Wine O to Z

Wine – Jargon, Language

Oak: The most popular wood for constructing barrels. Oak imparts flavors and tannin to wines during the barrel aging process.

Oaky: The odor and/or flavor of wines aged in small oak barrels. Some oak barrels impart a toasty or spicy vanillin odor and taste which is desirable in moderation but undesirable if exaggerated.

Oenology (Also Enology): The science or study of wine.

Oenophile (Also Enophile): A wine lover or connoisseur of wine.

Oloroso: A genoroso wine from Jerez, Spain, between 18 and 20 degrees of alcohol and with a perfume reminiscent of walnuts. Obtained by oxidized aging. Dark gold, wine-colored and plump.

Opening out: Describing a bouquet which fills the mouth.

Organic Wine: Wine processed from grapes frown free of chemical pesticides or fertilizers.

Oxidation: A flaw that occurs in young and fruity white wine turning them flat and brownish in color. Sometimes referred to as maderiztion.

Pale: Used to describe wines of low chromatic intensity.

Pale Cream: A sweet wine with the same color as a fino.

Pale Dry: A type of fino wine.

Palo Cortado: A very scarce type of wine which is a cross between an amontillado and an oloroso, with the perfume of the first and the taste of the second.

Petillant: French term for a very lightly sparkling wine.

Phylloxera (phylloxera vastatrix): A insect (specifcally a plant louse) that attacks the roots of vines. Phylloxera caused widespread damage in the wine producing countries of Europe and also in California during the latter half of the 19th century.

Piguant: The agreeably sharp taste found in a light wine.

Pinot Nero: Italian for Pinot Noir.

Pleasant: Agreeable, possibly sweetish

Plonk: British term for simple, pordinary wine. Often used to describe very inexpensive wine with no character.

Port: A fortified wine from the Douro region of Portugal. Styles of Port include Late Bottle (LB), Tawny Ruby, Aged, and Vintage. Mostly sweet and red, Port is usually served after dinner as a dessert wine. All Port is made by Port houses in Vila Nova de Gaia, on the southern bank of the Douro across from Portugal’s second largest city, Oporto. Until recently, most Port houses were British-owned.

Promace: The mass of skins, seeds, pulp, and stems left in the fermenting vat or cask after wine making. One of the products that goes into the distillation of French marc and Italian grappa.

Prickle: Presence of tiny bubbles in some young wines.

Proprietaire: The owner of an estate, chateau, or vineyard.

Proprietary Wine: Wines carrying a made-up name originated by a specific winery or proprietor.

Racking: The process of drawing off the clear wine from the sediment by transferring it from one barrel or vat to another. Better wines are racked two, three, and sometimes more times before bottling.

Rainwater: A style of Madeira. The origin of the name is unclear, but it emerged in England in the 18th century. Currently a generic name for a medium-dry Madeira.

Raisiny: Smells reminiscent of raisins found in wines made from overripe grapes.

Red: Basic wine category for those wines made with black grapes and fermented with the grape skins. The full color range runs from bright cherry to bluish-black.

Reserva: This word on a bottle label indicates that the wine has been aged for at least three years.

Resinous: Resin aroma (incense, cedar, pine, camphor, etc.) which may be cause by the variety, the soil or the breeding of the wine. It is a desirable aroma.

Retsina: Dry white Greek wine that has been flavored with pine resin. An acquired taste for most, this wine dates back to ancient Greece, where wine vessels, or amphorae, were sealed with pine resin or pitch. The dominant flavor characteristic is turpentine, making this wine destined to remain an oddity on the world market.

Rich: A full-bodied wine with good flavor and bouquet.

Rioja: A region in northern Spain that produces most of the country’s best wines – red, white, and ros.

Riserva: Made from a blend of grapes.

Robust: Refers top a strong full-bodied assertive and powerful wine, usually red.

Ros: A kind of wine made from black grapes, fermented without the grape skins, which produces a lighter color.

Rose: A pink wine produced from grape juice or must from which the grape skins have been removed before fermentation is complete.

Rough: No smooth. Immature.

Round: A mature, full-bodied wine that is smooth graceful, well-balanced; harmonious.

Sake: A colorless Japanese wine made from fermented rice. It is usually served warm in a very small cups. Alcohol content ranges from 12% to 16%. The most familiar type of Sake is called

Seishu. There is also the sweet and spicy Sake called toso and another called mirin that is used in cooking.

Sangria: Very Spanish, refreshing drink made from wine and fruit, particularly lemon.

Sasa: Sweet wines with a high sugar content and a sugary taste.

Sauternes: France’s most renowned sweet wine, made in one of five specified villages.

Sec: French for dry. Among Champagnes, sweeter than Brut.

Sediment: The fine deposits which may develop in some aged wines. May require that the wine be decanted before drinking.

Sekt: German term for sparkling wine. Sekt is mostly produced in the charmat process, and is usually an undistinguished wine.

Semi-sweet: Meaning that the wine has some residual sugar.

Separation: Involves emptying the cask to separate the wine from the marc (remains of the grapes).

Sherry: Fortified wine from a district in southern Spain, Jerez de la Frontera.

Short: Not leaving a durable impression on the palate.

Simple: An uncomplicated, ordinary wine.

Skin: The grape skin.

Smell: Smell is one of the best indicators of a wines quality. It is comprised of varying factors: the aroma, the bouquet and the nose of the wine. If off, it could indicate a bad or underage wine. Experiment to train your nose to appreciate the “smell” of a wine.

Smooth: Describes a wine that is board, silky and rich in glycerin; full-bodied; fat.

Soave: A straw-colored dry white wine from around Verona in Italy’s Veneto. There is also a semisweet, fruiter version, Recioto di Soave, made from partially dried grapes.

Soft: A desirable characteristics in a delicate wine denoting a slight fruitiness. Also refers to a deficiency or lack of balance in more robust

Solera: The lowest row in the tiers of barrels where wines are aged, used for the oldest wines. Also a system of breeding which consists of improving young wine with the addition of older wine. The aging system used for the generoso wines of Jerez.

Sommelier: Person responsible for serving wine.

Sour: A spoiled wine with a vinegary taste.

Sparkling: slightly sparkling: Less than fully sparkling but more so than perlant.

Sparkling Wine: Wines containing bubbles of carbon dioxide gas (a byproduct of fermentation).

Spicy: The aroma and taste of spice such as, cinnamon, clove or pepper which comes from certain grape varieties such as gewurtztraminer (literally spicy traminer).

Split: A quarter bottle of champagne, containing six ounces. Used frequently on airplanes and trains.

Spumante: Italian term for sparkling wine. A sparkling white wine made from the Moscato grape produced in and around Asti in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. It is sometimes referred to as the “Champagne of Italy”.

Stained: Said of a white wine that has become slightly pink, either because it has been in a cask which has contained red wine, or because it as been allowed to take on colour from the skins of black grapes.

Stalk: Woody or green part of the vine that supports the grapes.

Stave: Piece of worked wood that forms the structure of the barrel.

Stemmy: Smell and taste of certain wines, reminiscent of parts of the vine, particularly the green stalks.

Still Wine: Wines without carbon dioxide bubbles, not sparkling.

Straw: Used to describe a clear white wine with a color like straw.

Strawberry: A fruity aroma which appears in certain red or rose wines and some ports. Can also be found in sparkling wines made from Pinot Noir grapes. (Fresa in Spanish)

Stripping: Separating the stalks etc. from the must.

Structure: The framework of the wine, made up of its acidity, alcohol, tannic content and so on.

Superiore: (Italy) wine with higher content of alcohol, and sometimes more aged table eine: 1) Simple, everyday wines (Vin de Table). 2) A still wine that has not been “fortified” with brandy.

Supple: On the smooth side.

Sweet: Some wines are naturally sweet because of the sugar in the grape juice: they are quite different from wines that are sweetened. Sugar not converted into alcohol is referred to as “residual sugar”.

Tafelwein: (Germany) table wine.

Tannic: A word used to describe wine in which tannins overpower the fruit and other elements. A tannic wine is not well balanced.

Tannin: A bitter compound found in the seeds, stems, and skins of grapes, and is extracted from wooden barrels. It is quite astringent and causes a puckering sensation in the front of the mouth.

Tart: An overly acidic wine. Having a “pricked” taste, which is an indication that it may shortly turn to vinegar.

Tartar: A harmless substance, tartaric acid, that occasionally precipitates as crystals in some white wines..

Taste: The taste of a wine is created by the combination of a variety of elements. The acidity of the wine, the alcohol content, the sugar content, tannins and other elements unique to each particular wine. Each combination of these elements yields a taste that is distinct for each wine.

Tastevin: A small saucer-shaped cup used by wine stewards for tasting wine. Usually made of highly polished silver, the cup has ridges and small crevices that allow the taster to llok at the color and clarity of the wine.

Tawny Port: (Portugal) basic light port. True wood-aged tawny ports are either mrketed as colheitas or as ports with an indication of age.

Tears: Trace of oiliness left in the glass by a wine rich in alcohol, sugars and glycerin.

Temperature: Wines generally should be served at one of three temperatures: 40/50 and 65 degrees.

Tender: Used to describe a wine that is slight, with not much acidity or extract; young, fresh, agreeable, and easy to drink.

Terroir: The French term for that elusive combination of soil type and microclimate that gives wines their character.

Thief: Glass or metal syringe used for taking wine samples through the bunghole of a barrel.

Thin: A wine that is light-bodied, lacks flavor, and is generally light in color..

Tile-coloured: Describing a red wine which has taken on a tawny tone because it is getting old.

Tobacco: An aroma which is noticeable in some of the great mature wines.

Topping Up: Adding pure wine alcohol to the must to arrest its fermentation, thus retaining a certain amount of residual sugar, a characteristic of the natural liquereux wines. The “generoso” wines (those with high alcohol content) are also topped up.

Trockenbeerenaulese: The sweetest German white wines made from late-harvested grapes that have chriveled into raisin-like berries.

TUN: Extremely large cask for storing wine – some may hold up to 300,000 bottles’ worth.

Valpolicella: A light, semidry red from near Verona in Italy’s Veneto, typically drunk young. Recioto Valpolicella, made from partially dried grapes, may also be sweet or sparkling.

Vanilla: An aroma and flavor of vanilla that is characteristic of wines that are aged in oak casks.

Variety: Type of grape with its own specific characteristics. All grape varieties belong to the same species. Vitis vinifrea.

Varietal Wines: Wines that are named after the grape from which they are made (e.g. Zinfandel). In California, the varietal grape must comprise 75% of the wine.

VDQS: French term “Vins Delimites de Qualite Superieure” or Quality Wines from Delimited Areas. These wines are below the category Appellation Controllee in quality, but above vin de table.

Velvety: Smooth, plesant and silky sensation in the mouth, particularly in red wines.

Vin: French term for wine. VIn Blanc is white wine; vin rogue is red wine, vin mousseux is sparkling wine, etc.

Vin de pays: A French term that simply means wine of the region or country. A category of ordinary table wines meant for quick drinking.

Vin de table: (France) the most basic category of French wine, with no precise provenance other than country of origin given on the label.

Vine: The main stem of the vine, from which the shoots grow.

Vin Gris: (France) A dry, pale blush wine produced from red grapes.

Vinho de mesa: (Portugal) table wine.

Vinifera: The family of European wine grapes from which the world’s finest wines are made.

Vinification: The practical art of transforming grapes into wine

Vino: Spanish or Italian word for wine.

Vin Ordinaire: French term for common table wine.

Vinous: Having a characteristic similar to wine.

Vino de la tierra: (Spanish) country wine.

Vino de mesa: (Spanish) table wine.

Vintage: The year that the grapes were picked or harvested for the making of wine, with the date shown on the label.

Vintage Champagne: A champagne made from grapes from a single harvest versus a blend (Cuvee) from several harvest years. The year of the vintage can be found on the label.

Vintage Port: (Portugal) very fine young port,bottled young and require long cellaring (8-40 years); needs decanting

Vintner: A person who makes wine. Weighty: A rich, full-bodied wine that is heavy on the tongue.

Weak: Low, usually in both alcohol and bouquet.

Wein: German word for wine.

Weingut: A German term for wine estate or vineyard.

Weinkellerei: A German term for wine cellar.

Wine: Natural drink obtained by the fermenting of grape must.

White: Classic style of light wine, with plenty of yellow shades running to greenish and golden hues.

Woody: Smell of a wine aged too long in a cask or aged in a cask, made with faulty wood.

Worn out: Describing a wine which has lost its qualities.

Yeast: A single-celled microorganisms found on the skins of grapes that causes fermentation. Some wine makers add their own yeast to aid fermentation.

Yema: First must juice, obtained by straining not pressing, without any pressure at all.

Young: A desirable characteristic in simple wines that refers to its freshness and vitality. In complex wines, young refers to a wine that is not sufficiently aged.

Zurracapote: A refreshing drink made from wine, sugar, cinnamon and lemon.