Acidity: There are many acids found in wine, and in the right combinations, they give life to the wine's flavor. Too little acidity in a wine will mark it as somewhat flat, too much may come across as an unpleasant bite, sharpness or sourness in the taste. Excess acetic acid--or volatile acidity--makes the wine unpalatable and turns it into vinegar.
Ampelography: The study of grape varieties.
Anthocyanin: The pigment in grapes that imparts the color to red wine.
Appellation: A clearly defined growing region with unique characteristics that insures a certain quality of vine and grape. A mark of distinction.
Aroma: The smells of the wine, comprised of the scent of the grapes used, scents derived from fermentation and scents that come from the aging process, such as the smell of oak from barrels.
Blanc de blancs: In French, literally a white wine made exclusively from white grapes. The term is usually used to describe a sparkling wine made only from Chardonnay grapes.
Blanc de noirs: A white, or almost white, wine made from red grapes. The grape skins, which provide most of the color to a red wine, are removed as fast as possible after crushing, leading to a more-or-less white wine with just a hint of pinkness.
Blending: Wines of different varieties or vineyards are mixed together to create a product with certain desirable characteristics.
Blush: A blush wine is either a mixture of red and white wines--a rose--or a white wine made from red grapes, such as a blanc de noirs.
Bodega: A Spanish word that can mean wine cellar, warehouse or winery.
Body: The combination of alcohol content and soluble solids in a wine.
Botrytis cinerea: A fungus called noble rot which under the right conditions can lead to shriveled grapes with high sugar contents that make excellent sweet wines.
Bouquet: The overall scent of a wine, derived from the various disctinct aromas.
Boutique winery: A small winery specializing in a few types of high-quality wines.
Brut: Denotes the driest type of champagne or sparkling wine.
Budburst: The point at which buds on the vine begin to open up.
Canopy management: The science of growing and nurturing grape vines.
Carbonic maceration: A technique of making wine in which the grapes are allowed to ferment for a week or so in sealed containers before the grapes are crushed. Ultimately, they're crushed as with any other grapes, and the wine-making process continues from there in the conventional fashion.
Chaptalization: The adding of sugar to the new grape juice before fermentation in order to give wine a higher alcoholic content.
Charmat: A way of making Champagne or other sparkling wines, in which wine sugar and yeast are combined in a large vat so that a second fermentation can take place. This leads to the development of carbon dioxide and bubbles. Also called the bulk method of making sparkling wine, it differs from the Champagne method, in which the second fermentation takes place inside individual bottles.
Chateau: In French, literally castle. In practical contemporary usage, it refers to a winery and its vineyards.
Claret: A light, rich red wine, typically from the Bordeaux region of France, often comprised of a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes.
Clonal selection: The choice of clones with certain desired qualities, such as a resistance to disease or large yields.
Cloning: The horticultural technique of reproducing identical plants from an original source.
Clos: A French term describing the walled vineyards most common to Burgundy.
Cooperative: A union of grape growers and winemakers who share common production facilities.
Corked: A description for wine that smells of rotten cork caused by rare molds.
Cru: French term meaning growth. It refers to an area with a particular climate and soil, and in Bordeaux it is used to mean a wine from a particular estate.
Crushing: The first stage of wine-making after grapes are cut, it's the process of crushing the grapes and separating them from the stems.
Cuve: A French word for the tank used to contain the fermenting juice of just-crushed grapes.
Cuvee: A French word meaning vatful or container-full of must or wine. Generally used to refer to a batch of wine with consistent qualities.
Decanting: The pouring of wine from one bottle to another so as to leave sediment behind in the first container.
Deposit: The sediment of particles in wine.
Disgorging: The point at which sediments are removed from sparkling wines made by the Champagne method. The neck of an inverted bottle is frozen, and the "cork" of sediment-filled ice pops out when the temporary cap is removed from the bottle.
Domaine: Equivalent to chateau.
Dosage: A small shot of sugar and brandy sometimes added to sparkling wine after the disgorgement. The dosage helps determine how sweet or dry the sparkling wine will be.
Dry: Usually refers to an absence of residual sugar. A dry wine is one without any sugar or sweetness remaining. Ironically, when sparkling wines are concerned, it refers to sweeter types. Brut is the classification for sparkling wines lacking any sugar.
Fermentation: The process by which yeast and sugar are converted into carbon dioxide and alcohol. The sugar is converted into roughly equal parts of those two substances, and a grape juice that is 24 percent sugar will end up as a wine with about a 12 percent alcohol content. The carbon dioxide dissipates into the atmosphere, except in the production of sparkling wines, when it's trapped in the wine to supply the bubbles.
Filtering: The process in which excess sediments or solids are removed from wine before bottling.
Fining: A way to remove solid particles from wine by adding a substance to the top of a tankful of wine, which then falls through the liquid to the bottom of the tank, taking the particles with it. Frothy egg whites or bentonite--a clay--are often used in this clarifying process. After the agent and the particles it collects reach the bottom, the clear wine is removed from the top, leaving the sediment behind.
Fortified wines: Wines such as vermouth, which have extra alcohol added beyond that which is created naturally in the fermentation process.
Foxy: A gamey smell common to some wines made from wild grape stock.
Free-run wine: Wine that comes from juice that flows easily from the crushed grapes, as opposed to the harsher juice that comes from the pressed skins.
Grafting: The process by which a slip from one grape vine is attached to the root and trunk of another. That will allow the desirable grapes from one vine to grow on the foundation of a different vine that may be hardier or more disease resistant.
Grand Cru: The top quality of French wines.
Grande marque: A term referring to the most venerable Champagne-making firms.
Grand vin: The best wine from a particular French chateau.
Hybrid: A combination of two species of grape vine.
Lees: The particles left behind in wine barrels as the liquid is transferred from barrel to barrel and clarified. The lees are comprised of dead yeast and tartaric acids.
Magnum: A bottle containing twice as much liquid as a standard bottle.
Malolactic fermentation: A second fermentation that takes place in some wines after the first fermentation. In this second stage, malic acid is transformed by bacteria into lactic acid and carbon dioxide. The effect is a softer, less acidic wine.
Methode champenoise: The traditional means of making Champagne in individual bottles.
Must: Unfermented grape juice.
Noble rot: Botrytis cinerea
Oenology: The science and study of making wine.
Oidium: A vine disease caused by a mold that attacks the flower, leaves and grapes.
Oxidation: The effect of air coming into contact with wine, which usually damages the taste.
Pasteurization: Wines of lower quality may be heat treated to destroy bacteria.
Phylloxera: An aphid that attacks vine roots.
Press wine: The juice derived by pressing the leftover skins of grapes after the free-run juice has been drawn off.
Pressing: The squeezing of grape skins with powerful machines to get all the juice out possible.
Racking: The movement of aging wine from one barrel to another. Performed every few months or so, racking clarifies the wine since some particles are left behind with every transference.
Residual sugar: Sugar that doesn't convert into alcohol and is left behind in the wine. As little as one percent residual sugar can make a wine noticeably sweet.
Rose: A wine made by combining red and white wines.
Solera: A system to blend sherry. Wine from different casks made in many different years are mixed together in order to create consistent flavors.
Sparkling wine: Wines that are the equivalent of Champagne, a sparkling wine that can bear the name only if it was produced in the Champagne region of France.
Sulphur dioxide: A chemical applied to grapes or juice that kills unwanted varieties of yeast or bacteria.
Tannin: Substances that help age and soften the wine. They're found in the stems and skins of the grapes, as well as in the barrel wood.
Terroir: The vine-growing environment, including everything from soil conditions to climate.
Varietal: A type of wine made completely or mostly from a single type of grape, such as Cabernet Sauvignon.