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Winespeak

Glossary of terms


Brief Summary

abboccato (It.) - indicated on the label of sweet wine from Italy

acerbe (Fr.) - coarse, acidic wine

acetone - offensive nose recognisable as nail varnish caused by oxidation

aggresive wine - usually still youthful with harsh tannins that will soften with age

alcohol - important component for conserving  wine, on the nose it is odourless but can assessed by its weight in the mouth;  if a wine is too alcoholic, it will cause a burning sensation at the back of the throat

amabile (It.) - indicated on the label of semi-sweet wine from Italy

ambré (Fr.) - wine having an ochre hue

AOC Appellation d'Origine Contrôlé (Fr.) - indication of the highest quality in French wines

appellation (Fr. appellation) - name of the place of origin

archivní víno (Cz.) - bottle-aged or archive wine, in the Czech Republic described as a wine over two years old

aroma - primary smell derived from the grapes, also used by oenologists in description of initial odours from the fermentation

asbestos - unpleasant smell in the wine caused by filter pads (either new or old and dirty)

aspect - appearance of a wine

assemblage (Fr.) - coupage, blending of wines of various varieties, vintages, crus, parcels or vineyards for a cuvée (especially in Champagne)

astringent wine - aggressive wine with a high acidity or tannin content

attack (Fr. attaque) - bite, the first impression the wine gives on the palate

Ausbruch (Ger.) - a term used in Austria for botrytised wine (when the berries have been attacked by the noble rot Botrytis cinerea), qualitatively between Eiswein and Trockenbeerenauslese

Auslese (Ger.) - indicates QmP or wine with special attributes in Germany and Austria, equivalent of the Czech "Selection"

autolysis - sur lie (Fr.) - breakdown of yeast during fermentation (typical examples are secondary fermentation of sparkling wine or wine matured while lying on the dead yeast cells, lees - sur lie) which imparts a typical biscuity aroma

barikové víno - see barrique

barrique (Fr.) - type of oak barrel (e.g. traditionally the Bordeaux barrique of 225 litres) now used universally including the Czech Republic;  barrique wine (barikové víno) - indicative of a wine matured in oak over a period of time

Baumé (Fr.)  Bé for short - scale measurement of must-weight and residual-sugar content in France (1°Bé 18 g/l  residual sugar)

Beerenauslese (Ger.) - Indicates a wine with special attributes (special selection of individual berries) in Germany and Austria  (see QmP) 

bílé víno (Cz.) - white wine

bio víno (Cz.) - organic wine

blanc, vin blanc (Fr.) - white wine

blanc des blancs (Fr.) - white wine made from white grapes varieties

blanc des noirs (Fr.) - white wine made from black grape varieties

blend  - see also cuvée

body - describes the weight in the mouth of a wine due to alcohol content and other factors = wines from hot climates have greater body than those from cooler climes

Bordeaux mixture - solution of copper sulphate with lime (calcium hydroxide) sprayed on vines against fungal diseases

botrytised wine - wine made from grapes affected by noble rot (viz. Botrytis cinerea), most famously Sauternes (Château d'Yquem) and Tokaj Aszú

Botrytis cinerea (Lat.) - noble rot, pourriture noble (Fr.), Edelfäule (Ger.) - benevolent form of the undesirable grey rot which affects grapes in long hot autumns, attacking the berries and living off the juice, causing them to appear  like shrivelled raisins

bouchonné (Fr.) - corked wine (derived from bouchon = stopper, cork), wine contaminated by the compound  TCA (2-4-6 trichloroanisole) (see chapter headed Common Wine Faults)

bouquet (Fr.) - the enjoyable and sometimes characteristic aroma or nose of a wine evolved during its development inside the bottle

Brix (USA) - American scale for measuring sugar levels

brut (Fr.) - dry wine, indicated in the amount of dosage in sparkling wines such as Champagne (brut = 0-15 g/l)

brut sauvage (Fr.) - see brut zéro

brut zéro (Fr.) - extra dry sparkling wine or Champagne, see also ultra brut, extra brut or brut sauvage, a term describing a sparkling wine with no sugar added to the dosage

cat, catty, cat's pee - typical smell associated with young wines from Sauvignon Blanc

cépage (Fr.) - grape variety, cultivar

chaptalisation (Fr. chaptalisation) - addition of beet sugar to the must prior to fermentation to increase alcohol content, named after Napoleon's Minister of Agriculture, Jean Chaptal, the first person to write on this process

charmat (Fr.) - méthode Charmat, cuve close is the production of sparkling wine first used by Eugène Charmat whereby the second fermentation takes place in a sealed tank, after which the wine is filtered under pressure and re-bottled

château (Fr.) - a stately home or more properly an estate wherein wine is produced in France

clairet (Fr.) - pale rosé wine made from black grapes (cf. claret and klaret)

claret (Eng.) - from Fr. clairet, now used in anglophone world to describe deep dark reds from Bordeaux

clean, cleanliness - pleasant wine, without defects

clear, clarity - bright wine without evidence of either sediment or cloudiness

clone - descendent of a single parent propagated by vegetative means

cloying - turbid, sweet wine lacking in sufficient acidity to give balance

complex, complexity - multi-dimensional wine on the nose and palate

corked  wine  - wine tainted by  TCA (see bouchonné and chapter headed Common Wine Faults)

coulure (Fr) - in unfavourable weather conditions the flowers scarcely develop and pollinate (cf. millerandage) 

cru (Fr.) - a difficult word to translate, literally meaning growth; can also mean indication of quality of wine or vineyard rating (e.g. in Champagne) but can also have very different meanings in different French wine regions (e.g. premier cru, grand cru, grand cru classé, premier grand cru classé, cru de Beaujolais…)

cru bourgeois (Fr.)  - classification of wine in Médoc in Bordeaux of some of the most renowned châteaux which were not included in the world-famous Grand Cru Classé 1855 classification

cuve close (Fr.) - closed tank for fermentation, eg. charmat

cuvée (Fr.) - blend - 1.  of the first 75 out of every 100 litres of juice in Champagne where the remaining 25 litres are known as taille);  2.  certain wine or brand (not necessarily a blend of two or more varieties);  3.  blend of various base wines (see assemblage)

dégorgement (Fr.) - disgorging or the removal of sediment from a bottle of sparkling wine made by the traditional method

delicate wine - soft, luscious, mellow wine

demi-sec (Fr.) - semi-sweet sparkling wine with residual sugar of 33-50 g/l

deep, depth - opaque, dark wine or one with many intermingling flavours

DOC Denominazione di Origine Controllata (It.) - indicating origin of Italian wines

DOCG Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (It.) - highest indication of quality of Italian wines with guaranteed place of origin

DOCa Denominación de Origen Calificada (Sp.) - indicating quality of Spanish wine from the Rioja region

DO Denominación de Origen (Sp.), Denominação de Origem (Port.) - indicating place of origin of Spanish or Portuguese wines

dosage (Fr.) - adjustment  of level of sugar used contained in the liqueur d'expedition added before the final stage in sparkling-wine production

doux (Fr.) - sweet sparkling wine with residual sugar above 50 g/l

earthy - wine having the characteristics representative of a certain type of soil

Eiswein (Ger.) - ice wine, ledové víno, wine produced from grapes picked at temperatures of no higher than -8°C and immediately pressed

élevage (Fr.) - maturation, ageing between fermentation and bottling

encépagement (Fr.) - varietal composition

en primeur (Fr.) - wine bought when still in the barrel - the so-called futures sales as in Bordeaux or Rhône

ex-cellars - net price including taxes of wine bought direct from the producer (not including transport, insurance, etc.)

extra brut - see brut zéro

extract - solid substances which dissolve to give a full, well-balanced, corpulent  and harmonised wine

extra-sec (Fr.) - dry sparkling wine having residual sugar of 12-20 g/l

farmyard - earthy, on occasion reminiscent of manure, common in corpulent reds such as Australian Shiraz or mature Burgundy

fermentation - chemical process whereby with the aid of yeast natural sugars convert to alcohol and carbon dioxide

finish - length over which the taste of a wine lingers in the mouth after swallowing; a good finish is one that is sustained and does not tail away rapidly

flabby - poor, uninspiring wine without crispness or substantial finish

flat - dull, flabby wine or a sparkling wine with no sparkle

flavour - combination of nose and palate (aroma and taste)

flinty - wine reminiscent of gunpowder, e.g. Sauvignon Blanc from Pouilly Fumé

flor  - yeast which forms on the surface of Sherry, from which it receives its distinctive character

floral - fragrantly flowery, particularly noticeable in certain Germanic-style white wines

foxy - wild flavoured wine, especially from native American vines, named for the wild or ‘foxy’ nature of the grapes not the smell of the animal

fortified - liqueur wines, made in the style of Port, Sherry, Madeira or Vin Doux Naturel

fragrant - wine having a full and natural scent

frizzante (It.) - light sparkling wine (see pétillant)

fruity, fruit character - said of a wine with distinctive fruit flavour, though this is not likely to be reminiscent of grapes

fumé (Fr.) - smokey, see also flinty

full body, full-bodied - well structured, corpulent wine

gamey - approaching its zenith, just like hung game for which it is a natural partner, an acquired taste

grand cru (Fr.) - 1.  in the hierarchy of Burgundy wines, the top 1% of the production, a grand cru commune has the right to have the appellation grand cru displayed on the label;  2.  in the Champagne region 17 communes are known as the grand cru villages;  3. in the region of Saint-Emilion however the term does not have the same meaning as in the Médoc or in Burgundy (in this country this is often misinterpreted!)

grand cru classé (Fr.) - 1.  in the Médoc region this means belonging to the highest classification Grand Cru Classé 1855, in which 61 chateaux were included in 5 categories (premier grand cru classé, deuxieme grand cru classé, troisieme  grand  cru  classé, quatrieme grand cru classé and finally cinquieme grand cru classé; in practice the last three are simply referred to as grand cru classé 1855); 2.  in Saint- Emilion, which was classified in 1959, there exists a higher category than grand cru classé - premier cru classé which is further divided into A (to which only two châteaux, Château Cheval Blanc and Château Ausone, belong) and premier cru classé B, with approximately a dozen

grand vin (Fr.) - literally a big wine, the concept relates to the top Bordeaux (Mouton-Rothschild, d'Yquem), though in practice it is often attached to the labels of simple clarets, where it has no meaning whatsoever

grapey - rich aroma reminiscent of lush muscat table grapes, usual in wines made from the Muscat-related varieties as well as crossings such as Scheurebe, Moravian Muscat, Pálava etc.

gras (Fr.) - fat, rich, round wines

green - harsh, wine often associated with wine made from unripe grapes

gustative - perception of taste

gutsy - robust wine high in alcohol and full of a zest for life, usually red

habillage (Fr.) - the final dressing-up of a bottle, especially Champagne (label, back label, neck label or collar, capsule, muselet and so on)

Halb-Trocken (Ger.) - semi-sweet wine

heavy - over-corpulent wine, containing too much alcohol and extract

honeyed -  highly fragrant characteristic of certain mature white wines such as Sauternes, TBA and many of the archivní wines found in this country

hybrid - interspecific cross between Vitis vinifera with American varieties Vitis riparia, Vitis rupestris, Vitis berlandieri etc.

inky - wine having  an unpleasant metallic smell, caused through the interaction between the tannins and iron (iron tannate being the principal ingredient in ink)

jakostní víno (Cz.) - quality wine produced in a specified region

jammy - wine, usually red, having a flavour of concentrated fruit

Kabinett  (Ger.),  (Cz . Kabinet)  - indicating a wine with special attributes in Germany and Austria (see QmP)

klaret (Cz.) - in Czech meaning white or rosé wine made from black grape varieties - see also blanc des noirs, (cf. claret - not to be confused with)

KMW Klosterneuburger Mostwaage (Ger.) - scale for the measurement of sugar-per-kilogram of juice used in Austria (°KMW x 5 = °Oe)

kvaseno v láhvi (Cz.) -  fermented in bottle (see  méthode  classique, traditionelle)

ledové víno (Cz.) - see Eiswein

legs - (also cathedral windows, tears) the term used to define the thin film of liquid sliding down the inside of a glass after swirling, usually seen in wines rich in alcohol

liqueur de tirage (Fr.) - during the production of sparkling wines the blend of wine, sugar and yeasts added to still wine with the aim of starting a second fermentation either in tank or bottle

liqueur d'expédition (Fr.) - (viz. dosage, brut, demi-sec)

liqueur wine - see fortified wine

liquoreux (Fr.) - lush white wines (Sauternes, Barsac) full of extract and high in alcohol

luscious - generous, full, fruity, sweet white wines

maceration - continued contact with the skins to exctract colour and tannins in the production of red (or rosé) wine

macération carobonique (Fr.) - fermentation of whole berries which takes place under a veil of carbon dioxide (typically in Beaujolais Nouveau)

maderized (Fr. madérisé, derived of Madère, Fr. for Madeira), pertaining to the wines of Madeira but meaning oxidised (see chapter headed:  Common Wine Faults)

maître de chai (Fr.) - cellar master, sklepmistr (Cz.)

meaty - chewey, fleshy wine

medium-bodied - wine neither too light nor too heavy in alcohol or extract

mellow - mature, well-balanced wine, wonderful to enjoy

mercaptans - unpleasant often rubbery odour emanating from a wine, caused by the conversion of sulphur dioxide (used as a preservative) to hydrogen sulphide which then reacts with ethyl (methyl) alcohol

méthode classique, traditionnelle (Fr.) - indicating sparkling wine made by the so-called classic method (pre-1994 known as méthode champenoise)

millerandage (Fr.) - malformation of grapes following coulure

moelleux (Fr.) - smooth, lush, rich wine, not necessarily sweet

mouse, mousy wine  (Fr. tourne) - name for a bacteriological contamination of  wine in barrel, recognisable by a flat, almost cardboardy taste likened to mouse droppings that lingers unpleasantly long in the mouth (see chapter headed:  Common Wine Faults)

musqué (Fr.) - musky, pertaining to musk

muselet (Fr.) - wire cage, literally the muzzle, securing the stopper of a sparkling wine bottle, stopping the cork from popping prematurely

négociant, négociant-éleveur - (Fr.) - merchant, person who buys, matures and sells wine (very important in Burgundy)

nervy wine - lively, vigorous wine

noble rot - (see  Botrytis cinerea)

nuance - having constituents that hints at specific aromas  (e.g. fruity wine with spicy undertones)

NV (non-vintage) - (cf. vintage)

oaked, oakey - wine matured in oak barrels such as in Bordeaux barriques of  225 litres which give the wine a smooth vanilla flavour

Oechsle (Ger.) short Oe - scale for the measurement of sugar must-weight in the grapes in Germany and Austria

oenology -  the science of making wine from grapes

off-dry - wine that is less than dry but not sweet (see polosuché)

olfactory - assessment of a wine using the sense of smell

opulent - rich

organoleptic - sensory assessment of wine

organic wine - wine produced using a minimum of chemical treatment in the vineyard or in the cellar (see bio víno)

oxidised - old, off-flavours, due to a wine's contact with air

passage (Fr.) - sorties in the vineyard with the aim of choosing the grapes in the best condition, picking them by hand (see tri, triage) a process undertaken for instance in the Sauternes region where, during the harvest, several such trips to the vineyard will need to be made to select only botrytised berries

passito (It.) - sultana-like berries that have lost half their weight by drying on (usually straw) mats in well ventilated lofts

perlivé víno (Cz) - carbonated wine made with carbon-dioxide injection (bicycle pump)

pétillant (Fr.) - lightly and naturally-occurring sparkle in a wine (see frizzante)

petrolly, petrol character - smell typically associated with mature Rieslings

Phylloxera vastatrix (Lat.) - most notorious pest affecting the vineyard, arriving in Europe from north America during the nineteenth century - the 'devastator' - a wine louse that feeds on the roots of the European Vitis vinifera species soon killing it and against which there is no known defence other than to graft the European scions onto American native rootstock, which has long been immune to the disease

piqué (Fr.) - literally pricked, a wine containing a desperately large quantity of volatile acidity

plummy - (also jammy) wine with a high fruit character and low tannin, typical of wines made by carbonic maceration (see macération carobonique)

polosuché (Cz.) - wine having more than 4 grams/litre (up to 35 grams) residual sugar - see also off-dry

polosladké (Cz.) - wine having between 50-80 grams/litre residual sugar - see also demi-sec

poslamné víno (Cz.) - straw wine, see also slámové víno

potential alcohol - theoretical scale for calculating the alcohol level that will be reached once all the sugar has fermented

pupitre (Fr.) - a wooden rack used for riddling bottles of sparkling wine by hand to move the sediment (see remuage)

premier cru (Fr.) - in the hierarchy of Burgundy wines this is in second place behind the prestigious grand cru but beware, in Saint-Emilion the words premier grand cru attached to a wine draw the highest appraisal (see also grand cru classé)

QbA Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (Ger.) - indicating a quality wine in Germany and Austria which is allowed to be chaptalised

QmP Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (Ger.) - indicating a quality wine with special attributes in Germany or Austria, according to their must-weight and which must not be chaptalised (Kabinett,  Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Ausbruch a Eiswein)

RD (Fr. récemment dégorgé) - a Champagne wine that has recently been disgorged

remuage; remueur (Fr.) - riddling, riddler, the process of shifting the sediment into the cone of the neck of a bottle of sparkling wine made by the traditional method as a build-up to dégorgement and the person who performs the task

residual sugar  - the unfermented sugar remaining in any wine after bottling, even in the driest of wines

robust wine - wine that is substantial, opulent, round and full-bodied, generally red (such as a mature Cabernet Sauvignon)

rosé (Fr.) - wine of a pink hue, made by short fermentation on the skins of red grapes

rouge, vin rouge (Fr.) - red wine

samotok - free-run wine (Fr. vin de goutte) grape juice that has not been pressed

sec (Fr.) - semi-sweet sparkling wine having residual sugar content of 17-35 grams per litre

sélection des grains nobles (Fr.) - wine made from grapes attacked by the noble rot Botrytis cinerea

Schilfwein (Ger.) - a process typical to the Burgenland district of Austria where, as with straw wine (cf. slámové víno), the grapes are put out  beside the Neusiedlersee to dry in the sun on a bed of reeds

sklep(mistr) (Cz.)- cellar(master), (see also maître de chai)

sladké víno (Cz.) - sweet wine, having residual sugar content of more than 80 grams per litre

slámové víno (Cz.) - being wine made from grapes that have dried over a period of time on a bed of straw in a well-ventilated barn or loft, leading to a concentration of the sugars (see poslamné víno, Schilfwein, passito or Strohwein)

smokey - subtle undertone typical of certain varieties or wine districts, e.g. Pouilly Fumé (Fr. fumé = smoked)

sous voile (Fr., meaning under a veil) - vinification when a thin film of yeast referred to as flor is formed on the surface of e.g. Fino Sherry

Spätlese (Ger.) - indicating a wine with special attributes (late-picked, Fr. vendange tardive) in Germany and Austria (see QMP)

spicy - wine rich in spice-like elements (vanilla, cinnamon,) such as the variety Gewurtzraminer - where the word gewürz means spicy - it can also be arrived at from maturing in new barriques or from a longer than average maturation in bottle

steely - light though firm, fresh white  wine with a good amount of acidity, typically applied to the wines of Chablis

stolní víno  (Cz.) - table wine

straw wine - (see slámové víno, poslamné víno, Schilfwein, Passito or Strohwein)

Strohwein (Ger.) - straw wine (see slámové víno, poslamné víno, Schilfwein or Passito)

subtle - soft, well-balanced  wine having hidden complexity

sudové víno (Cz.) - bulk wine, wine from the barrel

supérieur (Fr.) - meaning in AOC Bordeaux Supérieur a 0.5% higher alcoholic content than AOC Bordeaux and has no bearing whatever on superior quality

superiore (It.) - (see supérieur e.g. Frascati Superiore) it may also mean wine that has matured for longer or grapes with origins in a specific vineyard, however, according to the latest wine laws this term will soon cease to be legal

sur pointes (Fr.) - in Champagne cellars bottles awaiting disgorging are placed in a vertical position, literally "on their heads"

sur lattes (Fr.) - in Champagne cellars bottles lie on wooden racks referred to as lattes where they undergo their secondary fermentation and yeast autolysis

sur lie (Fr.) - literally  'on the lees', when the yeast autolysis takes place - typical for the Muscadet variety (syn. Melon de Bourgogne) in the French wine region of the same name

tannin - a substance found in the grape skins which is extracted during red-wine vinification, being  a vital preserving agent; tannins are also imparted by oak maturation (these are known as sweet tannins and are reminiscent of vanilla) - in tasting tannins are detected by a shrinking sensation of the inside of the mouth, the cheeks and the coating of the teeth and gums

TBA Trockenbeerenauslese (Ger.) - indicating a wine having special attributes literally meaning the selection of dried raisin-like berries (see also QmP)

teinturier -  a black grape variety having its colouring agents not only in the skins but also in the flesh 

terroir (Fr.) - untranslatable term embracing a combination of soil composition, climatic conditions, grape variety and the method of vinification in a specific wine region

thin - watery, tasteless wine, lacking body

transvasage (Fr.) - transfer method used in the production of sparkling wines, during which the second fermentation takes place in bottle up to the point of sediment removal, when wine is transferred to a large-capacity tank under pressure, filtered and bottled in a different bottle in which the secondary fermentation process has occurred (see charmat)

tri, triage (Fr.) - (see passage)

Trocken (Ger.) - dry wine

Trockenbeerenauslese - see TBA

ultra brut - see brut zéro

vanilla - perception in the mouth derived from the ethyl vanilline present in oak barrels, which impart a distinctive character to barrique wines

VDN Vin Doux Naturel (Fr.) -  literally 'naturally sweet wine', meaning in fact fortified wine from the southern part of France (e.g. Banyuls, Rivesaltes, Maury, Muscat de Frontignan)

VDQS Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure (Fr.) - second rung in the quality hierarchy after Appellation d´Origine Contrôlée (see AOC)

vendange tardive (Fr.) - late picking of grapes in the Alsace region

vin de goutte (Fr.) - free-run wine (Cz. samotok)

vin de table (Fr.) - table wine, stolní víno 

vin de paille (Fr.) - literally straw wine made in the Jura region of France (see slámové víno, Schilfwein, Passito or Strohwein)

vin de pays (Fr.) - regional, country or district wine

vin de presse (Fr.) - wine that has been pressed, rich in tannins

vin jaune (Fr.) - literally yellow wine, speciality of the Jura region

vin liquoreux (Fr.) - sweet, unfortified white wine, the title is typical for the sweet wines of Bordeaux

vinification - production of wine

vintage - year in which the grapes are harvested

viscous - wine having an oily feel and taste, thick, with excellent legs

volatile, volatile acidity - vinegary taste, often making the wine undrinkable as well as being the first sign of its terminal decline

watery - thin, wishy-washy wine without nose, taste, alcohol, extract or acidity

well balanced - wine that combines all the essential elements in harmony

zámek (Cz.) - castle, estate, château

zesty - clear, crisp, lively wine full of elan

zingy - exciting, animated wine with lots of oomph

známkové víno  (Cz.) - brand-name wine



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