Common Wine Terms

Appellation: Wine producing area designated geographically by the relative governing body. Also known as AOC, DOC, DO, DOCG, AVA, etc..

Aroma (aromatics): The scents that rise from the wine.

Balance: The overall blend of sweet, acid, fruit, alcohol and tannin in a wine.

Body: Refers to the core of the wine, richness on the palate and breadth across the palate.

Botrytis: Known as the Noble Rot, it occurs late in the growing season and shrinks the grapes, thus intensifying the percentage of sugar and other mineral compounds relative to the water in the grape.

Brix: The measurement of sugar in grapes before fermentation.

Corked Wine: Corked wine refers to when a wine has been spoiled due to the transference of TCA (Trichloroanisole) and/or TBA (Tribromoanisole) to the wine from or through the cork during storage or bottling.

Decanting: Pouring wine into a larger vessel to allow it to breathe or open up, this lets some of the alcohol evaporate and uncovers more of the other components of the wine.

Fermentation: The process by which yeasts transform grapes into wine with alcohol.

First Growths: The top 5 Chateaus in Bordeaux as rated in the Classification of 1855. Their rating as the best was determined by the value of their wine in the open market. (* Special Note: Chateau Mouton Rothschild was not originally classified as a First Growth. In a “reclassification” in 1973 they were elevated from 2nd Growth to 1st Growth.)

Length: How long a wine’s flavor lasts on the palate after tasting it.

Malolactic Fermentation: A secondary fermentation that transforms Malic acid to Lactic acid. This brings richness to the texture and weight to the palate of a wine.

Palate: The combination of everything you taste and feel in your mouth.

Residual Sugar: One of the main components of wine, referring to the amount of sugar left over after fermentation is complete.

Sommelier: Originally a French term for Cellar Master or Wine Steward.

Tannic Acid: One of the main components of wine that helps the wine bond together, coming from mostly the skins and the pips (seeds) of the grapes.

Tartaric Acid: One of the main components of wine that provides structure and freshness, measured in ph. Other components include sugar (residual), water and mineral compounds.

Terroir: A French term loosely translated as a sense of place. It has no direct English translation, but essentially it is the combination of elements that give a wine its personality. These include climate, soils, exposures, etc…

Varietal: The type of wine grape, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, etc..