A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

Acetaldehyde
A distinctive, desirable component of Fino sherry caused by aging under flor.

Acidity
Natural acids (citric, malic, lactic or tartaric) that occur in fruit. In wine, tartaric acid provides tartness.

Aerate
To add oxygen to wine during the winemaking process or while decanting a wine.

Aftertaste
Flavors and odors that linger in the mouth after wine is swallowed.

Aging
Holding wines for a period of time in barrels, tanks or bottles to affect the character of the finished wine.

Albariza
(al-bar-ee-tha) The white, chalky soil that characterizes Spain's Jerez de la Frontera sherry region. Albariza soil is considered the finest soil for producing Fino sherry.

Alcohol
Ethyl alcohol (or ethanol) formed in wine during fermentation, which affects the taste, aroma and mouthfeel of wine.

Alcohol Level
The percentage of alcohol by volume of a wine. Most table wines have between 9 and 15% alcohol by volume.

American oak barrel
Barrels made from oak wood from American forests. American oak barrels are generally thought to impart more aggressive wood flavors than do French oak barrels.

American Viticultural Area (AVA)
The term given in the United States to an officially designated winegrape growing region. AVAs are defined officially by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) based on geographic, climatic and historical criteria. Generally, if an area can demonstrate that it has geographic and climatic conditions significantly different from the surrounding area, it may petition the BATF for an AVA designation.

Amontillado
A sherry that is aged for a time under flor yeast, then given a boost in alcohol to kill the layer of yeast. The wine, now exposed to air, is aged an additional period without the flor cover, gaining body and, through oxidation, a nutty aroma and flavor (like hazelnuts) and turning from pale straw color to amber.

Ample
A descriptor used to describe the impression of fullness in the mouth.

Aperitif
Wine consumed as a before-dinner drink.

Appearance
Generally the first category by which wines are judged in a sensory evaluation. The wine's clarity and color are the primary factors evaluated.

Appellation
The official geographic origin of a wine, which becomes part of a wine's official name.

Appellations of origin
Term for the label designations that indicate the geographic origin of the grapes used to make the wine.

Aroma
Odors in a wine that originate from the grape. Some distinguish these smells from "bouquet," but the term is often used to describe all smells of a wine.

Aromatic
A descriptor used to describe wines that have pronounced smells, particularly fruity and floral smells.

Aromatic compounds
The chemical substances in wine, from either the grapes or the winemaking process, that are responsible for the wine's aromas, bouquet and flavors.

Astringent
The harsh, drying sensation in the mouth that is caused by high levels of tannin. The opposite of the wine descriptor "smooth."

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B

BATF
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, the branch of the government that regulates the wine industry.

Balance
The relationship between a wine's alcohol, acid, residual sugar and tannin. A wine is considered well-balanced when no one of these components stands out significantly from the rest.

Barrel
A wooden container, generally 60-gallons, used for fermenting and/or aging wines.

Barrel-aged
A term used for wines that matured for a period of time after fermentation in oak barrels.

Barrel-fermented
A term used for wines that are fermented in oak containers. The benefit of this method is the development of a more subtle oak character than that of barrel-aged only wines.

Berry-like
The term used to describe red wines that exhibit aroma and flavor reminiscent of strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.

Big
A term used to describe wines that are very intense or very full.

Bin
To store bottled wine for further aging, before its release for sale.

Bitter
A taste sensation generally experienced on the back of the tongue.

Black fruits
Wine aromas and/or flavors that suggest black currants, black cherries, blackberries, blueberries, or other black fruit.

Black grapes
Wine grapes with a blue or reddish skin pigmentation that are used to make red wines.

Blanc de blancs
A white wine made of white grapes.

Blanc de noirs
A white wine made of red grapes

Blend
To combine two or more individual lots of wine, either of different varietals, different vineyards or different vintages. The term generally applied to a wine derived from the juice of different grape varieties.

Bodega
The Spanish term for a winery, or the building where wine is stored.

Body
A tactile sensation describing the viscosity or "weight" of wine in the mouth. Body is correlated with the level of alcohol and extract. Wines are described as light-, medium- or full-bodied.

Botrytis cinerea
A mold produced in very particular conditions of temperature and humidity that pierces grape skins, causing dehydration. Also known as "noble rot."

Botrytised
Sweet wines made from grapes affected by botrytis cinera.

Bottle-aged
Description of the character of a wine derived from its maturation period in bottle.

Bottle aging
The maturation period of a wine after bottling that allows some of its components to mature and a bottle-aged bouquet to form.

Bouquet
The odors of wine attributed to the winemaking process: fermentation, processing and aging, particularly those that develop after bottling.

Bright
A term used to describe wines whose characteristics are perceived vividly, either visually or by aroma and flavor.

Brilliant
The description of a wine that is absolutely clear.

Brix
The measure of the density of grape juice or fermenting wine, used to ascertain sugar level at harvest.

Brut
Almost-dry Champagne.

Buttery
Butter-like odor in wine created by malolactic fermentation caused by the presence of diacetyl.

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C

Cabernet Franc
A red wine grape known for its use in the fine wines of Bordeaux, particularly wines of Pomerol, Saint-Emilion and Medoc. Also grown in Italy and California.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Considered the most important red wine grape throughout the world, and the basis of the most famous wines of California, Bordeaux, and many other wine districts.

Canopy
The foliage of a grape vine.

Canopy management
The viticultural techniques used to balance shoot growth and fruit development to maximize the varietal character of the grapes.

Cap
A layer of skins and seeds that forms on top of the juice during fermentation of red wines.

Capsule
Metallic or plastic foil that covers the cork and the upper neck of a wine bottle.

Caramel
A distinctive odor in heated sweet wines and a subtle component of Champagne.

Cask
A large wooden container used for making or storing wines.

Cedary
Aromas or flavors that resemble the smell of cedar wood.

Champagne
A region in France and the sparkling wines produced there using the methode champenoise. In the US, this term is semi-generic to mean sparkling wine.

Champenoise
A product or person of France's Champagne district.

Character
The impression of a wine being solid and having integrity and substance.

Chardonnay
A white grape variety considered one of the world's finest. Widely planted and used both for dry, barrel-aged table wines as well as blends for fine sparkling wines.

Chenin Blanc
A versatile white variety known for dry and sweet table and sparkling wines of Loire, France, as well as dry table wines of California and South Africa.

Clarity
Clearness in the wine.

Clone
A sub-variety of a wine grape variety that exhibits specific enological characteristics.

Closure
The device used to seal a wine bottle, usually a cork.

Cold Stabilization
Chilling wine before bottling to remove potassium acid tartrate crystals or other sediment from the finished wine.

Compact
A descriptor used to describe a wine that is intense but not full.

Complex
A wine that exhibits many different odors and flavors.

Concentrated
A term to describe aromas and flavors that are dense.

Concentration
A descriptor used for a wine whose flavors or fruit character are tightly knit.

Cooper
One who makes or repairs wooden barrels or casks.

Corked or Corky
A moldy odor and flavor caused from a fungus-infected cork, caused by tiny amounts of tyrene that contaminate the wine.

Cream
A full-bodied, golden sweet dessert sherry.

Cramant
French term for wines that are slightly sparkling, literally "creaming." Cramant wines have 4 atmospheres of pressure compared to Champagne's 6.

Crisp
A term for wine that feels clean and slightly brittle in the mouth, usually from high acidity.

Crush
After stems are removed, breaking the grape skins prior to pressing and fermentation. The term also applied to the season of the year (during harvest) when this occurs.

Crusher
A machine that breaks open grapes and usually de-stems them as well.

Cuvee
French term for a specific blend of wines, usually of different varietals and vintages, combined to make Champagne.

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D

Decant
To transfer wine from one container to another, either to aerate the wine or to remove red wine from its sediment deposit.

Degorgement
The French term for "disgorging," the removal of yeast sediment from bottles in methode Champenoise.

Demi-sec
Sparkling wines that are moderately sweet to medium sweet.

Depth
The characteristic of fine wines that gives the impression of having layers of taste, rather than being one-dimensional.

Dessert wine
A sweet wine that usually accompanies dessert, such as fortified or late harvest wines.

Deuxieme
A term of method Champenoise referring to the second batch, or "cut," of press juices collected after the free-run juice.

Diacetyl
A chemical byproduct of malolactic fermentation that gives a buttery odor to the wine, enhancing complexity.

Dilute
A term given to wines whose aromas and flavors are thin, as opposed to concentrated.

Disgorging
Using the pressure of gas in the wine to remove the collected sediment from bottle-fermented sparkling wine.

District
A geographic area more specific than a region.

DO
In Spain, the abbreviation of Denominacion de Origin (place name), the official category for wines whose defining factors are regulated by law.

DOC
In Portugal, the abbreviation for Denominacao de Origen Controlada, the official category for the country's highest wine category, whose defining factors are regulated by law.

Dosage
In the making of Champagne and other sparkling wines, the wine and sugar mixture that is added to adjust the final sweetness of the wine.

Doux
The sweetest category of sparkling wines.

Dry
A wine that is not sweet because all perceptible sugar was consumed during the fermentation process.

Dull
A wine whose appearance, aromas and flavors, and/or general style are hazy and unclear.

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E

Earthy
An odor or flavor suggestive of earth or soil, usually undesirable.

Elegance
A term applied to wines that express themselves in a refined or delicate manner, as opposed to intense.

Enology
The science of wines and winemaking.

Epernay
A principal city in France's Champagne district where the facilities for blending, aging and bottling of many Champagne producers are located.

Estate
Vineyards owned by or under the direct control of the winery. On a label, it means the grapes are sourced from vineyards owned by or under the direct control of the winery that made the wine.

Ethyl Acetate
A chemical responsible for vinegary odors in wine.

Ethyl Alcohol, Ethanol
Alcohol in wine that is the product of the conversion of sugar by yeast enzymes during fermentation.

Extended maceration
A winemaking process for red wines where the juice is left in contact with the skin cap for an extended amount of time after fermentation is complete.

Extra dry
A Champagne or sparkling wine that is sweet, containing 1.5 to 2.5% sugar.

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F

Fat
A term implying full bodied, juicy, rich. The opposite of lean.

Fermentation
In wine, the process by which sugar in grape juice is transformed into alcohol and carbon dioxide, and the juice to wine, through the action of yeast organisms. Also refers to any conversion of organic compounds that is catalyzed by microorganisms.

Fining
Clarifying wine by mixing in agents such as gelatin or egg whites to remove specific components and suspended matter.

Finish
The final impression a wine leaves after you have swallowed or spit it out.

Fino
A light, dry sherry that is matured under a layer of flor yeast. Finos are characterized by flavors of apples, almonds and bread.

Firm
A term for wines that are not soft, but are not harsh or tough, generally referring to the tannic content of red wines or acidity of white wines.

Flabby
A term describing wines that are too soft.

Flat
A term for wine lacking a refreshing, tart or sour taste, or sparkling wines that have lost their bubbles.

Flavor compounds
Organic substances in the grapes that are responsible for many characteristic flavors and aromas of a varietal wine.

Flavor intensity
The degree to which a wine's flavors are pronounced and clearly observable.

Flavors
Aromatic compounds of a wine perceived by the mouth.

Fleshy
The term used to describe a rich textural impression of a wine.

Flor
A yeast that forms after fermentation, producing a film on the wine's surface and imparting a distinctive flavor if left in contact with the wine. Fino sherries are produced by aging under flor, which protects the wine from oxygen and destroys the bacteria that turns wine into vinegar, mycoderma aceti.

Fortified wine
A wine in which the alcoholic content has been boosted by the addition of grape spirit or brandy.

Free-run
Grape juice that runs freely from the crusher and press before force is used.

French oak barrels
Barrels made from oak wood from French forests. French barrels impart more subtle wood flavors to wine than do American oak barrels.

Fruit character
Characteristics of a wine that are derived from the grape, such as aroma, flavor, tannin, acidity and extract.

Fruity
Displaying aromas and flavors suggestive of fruit. It can apply to aromas or flavors suggestive of fresh fruit, dried fruit or cooked fruit.

Full, full-bodied
The term for wines that give the impression of being large in the mouth, usually derived from high alcohol content.

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G

Generous
The term for wines whose characteristics are expressive and easy to perceive.

Gewurztraminer
Distinctively flavored pink grapes used for fine white wines.

Gran Reserva
A Spanish red table wine that has been aged at least 2 years in oak and an additional 3 years in bottle before release.

Grape tannin
Tannins in a red wine attributable to the grapes from which the wine was made.

Grape variety
A particular type of grape, also called a "varietal."

Green
The high acid taste of wines made from unripe grapes.

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H

Harmonious
A term for wines that are well balanced and express themselves gracefully.

Headspace
The air space in the bottle between the wine and the closure, or in a tank between the wine and the lid.

Herbaceous, herbal
Pleasant odors reminiscent of herbs, such as fresh herbs, dried herbs or specific herbs.

Hogsheads
Another term for 60-gallon oak barrels.

Hot
High in alcohol, producing a slightly burning sensation on the palate. Generally undesirable except in fortified wines.

Hydrogen sulfide

Chemical responsible for the "off" odor of rotten eggs in wine.

Hydrometer
An instrument used to measure the degrees Brix of grape juice during ripening, harvest or fermentation.

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I

Intense
A term that describes wines that express themselves strongly, either aromas and flavors, or of the wine's overall impression.

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J

Jerez
Short for Jerez de la Frontera, the center of Spain's sherry region.

Jug Wine
Term used primarily in California to describe the most basic sort of generic table wine, an American counterpart to vin ordinaire in Europe.

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K

Kerosene
A descriptor used to describe a chemical smell found in wine, most often applied to wines of the Riesling grape that have some age to them.

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L

Lean
A term implying a thin, light-bodied, watery wine.

Lactic Acid
An organic acid produced in wine during malolactic fermentation, where strong malic acid is converted to softer lactic acid. Lactic acid is also found in milk.

Late-Harvest
Grapes picked at high sugar levels. Or grapes whose sugar level at the time of harvest is due to Botrytis cinerea.

Lees
Any residue that settles out of wine after fermentation, made of grape solids or dead yeast cells.

Legs
Drops that inch up the inside surface of a glass above the wine and slowly run back down.

Length
A term describing the sustained sensory impression across the tongue of fine wines.

Luscious
Soft, sweet, fat, fruity, and ripe. All these qualities in balance.

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M

Maceration
The process of soaking the skins of red grapes in their juice to dissolve the skin's color, tannin and other substances into the juice.

Macroclimate
Average, overall weather conditions in a winegrowing region, such as Napa Valley, California, or Champagne, France.

Malbec
A red grape varietal known as L'Etranger in France, where it is generally used as a blending grape. In Argentina and California, it is sometimes made as a varietal wine. Malbec grapes are very large for wine grapes, and are delicious as table grapes.

Malic acid
The organic acid found in apples, grapes and wine. Malic acid is converted to lactic acid during malolactic fermentation.

Malolactic fermentation
A bacterial fermentation that converts harsh malic acid into softer lactic acid and carbon dioxide. Performed on all red wines to increase stability, and performed on some white wines to increase complexity and add the buttery component diacetyl.

Manzanilla
A very light, refreshing sherry from San Lucar de Barrameda in Spain, named for its apple-like characteristic.

Marriage
In wine, the integration of the components of blended grapes or wines or of additions to wine, such as dosage or sulfur dioxide, to form a more pleasing combination.

Maturation
The aging period at the winery during which the wine evolves to a state of readiness for bottling. Also the ongoing development of fine wines during a period of bottle aging.

Mature
A wine that has reached its optimum point during aging, and exhibits a pleasing combination of aromas, flavors and bouquet.

Medium-dry
A term to indicate slight sweetness in wines that are not quite dry.

Medium sweet
A term to indicate the perceived level of sweetness in wines that are not fully sweet.

Merlot
Fine red wine grape widely planted in Bordeaux and California. Often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Mesoclimate
The unique climate of a subsection of a wine region.

Methode Champenoise
The bottle-fermentation method of making Champagne and other sparkling wines that are released for sale in the same bottle in which the secondary fermentation took place.

Microclimate
The climate in and around the grapevine's canopy.

Minerally
Exhibiting aromas or flavors that suggest minerals.

Moldy
Grapes, containers or corks that have developed mold transmit this "off" odor to the wine they contact.

Mousse
The foam of bubbles that forms on the top of a glass of Champagne or sparkling wine.

Must
The juice and pulp produced by crushing or pressing grapes. Used until the end of fermentation, when it is then called wine.

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N

Neutral
A wine lacking distinctive or recognizable flavor and/or odor. A common descriptor of ordinary blended wines.

New oak
A term used to indicate barrels that are brand new.

Noble rot
See Botrytis cinerea

Nutty
Exhibiting aromas or flavors that suggest nuts, desirable in dessert or aperitif wines such as sherry.

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O

Oaky
Toasty, smoky or vanilla smells and flavors contributed by the oak during barrel aging.

Odors
Sensations caused by the volatile components of wines, including aroma, bouquet and "off" odors.

Off-dry
Very slightly sweet.

Off flavors
Undesirable odors perceived by the mouth.

Off odors
Undesirable odors perceived by the nose from a variety of possible sources.

Old vines
An unregulated term for grape vines whose fruit quality is presumably good because the vines are old and produce little crop.

Oloroso
A type of dark, sherry produced without the use of flor. Soft and mellow with a full body, Oloroso sherry is characterized by walnut flavors. Pure Olorosos are dry on the palate, but most Oloroso sherry is sweetened by the addition of Pedro Ximenez wine to create Medium Sweet, Cream and Brown sherry.

Over-aged
A general breakdown of wine kept too long in cooperage or bottle; oxidized.

Oxidation
The changes in wine caused by exposure to air.

Oxidized
Wine changed by contact with air, usually producing undesirable color and flavors; over-aged.

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P

Palate
A term used as a synonym for "mouth," or to refer to the characteristics of a wine that manifest in the taster's mouth.

Palo Cortado
A rare Oloroso sherry who's style is between a normal Oloroso and an Amontillado.

Petrol
Having aromas or flavors that suggest fuel.

pH
The measure of acid strength; the lower the pH, the higher the acid strength.

Phylloxera
A parasite louse that feeds on the roots of vitis vinifera grape vines, resulting in the vines' death.

Pinot Noir
A red wine grape that is the basis of the famous wines of Burgundy, France. Also widely planted in California's cooler growing regions and Oregon and Washington.

Plummy
Showing aromas or flavors that suggest ripe plums.

Plush
A textural descriptor for wines that feel luxurious in the mouth.

Polyphenols
A complex group of organic chemicals that includes wine's tannins.

Pomace
The solid residue left after pressing, made up of skins and seeds.

Port
A fortified dessert wine made in several styles. Authentic port is from the Douro River Valley of Portugal.

Potassium bitartrate
The crystals that sometimes precipitate in bottled wine, but which are normally removed by cold-stabilization. Made of the same compounds as Cream of Tartar.

Powerful
A descriptor that indicates an impression of strength and intensity.

Premiere
In methode Champenoise, refers to the first batch or press juices collected after the free-run juice.

Press
To exert pressure on grapes or must to extract their juices; also the mechanical device used to do this.

Press juice
The juice obtained by pressing, as opposed to free-run juice.

Pretty
A descriptor indicating a wine that is attractive for its delicacy and finesse.

Primary aromas
Fresh aromas in wine that derive from the varietal used to make the wine.

Prise de Mousse
A French term for the second fermentation of methode Champenoise, executed in the bottles in which the wine is sold. Literally, "catch the foam."

Puckery
The tactile sensation of highly tannic wines; astringent.

Pulp
The flesh of the grape (or other fruit).

Pump over
To circulate fermenting juice of red wines from the bottom of the tank over the skin cap that forms during fermentation to ensure optimal extraction and prevent bacterial spoilage.

Punch down
To push the skin cap down into the fermenting juice to ensure optimal extraction and prevent bacterial spoilage.

Puncheons
Larger oak barrels, usually 135 gallons.

Punt
The indentation in the bottom of some wine bottles.

Pupitre
French term for the rack in which bottles of Champagne are placed for riddling.

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Q

Quality
The degree of excellence of a wine, often judged by complexity, harmony and intensity.

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R

Racking
Pumping wine from one container to another to clarify it by leaving the sediment behind.

Refractometer
An instrument to estimate the sugar content of grape juice by measuring the bending of light passing through it.

Region
A geographical area less specific than a district, but more specific than a country.

Reserva
A Spanish red wine from Rioja that is aged at least 1 year in barrel and 2 years in bottle before release.

Reserve wine
In methode Champenoise, wine that is held to be blended into the cuvees of future vintages.

Residual sugar
Sugar remaining in the wine after fermentation, often referred to by winemakers as "RS".

Remuage
The French term for riddling.

Rich
A descriptor of wines that offer an abundance of flavor, texture or other sensory perceptions.

Riddling
In methode Champenoise, turning bottles of sparkling wine to collect the sediment on the closure for removal during disgorging.

Riddling rack
In methode Champenoise, the rack designed to hold bottles of sparkling wines in the proper position for riddling.

Round
A descriptor for wines that seem neither flat nor angular, related to the wine's structure.

Rough
The astringent sensation in the mouth.

Ruby
A general style of red port wines that encompasses character ports, vintage port, young ruby ports, and others. All are rather sweet.

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S

Saccharomyces cerevisiae
One of the main yeast species found in grapes and wines throughout the world. Most of the yeast strains used to ferment white wines are of this species.

Sauvignon Blanc
A popular white varietal in Europe, California and Australia. Sometimes called Fume Blanc in California, can be made into botritised dessert wines.

Secondary fermentation
A fermentation that takes place after the primary fermentation. Both malolactic fermentation and the second alcoholic fermentation in sparkling wines are secondary fermentations.

Sediment
The residue of solids in a bottle of red wine that forms as the wine is matured.

Semillon
A lesser known white grape often blended with Sauvignon Blanc, especially in the production of the sweet wines of Sauternes, France.

Sensory evaluation
The assessment of wine based on sight, smell, taste and touch.

Serious
A description used for a wine that is of high quality.

Settling
The precipitation of the solid matter in wine.

Sherry
A fortified wine from Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, made by a controlled oxidation method, produced in many different styles, from sweet Cream sherry to very dry Fino sherry.

Shiraz
The Australian name for Syrah, a red grape variety.

Silky
Displaying a supple, smooth texture.

Single-vineyard wine
Wine made from grapes grown in one specific vineyard block, and bottled without being blended with wine from any other vineyard.

Skin contact
The time in the winemaking process when the juice of the grapes are in contact with the skins, extracting color, tannin and other substances.

Slightly sweet
Containing a barely perceptible amount of residual sugar.

Smoky
Displaying aromas that suggest smoke or smoked wood.

Smooth
A description for wine whose texture is not astringent.

Soft
Description for a wine whose alcohol and sugar dominate the tannin and acidity, resulting in a wine without roughness or hardness.

Solera System
A system used in the creation of Spanish sherry to carefully blend new and older vintages of wine to achieve a consistent style.

Sommelier
A wine steward.

Sour
The acid taste of wines that are made from unripe grapes.

Sparkling
Wine with an effervescence caused by a secondary alcoholic fermentation that leaves carbon dioxide trapped in the bottle.

Spicy
A term used to describe wine that displays aromas and flavors reminiscent of aromatic spices.

Spirits
In wine, the distilled alcohol used to make fortified wines.

Stabilization
The process of removing unwanted substances before bottling so they won't cause haziness or crystal formation in the finished wine.

Starter
A batch of active yeast that is used to begin fermentation.

Stemmer
A machine that separates the grapes from their stems, generally combined with a crusher and known as a "stemmer-crusher."

Stemmy
A term for wines that exhibit dry, woody tannins.

Stems
The woody part of a grape bunch that is high in tannin. Stems are removed before fermentation using a stemmer.

Still wines
Any wine without effervescence.

Stony
Displaying flavors or aromas that suggest stones or wet stones.

Structural components
A wine's alcohol, acid, tannin and sugar.

Structure
The impression conveyed by a wine's structural components.

Style
The characteristic combination of components - alcohol, acid, tannin and sugar - associated with the wines of a region, a winery or a particular winemaker.

Sulfer Dioxide
The compound used to inhibit the growth of unwanted microorganisms and to stop browning in wine.

Supple
A term meaning fluid in texture in the mouth, without any sharpness or roughness.

Sur lie
A French term meaning, literally, "on the lees." Generally refers to the aging of wines on the deposit of dead yeast that forms after primary fermentation. Sur lie aging imparts a toasty quality and enhances complexity.

Sweet
The taste of a wine with perceptible residual sugar, and the description of any dessert wine.

Sweetness
The impression of sugar in a wine, either from residual sugar or from alcoholic content.

Syrah
A distinguished red varietal made famous in the Rhone Valley, now grown in California and Australia, where is it known as Shiraz.

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T

Table wine
Any still, dry wine less than 15% alcohol meant to accompany food.

Tannic
A term used to describe wines with a high tannin impression.

Tannin
A substance found in the skins, seeds and stems of grapes and a principal component of red wine's structure, extracted during fermentation while in contact with the skins and seeds. Oak barrels also impart some tannin to wine.

Tarry
Displaying aromas or flavors that suggest tar.

Tart
A term for the flavors and aromas associated with under-ripe fruit, or a term for wine with a high acid impression.

Tartaric acid
One of the essential organic acids found in wine.

Tartrates
Salts of tartaric acid that can form crystals when combined with potassium in unstabilized wine.

Taste
A general term for the total impression a wine gives in the mouth. Also refers to the primary tastes found in wine: sweetness, sourness and bitterness.

Tawny
The brownish or amber color characteristic of wine such as port that has been aged in wood.

Terroir
A French word for the particular growing conditions of a vineyard, including soil, drainage, slope, climate, altitude, etc. that give the grapes grown there unique characteristics.

Tete de cuvee
The French term for a Champagne producer's best bottling.

Texture
A wine's feel or consistency in the mouth.

Thin
A term to describe wines that seem lacking in substance.

Tight
A descriptor for wines whose aromas and/or flavors seem to be lacking in expression.

Toasted
An aroma found in Champagne reminiscent of toasted bread.

Toasting
The carmelization of barrel staves. The amount of "toast" can vary, imparting different characteristics to the wine.

Topping
A winemaking technique to control oxidation of wines aging in barrels where wine is added periodically to replace wine lost through evaporation.

Total acid
The measure of all a wine's acids taken together.

Troncais
A renowned forest near the French city of Moulins where oak is harvested to make wine barrels.

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U

Underbrush
Aromas or flavors that suggest dampness, wet leaves or slight decay.

Unripe, under-ripe
Grapes that do not reach optimum ripeness; green.

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V

Vanilla
Vanillin, imparted by aging in new oak barrels - particularly American oak - that has a vanilla-like odor.

Varietal
Describes the aromas and/or flavors characteristic of a particular grape variety.

Varietal character
The characteristics of a particular grape variety, or the characteristics of a wine that come from the grape variety from which it is made.

Variety
Sub-species of Vitis vinifera that are distinguished by yield, disease resistance or characteristic aromas or flavors of their grapes and the wine made from them.

Vegetal
A notable grassy or herbaceous "off" odor reminiscent of flavors such as bell pepper or asparagus; undesirable when excessive.

Vin
The French term for wine.

Vinegary
The "off" odor of ethyl acetate or acetic acid.

Vinification
The process of making grape juice into wine.

Vintage
The year in which a wine's grapes grew and were harvested. The term is often used as a synonym for the grape harvest.

Vintner
A person who makes or sells wine.

Viticulture
The science or activity of growing grapes.

Vitis vinifera
The species to which most of the world's wine grapes belong.

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W

Weight
The impression of volume in the mouth that a wine imparts.

Well-balanced
Wines whose components - acid, alcohol, tannin and residual sugar - relate in a balanced way, so none overwhelm the others.

Wood tannin
Tannins that are attributable to the barrels in which the wine was aged, rather than from the grapes.

Woody
The "off" odor of wines stored too long in oak barrels.

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X

Xérès
The French term for both the Jerez sherry region of Spain and sherry itself. An official seal with the words "Jerez-Xérès-Sherry" appears on all bottles of authentic Spanish sherry.

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Y

Yeasts
One-cell microorganisms that transform grape juice into wine.

Yeasty
The odor of the yeast used to ferment the wine.

Young
A fresh, fruity, un-oxidized and possibly slightly yeasty aroma.

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Z

Zinfandel
A distinguished and versatile red grape variety grown in California used to create red table wines, sparkling wines, blush wines and even port.

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