wine glossary

Our Wine Glossary is an informative resource of key wine terms. It lists key general terminology used within the wine Trade and includes descriptions related to viniculture, winemaking, grape varieties, wine tasting, and more.

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  • Acetic acid

    The principal volatile acid in wine resulting mainly from the actions of yeasts during fermentation. Present in trace amounts in sound wine and may contribute to complexity. Higher levels are vinegar-like and stem from contamination or spoilage by acetic acid bacteria at any stage of production, principally post-fermentation. See volatile acidity.

  • Acid/Acidity

    An essential chemical constituent. Tartaric acid is present at an atypically high level in grapes and is the principal acid in wine. Malic acid is also found in grapes along with small amounts of citric acid. Other acids occur as a result of fermentation, such as carbonic, succinic and lactic. Acidity, in the right proportion, provides a refreshing, dry taste and is central to overall balance; it also protects wine from microbial spoilage. The intensity of an acid taste is expressed by pH.

  • Alcohol

    A fundamental building block of wine. Ethanol, a by-product of fermentation, is the most important alcohol in wine. It has a sweet taste and plays an influential role in balancing acidity. Alcohol levels in table wine typically range from 11% to 14%, with variations below and above. A small change in alcoholic strength may have a significant impact on taste.

  • Ampelography

    The branch of botany focused on grapevines; specifically, identification and description of their traits.

  • Anthocyanins

    Phenols found in the skins of dark-skinned grapes and responsible for the color of red wines. With bottle aging, pigmented tannins polymerize and fall out of wine as sediment.

  • Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée/Protegée (AOC/AOP)

    The official regulations governing the upper quality tier of French wine and supervised by a government agency (INAO). The first AOCs took effect in 1936 and were converted to AOPs in the late 2000s in conjunction with European Union legislation. Rules stipulate, among other parameters, the geographic zone of production, grape varieties, minimum/maximum alcoholic content, yields, vine training and pruning. The specifications for each AOP are set out in a document called a cahier des charges.

  • Aroma

    The smell of a young wine, often evocative of flowers and fruits. Most of the flavor impression of wine is aromatic, whether from glass to nose or in the mouth. Despite their resemblance to fruits, nearly all volatile aromatics are derived from fermentation.

  • Assemblage

    The practice of combining different grape varieties and/or lots of wine to yield a desired end result. An operation and term frequently used in Bordeaux, where it most often takes place several months after vintage. Also a basic concept understood and employed elsewhere. Essentially synonymous with blending.

  • Astringent

    A common descriptor indicating a rough, dry texture in the mouth derived from tannin. Usually dissipates with aging in bottle.

  • Auslese

    A higher tier of German wine falling within the Qualitätswien mit Prädikat category, above Spätlese and below Beerenauslese. Literally, a special selection of riper grapes which yield a sweet wine although typically balanced by high acidity. May include some grapes affected by noble rot.

  • Autolysis

    The enzymatic decomposition of yeast cells, a positive phenomenon responsible for the flavor profile of sparkling wines produced by the classic or traditional (Champagne) method. The effects of autolysis, a gain in polysaccharides and mannoproteins, only begin to appear after 12-18 months and are most pronounced after 6-7 years. This explains why prestige cuvées are aged for a longer period. Autolysis also occurs with still white wines as a result of contact, after fermentation, with the lees or deposits of dead yeasts in a tank or barrel, termed sur liein France and elsewhere. Contrary to belief, autolytic aromas are flowery rather than "yeasty" in a freshly disgorged sparkling wine; i.e., one separated from its deposit of yeast cells. In time, a sparkling wine with lengthy lees contact may develop aromas of biscuit or mushroom post-disgorgement.

  • Azienda agricola

    An agricultural business or property in Italy. The term typically precedes the name of the winery or brand.

  • Balance

    The ideal attribute of wine, signifying a harmonious equilibrium of constituents such as alcohol and acidity. Some wines may only achieve complete balance after bottle maturation. Balance is also desirable in terms of the vine and is defined in technical terms as the appropriate leaf-to-fruit ratio.

  • Balthazar

    A large format bottle containing 12 liters or the equivalent of 16 standard bottles.

  • Barrique

    A popular wood barrel holding 225 liters. French in origin and associated with Bordeaux, this barrel style is manufactured by many coopers and is employed widely around the world for wine of many types. See pièce, a Burgundy barrel.

  • Bâtonnage

    The French word for stirring of the lees or deposits in a cask. Commonly employed for barrel-fermented white wine in Burgundy, Bordeaux and many other regions. Traditionally, stirring was done with a baton or stick, now often of stainless steel. Barrels themselves may be rotated in racks designed for this purpose. The aim of bâtonnage is to enrich the wine and enhance oak integration; excessive stirring can lead to imbalanced, heavy wines prone to oxidation.

  • Baumé

    A system of measurement of the specific gravity of grape juice which approximates the sugar concentration. The method preferred by winemakers in Europe and Australia; its counterpart is the Brix scale. Easily understood since the degree Baumé equates closely to the percentage of potential alcohol; e.g., 13° Baumé = 13% alcohol provided the sugars are fully fermented. Baumé can be converted approximately to Brix by multiplying the degree Baumé by 1.8.

  • Beerenauslese

    One of the highest tiers of German Prädikat (QmP) wines, below Trockenbeerenauslese. According to German law, grapes qualifying for a BA must have exceptionally high sugar concentration or must weight. The word translates as a selection of berries, which are infected by noble rot and yield a rare, intensely sweet wine. See botrytis, noble rot.

  • Biodynamic (agriculture)

    A holistic approach to farming developed by Austrian Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s and predicated on organic practices. Practitioners subscribe to a quasi-religious doctrine involving the application of numerous homeopathic, plant-based preparations as well as manure and silica. These are "cured" by burying them in a cow's horn before being added to water which is agitated or "dynamized" before being sprayed on the vineyard. Activities such as pruning, harvesting or bottling are undertaken according to astronomical rhythms, particularly lunar movements. Biodynamic farmers may be certified by private entities such as Demeter or Biodyvin whose logos sometimes appear on wine labels. Whether biodynamic techniques result in superior wine may be debated, but there is no doubt they require an intellectual, emotional and physical commitment, placing high demands, risks and costs on the wine grower.

  • Bodega

    A winery in Spanish.

  • Botrytis

    A fungus, botrytis cinerea, that thrives in humid environments and has a dual personality. In its harmful form for grape growers, botrytis bunch rot or grey rot (sometimes called "vulgar" rot), the fungus attacks ripe grapes and can spread rapidly through bunches and other parts of the vine. Under certain conditions of alternating humidity and dry, sunny periods, it takes a benign or noble form, especially on green or pale-skinned grapes, enabling the production of intensely sweet, concentrated and long-lived wines. See noble rot.

  • Bouquet

    If aroma describes the smell of young wines, bouquet commonly refers to the more developed and altered aromatic expression of a wine which has matured in bottle.

  • Brettanomyces

    Brett, as it is commonly known, is viewed as a spoilage yeast decried by tasters for causing offensive odors described as wet dog, barnyard, horse, burnt plastic or boiled cabbage. Many wine professionals are unaware of the research published by the University of California-Davis in 2013 following extensive analysis of Brettanomyces yeast strains and their by-products. The findings are presented in the form of an aroma impact wheel. Tasters who believe the consequences of Brett are only negative will discover that many are viewed positively; among these are aromas classified as fruity (tropical fruit, citrus), savory (nutty, smoked meat), floral (violet, rose) and woody (cedar, tobacco, graphite).

  • Brix

    A method, widely employed in the U.S., of calculating the dissolved solids in grape juice to determine the sugar concentration, even if sugars do not entirely account for all the solids. See Baumé, an alternate measurement for the same purpose preferred in Europe.

  • Butt

    A Sherry cask. Those used for a solera are called bodega butts and normally hold 36 arrobas(1 arroba = 16.67 liters) or 600 liters. There are as well casks of smaller and larger capacities used in Jerez. The casks are made of American oak. See bodega, solera.

  • Cadastre

    The French term for the precise, official map of vineyards which sets out their exact dimensions and borders together with ownership. A critical and invaluable reference when parcels are subdivided into small, irregular shapes and slivers, each owned by different proprietors, as is the case in Burgundy. See climat, lieu-dit.

  • Calcareous

    A term referring to soils containing calcium carbonate and varying degrees of active lime. Calcareous soils can offer better drainage and nutrient supply to the vine, but their worth to wine growers may have been romanticized by the prevalence of limestones in some of the fabled vineyards of Burgundy. Often found in association with clays, calcareous soils are also present in Champagne, St.-Emilion, Barolo, Chianti Classico, Coonawarra and Jerez. The French term for calcareous clay is argilo-calcaire. See limestone, marl.

  • Cava

    A sparkling wine produced primarily in Catalonia, Spain by the traditional (Champagne) method using Macabeo, Xarel.lo and/or Parellada grapes. A top tier dedicated to single-vineyard examples, Cava de Paraje Calificado (CPC), has recently been incorporated in the legislation. These wines must meet stricter requirements as to vine age, yield and aging on the lees (min. 36 months).

  • Chalk

    Chalk is a form of limestone and is considered desirable for viticulture because of its high porosity and ability to limit fast draining while also facilitating drainage if saturated. Although many insist chalk is present in vineyards in numerous parts of the world, in fact only one region of note, Champagne, can legitimately claim pure chalk. Here, a small, dart-shaped mollusk or Belemnite has given its name to the chalky soils along the rises and slopes; another form, Micraster, is more prevalent on the plains. Vineyards planted on chalk or other limestones need to utilize rootstocks that tolerate high levels of active lime. See limestone.

  • Cépage

    Le cépage is French for grape variety. The word ceprefers to the vinestock itself.

  • Chaptalization

    The process of adding sugar to grape must to increase a wine's alcoholic strength. Takes its name from its foremost promulgator, Jean-Antoine Chaptal, who advocated its use in the early 1800s. In the European Union, chaptalization is strictly regulated and may only be employed in specific zones. Often decried as overly manipulative, boosting alcohol by small increments may yield more balanced wines; in hot climates, alcohol may be removed from wine to the same end. Adding sugar is as well the mirror image of acidification. This form of enrichment or amelioration is becoming less common with rising global temperatures which result in riper grapes with higher sugars.

  • Claret

    The English word for red Bordeaux. A corruption of the French clairet, which described the clear, pale red wines produced in Bordeaux in the late medieval period when England became a principal customer for the region. Clairet continues to this day as an official regional appellation for a light red and is distinct from Bordeaux Rosé, which has its own AOC.

  • Climat

    A specific vineyard site or grouping of sites given a name, especially in Burgundy, where there are 1,247 such recognized vineyards. Recently granted World Heritage status by UNESCO, who stated that they are "a unique and living conservatory of centuries-old traditions." A more nuanced term historically than realized at present, and often used interchangeably with lieu-dit or "named place." Climats in earlier history tended to be vineyards with particular natural advantages, those that in modern times have been designated premier or grand cru. Under appellation laws, they may be the ensemble of numerous lieux-dits or encompass only a certain part of a lieu-dit,or parts of several lieux-dits. In other words, the definition of climat is the very essence of Burgundian complexity. See lieu-dit.

  • Clone

    A vine derived from a single parent that is identical in genetic terms. Clones have been developed in France, Germany and other countries. They tend to be identified by a unique code or number. In practical terms, clonal selection allows for slightly varied traits within a single grape variety, providing growers with security and diversity under the same name. Clones are the mainstay of modern viticulture.

  • Clos

    In France, a vineyard enclosed by stone walls at this time, or at some earlier period. The word is associated with Burgundy in particular; e.g., Clos de Vougeot or Clos de la Roche. Also used in other regions: Clos de l'Echo in Chinon (Loire), Clos Fourtet in St.-Emilion (Bordeaux), Clos Ste.-Hune (Alsace), or Clos des Papes in Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhône).

  • Coulure

    In French, pollination failure: flowers fail to develop into fruit. This condition may result from wet, poor weather during the normal flowering period. See millerandage.

  • Colheita

    Portuguese term for vintage or harvest. It also refers to a style of Port, effectively a Tawny with a vintage date aged for a minimum of seven years in cask. It is a style produced in small quantities by a limited number of shippers and can be of exceptional quality.

  • Corked

    The tasting term for a musty, moldy odor which is caused by various chloroanisoles, of which TCA is the principal culprit. According to several recent studies, the incidence of corked wine has been reduced from an estimated high of 5% to 7%. The improvement has been brought about by more rigorous sterilizing treatments, and the increased usage of alternative closures from synthetic corks to conglomerates such as Diam. Taints from other sources may be mistaken for "corkiness." See TCA.

  • Cosecha

    Harvest or vintage in Spanish. Vendimia has the same meaning.

  • Cru

    A French word that appeared in the 19th century in reference to vineyards of a higher stature; its English equivalent is "growth" though that does not fully or clearly explain its usage. Today, cru is a controlled term of AOC legislation and appears in numerous French regions to designate specific top-tier vineyards (Alsace, Burgundy, Loire) or entire villages (Champagne) and appellations (Rhône) as well as a portion of a single appellation (St.-Emilion). Thus the meaning and application of cru differ significantly. In addition, cru figures prominently in classifications, notably the famous 1855 Classement of the Médoc and Sauternes along with four others pertaining to Bordeaux. Hence cru as a term also exists independently of AOC rules and may or may not be synonymous with the uppermost quality.

  • Cuvée

    A term that has various meanings in France and in other countries as well. It might refer to a single vat or lot, but more commonly to a blend. In Champagne, the cuvée is the product of the assemblage of the base wines, possibly of multiple grape varieties and origins, which is transferred to bottle for the secondary fermentation.

  • Denominazione de Origine Contrallata/ Denominación de Origen/ Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC or DO/DOP)

    Official wine regulatory system and terminology employed in Italy, Spain and Portugal, respectively. Equivalent to France's AOC although rules differ significantly by country. Spain, for example, places particular emphasis on the period of aging before release. Italy has a higher tier, DOCG (or DOC Garantita), with more than 70 qualifying denominations. Spain has its upper level, DOCa (or DO Calificada), applying to two denominations, Rioja and Priorat. See Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée.

  • Disgorgement

    The process of opening a bottle of Champagne, or other classic method sparkling wine, to expel the sediment resulting from the secondary fermentation, in which the wine takes on its sparkle. Dégorgement in French.

  • Dosage

    The addition of cane or beet sugar to a sparkling wine after it has been disgorged, and prior to insertion of the final cork. After they become sparkling, Champagne and equivalent wines are completely dry, all fermentable sugar having been depleted. The dosage, a precisely calibrated mixture, will determine the sugar content of the final product. A minority of traditional sparkling wines may be released without a dosage. Within the European Union, sparkling wine of this type is labeled Brut Nature, Dosage Zéro, or Pas Dosé provided the sugar content is 3 g/l or less and no sugar has been added after the secondary fermentation. Those with 0 to 6 g/l may be marketed as Extra Brut. A standard Brut is required to have less than 12 g/l of sugar.

  • Einzellage (pl. Einzellagen)

    Individual vineyard site in Germany. There are around 2,600 registered Einzellagen.

  • Eiswein/Icewine

    A specific designation of German Prädikat (QmP) wine for those made with grapes frozen on the vine in November or December. As a rule, grapes for Eiswein are not touched by noble rot and must achieve the sugar concentration (must weight) of a Beerenauslese. The resulting wine also possesses exceptionally high acidity and flavor concentration. Eiswein is also produced in Austria. Icewine is the Canadian term for wines meeting even higher standards for sugar ripeness; Canada is the largest producer of this style. Other expressions of ice wines are being made in Luxembourg, the USA (Oregon, Michigan, New York) and China (Jilin, Ningxia, Xinjiang).

  • Elevage

    The term in French for the "upbringing" or maturation of a wine in the cellar prior to bottling. The élevage may be in tank or cask, but often the word implies a period in barrel, during which there are choices such as the frequency of racking and method of fining.

  • Encépagement

    The French word for the mix of grape varieties planted in a vineyard. It is an important term because it serves as the foundation of all AOC regulations. The percentages of authorized varieties stipulated in the rules are established on the basis of plantings, not the composition of a finished wine, even if the two are usually fairly close.

  • Fining

    The process of clarifying a wine in barrel or tank with an agent that will remove solubles such as tannins and other phenolics. Commonly used coagulants include powdered minerals and proteins including egg whites, isinglass or casein. The objective of fining is to improve clarity and stability; fining serves to polish the wine as well.

  • Flint/flinty

    A mineral present in soils in many wine regions; it is odorless and tasteless. The perception of a wine as "flinty" is not determined by flint in the vineyard and has been linked to benzene methane thiol, a highly odoriferous, volatile chemical compound.

  • Flor

    The film of yeast that accumulates on the surface of particular wines, notably Fino Sherry and Vin Jaune from Jura, France. Casks are only partially filled to encourage growth of flor yeasts, which differ from those associated with alcoholic fermentation. Sherry under flor undergoes biological aging resulting in chemical changes such as a decrease in alcohol, glycerol and both total and volatile acidity, together with an increase in acetaldehyde.

  • Foudre

    A large oak cask used to mature wine in certain parts of France.

  • Grand vin

    A French term used in Bordeaux to describe the finest quality wine of an estate and vintage bottled under the name of the château. May also be used in a more general sense to imply a top-class wine, but this is at the discretion of the maker and is not subject to official controls; e.g., Grand Vin de Bordeaux.

  • Graves

    The French word for gravel as well as the eponymous Bordeaux district which, in places, has a gravelly soil.

  • Grosses Gewächs

    The name given to the highest quality tier of wines in Germany by a private association, Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter. Known as GG, such wines are produced in Grosse Lage vineyards; yields are limited and the wines are dry. There are approximately 200 wine estates that belong to the VDP, which holds the copyright to "VDP.Grosses Gewächs". The German wine law does not categorize vineyards in a quality hierarchy; rather, wines are ranked by must weight (sugar concentration).

  • Imperial

    The term in Bordeaux for a large-format bottle holding 6 liters or 8 standard bottles. It contains the same volume as the Methuselah in Champagne, but has the typical straight-sided shape used for Bordeaux wines.

  • Jeroboam

    A large format bottle containing 3 liters or 4 standard bottles of Champagne. This same size is called a double magnum in Bordeaux. For other still wines, a jeroboam could contain either 4 or 6 bottles (4.5 liters) depending on local usage.

  • Kabinett

    Official German wine designation and first level of Prädikat (QmP) category, which has the most demanding criteria in terms of must weight or sugar ripeness. Typically, semi-dry, light-bodied, elegant; can also be dry (Trocken).

  • Lagar

    Portuguese for the traditional open, shallow fermentation vat used in the Douro, in which grapes are crushed by foot. These were made of granite or marble. Today, this process can be done mechanically. Tanks have largely replaced the lagar for maceration.

  • Lees

    The solid deposits or sediment which collects at the bottom of a vat or cask. Some wines, notably Muscadet, are bottled directly from the tank still containing these deposits and are labeled sur lie.Interaction of the wine with the lees may have specific advantages, and they may be agitated or stirred to enhance their contribution. See bâtonnage.

  • Lieu-dit (pl. lieux-dits)

    A named site or place. A term employed in many parts of France, Burgundy foremost among them, perhaps because of the extreme fragmentation of vineyards in that region. A lieu-dit tends to be the smallest defined vineyard unit to bear a name. See climat.

  • Limestone

    Limestones are comprised of calcium and/or magnesium carbonate. As they weather, they create clay, silt or sand to varying depths. It is estimated that calcium carbonate soils underpin as much as two-thirds of France; hence a discussion of French viniculture tends to include reference to limestone, an alkaline, lime-rich soil. See calcareous.

  • Loam

    A soil type present in many wine regions characterized by a mix of sand, silt and clay in varying ratios resulting in lighter, more porous or heavier, water-holding soils. In an ideal mixture, loam possesses adequate water holding capacity yet drains freely. May stimulate vine vigour and growth.

  • Loess

    Wind-blown fine silt and sand providing permeability and facilitating root growth. Loess soils can be highly fertile. Found in some parts of Germany, Austria and Washington State.

  • Malolactic

    The "malo" or MLF is a secondary fermentation or, more accurately, conversion that normally follows the alcoholic fermentation whereby sharper malic acid is converted to softer lactic acid and carbon dioxide. It is provoked by lactic acid bacteria, occurring naturally in older regions and cellars or via inoculation with cultures in new ones. The malo is considered essential for red wines but may be allowed only partially, or blocked entirely, in the case of certain white and sparkling wines; for example, many Rieslings and a few Champagnes. The MLF was not fully understood until the early to mid-1900s, largely through the efforts of Jean Ribéreau-Gayon, a Bordeaux oenologist.

  • Marl

    A term referring generally to calcareous clay soils. See calcareous.

  • Massal selection

    The traditional practice of selecting wood or shoots from the healthiest and often oldest vines in a vineyard for planting purposes. Such vines were planted prior to the adoption of clones. The preferred approach of a small minority of growers in France. Sélection massale in French.

  • Methuselah

    A large format bottle of Champagne containing 6 liters or 8 standard bottles.

  • Mildew

    Two types of cryptogamic or fungal diseases are a frequent threat to vines in some parts of the world. Downy mildew or peronospora and powdery mildew (oïdium in France) are both native to North America, where indigenous vines are resistant. Both were inadvertently brought to Europe in the mid- to late 1800s, causing widespread problems. Lime and copper sulfate mixed with water, called the "Bordeaux mixture" or bouillie bordelaise,was developed in the 1880s as a control. Fungicides are commonly used today.

  • Millerandage

    A condition of incomplete fruit set leaving a number of seedless berries in each bunch. Previously called shot berries. Typically occurs with poor weather at flowering. While yields are consequently reduced, millerandage may improve the quality of red wines owing to a high skin-juice ratio of affected berries. See coulure.

  • Millésime

    Vintage in French.

  • Minerality

    A fashionable tasting term to convey the impression of smelling and/or tasting minerals in wine. A word likely derived from the French equivalent, la minéralité, yet one absent from most dictionaries and many authoritative wine references in either language. Scientists advise that minerals in wine have a distant, indirect and complex relationship with geological minerals in soil. Further, their concentration is below the human taste threshold except, possibly, certain salts such as sodium (in wines from seaside vineyards), calcium, or potassium chloride. Recent sensory studies reveal that the perception of minerality is both subjective and highly variable from one taster to another. According to chemical analysis, wines described as "mineral" by subjects correlate closely with high acidity, low pH and high free SO2 as well as other non-mineral consituents. Minerality is consequently most accurately understood as a metaphorical rather than literal descriptor.

  • Must

    Grape juice before it has been fermented into wine.

  • Nebuchadnezzar

    A large format bottle of Champagne containing 15 liters or 20 standard bottles.

  • Négociant

    A company often called a shipper in the past that may buy grapes, must, bulk or finished wine and sell a finished product under their own labels(s) to importers and wholesalers. The role of a négociant has evolved and become more sophisticated, extending to vineyard management for its grape suppliers as well as fermenting, maturing, blending, labeling and bottling.

  • Négociant Manipulant

    A company which purchases grapes, must or wine to produce Champagne under their own label(s). The major Champagne houses all fall into this category. The initials "NM" appear in small print on the label of such Champagnes.

  • Noble rot

    The term for the beneficent form of botrytis that is integral to many of the most celebrated sweet wines in the world. Noble rot results in dehydration of the grapes, an increase in sugar content and acidity, especially malic, and the formation of gluconic acid as well as other chemical changes. Wines whose fame and character are dependent on noble rot include Sauternes (Bordeaux), Sélection de Grains Nobles (Alsace), or Trockenbeerenauslese (Germany and Austria). See botrytis.

  • Oxidative

    The practice of deliberate exposure of wine to oxygen during its maturation phase in order to achieve a certain character. Examples of wines whose styles are determined by oxidative handling include Oloroso Sherry and fortified vin doux naturel wines from southern France: Rivesaltes Tuilé, Ambré, Hors d'âge, Rancio; Maury Hors d'âge, Rancio; Rasteau of these designations. (These same appellations also produce non-oxidative versions.)

  • Petrol

    The metaphorical term used by some to describe the maturing bouquet of selected Riesling wines. It may be either a positive or negative judgment depending on the taster. This characteristic originates with a norisoprenoid precursor, TDN for short. It may result from stress in the vineyard, particularly lack of nitrogen, low pH soils, or excessive exposure of the fruit to the sun in some areas.

  • Phylloxera

    A pest (Dactylasphaera vitifoliae) native to North America that found its way to Europe in the late 1800s, causing widespread damage. Present in most other global wine regions, with exceptions. During the below-ground phase of its life cycle, the aphid feeds on the roots, eventually killing vulnerable vines. Phylloxera is the principal reason for grafting the scion (grape) variety onto resistant American rootstocks. By forcing vineyards to be replanted with grafted vines, phylloxera brought about other significant changes in viticultural practices and the mix of grape varieties in many regions. See rootstock.

  • Pièce

    The standard barrel in Burgundy that holds 228 liters, counterpart of the 225-liter barrique of Bordeaux. Although very close in dimensions, these two barrels differ in certains details: The staves of a pièce are thicker, the bilge or center portion is larger, and it is heavier (typically 50 vs. 45 kg). The pièce is customarily finished with decorative chestnut hoops.

  • Pipe

    A Port cask and unit of measure in the Port wine trade. A standard pipe contains approximately 534 liters.

  • Quinta

    A farm or wine estate in Portugal. A single quinta Port is the wine produced from multiple parcels of one estate, not a single vineyard per se.

  • Rack

    To transfer wine from one vat or barrel to another.

  • Rebe

    Die Rebe is German for grapevine.

  • Récoltant Manipulant

    The term in French for a grower who makes Champagne from his/her own vineyard property. The initials "RM" appear in small print on the label of such Champagnes.

  • Reductive

    The opposite of oxidative, reductive handling is aimed at shielding a wine from exposure to oxygen. This applies generally to all wines which are vinified or held exclusively in closed, inert tanks. The complicated duality of reduction and oxidation is expressed in a "redox" equation. A wine is said to be reduced if dominated by sulfur compounds. This may simply be a phase of its development in the cellar and will be counteracted by aeration at the time of racking. In some instances, reduction may occur in bottles sealed with screwcaps though this issue has largely been resolved with adjustments in cellar practices and caps which allow an extremely low level of oxygen transmission.

  • Rootstock

    The use of rootstocks, grafted onto the producing portion of the vine, took hold in the 1880s in France to combat the onslaught of phylloxera, a root louse that is native to North America. It was found that certain American vine species were particularly resistant to phylloxera: Vitis riparia, V. rupestris, and V. berlandieri. These three vines, crossed with V. vinifera, provide the rootstocks to keep phylloxera in check. Rootstocks may also be selected to provide resistance to nematodes (roundworms), active lime (in limestone soils), salinity, and for other reasons. See phylloxera.

  • Salamanzar

    A large format Champagne bottle containing 9 liters or 12 standard bottles.

  • Schist

    A metamorphic rock, similar to slate.

  • Scion

    The upper, fruit-bearing part of the vine belonging to the parenting grape variety, which is grafted onto a rootstock.

  • Sélection de Grains Nobles

    The official term for the top tier of late-harvest wine in Alsace made from individual berries shrivelled by noble rot. See botrytis, noble rot.

  • Slate

    A metamorphic rock coming from silt or shale.

  • Solera

    A carefully balanced aging regime based upon drawing off a certain amount of matured wine and replacing it with an equivalent amount of new wine. This fractional blending system is used in Jerez for Sherry. The "nursery" is comprised of stacked butts (barrels) containing wines of different years and ages. About one-third of the total wine volume may be removed each year. A similar system is employed for other fortified Spanish wines as well as some Madeira. See butt.

  • Spätlese

    An official designation of German Prädikat (QmP) wine which translates as late harvest. It meets higher criteria for sugar ripeness (must weight) than Kabinett and can be marketed with its natural sweetness or as a Trocken (dry) or Halbtrocken (half-dry) style.

  • Tannin

    Tannin is a phenol found principally in the skins, stalks and seeds of grapes. Therefore, these flavonoid tannins are an important constituent of red wines, fermented in conjunction with skins, if not stems. Non-flavonoid tannins may be present in some white wines to a minor degree. The total phenolic content of wine varies principally as a function of grape variety. Tannin can also be extracted from oak barrels. Tannin imparts an astringency to the palate; so-called "green" or condensed tannins taste coarse or even bitter. Tannin provides a major part of the structure of red wines and facilitates aging in bottle. With time, the red pigment (anthocyanins) and tannins polymerize and fall out in the form of sediment, leaving a paler, increasingly brown-colored liquid.

  • TCA

    Acronym for 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole, the best-known source of cork taint. TCA may originate with bleaching agents or the cork oak tree itself as well as oak casks and treated wood in a winery. See corked.

  • Terroir

    A term used everywhere in the wine world, though meanings may differ. In the purest sense, terroir signifies all the natural, immutable conditions which influence the vine, its fruit, and, by extension, the character of wine: climate, topography and soil. Many add human contributions to the equation since wine only exists as the result of intervention by people: what to plant, how to manage the vineyard, and how to conduct the entire winemaking process. The word is derived from terraire and the Latin territorium, which meant the cultivable land belonging to a town. In France, it is common to equate terroir with la terre(earth) or soil alone, a narrow definition restricting terroir to a single factor. Terroir in the all-encompassing sense is a universal concept; it exists in all wine regions.

  • Trocken/Halbtrocken

    German designations for dry and half-dry wines which are permitted to have a maximum of 9 g/l and 18 g/l of residual sugar, respectively.

  • Trockenbeerenauslese

    The highest official grade of German wine, pinnacle of the Prädikat (QmP) category. The term means a selection of dry berries: the grapes are completely infected and shriveled by noble rot. TBA wines are intensely sweet (from 150 to 300 g/l of residual sugar, or 15% to 30%) and low in alcohol (minimum 5.5%). They are produced in extremely limited quantities in certain years when conditions are suitable. The same term is also used in Austria. See botrytis, noble rot.

  • Vigneron

    Le vigneron is a wine grower in French.

  • Vin Doux Naturel

    A VDN is a naturally sweet fortified wine in France produced at low yields and high sugar ripeness, but not from grapes affected by botrytis. They usually have around 110 g/l of residual sugar (11%) and 15% alcohol. There are equivalent styles from other Mediterranean countries. French examples include Muscat de Rivesaltes, Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise, Maury and Banyuls; in Greece, Muscat of Pátras, Sámos Vin Doux Naturel; in Italy, Moscato or Passito di Pantelleria liquoroso or Vino Dolce Naturale.

  • Vitis vinifera

    V. vinifera is the species of grapevine which is the foundation of modern viticulture. All the so-called classic grape varieties - Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc. - belong to the subspecies now called V. vinifera vinifera.The wild V. vinifera vine was domesticated around 4000 BCE, or earlier, in southeastern Anatolia or Transcaucasia. There are as well species native to other parts of the world; in North America, they include V. labrusca, V. rupestris, V. riparia, and V. rotundifolia.

  • Volatile acidity

    The combined total of volatile acids. Acetic acid accounts for nearly all of the VA in wine. A trace amount can contribute to a wine's aromatic complexity. See acetic acid.