Wines Words

A concise dictionary of wine-related terms for enthusiasts and lovers of all things enological

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  • Acerbic

    Said of a sour, green wine, due to excess tannin and acidity. As acidity and astringency are two flavors that reinforce one another, an acerbic wine is clearly unbalanced. It lacks smoothness and roundness.
  • Acidity

    When not excessive, acidity helps to give a wine balance, bringing it freshness and briskness. When there is too much, however, it becomes a flaw, lending the wine a biting, green quality. On the other hand, if there is not enough acidity, the wine is dull. Acidity comes, in large part, from the vine’s metabolism. Tartric, malic and succinic acids are the main acids in grapes and found in wines.
  • Alcohol

    Ethyl alcohol gives wine its warm character. If it is too dominant, the wine produces a burning sensation on the palate. It nonetheless plays a role in giveing the wine smoothness and balancing its acidity. The degree of alcohol designates the wine’s alcohol content (expressed as the percentage of alcohol by volume contained in the wine.)
  • Aligoté

    A white grape variety planted in Burgundy that produces fresh wines with green apple and lemon aromas.
  • Altesse

    A white grape variety grown in Savoy, producing wines with notes of mountain grasses.
  • Amber

    After a long period of aging, or if prematurely oxidized, white wines develop amber hues, turning deep gold with dark brown glints. In sweet wines, this color is a sign of long bottle aging and is highly desirable.
  • Ampelography

    The science that studies grape varieties, their shape, their growing behavior and their origin.
  • Ample

    Said of a well-balanced wine that provides a full, long-lasting sensation on the palate.
  • Appelation (PDO)

    PDO (AOP) wines are those that are grown on specific land parcels. These wines meet the production criteria established by INAO and made official by production regulations. The rules for producing these wines must meet strict criteria (growing techniques, varieties, specific parcels, ageing conditions, etc.) They are tasted before being approved

  • Approachable

    Said of a supple, pleasant wine that slips easily over the palate. In French such a wine is called coulant, literally “flowing”.
  • Aramon

    A red grape variety from the Mediterranean area, highly in favor after the phylloxera crisis, but used less frequently today. It is no longer used for quality wines.
  • Aroma

    The combination of primary odors in a young wine (as opposed to bouquet, the odor acquired after aging). There are three types of aromas. - The primary or varietal aromas that already exist in the grape. They impart their distinctive fragrance to the wine. For example, Sauvignon Blanc imparts notes of boxwood and occasionally smoke, Muscat offers highly characteristic notes of wild fruit and orange, Cabernet-Sauvignon offers green pepper, Pinot Noir imparts raspberry, blackcurrant and cherry, and so on. These primary aromas generally evoke flowery, fruity or vegetal scents. Synonym: varietal aromas. - Secondary aromas, or fermentation aromas, are produced by yeast during primary and malolactic fermentation. These include odors of banana, nail polish, fruit drops, and even candles, wax, buckwheat, brioche, fresh butter and cream. -The term tertiary aromas can also be used to refer to the bouquet, the aroma that a wine develops during bottle aging in an anaerobic environment. The most well known tertiary aromas are truffle, chocolate, mocha, coconut, cake, honey, marzipan, and gamy scents such as fur, leather and musk.
  • Arrufiac

    Delicate white grape variety that is used to make some wines in Béarn (southwestern France).
  • Auxerrois

    Name also given to the Malbec grape variety in the Lot region.