Glossary of Wine Terms

Word map of wine terms

A.O.C

An acronym for the 'Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée', the business of classifying wines in France by their quality, governed to prevent mass production of low quality wine.

Aperitif

When you see a wine suggested as an aperitif it means that it is great to drink on its own without having to be paired with a meal. Generally drunk before a meal to whet the appetite.

Appellation

A geographical area that is legally defined and protected. On tasting notes or labels the Appellation refers to the area in which the grapes were grown that were used for that wine.

Aroma

The unique smells from a wine, the nasal aspect of wine tasting is done to identify the aroma given off. It takes practice to tell what notes make up the bouquet of a wine.

Balance

When all components of the wine is balanced. Not too tannic and not too sweet, every element creates a pleasurable experience when drinking the wine.

Blending

This is a process of combining multiple varietals into one flavourful wine. Regions such as Bordeaux are famous for their red wine blends, as following the initial fermentation the juices from multiple grape types are brought together to create a harmonious combination.

Body

Light or heavy, the body of wine is defined by how it feels in your mouth. Full bodied wines feel heavier with their increased alcohol content and tannins, yet lower acidity. Whereas lighter bodied wines are high in acidity but lower in alcohol and tannins, tending to run smoother and encompassing less of your mouth with each sip.

Bouquet

As with Aroma it is the smell element that drives this aspect of wine. It is most commonly used when referring to older aged wines, as they exhibit more secondary notes. 

Breathing

No, wine does not have lungs or a heart to pump blood through it's veins but for most red wines it is necessary for them to intake some oxygen before being at its peak to drink. Decanting a wine allows more air to get into it to soften the flavours and bring forth aromas that are caused by oxidisation.

Brut

The French term for "dry", which you will only find on Champagne wines to state the level of sugar added into the sparkling wine. Less than 12 grams of sugar per litre is classified as Brut. Other dryer wines are Extra Brut and Brut Nature, 6g/L and 2g/L respectively.

Cuvée

As it's literal translation to English, "tank", suggests it refers to a particular batch or blend of wine. Yet in Champagne it has a secondary meaning, referencing the first pressing of the grapes to create the top tier wines of the region. Not being a regulated term it is less important when stated on a bottle of wine as any winemaker can include it.

Decant

Transferring wine from the bottle to a breathable container (decanter). Coming in a variety of shapes the containers for wine allow it to breathe differently, but even if you pour it into a large jug before drinking it allows the wine to breathe and oxidise to bring forth the best flavours and aromas.

Finish

As the word suggests it is the lingering taste after swallowing the wine. Elements such as aftertaste, length of time it takes to fade, and the textural feeling, all impact the finish of a wine. A 'long finish' is that of a wine that doesn't fade quickly and leaves a unique aftertaste.

Lees

An element discarded before bottling, it is the mixture of dead yeast, skins, seeds, and stems of the grapes. You may see the term 'aged on lees' on many tasting notes, this refers to the winemakers choice to leave the grape elements in the juice to further increase flavour over a long period of time.

Maceration

 As discussed in the Vinification article, it is the process of keeping the grape juice in contact with the seeds, skins, and stems to optimise flavour, colour, and tannin structure. 

Must

The result of the first step in wine making. It is the mixture of freshly crushed grapes still with the skins, seeds, and stems. The first moment in which the maceration then begins.

Palate

The roof of your mouth, the place in which you can further discern flavours from just the use of taste buds on your tongue. By feeling the difference in interaction with the roof of your mouth the other elements such as tannins and acidity can further be identified. "On the palate" in tasting notes is in reference to the flavours and feelings within your mouth upon drinking the wine.

Tannins

That feeling of your lips sticking to your teeth, drying out your mouth. It is the element creating a bitter and astringent taste, similar to that of a tea bag after steeped in hot water. 

Terroir

Everything and anything relating to the location of the growing of grapes for wine. Read our blog post about Terroir!

Vinification

The production and creation of wine from grapes.

Read our blog post on Vinification!

Viticulture

The cultivation and harvesting of grapes for winemaking. A varying practice with winemakers choosing their own principles to follow, including organic, biodynamic, and sustainable. All varying across vineyards around the world.

Read more

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