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Wine Glossary for Beginners
Sun May 13, 2012 10:28 pmForum Host
A brief wine glossary in case you're not so sure about many of the terms that you may encounter in your local wine merchant's store or favorite restaurant.
Acid – Wines are acidic and the acid which they contain will often have a large bearing on their taste and how long the wine will last.
Appellation – This term is used to describe the region that the grapes came from to make the wine you are drinking. You should look for more specific locations rather than generic ones such as ‘French grapes’ as it is usually a higher quality of wine when the appellation is more specific.
Amontillado - Best described as a matured Fino. After the flor dies, the yeast sinks to the bottom of the wine and is no longer able to protect the Sherry from oxidation. The now unprotected Sherry begins to take on a rich and deep nutty flavor, and can now be described as Amontillado.
Aperitif - A wine that is either drunk by itself (i.e. without food) or before a meal in order to stimulate the appetite.
Aromatic - A wine with very noticeable and distinctive aromas
Blind tasting - Tasting and evaluating wine without knowing what it is.
Bordeaux – A region in France famed for the quality of its wines. French wines are amongst the most respected in the world and those from the Bordeaux region are usually Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlots.
Breathing - The interaction between air and wine after a wine has been opened. Breathing may take place while the wine is decanting.
California – When it comes to American wines, the chances are that it will have been produced in California as the region is responsible for approximately 90% of the wine produced in the USA.
Claret - British name for Bordeaux wine. Is also a semi-generic term for a red wine in similar style to that of Bordeaux.
Corked – This term is used to describe a wine that has been tainted by a bad or improperly fitted cork. Corked wine will typically have a particularly displeasing smell.
Corkscrew - A tool, comprising a pointed metallic helix attached to a handle, for drawing corks from bottles.
Dessert wine - Varies by region. In the UK, a very sweet, low alcohol wine. In the US by law, any wine containing over 15% alcohol.
Fine wine - The highest category of wine quality, representing only a very small percentage of worldwide production of wine
Finish – The ‘Finish’ refers to the sort of after-taste that a wine produces after you have swallowed it.
Fortified wine - Wine to which alcohol has been added, generally to increase the concentration to a high enough level to prevent fermentation
Horizontal wine tasting - A tasting of a group of wines from the same vintage or representing the same style of wine (such as all Pinot noirs from different wineries in a region), as opposed to a vertical tasting which involves of the same wine through different vintages. In a horizontal tasting, keeping wine variety or type and wine region the same helps emphasize differences in winery styles
Jeroboam - A large bottle holding 3-5 litres, the equivalent of 4-6 regular wine bottles.
Jug wine - American term for inexpensive table wine (French: Vin de table)
Kosher wine - Wine that is produced under the supervision of a rabbi so as to be ritually pure or clean.
Late harvest wine - Also known as late picked, wine made from grapes that have been left on the vine longer than usual. Usually an indicator for a very sweet or dessert wine
Loire – Many French wines herald from the Loire region of the country and they are most notable for producing summery, flavoursome white wines.
Magnum – A Magnum is a 1.5 litre bottle of wine – a size which typically makes it twice as big as most regular bottles of wine.
Meritage - Originally created in California, these blended wines can be summed up as the "American Bordeaux". The term is a blend of the words "merit" and "heritage" and pronounced the same. The Red blend is made from at least 2 of the 5 Bordeaux grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. The White Meritage is a blend at least 2 of Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Vert, and Semillon
Mulled wine - Wine that is spiced, heated, and served as a punch.
Nose – Not as unusual as it would initially appear – the ‘nose’ refers to how the wine smells.
Pinot Grigio – An Italian wine which has become much loved throughout the world – particularly in the USA where it has become their biggest imported wine.
Plonk - British English slang for an inexpensive bottle of wine. The term is thought to originate from the French word for white wine, "blanc".
Port - A sweet fortified wine, which is produced from grapes grown and processed in the Douro region of Portugal. This wine is fortified with the addition of distilled grape spirits in order to boost the alcohol content and stop fermentation thus preserving some of the natural grape sugars. Several imitations are made throughout the world.
Sack - An early English term for what is now called Sherry.
Sangria - A tart punch made from red wine along with orange, lemon and apricot juice with added sugar.
Sauvignon Blanc – This refers to the white grape that is used to create dry white wines all over the world.
Sherry - A fortified wine that has been subjected to controlled oxidation to produce a distinctive flavor.
Sommelier - A wine expert who often works in restaurants.
Sparkling wine - Effervescent wine containing significant levels of carbon dioxide
Sulphites – This is a naturally occurring substance that is often (almost always) added to wine and it helps to preserve the wine for longer. There are some who believe that the sulphites in wine are responsible for causing headaches but this has been shown not to be the case.
Table wine - Generally any wine that is not sparkling or fortified. In the US these wines must also be between 7% and 14% alcohol by volume. The term table wine is also used to describe a wine that is considered a good, everyday drinker
Tasting flight - Refers to a selection of wines, usually between three and eight glasses, but sometimes as many as fifty, presented for the purpose of sampling and comparison.
Tuscany – An Italian wine region which is most famous for producing Chianti wines.
Varietal - Wines made from a single grape variety.
Vermouth - An aromatized wine that is made with wormwood and potentially other ingredients.
Vertical wine tasting - In a vertical tasting, different vintages of the same wine type from the same winery are tasted, such as a winery's Pinot Noir from five different years. This emphasizes differences between various vintages for a specific wine. In a horizontal tasting, the wines are all from the same vintage but are from different wineries or microclimates.
Vintage – The ‘Vintage’ of a wine refers to the year in which the grapes used in the wine were harvested.
Wine - An alcoholic beverage made from the fermentation of unmodified grape juice.
Wine tasting - The sensory evaluation of wine, encompassing more than taste, but also mouthfeel, aroma, and color
Yeast – Another naturally occurring substance found in wine. The yeast is what is responsible for causing the fermentation that turns what is effectively grape juice into the wine we all know and love.
Fri May 18, 2012 1:30 pmForum Host
Molly53, it was so nice of you to post some 'terminology' for our friends who are just discovering the lovely properties of wine! You know, Wineaux, our resident vino-phile, recently posted some great info about Vegan wines! Find it HERE! (I have to say that I just love a moscato or riesling and if it has bubbles, it has me! )
Mama's Kitchen (Hope)
Wed May 23, 2012 1:51 pmFood.com Groupie
What a great thread Molly! Thank you for sharing!
Wed May 23, 2012 1:58 pmFood.com Groupie
Fabulous! I work in a winery tasting room and I'd be rich if I had a dollar for every time I had to explain what a "varietal" is or that Zinfandel is supposed to be red!
Amy, in beautiful Sonoma County where the vines are turning leafy and green and so far the weather has been PERFECT for those 2012 vintage wines!
Thu May 31, 2012 6:29 pmForum Host
Thanks, friends! I'm happy you find it useful!
Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:48 pmExperienced "Head Chef" Poster
I'm not an expert, but some friends gave me a bottle of Chilean wine called Frontera, just delicious.
and I want to learn more about the topic.
Your information is useful to me
Tue Jun 26, 2012 8:12 pmForum Host
I'm fond of Chilean wines, myself.
Add this to My Favorite Topics
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