Wine Glossary 

This is our always expanding list of wine definitions and wine terminology. Uncover what critics and winemakers are really talking about when they use all those fancy words!

If you can't find what you're looking for in our wine glossary below, please let us know and we'll get it added!


Acidity - what gives wine its tartness or sharpness. All wines are acidic to some degree. Generally, ranging from 2.5 pH - 4.5 pH, with 7 pH being neutral. Great acidity can be described as being crisp or fresh.

Aeration - allowing oxygen to soften a wine after opening a bottle. Aerating a wine can soften tannins, smooth out the wine, and allow flavors and aroma to develop.

Aging - allowing a wine to develop (and improve) in the bottle by being stored in a cool, dark place (usually a cellar).

Learn how to store wine in our guide.

Alcohol - usually measured in Alcohol By Volume (ABV as a percentage). Alcohol that we consume is actually Ethanol.

It's produced during fermentation when sugar is consumed by yeast. ABV in wine typically ranges from 5.5% up to 25% in fortified wines.

Appellation - at its simplest it's a legally defined geographical area in which grapes are wine grown. An appellation can also designate how wines are produced.

Aroma - the smell of a wine. Often called 'the nose'. Common aromas of red wines are dark berries.

Astringent - a slightly bitter (unwanted) taste caused by a high level of tannin in a wine. An astringent wine usually benefits from aeration/decanting.

Alsace - a region of eastern France close to the German border. Famous for its Riesling and Gewurtztraminer wines (as well as Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc).


Balance - a wine is balanced when its components are arranged in harmony. Factors like the sweetness, acidity, tannins, alcohol, and flavor need to be arranged carefully by a winemaker to achieve balance. It's a subjective quality that can differ between people. 

Barrel - A wooden container, typically made of oak, used for aging and storing wine.

BitterA taste sensation characterized by a sharp, pungent flavor, often associated with tannins in wine.

Blend - A wine made from a combination of different grape varieties, vintages, or vineyards.

Bordeaux - A famous wine region in France known for producing red and white wines, predominantly from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

Botrytis Cinerea - A fungus also known as "noble rot," responsible for creating concentrated, sweet dessert wines.

Bouquet - The complex array of aromas in a wine, often developed during the aging process.

Breathe - Allowing wine to interact with air to enhance its flavors and aromas. 

Brix - A measure of the sugar content in grapes, which indicates their ripeness and potential alcohol content.

Brut - A term used to describe a dry sparkling wine, typically Champagne.

Burgundy - A famous wine region in France known for producing red and white wines, predominantly from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.

Brettanomyces - A yeast that can produce undesirable off-notes in wine, often described as barnyard or sweaty saddle. 

Brilliant - A term used to describe a wine with exceptional clarity and brightness.

Body - The sensation of weight and fullness in the mouth, influenced by a wine's alcohol, sugar, and tannins.

Blanc de Blancs - A sparkling wine made exclusively from white grapes, usually Chardonnay.

Blanc de Noirs - A sparkling wine made from red grapes, typically Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier, with minimal skin contact to avoid color extraction.


Cabernet Franc - A red grape variety often used as a blending component in Bordeaux-style wines, known for its herbaceous and fruity flavors. 

Cabernet Sauvignon - A popular red grape variety known for producing full-bodied wines with dark fruit flavors and firm tannins. Read our detailed guide to Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cava - A Spanish sparkling wine made using the traditional method, similar to Champagne.

Cap- The layer of grape skins, seeds, and pulp that forms on the surface during fermentation.

Chablis - A region in Burgundy known for producing unoaked, crisp, and mineral-driven Chardonnay wines.

Champagne - A famous wine region in France known for producing high-quality sparkling wines made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes.

Chardonnay - A versatile white grape variety that can produce a range of wine styles, from crisp and mineral-driven to rich and buttery. Read our detailed guide to Chardonnay.

Chaptilization - The process of adding sugar to grape must before fermentation to increase the potential alcohol content.

Chenin Blanc - A white grape variety known for producing wines with high acidity and a range of flavors, from crisp and dry to sweet and fruity. 

Chianti A wine region in Tuscany, Italy, known for producing red wines predominantly made from Sangiovese grapes.

Citric Acid  - A natural acid found in grapes that contributes to a wine's acidity and tartness. 

Claret  - A British term for red Bordeaux wines.

Color - The visual appearance of a wine, influenced by factors such as grape variety, age, and winemaking techniques.

Comparative Tasting - Tasting multiple wines side by side to better understand their similarities and differences. Read our guide to fun comparative wine tasting ideas.

Corked Wine - A wine that has been tainted by a compound called TCA, which can cause musty, off-putting aromas and flavors. Learn how to you tell if your wine is corked.

Cork Taint  - The presence of 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole (TCA) in wine, which results in undesirable musty or moldy aromas and flavors, commonly referred to as "corked."

Crianza  - A Spanish wine aging classification that requires a minimum period of oak barrel aging and bottle aging before release. 

Cuvée  - A specific blend or batch of wine, often used to denote a premium selection.


Decant - The process of slowly pouring wine from its bottle into another container to separate it from any sediment and aerate it.

Demi Sec - A term used to describe a wine with a moderate level of sweetness, often used for sparkling wines.

Denominacion de Origen - A Spanish wine classification system that designates wines from specific regions with regulated production methods.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) - An Italian wine classification system similar to the French AOC, which designates wines from specific regions with regulated production methods.

Dry - A term used to describe a wine with little to no residual sugar, creating a sensation of dryness on the palate.


Earthy - A term used to describe aromas and flavors reminiscent of soil, minerals, or vegetation in wine.

Enology - The science and study of wine and winemaking.


Fermentation - The process by which yeast converts grape sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide, producing wine.

Filtration - The process of removing particles and impurities from wine to improve clarity and stability.

Fining - The process of using a clarifying agent to remove unwanted particles or compounds from wine. Learn more in our guide to clearing wine.

Finish - The lingering flavors and sensations experienced after swallowing a sip of wine.

Fortified Wine - A wine that has had additional alcohol, typically brandy, added during or after fermentation, resulting in a higher alcohol content. Learn more in our guide to fortified wines.

Full Bodied - A term used to describe a wine with a rich, concentrated, and heavy mouthfeel.

Fumé Blanc - A term used for Sauvignon Blanc wines, particularly those that have been oak-aged, giving them a smoky character.


Gamay- A red grape variety known for producing light-bodied, fruity wines, most famously in the Beaujolais region of France.

Gewürztraminer - A white grape variety known for producing aromatic, spicy, and floral wines with moderate acidity.

Gran Reserva - A Spanish wine classification that denotes a wine with extended aging in both oak barrels and bottles before release.

Grand Cru - A French term used to designate the highest quality vineyards and wines, most notably in Burgundy and Champagne.

Grenache - A red grape variety known for producing fruity, spicy wines with moderate tannins, often used as a blending component. Learn more in our guide to Grenache.

Grüner Veltliner - A white grape variety primarily grown in Austria, known for producing crisp, peppery, and mineral-driven wines.


Haut - A French term meaning "high" or "upper," often used in wine names to indicate a superior vineyard location or quality. 

Herbaceous - A term used to describe wine aromas and flavors reminiscent of herbs, such as grass, mint, or eucalyptus.

Hot - A term used to describe a wine with excessive alcohol, resulting in a burning sensation on the palate.


Ice Wine - A sweet dessert wine made from grapes that have been left to freeze on the vine, concentrating their sugars and flavors. Learn more about Ice Wine in our detailed guide.


Kosher - Wines produced according to Jewish dietary laws, supervised by a rabbi and handled by Sabbath-observant Jews.


Labrusca - A species of grape native to North America, known for its distinct "foxy" flavor.

Lambrusco - An Italian red grape variety and the sparkling wine produced from it, known for its fruity and slightly sweet character.

Late Harvest - A term used for wines made from grapes picked later than usual, often resulting in higher sugar levels and a sweeter wine.

Lees - The sediment, primarily dead yeast cells, that accumulates at the bottom of a fermentation vessel during and after fermentation.

Legs - The streaks of wine that cling to the inside of a glass after swirling, often thought to indicate the wine's body or alcohol content.

Length - A term used to describe the duration and persistence of a wine's flavors and sensations on the palate after swallowing.

Loire - A river in France and the surrounding wine region known for producing a wide range of white, red, and sparkling wines.


Maceration - The process of soaking grape skins, seeds, and stems in the fermenting juice to extract color, tannins, and flavors. 

Malic Acid - A naturally occurring acid found in grapes and other fruits that contributes to a wine's acidity and tartness.

Madeira - A fortified wine from the Portuguese island of Madeira, known for its distinctive oxidized character and unique aging process.

Maderized - A term used to describe a wine that has taken on the oxidized, nutty flavors associated with Madeira wine due to improper storage or aging.

Malolactic Fermentation - A secondary fermentation process in which malic acid is converted to softer lactic acid, often used to reduce acidity and create a smoother mouthfeel in wine.

Malbec - A red grape variety known for producing deeply colored, full-bodied wines with dark fruit flavors, most famously in Argentina. Learn more about Malbec in our detailed guide.

Magnum - A large wine bottle size equivalent to two standard bottles or 1.5 liters.

Medoc - A wine-producing region within Bordeaux, France, known for producing some of the world's most prestigious and age-worthy red wines.

Mendoza - The biggest wine-producing region in Argentina, known for its high-quality Malbec wines.

Mouthfeel - The tactile sensations experienced when tasting a wine, including its weight, texture, and viscosity.

Must - The unfermented juice, pulp, seeds, and skins of grapes, used as the raw material for winemaking.


Nebbiolo - A red grape variety native to the Piedmont region of Italy, known for producing powerful, tannic, and age-worthy wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco.

Negociant - A wine merchant who buys grapes, juice, or wine from growers and producers, and then bottles and sells the wine under their own label.

Noble Rot - A beneficial form of the fungus Botrytis cinerea that affects grapes, causing them to shrivel and concentrate their sugars, used in the production of some sweet wines like Sauternes.

Nose - A term used to describe the overall aroma of a wine, encompassing its bouquet and individual scents.


Oaky - A term used to describe the flavors and aromas, such as vanilla, toast, or smoke, imparted to a wine through aging in oak barrels.

Oenology - The science and study of wine and winemaking, also spelled enology.

Organic - Wine produced from grapes grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides, and often with minimal intervention during winemaking. Discover some great organic wines in our guide.

Oxidized - A term used to describe a wine that has been exposed to too much oxygen, causing it to lose freshness and develop off flavors.


pH - A measure of acidity or alkalinity in wine, with lower values indicating higher acidity. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Wine typically has a pH between 3 and 4, with most wines falling on the more acidic side of the scale. The pH of a wine can influence its taste, color, stability, and aging potential.

Phylloxera - A tiny insect pest that feeds on the roots of grapevines, causing significant damage and eventual vine death. Learn all about grape phylloxera in our in-depth guide.

PiedmontA wine-producing region in northwestern Italy, known for its prestigious red wines made from Nebbiolo, such as Barolo and Barbaresco, as well as a range of white and sparkling wines.

Pinot Blanc - A white grape variety known for producing light, crisp wines with subtle fruit and floral flavors.

Pinot Grigio - A white grape variety, also known as Pinot Gris, which produces light to medium-bodied wines with flavors of citrus, green apple, and pear. It is particularly popular in Italy but also grown in other regions around the world. Learn all about Pinot Grigio in our guide.

Pinotage - A red grape variety created in South Africa by crossing Pinot Noir and Cinsault, known for producing deeply colored wines with flavors of dark fruit, spice, and sometimes smoky or earthy notes.

Polyphenols - A group of chemical compounds found in grape skins, seeds, and stems, which contribute to a wine's color, tannins, and potential health benefits.

Port - A fortified wine from the Douro Valley in Portugal, typically sweet and rich, often aged for many years in oak barrels. Learn about Tawny and Ruby Port in our guide.

Premier Cru - A French term used in Burgundy to designate a vineyard with high quality and reputation, second only to Grand Cru vineyards.

Press  - A machine used to extract juice from grapes by applying pressure to the crushed fruit. 

Pruning - The process of trimming and cutting back grapevines to control growth, yield, and grape quality.


Racking - The process of transferring wine from one container to another, leaving sediment behind, to clarify the wine and promote aging. 

Reserva - A Spanish wine designation indicating that the wine has been aged for a minimum period, typically longer than a Crianza but less than a Gran Reserva.

Reserve - A term used on wine labels to indicate that the wine is of higher quality, often due to longer aging or selection of superior grapes, though regulations for its use vary by region.

Rhône - A wine-producing region in southeastern France, known for producing red wines from Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre grapes, as well as white wines from Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne grapes.

Riesling - A white grape variety known for producing wines with high acidity and a wide range of flavors, from bone-dry to very sweet, often with prominent floral and citrus notes.

Rioja - A wine-producing region in northern Spain, known for its high-quality red wines made primarily from the Tempranillo grape. Learn all about Rioja wine in our guide.

Rosé - A type of wine that has a pink color, made by allowing limited contact between red grape skins and the fermenting juice or by blending red and white wines.


Sangiovese - A red grape variety native to Italy and the main component in Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino wines, known for its flavors of red cherry, plum, and earthy notes. Learn all about Sangiovese wine in our guide.

SauternesA sweet white wine from the Bordeaux region of France, made from grapes affected by noble rot, resulting in rich, honeyed flavors.

Sauvignon Blanc - A white grape variety known for producing crisp, aromatic wines with flavors of citrus, gooseberry, and sometimes grassy or herbal notes. Learn all about Sauvignon Blanc in our detailed guide.

Sec - A French term meaning "dry," used to describe wines with little to no residual sugar.

Sémillon - A white grape variety often used in Bordeaux blends, known for producing wines with flavors of honey, citrus, and sometimes lanolin.

Sherry - A fortified wine from the Jerez region of Spain, produced in a variety of styles from dry to sweet and aged using a unique solera system.

Shiraz - The Australian name for the Syrah grape, known for producing full-bodied, bold red wines with flavors of dark fruit, spice, and sometimes pepper or chocolate.

Solera - A system of fractional blending and aging used for Sherry and some other fortified wines, where younger wines are gradually mixed with older wines to achieve a consistent style. 

Sommelier - A wine professional, often employed in restaurants, who specializes in wine service, selection, and pairing with food.

Spicy  - A term used to describe wines with flavors reminiscent of spices, such as pepper, clove, or cinnamon.

Structure  - A term used to describe the way a wine's components, such as fruit, acidity, tannins, and alcohol, come together in the mouth. A well-structured wine exhibits balance and harmony, with all its elements working together to create a pleasing and harmonious taste profile.

Supple  - A term used to describe wines with a smooth, round, and easy-drinking texture.

Super Tuscan  - A category of high-quality, non-traditional red wines from Tuscany, Italy, often made with international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, and aged in small oak barrels. These wines emerged in the 1970s as a response to restrictive wine production regulations in Tuscany, and they typically do not adhere to the traditional regional wine classifications, such as Chianti or Brunello di Montalcino.

Syrah  - A red grape variety grown in various wine regions, known for its dark fruit, pepper, and savory flavors. Also known as Shiraz in Australia. Learn all about Syrah in our in-depth guide.


Tannins - Naturally occurring compounds found in grape skins, seeds, and stems, as well as oak barrels, which provide structure and astringency to wine. Tannins contribute to a wine's structure, mouthfeel, and ageability, often described as astringent or drying in the mouth. Learn more about wine tannin in our guide.

Tartaric Acid - One of the primary acids found in wine grapes, along with malic acid and, to a lesser extent, citric acid. It plays a crucial role in the winemaking process and the taste profile of the final product. Tartaric acid contributes to the wine's acidity, which is essential for balancing the sweetness, fruitiness, and tannins. It also influences the wine's color, stability, and ageability.

Tempranillo - A red grape variety grown primarily in Spain, and the main component of Rioja and Ribera del Duero wines. Learn all about Tempranillo wine in our in-depth guide.

Terroir - The unique combination of climate, soil, topography, and other environmental factors that influence the character of a wine and give it a sense of 'place'. Learn all about terroir in our big guide.

Texture - Texture refers to the tactile sensation or mouthfeel of a wine when it is tasted. It is a crucial component of a wine's overall experience and is influenced by factors such as tannins, acidity, alcohol content, and sugar levels. The texture of a wine can be described using various terms, such as smooth, silky, velvety, creamy, chewy, or rough.

Tokay - A sweet, botrytis-affected wine from the Tokaj region of Hungary, made primarily from the Furmint grape variety.


Varietal - A wine made primarily from a single grape variety, often labeled with the name of that grape. 

Vegetal - A term used to describe wines with aromas or flavors reminiscent of vegetables or green plants. In some cases, vegetal characteristics can be considered a positive attribute, adding complexity and interest to the wine's flavor profile. However, when these notes are too prominent or overpowering, they may indicate underripe grapes, poor vineyard management, or issues during the winemaking process. In such cases, vegetal characteristics can be seen as a fault or a sign of an unbalanced wine.

Veneto - A wine-producing region in northeastern Italy, known for its diverse range of wines, including Prosecco, Amarone, and Soave.

Vertical Tasting - A tasting of multiple vintages of the same wine, allowing for a comparison of the wine's development and the influence of different growing conditions and winemaking techniques over time.

Vinification - The process of turning grapes into wine. It involves a series of steps, including harvesting the grapes, crushing and destemming, fermenting the grape juice with the help of yeast, which converts sugars into alcohol, aging the wine in barrels or tanks, and finally bottling the wine. Vinification techniques can vary depending on the type of wine being produced (red, white, rosé, or sparkling) and the winemaker's desired style, which can greatly influence the final characteristics of the wine.

Vin Santo - An Italian dessert wine made from dried grapes, typically aged in small oak barrels and known for its nutty, caramel flavors.

Vintage - The year in which a wine's grapes were harvested, often indicating the wine's age and characteristics associated with specific growing conditions.ance.

Viognier - Viognier: A white grape variety known for its floral, fruity, and sometimes rich and full-bodied wines, primarily grown in the Rhône Valley, France.

Vitis Vinifera - A species of grapevine native to the Mediterranean region, Central Europe, and southwestern Asia. It is the primary grapevine used for wine production, with over 5,000 varieties of Vitis vinifera known today. Some of the most famous grape varieties belonging to Vitis vinifera include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Riesling. 

Viticulture The science, art, and practice of grape cultivation for winemaking.

Volatile Compounds Chemical compounds that readily evaporate, contributing to a wine's aroma and flavor. Some volatile compounds, such as esters and aldehydes, are desirable and contribute to the complexity of a wine, while others, such as volatile acidity (acetic acid), can create off-flavors if present in excessive amounts.


Weight - weight refers to the perceived "heaviness" or "body" of a wine in the mouth. It is influenced by factors such as alcohol content, sugar levels, tannins, and extract (the concentration of flavor compounds and phenolics). Wines can be described as light-bodied, medium-bodied, or full-bodied, reflecting the sensation of their weight on the palate. Light-bodied wines feel delicate and refreshing, while full-bodied wines feel rich, dense, and substantial. 


Yeast - Microorganisms responsible for converting grape sugars into alcohol, carbon dioxide, and other byproducts during fermentation. Yeasts can be naturally occurring or commercially produced, and different strains can contribute different flavors and aromas to the wine. 

Yield - The amount of grapes or wine produced per unit of land, often measured in tons per acre or hectoliters per hectare. Yield can have a significant impact on wine quality, as lower yields often lead to higher grape concentration and more intense flavors in the resulting wines. Vineyard practices, such as pruning and canopy management, can be employed to control yield and influence the quality of the grapes.


Zinfandel - A red grape variety, also known as Primitivo in Italy, known for producing bold, fruit-forward, and spicy wines. It is primarily grown in California, where it has a long history and is considered one of the state's signature grape varieties. Zinfandel wines can range in style from light and fruity to rich, jammy, and high in alcohol. In addition to red wines, Zinfandel grapes are also used to produce White Zinfandel, a popular semi-sweet rosé wine with a lighter, fruitier profile. Learn more about Zinfandel in our in-depth guide.