Glossary

wineglossaryThe process of learning about wine can be overwhelming.  Here is a glossary to get you started so you don’t have to nod your head politely when someone says appellation or varietal.  This is not a comprehensive list but it is a great place to start.  My list is derived from many sources.  If you are in need of something meatier, I suggest the Great Glossary presented by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.


Glossary of Terms
Term Description
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.
Blend The process whereby two or more grape varieties are combined after separate fermentation; common blends include Cotes de Rhone 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 rose.
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 Semillon.
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.
Corked A wine with musty, mushroomy aromas and flavors resulting from a cork tainted by TCA (trichloroanisol).
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.
Fermentation The process by which sugar is transformed into alcohol; how grape juice interacts with yeast to become wine.
Sommelier Technically a wine steward, but one potentially with a great degree of wine knowledge as well as a diploma of sorts in wine studies.
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.
Varietal A wine made from just one grape type and named after that grape; the opposite of a blend.
Vintage A particular year in the wine business; a specific harvest.
Yeast Organisms that issue enzymes that trigger the fermentation process; yeasts can be natural or commercial.