorized or recommended on a plot
Smoothess : The degree to which a wine is well-rounded and ric
Sorbic acid : Acid used as anti-septic and anti-oxidizing agent. Particularly used
sweet white wines with the purpose of avoiding the risks of
Sour : Wine which has turned into vinegar or which is in the process of
doing so due to an excessive acidity.
Staves : Pieces of wood made out of planks of oak split by hand and dried
naturally; they are used to make the casks.
Syrupy : Sweet wine with more than 17g of residual sugar
Tart : Wine whose taste is similar to that of vinegar.
Tartaric acid : Acid of which the quantity in the wine diminishes if the Summer is
very hot. It is sometimes necessary to add must to increase the level
of acidity in a dull wine.
Tastevin : Silver cup which is used for wine tasting, especially in Bourgogne
Tired : Said of a wine that has lost all of its qualities either at the time it was
bottled or during transport.
Vigneron : Person who devoted to growing vines and making wine
Yeast addition : An operation which consists of seeding the yeast strains (which are
carefully selected according to the vinification one wants to obtain )
with the must.
Yeast batch : Microscopic mushrooms which encourage alcoholic fermentation;
these yeast batches are "indigenous"
Yeso : In Spain, this powder which is rich in gypsum is used for the settling
of certain wines
Young : A wine which is not yet mature and needs to be left to age.
Yuzhnoberezhny : Ukranean wine which is concentrated and rich in alcohol drawn from
Zikhron-Yaacov : Israeli vine grown on the slopes of Mount Carmel.
Zilavartea : Vine which is the origin of Macedonian white wines
Zitsa : Very mountainous region in the north of Greece, which produces a
wine which merits attention