Wine Glossary

Abboccato
(Italian) Medium-sweet and full-bodied.
Accolage
(French) The viticultural procedure of tying the vine branches to the horizontal wires.
Acetic acid
The acid component of vinegar. The product of oxidation of ethanol by the action of acetobacter in the presence of oxygen. A volatile acid present in small quantities in all wines. Excessive amounts result in a vinegary nose and taste.
Adamado
(Portuguese) Sweet.
Adega
(Portuguese) Winery.
Aerobic
Requiring oxygen to operate.
Alcohol
Potable alcohol, as contained in alcoholic drinks, is ethanol, sometimes called ethyl alcohol. Actual alcohol is the amount of ethanol present in a wine, measured as a percentage of the total volume at 20ºC as shown on the label. Total alcohol is the sum of the actual and potential (from unfermented sugars) alcohol.
Almacenista
(Spanish) A producer of Sherry who ages it and then sells it in bulk to a merchant.
Alte Reben
(German) Old vines.
Amabile
(Italian) Medium-sweet.
Anaerobic
Able to operate without oxygen.
Analyser
That part of a patent, or Coffey, still in which the alcohol present in the pre-heated wash (q.v.) is vaporised by steam.
Anbaugebiet
(German) Designated quality wine region.
Annata
(Italian) Vintage.
Anreicherung
(German) Must enrichment (q.v.).
Ascorbic acid
Vitamin C. Used in winemaking, along with sulphur dioxide to prevent oxidation.
Aspersion
Method of protection against spring frosts whereby the vines are sprayed with water, which freezes, coating the buds with ice. The buds are not damaged because of the latent heat of the ice.
Assemblage
(French) Blending of a number of different parcels of wine, particularly in Bordeaux or Champagne.
Ausbruch
(German) An Austrian quality category for sweet wines, the minimum must weight required is higher than that for Beerenauslese, but lower than that for Trockenbeerenauslese.
Auslese
(German) German quality wine category, indicating an unchaptalised wine made from selected bunches of exceptionally ripe grapes.
Azienda (or Casa)
(Italian) An estate that makes wine from both its own and bought-in grapes.
Azienda (or Casa)
(Italian) An estate that uses only its own grapes in production of its wine.
Azienda (or Casa) Vinicola
(Italian) A producer who buys in and vini?es grapes.
Barrique
(French) Cask (q.v.) with a capacity of 225 litres. Traditional to Bordeaux, but now used throughout the world.
Battonnage
(French) Lees stirring (q.v.).
Baumé
(French) French scale used in measurement of must weight (q.v.)
Beerenauslese
(German) German quality wine category, indicating an unchaptalised wine made from individually selected, super-ripe grapes. These will usually be affected by botrytis, and will have exceptionally high sugar levels.
Bentonite
Clay of volcanic origin used for fining (q.v.).
Bereich
(German) A group of communes (Gemeinde).
Bianco
(Italian) White.
Bin
Literally a location, for example a cellar, where a particular wine is stored. Often used as part of a brand name.
Biodynamic
A form of organic viticulture (q.v.) that follows the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. Vine treatments are timed to match astronomical cycles.
Biologique
(French) Organic.
Black rot
Fungal disease of the vine prevalent in warm, wet weather, which causes black stains on the leaves.
Blanc
(French) White.
Blanco
(Spanish) White.
Blended whisk(e)y
In Scotland: a blend of grain and malt whisky. In United States: a blend of straight whiskey and neutral corn spirit.
Blue Fining
Removal of iron or copper casse (q.v.) from a wine by the addition of potassium ferrocyanide.
Bodega
(Spanish) Winery.
Bonne chauffe
(French) The second distillation used in Cognac to convert the brouillis to eau de vie.
Bordeaux mixture
Solution of copper sulphate and lime in water, used to spray vines as protection against fungal diseases.
Botanicals
Flavourings used in gin production.
Botrytis cinerea
Fungus which attacks the grape berry. In certain circumstances it will form unwanted grey rot, in others, desirable noble rot.
Botte
(Italian) Traditional large barrels used in Italy in various sizes up to 160 hl. (Plural botti.)
Bottiglia
(Italian) Bottle.
Branco
(Portuguese) White.
Brix/Balling
A system of measuring must weight (q.v.), and thereby potential alcohol.
Brouillis
(French) The product of the first distillation in Cognac.
Brut
(French, Spanish) Dry (of a sparkling wine).
Bush training
Training of vines as free-standing plants, not needing the support of a trellis (q.v.).
Butt
Traditional barrel used in Sherry production, holding about 600 litres.
Buttage
(French) The process of earthing up the bases of the vines to protect them against frost.
Cane
Partially lignified one-year-old wood on a vine, pruned to between eight and 15 buds. If pruned to just two or three buds, it is referred to as a spur (q.v.).
Cane pruning
System of vine pruning in which one or more long canes of one-year-old wood, remain to produce new shoots.
Cantina sociale
(Italian) Co-operative cellar.
Cap
Floating mass of grape skins, stalks etc. on the surface of red must when fermenting.
Cap Classique
A South African sparkling wine made using the traditional method.
Carbonic maceration
Fermentation of whole bunches of black grapes with the berries initially intact. The intracellular fermentation results in well-coloured, fruity red wines, with little tannin.
Cascina
(Italian) Farmhouse (has come to mean estate).
Cask
Wooden barrel, usually made of oak, used for fermentation, maturation and storage of wines. Traditional names and sizes vary from region to region.
Cask strength
Particularly of malt Whiskies, a spirit that has not been reduced (watered down) to a bottling strength of around 40% abv. These generally will not be filtered and will be very high in alcohol: sometimes over 75% abv. See also overproof.
Casse
(French) Unwanted haze in wine caused by instability.
Casta
(Portuguese) Grape variety.
Cava
(Spanish) DO traditional method sparkling wine.
Cave
(French) Cellar (often underground) or establishment.
Cave co-operative
(French) Co-operative cellar.
Cépage
(French) Grape variety.
Cerasuolo
(Italian) Cherry pink.
Chai
(French) Above-ground warehouse for storing wine, usually in barrel.
Chalk
A kind of limestone (q.v.) that is almost pure calcium carbonate.
Chaptalisation
Must enrichment (q.v.), specifically using beet or cane, named after Comte Chaptal, the Napoleonic minister who advocated its use.
Charmat method
Sparkling wine production process in which the secondary fermentation takes place under pressure in a sealed tank. Also called tank method or cuve close.
Château
(French) Vineyard in Bordeaux, generally, but not always, with accompanying house.
Chauffe-vin
(French) Wine heater. Part of a Cognac still, used to heat the wine before it enters the pot still.
Chiaretto
(Italian) Light or pale rosé.
Classic
(German) A German category for dry quality wines.
Classico
(Italian) The original centre of a DOC region, making the most typical wines.
Clay
An extremely fine-grained, soft rock. Clay soils often retain large amounts of water, which keep the soil cool, and may drown the vine roots.
Climat
(French) A vineyard site
Clonal selection
Selection of plants from a particular variety for specific desirable features (which may include early ripening, good fruit, high, or low, yields and resistance to diseases).
Clone
One of a population of plants that are the descendants of a single individual and have been propagated by vegetative means. Unlike descendants by sexual propagation, each clone will have features identical to the parent plant.
Clos
(French) Historically, a walled vineyard, though the walls may no longer exist.
Col de Cygne
(French) Swan’s neck. The part of a Cognac still that transports the vapours from the pot to the condenser.
Colheita
(Portuguese) Harvest.
Commune
A small wine-growing region, usually surrounding one village.
Compte
(French) Age classi?cation system used in Cognac and Armagnac, starting with compte 00 for freshly distilled spirit.
Congeners
Organic compounds giving ?avouring and aromas in alcoholic beverages. Products of the fermentation, distillation and maturation processes, they include such compounds as ketones, esters and aldehydes.
Consorzio
(Italian) Producers’ trade association, whose members’ wine are identified by an individually designed neck-label.
Continentality
The difference between summer and winter temperatures.
Co-operative cellar
Winemaking (and sometimes bottling and marking) facilities that are jointly owned by a number of growers.
Cordon
Horizontal extension of a vine trunk.
Côte
(French) Hillside.
Côteau(x)
(French) Slope(s).
Courbe de fermentation
(French) Record of temperature and density of a particular vat of must or wine during fermentation, plotted as a graph, used by the winemaker to monitor the wine’s progress.
Crianza
(Spanish) Spanish DOC wine that has satisfied certain minimum age requirements for ageing in cask and bottle.
Crossing
Breeding of new vine varieties by cross-pollination of two different varieties of the same species. For wine production, this is usually two varieties of V. vinifera.
Cru
(French) A single ‘growth’, generally of quality. It might be a village or a vineyard.
Cru artisan
(French) A rank of Bordeaux châteaux, below cru bourgeois (q.v.).
Cru bourgeois
(French) A rank of Bordeaux châteaux, below Cru Classé (q.v.).
Cru Classé
(French) A classified growth, normally in Bordeaux.
Cuve
(French) Vat or tank.
Cuvée
(French) 1. The juice resulting from the first pressing in Champagne. 1. A blend.
Debuttage
(French) Removing the protective earth that has been placed around the base of the vine during buttage (q.v.).
Dégorgement
(French) Removal of the sediment from a bottle in traditional method sparkling wine production.
Dégorgement tardive
(French) A Champagne that has been disgorged after an exceptionally long period of yeast autolysis, or ageing sur pointe (q.v.).
Degree-day
A method of classifying climatic zones based on the sum of the average daily temperatures above 10ºC (the temperature at which the vine starts to grow) during the growing season.
Demi-Sec
(French) Medium-dry.
Density of planting
The number of vine plants per area of land, usually expressed as vines per hectare, and will vary from 3 000 to 10 000 or more per hectare. Low plant density has the advantage of lower establishment costs, but higher density will generally give better quality wines, given a fixed yield per hectare. Factors such as mechanisation will affect the choice of plant density.
Département
(French) French political region.
Diurnal range
The difference between daytime and night-time temperatures. A wide diurnal range encourages fruit aromas and acid retention; warm nights encourage sugar build-up.
Doce
(Portuguese) Sweet.
Dolce
(Italian) Sweet.
Domaine
(French) Estate.
Dosage
(French) Adjustment of the sugar level in sparkling wines by the addition of liqueur d’expedition (q.v.) after dégorgement (q.v.).
Doux
(French) Sweet.
Downy mildew
Fungus appearing as downy patches on the vine leaves, reducing photosynthesis. Also called peronospera.
Dulce
(Spanish) Sweet.


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