Glossary of wine terms 

Acidity - Ideal ripeness is based on the balance of sugar and acid in the grape. The acids give wine zest, elegance and longevity. Too much acid makes the wine sharp.

Aftertaste - The flavour that remains in the mouth after swallowing.

Appellation - From the French Appellation d'origine controlée (AOC or AC), a system of naming wines designed to prevent fraud and to protect the consumer.

Aroma - The odour of fruit in the wine, as opposed to the overall 'bouquet' which includes odours that result from vinification.

Astringency - The mouth-puckering effect of tannin.

Balance - The harmonious relationship between alcohol, acidity, fruit, sugar and tannin.

Barrique - A small wooden barrel used for ageing wine.

Blanc de blancs - A white wine made from white grapes. The term is commonly used for sparkling wines.

Blanc de noirs - A white wine made from red or black grapes. If the skins are removed from the juice immediately after pressing, the wine remains white.

Body - Refers to the sensation of weight or concentration of the wine in the mouth.

Botrytis cinerea -(Noble rot) A mould that dehydrates the grape and imparts a honeyed flavour to wine.

Bouquet - The odours that are not directly attributable to the grapes.

Brut - Commonly used for Champagne, denotes a very dry wine.

Carbonic maceration - A pre-fermentation procedure whereby grapes are pressed by their own weight and the skins soak in the juice. A layer of carbon dioxide prevents deterioration and the resulting wine is fresh and fruity.

Chaptalization - The addition of sugar to boost alcohol content. Prohibited in certain regions.

Claret - A red wine from Bordeaux. Some countries use the term to denote a wine made in the Bordeaux style.

Complexity - Describes a wine in which a broad range of nuances is present.

Corked - A term that describes a wine affected by certain moulds or infection.

Cross - A vine resulting from a cross of two or more vines of the same species.

Cru - Describes a French vineyard of superior quality.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) - Terms related to the legal demarcation of land used for the production of grapes and the methods used to make wine. See also Appellation.

Eiswein(Icewine) - Wine made from grapes that have frozen on the vine.

Fortified - Wine to which spirit has been added.

Hectare - The metric equivalent to 2.471 acres.

Hectolitre - A measure equal to 100 litres or 22 Imperial gallons.

Hybrid - A vine resulting from a cross of two or more vines from different species.

Icewine - See Eiswein

Maderization - The result of oxidation and heat on a wine so that it takes on Madeira like characteristics. This is usually, but not always undesirable.

Malolactic fermentation - A secondary fermentation resulting from the action of lactic bacteria. This is encouraged or discouraged depending on the style of wine desired.

Must - The juice and skins of pressed grapes before fermentation.

Noble Rot - See botrytis cinerea

Oxidation - A change in the wine as the result of exposure to oxygen.

Phylloxera (vastatrix) - A aphid that attacks the roots of susceptible vines and destroys the plant. Vinifera vines are almost always grafted onto North American rootstock which are phylloxera resistant.

Qualitatswein bestimme Angebaubiete (QbA) - "Quality wine from a specific region" indicating a level of quality above German table wine and Landwein.

Qualitatswein mit Pradikat (QmP) - "Quality wine with specific attributes," a level of quality above QbA and divided into further quality levels based on sugar content: Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Eiswein.

Racking - Removing the fermented wine from its solid matter and replacing it in clean containers.

Residual sugar - Sugar left in the wine after fermentation.

Sediment - Solids that precipitate out of wine during fermentation and ageing.

Spumante - Italian sparkling wine.

Tannin - A substance found in the skins, stalks and pips of grapes as well as in the wood of ageing barrels. It gives the wine astringency that attenuates as the wine ages.

Terroir - Refers to the environment in which the vines grow and includes soil, climate and environmental influences specific to that plot.

Varietal - A variety of grape, e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah etc.

Vinification - The process of making wine.

Vintage - The year in which the grapes are harvested.

Vintner's Quality Alliance (VQA) - Canadian system of appellation.

Yeast - A single celled organism that causes fermentation.