Cellar Angels Wine Glossary


Alcohol Beverage Commission (ABC) - The name often given to the state or local government agency/office responsible for licensing of alcohol and related establishments.

Acetic Acid - Descriptive word for a wine that has an excess of acetic acid or vinegar flavors.

Acidity - Structural component found in wine, beer, and spirits. It’s perceived as a tartness, sourness, or zesty sensation that causes salivation on the palate. Acidity is extremely important in determining the structure (or backbone) of a drink contributing to a multidimensional sensation. Drinks that are low in acidity are often described as tasting flat or flabby with a one-dimensional and simple presence.

Adaptation - The temporary loss in one’s ability to perceive and recognize distinctive aromas and flavors.

Aeration - The deliberate choice of incorporating oxygen into a wine, allowing it to “breathe” in order to soften the tannins and allow aromas and flavors to integrate with one another. Red wines benefit most from aeration, which is accomplished by decanting or by swirling the wine in a glass.

Aging - The process of storing wine, beer, or spirits in either reductive (stainless steel, concrete, etc.) or oxidative (oak, chestnut, etc.) containers in order to preserve or contribute additional personality and allow the drink’s constituents to integrate. The process of aging can take weeks to years depending upon the vision of the producer.


Aggressive - A beverage that is boldly assertive in terms of aroma/flavor and /or structural components.

Alcohol - Ethyl alcohol or ethanol (C2H5OH) is an intoxicating by-product derived from the fermentation process of yeast consuming a sugar source. The degree of alcohol affects the body, weight or overall mouthfeel and personality of a beverage. Alcohol content is expressed as a percentage of volume for wine and beer or by proof (twice the amount of alcohol %) for spirits.

Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) - Previously the “Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms” (BATF), it is the government body that oversees alcohol production and taxation in the United States.

Alsace (al-SASS) - A small French wine region bordering Eastern France and Western Germany that produces mostly white wines from grapes that are of German origin but the wine is made in the “French style”. The most prolific grapes include Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris grapes.

Altitude - Otherwise known as elevation; refers to the vertical height of vineyards generally referencing above sea level. The higher altitude causes a decrease in pressure and therefore the air to expand creating cooler air.

American Oak – An alternative to the expensive and more subdued French oak. Often marked by discernible vanilla aromas/flavors and is used primarily for aging bold intense red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel.

Amphorae (ahm-FOR-uh) - An ancient two-handled wine vessel used to transport wine. It was originally used during the Greek and Roman periods.

Ampelographer (amp-pehl-ah-gruh-fer) - An individual who practices ampelography; the study of the identification of grapevine botany.

American Viticultural Area (AVA) – Representing a distinctive grape-growing geographical area within the United States. AVAs are officially designated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). An AVA (such as Napa Valley or Sonoma County) Guarantees that at least a minimum of 85% (with some exceptions) of the grapes came from the location as identified on the label.

Analytical Pairing Approach - This methodical three-step approach to pairing beverages and food involves (1) mirroring the body and weight (or overall intensity) of the drink and the food to ensure that neither one overwhelms the other, (2) harmonize the interactions of structural components by comparing or contrasting them between the drink and food, (3) connect bridge ingredients in the food with aromas and flavors in the drink.

Antioxidants - These have recently been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. They contain compounds that are believed to inhibit the formation of cancer cells and reduce the buildup of fat cells in the arteries.

Appellation - French term that identifies a grape’s designated geographical growing area. The term has legal definition in France regarding what is grown, how it’s grown, and how wine is made. In order to use an appellation on a wine label, the regulations vary from 75–100% of the grapes used to make the wine must be grown in the place as stated on the label. However, the term has been expanded and loosely applied across the wine industry to simply mean a place where grapes are grown.

Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC or AC) (ah-pehllah-SYAHN daw-ree-JEEN kawn-traw-LAY) - French concept for “controlled appellation of origin” and refers to wine, cheese, butter, etc. The appellation d’origine contrôlée is the foremost category that ensures the quality of wine (and other products) meet quality criteria in several growing and production steps. The designation is awarded and controlled by the French governmental agency Institut National des Appellation d’ Origine (INAO) and guarantees that products to which it pertains have been held to a set of rigorous production standards.

Aroma - The scent or smell of a drink inhaled via the nose; through the exterior section of the nasal cavity

Aromatic Intensity - The degree of aroma concentration that can range from muted to highly aromatic.

Aspect - Used to describe the direction in which a slope faces. For example in the Northern Hemisphere cooler regions benefit from south and south-east facing slopes that maximize heat and sunlight throughout the day.

Atmospheres (or atms) - A term used to describe a unit of pressure equal to 14.69 pounds of force per square inch; often used in the production of sparkling wine, where it describes bottle pressure which can range anywhere from 5 to 7 atms.

Auslese (OWS-lay-zuh) - German for “select picking”; refers to the selective hand harvesting of extremely ripe bunches of grapes, often with a touch of noble rot (called Edelfaule in German).


Backbone - Often used to describe a drink with definable structural components—often specifically in reference to a drink’s acidity and or tannin levels.

Bacchanalia – Referencing the Roman celebration of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine.

Bacchus - The Roman God of wine.

Barrel Aging - The length of time an alcoholic beverage spends in a barrel before being bottled. Barrel aging allows the beverage to be exposed to the slow passage of oxygen during which a small amount of evaporation occurs. These effects dramatically influence the personality of a drink through imparting of aromas/flavors (vanilla, spice, tobacco) and darkening the color hue while softening many of its structural components.

Beerenauslese (BA) (BEHR-ehn-OWS-lay-zuh) – The German term for select berries that have been handpicked. BA is a rich, sweet dessert wine made of overripe, shriveled berries that are almost always affected by noble rot.

Big Six Grapes - Grapes that are arguably the most noble, adaptable and famous examples of international varietals produced around the world. The big six consist of three white wine grapes: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and three red wine grapes: Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Biodynamics – The philosophical (and vineyard practices) viewpoint asserting that the land is a living system and vineyards are an ecological self-sustaining whole. Biodynamic farming often means the winemakers also use herbal sprays and composts.

Bitter - A dry, puckery sensation that may be caused by tannin which is largely present in red wine from grape skins or in hops for beer. Slight bitterness may be a desirable trait used to provide a balance to the other structural components that may be present.

Blanc de Blanc (BLAHN duh BLAHN) - Translates to “white from white,” or a white wine made from white grapes. Most often used to describe sparkling wines made solely from Chardonnay or other white wine varietals.

Blanc de Noir (BLAHN duh NWAH) - Translates to “white from red,” or a white wine made from red grapes. Most often used to describe sparkling wines made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier or other red wine varietals.

Blend - The term can be used to indicate a blend of either different grape varietals into a single wine (such as a “red Bordeaux” is a blend of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) or used to indicate a blend of wines from multiple years and may therefore be identified as a non-vintage wine such as with sparkling wine and fortified wine.

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) - The most common system for measuring and reporting “blood alcohol content” or “BAC” uses the weight of alcohol (milligrams) and the volume of blood (deciliter). This yields a blood alcohol concentration that can be expressed as a percentage (e.g., 0.10% alcohol by volume).

Body - A structural component that describes a drink’s impression of weight, fullness, or overall mouthfeel on the palate. It is usually the result of a combination of glycerin (deriving largely through maceration/fermentation and or cold soak process), the degree of extract, alcohol content, and/or amount of residual sugar. Drinks can often be described as light bodied, medium bodied, or full bodied. 

Bordeaux (bohr-DOH) - The Bordeaux region of France produces blended red wine (primarily in varying quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and others) and white wine and dessert wine (both from a blend of various quantities of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon grape varietals).

Botrytis cinerea (boh-TRI-tis sihn-EAR-ee-uh) – Also called noble rot, a beneficial mold that may grow on wine grapes, causing them to dehydrate and shrivel, resulting in the remaining juice becoming highly concentrated. This desired condition yields the honeyed richness of many classic dessert wines such as Sauternes, Trockenbeerenauslese, and Tokaji.

Brandy - A distilled spirit from a fermented mixture of grapes—in essence brandy is distilled wine.

Breathing - Allowing a wine or spirit to come into contact with some desirable oxygen for a short period of time. Breathing allows the components of the drink to integrate.

Brix - An American system used to measure the sugar content of grapes upon harvest or the quantity of residual sugar left in the wine upon completion of fermentation. The brix multiplied by 0.55 equals the potential alcohol by volume content of the wine being produced.

Brut (BROOT) - A term used to indicate a “dry” style of sparkling wine.

Burgundy (BER-gun-dee) - The Burgundy region of France produces both red (primarily Pinot Noir with smaller amounts of Gamay in southern Burgundy) and white wines (predominately Chardonnay).


Calvados (kehl-vah-dose) - The World’s most famous and prestigious apple brandy produced in Calvados, a region in northern France.

Canopy - The foliage (leaves) that is produced on the grapevine.

Canopy Management - The practice of adjusting or positioning a grape vine’s leaves, shoots, and fruit as it grows, in order to gain such beneficial advantages as increased exposure to sunlight and movement of air.

Cap - The thick layer of skin, stems, and seeds that collects at the top of the tank during the fermentation of red wine.

Carbonation - A structural component that can be sensed in beer and sparkling wine with a “tingly” sensation from the bubbles or CO2. The levels of carbonation can range from flat through aggressive.

Cava - Spain’s most prestigious sparkling wine produced from the traditional French, méthode Champenoise. The majority of cava is produced in the Catalonia–Barcelona area of Spain.

Champagne (sham-PAYN) - Champagne is both a region and a type of wine. To be specific, Champagne is a world famous sparkling wine that derives from the Champagne region of France and is made according to stringent AOC laws.

Character - Used to describe a beverage with specific qualities related to its style or variety. Referred to as typicity

Charmat Method (shar-MAH) - Also known as tank or bulk process; named for Frenchman Eugène Charmat, the developer of the method. The Charmat process is an inexpensive way to create a “fruit forward” sparkling wine that limits complexity and preserves the wine’s youth. The wine undergoes secondary fermentation in a stainless steel pressurized tank.

Chewy - A descriptive term used to characterize a very tannic red wine.

Clarification - The process of both removing undesirable particles in wine or beer and making it more stable by eliminating the chance for refermentation.

Clarity - A wine-tasting term used to indicate a drink’s freedom from particles.

Climate - Refers to the general weather conditions prevailing in a given area over a long period.

Clone - The reproduction or replication of a grapevine usually produced through cuttings or grafting from some desirable parent vine.

Cloudy - A term used to indicate a beer having been unfiltered prior to bottling.

Cognac (kohn-yak) - One of the world’s most famous examples of brandy. It’s produced in the town of Cognac and the areas surrounding it in western France, north of the Bordeaux region.

Cold Stabilization - One of the common clarification techniques in which a wine’s temperature is lowered to 32°F causing the natural tartrate crystals(commonly associated with white wines) and other insoluble solids to precipitate.

Color Hue - Otherwise known as color shade, identifying the range of color of a beverage.

Color Intensity - Otherwise known as color depth, identifying the degree of color pigment present in a beverage.

Components - A drink’s components can be broadly classified into aroma/flavor components (how a drink smells) and structural components (how a drink tastes).

Control State - One of two possible state classifications in which the sale of alcoholic beverage products is directly controlled by the state authorities.

Cooper - A professional barrel maker.

Cork - The oldest and overall effective closure used to seal a bottle. Authentic cork is derived from the bark of the oak tree.

Corked - A term used to indicate that a wine has been tainted with TCA and therefore not healthy. It will cause undesirable aromas and flavors reminiscent of “wet dog,”

Corkscrew - A tool used to remove a cork from a wine (and some beer) bottles. It consists of a metal spiral (the worm), lever (used for attaching on to the neck of the bottle), a small hinged knife that is housed in the handle end (for removing the foil wrapping around the neck of many wine bottles).

Coup (coop) - A type of glass used for sparkling wine that is distinguishable by its small, short stem with a wide, shallow bowl.


Decanter - A glass vessel into which wine is decanted.

Decanting - A technique used to remove sediment in an old red wine or to allow oxygen to soften the structural components and allow the wine to integrate as in young red wines. Decanting involves slowly pouring wine from the bottle into another container (typically a decanter) in order to separate the liquid from the sediment. The procedure also may be used to aerate the wine in order to soften the tannin and allow the wine to open up and the aromas and flavors to integrate.

Dégorgement (day-gorge-MAWN) - French term for disgorging the removal of collected yeast that has settled in the neck of the bottle of sparkling wine during the méthode Champenoise production process.

Diluted - Referencing a drink’s lack of aroma, flavor and/or limiting mouthfeel appearing as if it has been watered down.

Dionysus (die-uh-ny-suhs) - The Greek God of wine.

Distillation - The process of heating a fermented mixture to separate and remove its water content by causing the alcohol to vaporize and then “re” condense with a higher alcohol strength and greater purity, upon which it may be referred to as a spirit.

Dosage (doh-ZAHJ) - Denotes the addition of a small amount of sugar to adjust the dryness/sweetness levels of a sparkling wine

Dram - Simply, a “drink”

Dramshop Laws - State laws that create a statutory cause of action against businesses and, in some cases, its employees, shifting the liability for acts committed by an individual under the influence of alcohol from that individual to the server or the establishment that supplied the intoxicating beverage

Dry - A structural component referencing a drink with no perceptible level of residual sugar or sweetness.


Eiswein (ICE-vyn) - A German term for “ice-wine,” which is a dessert wine made from grapes that are harvested and pressed while frozen therefore extracting water content leaving highly concentrated, sweetened juice for fermentation.

Enology (ee-NAHL-uh-jee) - Also spelled oenology. The art, science, and practice of winemaking

Enophile (EE-nuh-file) – Also spelled oenophile. Someone who enjoys and appreciates fine wine

Estate Bottled - A term used by such producers that make wine from their own vineyards (or where they have significant control with long-term contracted growers) and that are adjacent to the winery estate. The wines must also be produced and bottled at the winery.

Esters - Natural chemical compounds produced from the fermentation process that contributes to many of the fruity aromas and flavors of an alcoholic beverage, particularly in beer and wine.

Eau de Vie - Literally, “water of life”; an unaged brandy

Extract - Referring to the process of aggressively removing color, tannin and flavor from grape skins during the fermentation process of rosé and red wines in order to contribute greater color, aroma, flavor, and body.


Fading - Describing an alcoholic beverage that is just passing or has passed its peak of optimal life span. The beverage is losing its typical or acceptable range of color, aroma, flavor, etc.

Fermentation - The process by which yeast metabolizes sugar—producing ethyl alcohol, carbon dioxide, heat, and other by-products

Finish - Also called the “aftertaste” or “persistence” refers to the aroma/flavor and structural components remaining on the palate after the drink has been tasted. The aftertaste can range in extremes from short to lingering and is most appropriately measured according to the “typicity” of a given wine, beer, or spirit.

Flat - Also called “flabby,” it is a term used to describe a beer or wine that is low or lacking in vibrancy often when they lack or have lost their acidity and/or carbonation. A flat beverage is very simple and one dimensional.

Flavonoids - A group of chemical compounds found in grape seeds, stems, and skins that contribute color, aromas, flavors, and antioxidant benefits.

Flavor - A term used to describe the process of smelling a beverage on the inside of one’s mouth as the drink’s aromas are forced up the retronasal passage.

Flor - Otherwise known as the “flower”; A white yeast crust that forms on the surface of fino category of Sherry fortified wine during the aging process.

Flute (FLOOT) - Tall, slender stemmed glass used for tasting and drinking sparkling wine.

Fortified Wine - One of the three categories of wine in which table wine is the base, with the addition of added alcohol (in the form of a distilled spirit—often an unaged brandy) at some point during the fermentation process. Fortified wine typically contains between 15% and 22% alcohol.

Fortified Wine Glassware - This smaller-sized glassware is designed to coordinate with a smaller portion size of fortified wine. The typical size fortified wine glassware consists of an approximate 4oz size capacity to allow for 2 oz portion of wine.

French Paradox - In the 1980s, medical studies found a paradox in that French people who have a fatter diet also have a low incidence of heart disease. The study concluded that people who consume moderate amounts of red wine are less likely than nondrinkers to suffer from cardiovascular disease.


Geographically Based Labeling - Applies mostly to European wine labels, this concept simply refers to wines that are produced from strictly regulated areas.

Geographic Indicators (GIs) - Australia’s term for appellation—geographic indicators are used to identify the location of where the grapes are grown requiring a minimum of 85% of a grape varietal from the location identified on the label.

Glucose - One of the fermentable sugars found in the yeast’s food source when making wine (from grapes) and beer (from malt).

Grand Cru (grahn-croo) - This French quality term literally means, “great site” that refers to top-tier vineyards and their wines. This term is used to denote the highest classification of vineyards in Burgundy and Alsace.

Grappa (GRAHP-pah) - This Italian spirit is distilled from the remains (or pomace (PUHM-ess) of wine making such as the grape’s skins, seeds, and stems. Also known as marc in France


Hang Time - A concept that delays the grape harvest in order to increase ripeness and consequently also increasing higher sugar content and ultimately a “fruit-forward” wine with higher amounts of alcohol content.


Hot - A descriptive term used to indicate that a wine or beer contains an obvious perceptible level of alcohol content that causes a spicy or burning sensation in the back of the throat.


Indigenous Grape Varietals - Grapes that are thought to be connected primarily with a specific location or homeland. Example: Barbera, Dolcetto and Nebbiolo from Italy’s Piedmont region.

International Grape Varietals - Grapes that are often referred to as a “classic variety” or “noble variety” which has both a long-established reputation and adaptability for producing high-quality wine throughout the world. Example: Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Irrigation - The artificial application of water to land in order to assist in the production of its associated crops.


Judgment of Paris - The famous wine tasting event, “1976 Judgment of Paris,” that shocked the world and became the significant defining point for the American (and for the most part, the entire New World) wine industry. The competition was judged by nine French judges that involved blind tasting and scoring the quality of ten French and California Cabernet Sauvignon wines and ten California and French Chardonnay wines. The American wines Warren Winiarski’s Cabernet Sauvignon from Stag’s Leap and Mike Grigich’s Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena won both categories over their prestigious French counterparts.

Jug Wine - Mass produced, non-descript, low-quality wine that is contained in jugs or boxes for dispensing. Many jug wine producers steal the names of famous Old World wine-producing regions or countries in order to manipulate the unsuspecting consumer.


Kabinett (kah-bih-NEHT) - The lowest of the QMP levels indicating that the grapes from which a wine is made have been picked at normal harvest time with a standard sugar content of 17–21%.


Lactic Acid - An acid produced in high levels after a wine has undergone a production technique called malolactic fermentation. This acid has a dramatic influence on the style of the wine by contributing additional aromas and flavors (bakeshop), fuller body and softening the tart acidic characteristics.

Languedoc-Roussillon (lahng-DAWK roos-see-YAWN) and Provence (praw-VAHNS) - These regions are located in southern France, just North of the Mediterranean Sea. The majority of production is red wine from Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache, and numerous other varietals in smaller quantities. In addition, these regions produce some of France’s most famous versions of fortified wine known as Vin Doux Naturel (VDN) (van doo nah-tew-REHL).

Late Harvest - Refers to wines made from grapes picked later than the normal harvest time and therefore with a higher sugar content (24% or above). Most late-harvest wines contain some perceptible to obvious levels of residual sugar, making them appropriate for or with dessert.

Lees - The decomposing or dead yeast cells.

Liqueurs (lih-kur or lee-kyoor) - Also known as “cordials,” it is a type of spirit used to describe an obvious amount of perceptible sugar density and flavoring has been added. Most liqueurs range between 34 and 60 proof, or between 16 percent and 30 percent alcohol by volume.

Loire Valley (LWAHR) - The Loire, another famous wine region of France, is known primarily for their extraordinary white wines (primarily from Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes), but also produces red wines (from Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir), dessert wines, and sparkling wines.

Longworth, Nicholas (d 1863) - Considered by many to be the founding father of American wine and is noted for owning the first commercially successful winery in the United States, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Longworth experimented with hundreds of different grape varietals and several vine species in his attempts at making wine an egalitarian beverage.


Maceration - The contact time between the grape skins (and sometimes stems) and the grape must prior to and during the fermentation process in order to extract greater amounts of color, tannin, aroma, and flavor.

Malolactic Fermentation (MLF) - Winemaking technique that induces a biochemical reaction to convert a wine’s malic acid (fruit acids) into softer lactic acid (dairy acids). This process is used to impart additional aromas and flavors and fuller body and softens acidity.

Meritage (mehr-ih-tij) - A particular kind of proprietary wine that was legally created in the 1980s. The name “Meritage” is a combination of two words, “merit” and “heritage,” to symbolize and therefore replicate the quality and history associated with the origination of these wines made in a Bordeaux style.

Méthode Champenoise (may-TOAD cham-pen-WAHZ) - The traditional method for making Champagne and other high-quality sparkling wine that induces a secondary fermentation and traps the carbon dioxide within its original bottle.

Minimal Intervention - A minimalistic and natural approach to winemaking, which excludes addities like sugar, gelatin, sulfites and more. 

Mondavi, Robert (d 2008) - One of the most influential American winemakers who brought worldwide recognition to California wine. From an early period, Mondavi assertively promoted the prominence of varietal labeling as opposed to generically labeling as was the norm in the 1950s. “Robert Mondavi Winery” was the first major winery built in Napa Valley in post-Prohibition.

Must - The unfermented juice of grapes prior to being turned into wine.


New World - References the significant countries that have a relatively brief history and culture associated with grape growing and wine production. In the New World, grapevines arrived by way of European settlers through immigration, exploration, trade, and war. The significant New World wine- producing countries include America, Australia, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, and New Zealand. These countries were at most settled within the last 500 years or so.

Noble Rot - Also called Botrytis cinerea, it is a beneficial mold that may grow on wine grapes in moist climates, causing them to dehydrate and shrivel resulting in the remaining juice becoming highly concentrated.

Non-Vintage (NV) - A term used to describe a wine (often sparkling and fortified wines) blended from multiple harvests in order to allow the winemaker to create an individual “house” style that can be fairly consistent from bottle to bottle, year after year.


Oechsle (UHX-leh) - A German method of measuring sugar content in unfermented grape juice.

Oenotria (own-eet-tree-ah) - The Ancient Greek term meaning land of wine

Off-Dry - A structural component that is used to indicate a slightly sweet drink in which residual sugar is slightly perceptible.

Organic Winemaking - No use of pesticides or other chemicals. Many California wineries are organic certified, but many also operate in the spirit of organic agriculture without being certified. 

Old World - References the long-established tradition of winemaking within the European countries of France, Italy, Germany, and Spain but can also include other countries located around the Mediterranean basin. These countries have a long history of growing grapes and making wine and are largely responsible for the nurturing—and development—of the grapevine.

Oxidized - A term used to describe a wine that has been exposed to oxygen for too long of a period of time during storage and/or the bottle has been opened too long.

Oxidation - The chemical reaction whereby a wine is unintentionally exposed or overexposed to oxygen, causing the wine to become tainted through oxidation. Oxidation causes chemical changes and deterioration that alters the colors, aromas, and flavors of wines. Oxidized wines are also referred to as “maderized.”

Oxidative Aging - The process of storing beer, wines or spirits in a vessel (commonly wood barrels) that allows the slow passage of oxygen over time, therefore enhancing a drink’s aromas and flavors.


Pérignon, Dom Pierre (d 1715) - The Benedictine monk performed great volumes of research and contributions on the subject of sparkling wine. He maintained detailed vineyard records that allowed for the technical expertise of blending that led to the significance of consistency and complexity in the finished bottle of Champagne.

Passito (pah-SEE-toh) - An Italian technique that involves laying grapes on racks or hanging them to partially dry for weeks to months that causes the evaporation of the grape’s water content. In the process, the grape’s aromas, flavors, acid and sugar content are intensified.

Pasteur, Louis (d 1895) - In the mid-19th century, he noted the connection between yeast and the process of the fermentation in which the yeast act as catalyst through a series of reactions that convert sugar into alcohol.

Phenolics (fen-ahl-iks) - Natural chemical compounds found in a grape’s skins and seeds and extracted from oak barrels. Phenolics are responsible for the tannins, color pigments, and aroma/flavor compounds found in wine.

Phenolic Ripeness - Otherwise known as flavor ripeness, represented by a group of compounds that contribute color, aroma, flavor, and tannin to a grape. This kind of ripeness allows the tannins to become softer as the growing season progresses. Phenolic ripeness often trails sugar ripeness, but is important for allowing the maximum flavor of the grape to be obtained.

Phylloxera Vastatrix (fil-LOX-er-uh) - An insect infamous in the 1860s that was responsible for decimating nearly two-thirds of the vineyards in Europe. Phylloxera injects its saliva as it attacks and eats the root system of the grapevine. As a result, the vine has the inability to ingest its nutrients, thus destroying the vine within a couple of years. Most of the world’s vineyards are now grafted on American rootstock, which is more resistant to Phylloxera.

Polymerize (PUH-lym-err-ize) - A natural effect that occurs in aging red wines that causes its tannins and color compounds to form large molecules and allow for the eventual process of these particles falling out of the suspended wine solution and becoming sediment in the bottom of the barrel and/or bottle.

Proprietary Labeling - Some select wine producers have been creating a certain style of wines that uses a branded name that sound prestigious or unique to the particular winery. Sometimes a proprietary name may refer to an entire estate or a particular wine being produced as an estate.

Pruning - A viticultural practice that removes excessive grapes and foliage from the vine for the purpose of affecting yield, which influences character development in the grapes.

Pulp - The inside part of the grape that contains the juice, acid, sugar, and flavor. Approximately 75% of a grape by weight—pulp plays a major role in providing acid (which is present in the juice) and is pivotal in giving both red and white wine good structure.


Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP) (kvah-lee-TAYTS-vine meet PRAY-dee-kaht) -Term that translates to “quality wine with special attributes” and represents the highest quality wines in the German classification system. There are six subcategories within the QmP system, ranked in ascending order according to their sugar content upon harvest: Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein, and Trockenbeerenauslese.


Racking - A method of clarification that is considered ideal for limiting the loss of desirable components in a wine or beer. Racking involves periodically draining the sediment, or dead yeast cells, by transferring the liquid from one container to another, leaving sediment behind in the original container.

Red Wine Glassware - These types of glasses are characterized by their large rounded bowl and wide surface area toward the rim of the glass. The larger surface area promotes the increased the rate of aeration as oxygen beneficially interacts with the wine’s aroma/flavor and structural components.

Remuage (reh-moo-ajh) - French term for riddling—that is, the process of shaking sparkling wine bottles to encourage the lees (or yeast cells) to move toward the neck of the bottle.

Residual Sugar (RS) - Any leftover (or unfermented) and perceptible sugar remaining in a wine or beer after the fermentation process.

Resveratrol (rez-VEHR-ah-trawl) - One of the phenolic compounds found largely in grape skins that has beneficial effects on cholesterol levels and cancer preventative qualities.

Retronasal Passage - The nasal passageway that connects the throat with the nose that enables one to detect the flavors of a beverage inside the mouth.

Rhône Valley (ROHN) - The Rhône Valley is located toward Southern France. It produces mostly red wines (either single varietal or blended wines) from Syrah, Grenache, andMourvèdre, with white wines produced from the Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne grape varietals.

Riddling - The process of placing a sparkling wine bottle inverted into a rack to be gently shaken over a period of several weeks in order to encourage the lees to collect at the neck of the bottle.

Rosé - French term for pink. Rosé wines range in color from pink to salmon and are made from red wine grapes through limited skin contact in order to extract a slight amount of color. Sometimes, a small amount of red wine may be added instead.


Saignée (san-YAY) - A method of producing wine that allows some of the color from red grape skins to bleed into the fermenting juice, creating a pinkish color.

Sediment - The color pigments and tannins that form together and naturally separate out from a red wine as it ages. The wine is removed from the sediment through the decanting process.

Slope - Refers to the degree of steepness or incline of a hillside. A higher slope indicates a steeper incline and therefore better drainage and greater exposure to the sunlight.

Snifter - This glass contains a large bowl and a short stem, which encourages the drinker to hold the bowl of the glass cradled in their hand. Commonly used for consuming brandy and/or other aged spirits such as Añejo Tequila.

Soil - A mixture of minerals, organic matter, and particles that are of different sizes and textures that acts to support the root structure of the grapevine. Soil influences the drainage levels and amount of absorption levels of minerals and nutrients.

Sommelier (saw-muh-LYAY) - A French term, otherwise known as the “wine steward,” who is in charge of managing the wine (and often beer and spirits) program which may include all or any of the following: selection, purchasing, storage, educating, and serving wine in a variety of venues such as a restaurant, bar, or retail wine store.

Spätlese (SHPAYT-lay-zuh) - Literally, “late picked”; the German word for the second level of QmP wines.

Sparkling Wine - One of the three categories of wine that is identified by its carbon dioxide or, simply, its bubbles.

Spirit - Referencing any alcohol beverage made from an initial fermentation and subsequent distillation in order to extract water content. Spirits can be made from various base fermented beverages and then infused with any number of herbs, spices, or flavoring agents.

Spritzy or Spritz - A pleasant, light sparkling sensation caused by either the halting of a primary fermentation, inducing a slight secondary fermentation, or the addition of carbon dioxide to a table wine.

Stainless Steel Aging - An aging method used primarily for white aromatic wines whose primary flavors and crisp acidity desire to be preserved. Stainless steel aging preserves the wine and prevents the passage of oxygen that would otherwise alter the wine’s personality.

Structural Components - The six elements of mouthfeel that include carbonation, dryness/sweetness, acidity, tannin, body, and alcohol content that are sensed on the palate when tasting a beverage

Sulfites - In the winemaking process, sulfites occur naturally. Sometimes more sulfites are added as a preservative. Sulfites must be listed on the label if the wine contains more than 10 parts per million of sulfur dioxide. Sulfites may cause congestion and asthma-like symptoms in some people. 

Sur Lie Aging - Sometimes spelled “sur lee” refers to a wine being aged for an extended period of time on its lees (or yeast cells) in order to gain increased complexity in aromas, flavors and body.

Süssereserve (ZOOSS-ray-ZEHR-veh) - A German wine-making technique that refers to a reserve of grape juice held back from the fermentation so that it can be added later to sweeten the wine. Often necessary to counterbalance a wine’s acidity levels

Sweet - A structural component that can be applied to wine, beer, liqueurs, or cocktails. The use of this term is used to indicate a noticeable and obvious perceptible level of sugar/ sweetness.


Tannin - A structural component found in a grape’s skins, seeds and stems as well as from a beer’s hops—one of the major ingredients in beer. Tannin is a natural chemical compound that causes an astringent, mouth-puckering sensation that causes a significant drying sensation on the back of the tongue and around the gums of one’s mouth and a drying sensation on the palate and also acts a preservative for extended aging of a beverage.

Tartrates - Harmless crystals of potassium bitartrate that may form in wine casks or bottles (often on the cork) or seen in the wine glass when poured, from the tartaric acid naturally present in wine.

Terroir (tehr-WHAR) - French term that loosely translates to “the connection of the land” and encompasses all the environmental factors that affect the grapevine’s interactions of soil, climate, topography, and grape variety within a specific vineyard

Table Wine (or still wine) - One of the three categories of wine (and most popular and widespread) that gets its name from the historical belief of consuming wine at the table with the meal. The alcoholic content of table wine generally is between 8% and 14% with colors ranging from white, rosé (pink), or red wines that can be dry, off-dry, or sweet.

TCA Or technically “2,4,6-Trichloroanisole” (try-clore-AN-iss-all) - is a wine fault otherwise known as being “corked”. The wine contains a disagreeable smell detectable in very low concentrations by imparting a “wet cardboard” character to wine.

Tirage (tee-RAHZH) - Method whereby in Champagne production, the blended base wine is given a dose of sugar and yeast in order to induce a secondary fermentation within the original bottle.

Tired - A term used to describe a wine that has surpassed its optimal peak of consumption.

Topography - This concept references a lands surface and shape, particularly of importance for grape growing is regarding a vineyard’s slope, aspect, and altitude.

Typicity (tuh-piss-ih-tee) - Refers to a beer or wine illustrating traditional and expected character in terms of aromas/flavor and structural components that are typical of a particular drink’s style.



Varietal - References a specific type of grape variety.

Varietal Based Labeling - Applies to most “New World” wine labels that legally implies the wine is made from a dominant grape variety.

Veraison - change of color of grape berries, onset of ripening

Vertical Wine Tasting - A vertical tasting includes various vintages (typically made in back to back years) of the same wine from the same producer. Tasting wine in this manner allows the taster to explore the variances and the ageability across the vintages.

Vieilles Vignes (vee ay veen-yuh) - French term for “old vines.” In theory, old vines should produce better-quality fruit with smaller berries and thicker grape skins, yet they also produce less yield.

Vigneron (vihn-yehr-RAWN) - A French term for someone who grows grapes and cultivates a vineyard for the ultimate purpose of wine making.

Vin Doux Naturel (VDN) (van doo nah-tew-REHL) - Sweet fortified wine primarily coming from the regions of Southern France.

Vineyard - A grape-growing area that can vary in size and in some larger grape-growing areas is identified as an appellation or a region.

Viniculture - The science and practice of growing wine grapes for making wine.

Vinification - The science and practice of making wine.

Vintage - Term that refers both to the year wine grapes were harvested and such grapes were converted into wine.

Vintner - Wine producer or winery proprietor.

Viticulture (vit-uh-cull-ture) - The study and practice of cultivating grapes

Vitis labrusca (lah-BROO-skah) - Grapevine that is indigenous to North America.

Vitis vinifera (vin-if-EHR-ah) - The classic indigenous European grapevine species most responsible for producing the world’s best wines, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernets, etc.


White Wine Glassware - This kind of glassware has a moderately sized bowl, with a tapered rim at the top of the glass to allow for enhanced aroma concentration of a white wine’s delicate nuances.

Wine - The fermented juice of grapes . . . unless otherwise legally specified. Can be broadly categorized according to table, sparkling, and fortified wine.

Wine Bottle - A vessel that has been used for centuries and appears in a variety of shapes and sizes, but has been standardized to generally contain 25.4 oz (750 ml) of liquid.

Winery - A facility where wine is produced.

Winkler Heat Index System - A system of classifying grape-growing areas using the heat index to determine the optimal site selection for different grape varietals. Dr. Albert Winkler of the University of California-Davis developed this system.

Wood-Barrel Aging - A centuries-old tradition that uses wood vessels to store and age most red wines and many full-bodied white wines. The industry standard is to use French or American oak. Oak from other places, such as Slovenian oak, is sometimes still used. In the past, different wine regions have used different kinds of wood, such as mahogany, chestnut, and pine.



Yeast - An important microorganism that causes fermentation by converting sugar to alcohol. The predominant yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae (sack-row-MY-cees sair-ah-VIS-ee-eye), is the same microorganism that ferments wine, beer, and bread.



Source: Schmid, Albert W.A., and Laloganes, John Peter. The Beverage Manager's Guide to Wines, Beers, and Spirits. Pearson, 2013.