Glossary of Wine Terms



A.B.C. – Acronym for “Anything but Chardonnay” or “Anything but Cabernet”. A term conceived by Bonny Doon’s Randall Grahm to describe wine drinkers interest in [[grape varietie

A.B.V. - Abbreviation of alcohol by volume, generally listed on a wine label.

AC - Abbreviation for "Agricultural Cooperative" on Greek wine labels and for Adega Cooperativa on Portuguese labels.

Adega - Portuguese wine term for a winery or wine cellar.

Altar wine - The wine used by the Catholic Church in celebrations of the Eucharist.

A.O.C. - Abbreviation for Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, (English: Appellation of controlled origin), as specified under French law. The AOC laws specify and delimit the geography from which a particular wine (or other food product) may originate and methods by which it may be made. The regulations are administered by the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO).

A.P. number - Abbreviation for

Amtliche Prüfungsnummer, the official testing number displayed on a German wine label that shows that the wine was tasted and passed government quality control standards.

ATTTB - Abbreviation for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, a United States government agency which is primarily responsible for the regulation of wines sold and produced in the United States.

Anbaugebiet - A German wine region. Anbaugebiet are further divided into bereiche or districts.

Aperitif - A wine that is either drunk by itself (i.e. without food) or before a meal in order to stimulate the appetite.

Appellation - A geographically delineated wine region.

Ausbruch - Austrian term originally referring to the aszú production method of mixing grapes affected by noble rot with a fermenting base wine. Today a Prädikat in Austria, intermediate between Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese.

Auslese - German for "select harvest", a Prädikat in Germany and Austria.


Balthazar - A large bottle containing 12 litres, the equivalent of 16 regular wine bottles.

Ban de Vendage - The official start of the harvest season in France.

Barrique - The French name for a 225 litre Bordeaux style barrel (Bordeaux hogshead). Will yield 24 cases of 12 bottles each.

Basic - A low cost entry level offering from a winery as opposed to its more expensive premium wine offerings.

Beerenauslese - A German term meaning approximately "harvest of selected berries". A Prädikat in Germany and Austria.

Bereich - A district within a German wine region (Anbaugebiet). Contains smaller Grosslagen vineyard designations.

The Berthomeau Report - Commissioned by French Ministry of Agriculture to better position the wine industry for the future.

Blind tasting - Tasting and evaluating wine without knowing what it is.

B.O.B. - An acronym for "Buyer's Own Brand" which refers to a private label wine owned by the restaurant or retailer that sells the wine.

Bodega - A Spanish wine cellar. Also refers to a seller of alcoholic beverage

Bota - A cask of wine used to store Sherry with a capacity between 159 to 172 gallons (600-650 liters)

Bottle - A bottle is a small container with a neck that is narrower than the body and a "mouth." Modern wine bottles are nearly always made of glass because it is nonporous, strong, and aesthetically pleasing.

Breathing - The interaction between air and wine after a wine has been opened. Breathing may take place while the wine is decanting.


C.A. - Abbreviation seen on Spanish wine labels meaning Cooperativa Agrícola or local co-operative.

California cult wines - Certain California wines for which consumers and others pay higher prices than those of Bordeaux's First Growths (Premiers Crus).

Cantina - Italian term for winery.

Cantina Sociale - Italian term for a co-ooperative

Capsule - The plastic or foil that covers the cork and part of the neck of a wine bottle.

Cellar door - The area of the winery where point of sale purchases occur. This can be a tasting room or a separate sales area.

Cépage - French term for grape variety. When it appears on a wine label it will usually refer to the varietals used to make the wine.

Chai - A wine shed, or other storage place above ground, used for storing casks, common in Bordeaux. Usually different types of wine are kept in separate sheds. The person in charge of vinification and ageing of all wine made at an estate, or the chais of a négociant, is titled a Maître de Chai. The New World counterpart to the chai may be called the barrel hall.

Champagne flute - A piece of stemware having a long stem with a tall, narrow bowl on top.

Château - Generally a winery in Bordeaux, although the term is sometimes used for wineries in other parts of the world, such as the Barossa Valley.

Clairet - A French term for a wine that falls between the range of a light red wine and a dark rosé

Claret -British name for Bordeaux wine. Is also a semi-generic term for a red wine in similar style to that of Bordeaux.

Classico - An Italian term for the historical or "classic" center of a wine region--sometimes located in the heart of a DOC.

Cleanskin - In Australia, wine bottled without a commercial label, usually sold cheaply in bulk quantities.

Climat - French term for a single plot of land located within a vineyard that has its own name and demonstrated terroir.

Coates Law of Maturity - A principle relating to the aging ability of wine that states that a wine will remain at its peak (or optimal) drinking quality for as long as it took to reach the point of maturity that it already was at. For example, if a wine is drinking at its peak at 1 year of age, it will continue drinking at its peak for another year.

Commercial wine - A mass produce wine aimed for the wide market of wine drinkers made according to a set formula, year after year. These wines tend to emphasis broad appeal and easy drink-ability rather than terroir or craftsmanship.

Corkscrew - A tool, comprising a pointed metallic helix attached to a handle, for drawing Corks from bottles.

Côtes - French term for the hillside or slopes of one contiguous hill region.

Coteaux - French term for the hillside or slopes of a hill region that is not contiguous.

Country wine - A quality level intermediate between table wine and quality wine, which in France is known as vin de pays. Also a synonym for Fruit wine.

Crémant - French sparkling wine not made in Champagne region.

Cru - A French term that literally means "growth". May refer to a vineyard or a winery.

Cru Bourgeois - A classification of Bordeaux wine estates in the Medoc that were not part of the originally 1855 Bordeaux classification.

Cru Classé - A French term for an officially classified vineyard or winery.

C.S. - An Italian abbreviation for Cantina Sociale that appears on wine labels denoting that the wine has been made by a local cooperative.

Cult wines - Wines for which committed buyers will pay large sums of money because of their desirability and rarity.

Cuvaison - The French term for the period of time during alcoholic fermentation when the wine is in contact with the solid matter such as skin, pips, stalks, in in order to extract colour, flavour and tannin. See also maceration.

Cuvée - French term, meaning vat or tank. On wine labels it is used to denote wine of a specific blend or batch.

Cuverie - French term, along with

Cuvier that refers to the building or room where fermentation takes place.

C.V. - Abbreviation for the French term Coopérative de Vignerons that may appear on wine labels to denote that the wine has been made by a local cooperative.


Decanting - The process of pouring wine from its bottle into a decanter to separate the sediment from the wine.

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.

DO - 1. The abbreviation for

Denominación de Origen, or "place name". This is Spain's designation for wines whose name, origin of grapes, grape varieties and other important factors are regulated by law. 2. The abbreviation for

dissolved oxygen, the degree of oxygen saturation in a wine, which strongly affects oxidation of the wine and its ageing properties.

DOC - The abbreviation for

Denominazione di Origine Controllata, or "controlled place name." This is Italy's designation for wine whose name, origin of grapes, grape varieties and other important factors are regulated by law. It is also the abbreviation for Portugal's highest wine category, which has the same meaning in that country.

DOCG - The abbreviation for

Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, or controlled and guaranteed place name, which is the category for the highest-ranking wine in Italy.

Drip dickey - A wine accessory that slips over the neck of a wine bottle and absorbs any drips that may run down the bottle after pouring - preventing stains to table cloths, counter tops or other surfaces.


Eau-de-Vie - French term for a grape-derived spirit such as brandy. Its literal translation is "water of life"

Edelfäule - German term for noble rot

Edelkeur - South African term for noble rot.

Einzellage - The smallest geographical unit in German wine law representing a single vineyard.

Eiswein - German for ice wine, a dessert wine made from frozen grapes.

Élevé en fûts de chêne - French phrase that may appear on wine labels to denote that the wine has been aged in oak barrels.

Élevage - French term that describes the historical role that negociants play in the winemaking process-roughly translating as "bringing up" or "raising" the wine. Traditionally negociants would buy ready made wines after fermentation, blend and then store the wine before bringing them to the market.

En primeur - A system commonly associated with Bordeaux wine were the previous year's harvest is available for contract sales several months before the wine will be bottled and release.

Encépagement - French term for the proportion of grape varieties used in a blend.

Entry-level wine - The wine from a producer's portfolio that is the lowest cost for purchase and offers the most basic quality.

Estate winery - A United States winery license allowing farms to produce and sell wine on-site, sometimes known as a farm winery.

EU lot number - A European Union directive initiated in 1992 that mandates every bottle of wine produced or sold in the European Union to include a designated lot number. This allows identified defective or fraudulent wine to be tracked and removed from circulation more efficiently.

Ex-cellars - Refers to the extra cost associated with buying wines en primeur that may include the cost of shipping to the importer's cellars as well applicable duties and taxes.


Farm winery - A United States winery license allowing farms to produce and sell wine on-site.

Fiasco - The straw-covered flask historically associated with Chianti.

Fighting varietal - A term that originated in California during the mid 1980s to refer to any inexpensive cork-finished varietal wine in a 1.5 liter bottle.

Fine wine - The highest category of wine quality, representing only a very small percentage of worldwide production of wine.

Flagon - A glass bottle that holds two litres of (usually inexpensive) table wine.

Flying winemaker - A winemaker who travels extensively across the globe, sharing techniques and technology from one region of the world to another. The term originated with Australian winemakers who would fly to Northern Hemisphere wine regions in Europe and the United States during the August-October harvest time when viticulture in the Southern Hemisphere is relatively quiet.

Fortified wine - Wine to which alcohol has been added, generally to increase the concentration to a high enough level to prevent fermentation.

French Paradox - An 1991 episode of the American news program 60 Minutes that documented the low mortality rate from cardiovascular disease among the French who had a high-alcohol, high-cholesterol and low exercise lifestyle in contrast to the high mortality rate among Americans with a relatively lower cholesterol, low alcohol and more exercise lifestyle.

Frizzante - Italian term for a semi-sparkling wine.

Frizzantino - Italian term for a wine that has very slight effervescence, more than a still wine but less than a semi-sparkling. Similar to the French term perlant.

Fruit wine - A fermented alcoholic beverage made from non-grape fruit juice which may or may not include the addition of sugar or honey. Fruit wines are always called "something" wines (e.g., plum wine), since the word wine alone is often legally defined as a beverage made only from grapes.


Globalization of wine - Refers to the increasingly international nature of the wine industry, including vineyard management practices, winemaking techniques, wine styles, and wine marketing.

Grande Marque - French term for a famous brand of wine, most commonly associated with the large Champagne houses.

Grand cru - French term for a "Great growth" or vineyard. In Burgundy, the term is regulated to a define list of Grand cru vineyards.

Grand vin - French term most often associated with Bordeaux where it denotes a Chateau's premier wine, or "first wine". On a wine label, the word's Grand vin may appear to help distinguish the wine from an estate's second or third wine.

Grosslage - A German designation for a cluster of vineyards within a Bereich.


Hock - Term for Rhine wines, usually used in England.

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 or all Washington wines) as oppose to a vertical tasting which consist of the same wine through different vintages,


Ice wine - Wine made from frozen grapes. Written, and trademarked as a single word - Icewine - in Canada. Called Eiswein in German.

IGT - Abbreviation for "Indicazione Geografica Tipica", the lowest-ranking of the three categories of Italian wine regulated by Italian law.

International variety - Grape varieties grown in nearly every major wine region, for example Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot


Jeroboam - A large bottle holding three litres, the equivalent of four regular wine bottles.

Jug wine - American term for inexpensive table wine (French: Vin de table).


Kabinett - A wine designation in Germany (where it is a Prädikat) and Austria.

Kosher wine - Wine that is produced under the supervision of a rabbi so as to be ritually pure or clean.


Landwein - German term for a wine slightly above table wines (tafelwine). Similar to a French vin de pays wine.

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.

Lie - French term for the dead yeast and sediment of wine also known as lees.

Litre (US - Liter) - A metric measure of volume equal to 33.8 fluid ounces (U.S.) or 35.2 fl oz (imperial).

Lieu-dit - French term for a named vineyard site. Usually used in the context of describing individual vineyards below Grand cru status.

Liquoreux - French term meaning "liqueur-like" used to describe dessert wine with a luscious, almost unctuous, quality.


Magnum - A bottle holding 1.5 litres, the equivalent of two regular wine bottles.

Master of Wine - A qualification (not an academic degree) conferred by The Institute of Masters of Wine, which is located in the United Kingdom.

May wine - A light German wine flavored with sweet woodruff in addition to strawberries or other fruit.

Mead - A wine-like alcoholic beverage made of fermented honey and water rather than grape juice.

Meritage - Originally created in California, these blended wines can be summed up as the "American Bordeaux". 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.

Methuselah - A large bottle holding six litres, the equivalent of eight regular wine bottles.

Mis en bouteille au château - French for "bottled at the winery", usually in Bordeaux.

Moelleux - French term usually used to describe wines of mid level sweetness or liquoreux.

Monopole - French term for a vineyard under single ownership.

Mousse - The sparkling effervescence of a wine. In the glass it perceived as the bubbling but the surface of the glass can affect this perception. Premium quality sparkling wine has a mousse composed of small, persistent string of bubbles.

Mulled wine - Wine that is spiced, heated, and served as a punch.


Nebuchadnezzar - A large bottle holding 15 litres, the equivalent of 20 regular wine bottles.

Négociant - French for "trader". A wine merchant who assembles the produce of smaller growers and winemakers and sells the result under its own name.

New World wine - Wines produced outside of the traditional wine growing areas of Europe and North Africa.

Nose - The aroma or bouquet of a wine


Oenophile - A wine aficionado or connoisseur.

Old World wine - Wines produced inside of the traditional wine growing areas of Europe and North Africa.

Organoleptic - A winetasting term for anything that affects one of the main senses such as smell. An example would be an affliction of the common cold or being in a room with someone wearing an overwhelming amount of perfume.


Petit Château - A Bordeaux wine estate that doesn't have any official designation of classification.

Piquant - French term for a simple, quaffing white wine with pleasing fruit structure and balance of acidity.

Plafond Limité de Classement - An allowance within the French AOC system that allows producers to exceed the official maximum limit on yields by as much as 20% in warm weather years. Critics such as wine writer Tom Stevenson describes this loophole (also known as "PLC") as "legalized cheating"

Plan Bordeaux - A proposal for enhancing the economic status of the wine industry in Bordeaux.

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.

Prädikat - A wine designation for high quality used in Germany and Austria, based on grape ripeness and must weight. There are several Prädikate ranging from Kabinett (Spätlese in Austria) to Trockenbeerenauslese.

Prädikatswein - The highest class of wine in the German wine classification, formerly called Qualitätswein mit Prädikat. These wines always display a specific Prädikat on their label.

Premier cru - French term for a "First growth". Used mostly in conjunction with the wines of Burgundy and Champagne where the term is regulated.

Premium wines - A subject term to describe a higher quality classification of wine above every day drinking table wines. While premium wines maybe very expensive there is no set price point that distinguishes when a wine becomes a "premium wine". Premium wines generally have more aging potential than every day quaffing wines.

Punt - The indentation found in the base of a wine bottle. Punt depth is often thought to be related to wine quality, with better quality wines having a deeper punt.


QbA - German acronym for Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete.

QmP - German acronym for Qualitätswein mit Prädikat.

QPR - An acronym for Quality-Price Ratio.

Qualitätswein - A designation of better quality German wines. When used in isolation on a wine label, it refers to Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete.

Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA) - A designation of better quality German wines from recognized viticultural areas. It formally represents the second-highest level of German wine.

Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP) - A former designation of the best quality German wines, since 2007 shortened to


Quality-Price Ratio

(QPR) - A designation for rating wine based on the ratio of its quality and its price. The higher quality and less expensive price a wine has, the better the ratio.

Quaffing wine - A simple, everyday drinking wine

Quinta - Portuguese term for a wine estate.


Recioto - An Italian sweet wine made from passito grapes.

Redox - A term describing the reductive-oxidative way that wine ages. As one part gains oxygen and becomes oxidized, another part loses oxygen and becomes reductive. Early in its life, a wine will exhibit oxidative aromas and traits due to the relatively recent influence and exposure of oxygen when the wine was barrel aged and/or bottled. As the ages and is shut off from a supply of oxygen in the bottle, a mature wine will develop reductive characteristics.

Rehoboam - A large bottle holding 4.5 litres, the equivalent of six regular wine bottles.

Reserva - Spanish and Portuguese term for a reserve wine.

Reserve - A term given to wine to indicate that it is of higher quality than usual.


Sack - An early English term for what is now called Sherry.

Salmanazar - A large bottle holding nine litres, the equivalent of 12 regular wine bottles.

Sangria - A tart punch made from red wine along with orange, lemon and apricot juice with added sugar.

Sekt - A sparkling wine manufactured in Germany.

Selection de grains nobles - A sweet botrytized wine made in the French region of Alsace

Semi-generic - Wines made in the United States but named after places that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau requires be modified by a US name of geographic origin. Examples would be New York Chablis, Napa Valley Burgundy or California Champagne.

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.

Soutirage - French term for racking.

Sparkling wine - Effervescent wine containing significant levels of carbon dioxide.

Spätlese - German for "late harvest". A Prädikat in Germany and Austria.

Split - A wine bottle that holds approximately 6 oz (175-187 mL) or one-fourth the equivalent of a typical 750 mL bottle; a single-serving.

Spritzig - German term for a light sparkling wine.

Spumante - Italian for "sparkling".

Stickies - An Australian term for a broad category of sweet wines included fortified and botrytized wines.

Strohwein - A German word for "straw wine", same as the French term vin de paille. Refers to a dried grape wine. A Prädikat in Austria.

Super Seconds - A term used in relation to lower classified Bordeaux wine estates that come close in quality to the First Growth Bordeaux estates.

Super Tuscans - A style of Italian wine that became popular in Tuscany in the late 20th century where premium quality wines were produced outside of DOC regulations and sold for high prices with the low level vino da tavola designation.


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.

Tafelwein - German term for table wine.

Talento - An Italian sparkling wine made according to the traditional method of Champagne--similar to the Spanish term Cava.

Tastevin - A silver, shallow cup used for tasting wine.

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.

T.B.A. - An abbreviation for the German wine Trockenbeerenauslese.

Trocken - German for "dry".

Trockenbeerenauslese - A German term meaning approximately "harvest of selected dry berries". A type of German wine made from grapes affected by noble rot. Such grapes can be so rare that it can take a skilled picker a day to gather enough for just one bottle.[7] A Prädikat in Germany and Austria.

Typicity – A term used to describe how well a wine reflects the characteristics of its grape variety and terroir


UC – Abbreviation for the French term Union Coopérative denoting a regional or local cooperative.

Ullage – The space between the wine and the top of a wine bottle. As a wine ages, the space of ullage will increase as the wine gradually evaporates and seeps through the cork. The winemaking term of “ullage” refers to the practice of topping off a barrel with extra wine to prevent oxidation.

Uvaggio – An Italian term for a wine that has been blended from several grape varieties-the opposite of a varietal. An example would be a Chianti that is based on Sangiovese but include other grape varieties in the bend.


Varietal – Wines made from a single grape variety.

VC – Abbreviation for the Spanish term vino comarcal denoting a local wine similar to a vin de pays in France.

VDL – Abbreviation for the French term vin de liqueur denoting a wine that has been fortified prior to fermentation

VDLT – Abbreviation for the Spanish term vino de la tierra denoting a “country wine” similar to the VDQS system of France.

VDN – Abbreviation for the French term vin doux naturel denoting a wine that has been fortified during fermentation.

VDQS – Abbreviation for the the French Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure system that ranks below Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) but above Vin de pays (country wine).

VDT – Abbreviation for the Italian term vino da tavola denoting a table wine.

Vendange tardive – French term denoting a late harvest wine.

Vermouth – An aromatized wine that is made with wormwood and potentially other ingredients.

Vertical and horizontal wine tasting – In a vertical tasting, different vintages of the same wine type from the same winery are tasted. This emphasizes differences between various vintages. In a horizontal tasting, the wines are all from the same vintage but are from different wineries. Keeping wine variety or type and wine region the same helps emphasize differences in winery styles.

Vigneron – French for vine grower.

Vignoble – French term for a “vineyard”

Vin – French for wine.

Viña – Spanish for vines.

Vin de garde – French term for a wine with the potential to improvement with age.

Vin de glace – French term for an ice wine.

Vin de pays – French classification system denoting wines that are above vin de table but below VDQS.

Vin de table – French term denoting a table wine, the lowest classification of the French AOC system.

Viñedo – Spanish for vineyard

Vinho – Portuguese for wine.

Vinho regional – The lowest level of the Portuguese classification system. Similar to a vin de pays.

Vin mousseux – Generic French term for a sparkling wine.

Vin nouveau – French term similar to Vin primeur denoting a very young wine meant to be consumed within the same vintage year it was produced. Example: Beaujolais nouveau.

Vin ordinaire – French term used to denote an “ordinary wine” as opposed to a premium quality wine.

Vino – Italian and Spanish, Originally derived from Latin, for wine.

Vino da tavola – Italian term for “table wine”

Vino de mesa – Spanish term for “table wine”

Vino novello – Italian term for a Vin primeur

Vinous – A term used to denoting anything relating to wine.


Waiter’s friend – A popular type of corkscrew used commonly in the hospitality industry.

Weissherbst – A German rosé made from only black grape varieties such as Pinot noir.

Wine – An alcoholic beverage made from the fermentation of unmodified grape juice.

Wine fraud – Any form of dishonesty in the production or distribution of wine.

Wine label – The descriptive sticker or signage adhered to the side of a wine bottle.

Wine lake – Refers to the continuing surplus of wine over demand (glut) being produced in the European Union.

Wine tasting – The sensory evaluation of wine, encompassing more than taste, but also mouthfeel, aroma, and colour.