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Wine Glossary

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The Roman god of wine. It is also the name of a white grape variety.

A tasting term that describes a wine that is undeveloped and not ready to drink. These wines are often young and tannic.

A tasting term that describes wines that have a harmonious combination of tannin, acidity, texture, alcohol and flavour. This is a vital attribute.

A large format Champagne bottle, equivalent to sixteen standard bottles.

A relatively small wooden (oak) container for fermenting and/or aging wine. Generally 60 gallons in size.

Barrel Aged
Wines that are fermented in containers made of inert material, eg stainless steel, and later transferred to wooden (usually oak) barrels for a period of maturation. Barrel aged also applies to the maturation period of wines that have also been fermented in the barrel.

Barrel Fermented
Wines (especially white wines) that are fermented in oak barrels. In general the ‘oaky’ character of these wines is more subtle than that of wines that have been merely barrel aged.

A French term for stirring of the Lees.

A term that is used to describe the bubble size in sparkling wine or Champagne. Some opinions are that finer wines have smaller and more persistent bubbles. Note that the serving temperature can affect the bead, the colder the wine is served then the bubbles are less vigorous.

A Wyoming clay used to clear wines. It swells up in water then used as finings it absorbs proteins (haze particles) in the wine, dragging them to the bottom as a sediment.

Italian word meaning ‘White’.

A description of wines that are very full or very intense.

French word meaning ‘White’.

Black Fruits
A general term for wine aromas and flavours that suggest blackberries, blueberries, black cherries, blackcurrants, or other black fruits.

Black Grapes
Wine grapes that have a reddish or blue pigmentation in their skins. These grapes are used to make red wines.

Blanc de Blancs
A French term that describes a white wine made only from white grapes. The term is necessary because black grapes can also be used to make white wine; only the grape skins have colour - the juice and pulp are clear. This is especially true in Champagne, where two of the three legally permitted varieties are the black grapes Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.

Blanc de Noirs
A French term that describes a white wine made only from black grapes. This term is commonly used in Champagne, refering to wines made from the black grapes Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.

Spanish word meaning ‘White’.

The mixing together of two or more individual lots of wine. Laws generally dictate which wines can be blended together, and what is subsequently printed on the wine label. A blend is usually from wines of different grape varieties but can also apply to wines from different vineyards, different regions, or different vintages. A wine derived from the juice of different grape varieties is called a blend.

Blind tasting
This is when you taste a wine without knowing what it is, usually achieved by simply covering the bottle label. The advantage of tasting this way is that it removes all prejudices about the wine, and you have to judge it entirely on what you taste.

A Spanish word meaning winery. The term may also be applied to a wine-making company or a building where wine is stored.

The viscosity or fullness of a wine. A wine with plenty of flavour, alcohol, extract and tannin may be described as full bodied.

A fungus that destroys grapes. In a some places when drier conditions follow wetter ones it can be allowed to develop beneficially as "Noble Rot". Botrytis draws the water content from the grape and leaves concentrated sugary juice that makes luscious sweet dessert wines such as Sauternes.

Bottle Age
Maturation of a wine in its bottle. Most wines undergo a short period of bottle age at the winery before release, while fine wines require additional bottle age from the consumer.

Bottles: There are several different types of bottle:

Red wines generally have green bottles.
White table wines generally have tall green or amber bottles. Dessert wines such as Sauternes have white bottles.
Sherries have brown bottles.
Champagnes have flagon size, heavy bottles.

Bottle sizes:
1 bottle = 750ml
Magnum     2 bottles = 1.5litres
Jeroboam    4 bottles (a double magnum) = 3 litres
Rehoboarn    6 bottles = 4.5 litres
Methuselah   8 bottles = 6 litres
Salmanazar     12 bottles = 9 litres
Balthazar    16 bottles =12 litres
Nebuchadnezzar 20 bottles = 15 litres

The smell or aroma of a wine.

Box wine
Wine in a plastic bag that is protected by a cardboard box. The bag is sealed by a simple plastic tap.

A Portuguese word meaning ‘White’.

Also known as Brett. A fault in wine caused by a rogue strain of yeast that imparts a "mousey" aroma that some find repulsive whereas others find adds character, particularly in Rhône and Burgundy reds.

This is a tasting term that describes a tawny, brick red colour, which implies age in a red wine.

Wine can be visually bright, or it can have bright aromas and flavours.

The term used to describe the ultimate clarity of a wine.

This is a measure of the sugar content in grape juice. The term is used particularly New World countries.

A French word used to describe a dry wine (usually Champagne or other sparkling wine). Other terms used to describe Champagne (with more sugar than Brut types) include sec (which still means dry) and demi-sec.

See Airlock.



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