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Pruning: Winter operation, ritual in a vineyard to remove unwanted stems. One of the main purposes of winter pruning is to direct the vine to produce fewer clusters, thus enhancing the ripening process of the grape. In spring and summer, pruning concerns thinning (removal of leaves, thinning of shoots, etc.) and the arrangement of the grapes.

Alcoholic potential: the total alcoholic content that would result if all sugar were converted into alcohol by fermentation.

Pre-Phylloxera: used to indicate wines made before phylloxera infestation.

Premier cru: the highest of the 5 orders of Bordeaux's most important wineries. The five châteaux premier cru are higher than the 14 second cru and so on.

Taking the bottle: Used to describe the positive changes of a wine over time. For example, when someone says "This 1988 Brunello took the bottle well", it means that the roughest parts of the wine, the harsh tannins and rough acidity, have weakened or softened as the wine has aged in the bottle.

Taking: Red wine that causes a pleasant astringent sensation in the mouth. A positive term used to describe wines that have a solid structure, due to a proper balance of tannins (a "tannic take" one might say). Very often this term is used for Port.

Depth: Multidimensional wine with a wide range of flavours and aromas.

Deep: a descriptive term that is almost always used together with specific components of wine such as deep colour, deep concentration, deep bouquet.

Perfumed: used in tasting refers to the sweet and floral aromas of a wine. The word is usually used for white wines, along with other jargon terms such as "flowered" or "floral".

Clean: It does not have any distinguishable defects. This term is often used with descriptors such as "fruity", "fresh", "fragrant", "fresh alive". A clean wine is not necessarily an interesting or classy wine but only one that has no obvious defects.

Pungent: it has a strong and strong aroma, due to a high level of acidity.

Pupitre: French term for the racks with holes where bottles of Champagne are inserted or classic method; upside down and periodically rotate (remuage) in order to make the yeasts converge towards the neck of the bottle.

Smells: nauseating or improper odours emitted by a wine. Bad odours can come from a number of sources, including poorly cleaned barrels, unsterilised bottles or poor quality caps.

Refrigeration: practical to eliminate any salt deposits by drastically lowering the temperature.

Rehoboam: large size bottle of Champagne containing the equivalent of 6 standard bottles or 4.5 litres. A Rehoboam is larger than a Jeroboam (4 bottles) but smaller than a Mathusalem (8 bottles).

Remuage: when a sparkling wine is made with the Champenois method, it must remain on the lees for at least 18 months (and usually even longer) to allow it to develop more complex flavours. About three months before the wine is blown, each bottle must be turned and tilted down slowly, so that the sediment collects in the neck of the bottle. The process is called "remuage".

Yield: indicates the total quantity of grapes or the volume of wine that the harvested grapes are capable of producing. Yield also indicates the potential quality of the wine to be produced, since it is commonly believed that lower yields produce higher quality grapes and, consequently, higher quality wines. The yield is often expressed in hectolitres per hectare (usually abbreviated to hl/ha).

Sugar residue: the amount of natural sugar that remains in the wine after fermentation. Normally during fermentation all the sugar is consumed by the yeasts and converted into alcohol, but an oenologist can use many methods to artificially stop the fermentation, leaving sugar in the wine.

Refilling: the filling of a container restoring the level of the liquid to its original level.

Refermentation: further fermentation process to make the wine more lively.

Replacement: operation by which the cap is pushed into the fermentation tank of the must of a red wine during maceration. The fermentation of a red wine generates an undesirable amount of heat; to cool the process and to extract as much tannin and flavour as possible from the solid parts of the grape, the cap (the layer of skins, pulp, pomace and other solid parts that rise naturally on top of a fermentation tank) must be broken periodically. This is done by pumping the must over the cap or by pushing the cap down into the must.

Riserva: superior quality wines whose ageing cannot be lower than the established minimum. In Italy, Riserva wines spend an additional time aging in the cellar and are required to be at least 1%-1.5% higher in alcohol than non-Riserva wines.

Robust: a wine with a full body, vigorous, rich in flavour and high alcohol content. The descriptor is generally applied to large and strong red wines.

Rosé, rosé: pink wines. Real rosé wines are made with red grapes and not by mixing white wines with red wines. The pink colour comes from the short contact between the must and the skins which have been pressed before fermentation. The contact of the skins is long enough to give the wine the desired pink colour, it also prevents the wine from acquiring the heavier body and character of traditional red wines. Most rosés are light-bodied, fresh, lively and fruity (to be served young and fresh).

American oak: American oak, wood used for a type of barrique used during the aging process.

French oak: wooden barriques, made with oak from the French forests, are considered the best in the world.

Rough: a wine that lacks finesse, has a sour taste or has too much tannin and a rough structure.

Salinity: a measure of the amount of soluble salts present in a soil.

Salasso: Practice to remove a quantity of liquid must before fermentation, to increase the percentage of aromas and phenolic compounds and to create a wine with a higher concentration.

Salmanazar: bottle containing 9 litres of wine or the equivalent of 12 regular bottles. It is larger than Imperial but smaller than a Nebuchadnezzar.

Salomon: bottle with a capacity of 18 litres.

Sapido: wine with a slight and pleasant saline sensation.

Satén: in the Classico method sparkling wine type, it is a brut made from white grapes which has a lower pressure in the bottle (the French call it crémant) and which can boast a much smoother and more round flavour.

Unblocking: the unblocking takes place in the final stages of the Champenois or classic method, when a sparkling wine is ready to be capped. During refermentation, the pressure in the bottle causes sediment to accumulate in the neck of the bottle. To remove these lees, the neck of the bottle is frozen using ultra-low temperature brine. The cap is removed, allowing the pressure in the bottle to expel the block of ice and sediment that has formed in the neck of the bottle. The sparkling wine is then filled with the dosage, capped again, caged and stored. All these steps are carried out very quickly and efficiently by an automated bottling line.

Dry: indicates a wine with less than 0.5% sugar content.

Semi-dry: White wine normally falls into one of three flavour categories: dry, semi-dry or sweet. A dry white wine does not contain any residual sugar, while a semi-dry white wine contains just a little residual sugar (approximately 0.5% to 1.5%) to be able to feel it. If the sugar content is higher, the wine is considered sweet.

Serbevole: wine which has the potential to age well, resulting in increased complexity and with its individual components becoming more balanced.

Sherry: fortified wine from the Spanish region of Jerez. Sherry is fortified at the end of the fermentation which is not interrupted.

Solera: a traditional Spanish method of cutting fortified wines with the aim of reducing the differences between different vintages and improving the quality of the wine as a whole. Older wine barrels are filled with a slightly younger wine, which refreshes the older wine, while adding character, body and depth to the younger one. This laborious method is very popular and used in the Jerez region for the production of sherry, but it is also used in other regions.

Sulphites: a term that includes free sulphur dioxide, sulphur ion, sulphuric acid and other sulphur complexes. Sulphites are measured in parts per million or "ppm". Very few wines have sulphites below 10 ppm and today few have sulphites above 60 ppm. For an explanation of how sulphites relate to wine, see Sulphur.

Sommelier: assists clients in choosing the most suitable wine to accompany their food. Normally, he obtained this qualification by graduating from a special course. The sommelier's duties are also to create a wine list, manage the wine cellar and teach the staff how to service the wines. The sommelier is also responsible for tasting and evaluating the quality of the wine before serving it.

Shoulder: curved area between the body and neck of a wine bottle. Wine bottles that are evaporated to the point where the gap between the cork and the wine is at or near the shoulder, should be treated with caution, since there is a good chance that the wine will be oxidised due to a cork that does not hold.

Spätlese: literally means "late harvest". It is one of the Prädikat titles for the sugar content of ripe grapes harvested under late harvest conditions.

Spicy: a wine that has aroma, bouquet or taste of spices. The type of spices that wine commonly mimics include cinnamon, mint, pepper, cloves and nutmeg.

Pressing: the process of pressing and/or pressing grapes to release their juice.

Stabilisation: series of operations which take place after fermentation and during maturation to protect the stability of the wine. They are divided into two general categories: the first concerns microbiological stability and aims to remove the undesirable effects of bacteria and yeasts (such as an undesirable second fermentation caused by yeasts left in the wine), the second concerns physical and chemical stability and aims to protect the wine from excessive tannins, deterioration of phenolic compounds and unstable proteins.

Staying on the skins: oenological term to indicate the period of time that the must passes in contact with the skins of its grapes. It is during this contact, which can last from a few hours to a few days when the wine absorbs the pigments of the skins, the tannins, and concentrated flavours and aromas. For red wines contact with the skins is the time during which the wine is on its skins after it has already been fermented. For white wines (which have not fermented on their skins) it is the time during which the must is on its skins before fermenting.

Structure: Full-bodied, well-balanced, warm and pleasing. The term is usually used for great red wines.

Supertuscans: Tuscan red wines, initially created by the oenologist Giacomo Tachis, (see Tignanello) mainly made from international grapes or from grapes with Sangiovese aged in barrique.

Sur lie: French expression meaning "on lees". A wine can age with lees for several months before being bottled directly from the fermentation tank or cask, avoiding the process of racking and filtering.This is done to add complexity and flavour to the wine.

Tannic: term used to describe wines, usually red, which have a high content of tannins.

Tannin: substance found in musts and wines, particularly important for fixing the colour and for aging. It comes from grapes, stalks and skins, as well as from the wood of the barrels used for aging (the newer the barrels, the greater the degree of tannin given to the wine).   If present in excessive quantities, they give the wine an astringent flavour.

Tartrates: small white crystals that can occasionally be seen at the bottom of a cork. These are the sediments formed by tartaric acid and are completely tasteless and harmless.

Tastevin: small, round cup in the shape of a saucer, usually made of silver or silver-plated metal, used for wine tasting. It has dimples and other light-reflecting decorations to allow the sommelier's ability to judge colour and clarity.

Tactile: a component of wine that has a real physical impact on the taster. A wine with high levels of volatile acidity gives a sharp feeling of tingling through the nose. Highly alcoholic wines give a hot or burning sensation in the throat. Sparkling wines have an effervescence that can be felt tactile.

TCA: the most common compound associated with wines that taste like cork. The technical name of TCA is "2,4,6 trichloroanisole".

Terroir: French word that encompasses all the different and unique combinations of geography, climate, viticulture and human experience that affect the grapes grown in every particular wine-growing area, including soil, rain, sun, wind, slope, irrigation and drainage.

Typicality: part of the judgement on a wine consists in determining whether it smells and tastes as it should for the type of grape used or for its area of origin. A Merlot typically should offer rich and lush fruity flavours; if it doesn't, this is a point against it, as it doesn't show the correct "typicality" or the standard characteristics of a classic Merlot.

Cloudy: when considered if there is enough sediment floating inside it to considerably affect its clarity. In old wines, a certain lack of clarity is to be expected, in young wines it is a bad sign indicating that the wine may be damaged or badly made.

Pressed: when the grapes are harvested and pressed, the resulting must is called first pressing. The skins and pulp are then pressed again to extract the remaining liquid which is called "torchiato" or wine pressed.

Transfer: Traditional method of clarifying wine. After the fermentation process is completed, the wine needs to be clarified because it normally contains a lot of sediment.

Nail: in the glass is the surface of the wine in contact with the glass.

Vegetable: a wine that has a flavour or aroma of herbs such as dill, thyme or mint. It can also be used for a wine that has a definite herbaceous aroma.

Veiled: Used to describe the clarity of a wine. It is applied to a wine which, when kept in the background, shows a small amount of small solid particles suspended in the liquid.

Velvety: silky and soft structure. Drinking a velvety wine is something like passing your hand over the velvet, a soft, pleasant and attractive feeling.

Harvesting: period of time during which grapes are harvested to become wine. Not only must the grapes be physiologically ripe but the winemaker must also consider the threat of possible bad weather conditions the logistics between the vineyard and the cellar, the temperature of the grapes during harvest and transport to the cellar and the method of harvesting the grapes (by hand or by machine).

Late harvest: done later, leaving the grapes to allow them to reach levels of ripening and more concentrated sugar content, the so-called over-ripening. Appropriate technique for making dessert wines.

Green: in the language of wine it has many meanings, all of which are normally referred to young white wines. "Green" means a young wine that is excessively acidic or herbaceous, a wine made from sour grapes, sour and devoid of fruit, or a wine that has a greenish colour due to its youth.

Winemaker: name of the farmer who grows the raw material (e.g. grapes) used to make wine. In France it is called "viticulteur" or "vigneron"; in Anglo-Saxon countries it is called "grower".

Vigorous: a large, robust, full-bodied and warm wine is called vigorous. The term is almost always used to refer to red wines with a high alcohol content.

Pomace: solid parts that remain after the grapes have been pressed: crushed skins, grapes, stews, pulp and other solid residues. In the case of red wines, pomace refers to everything that remains in the fermentation tank after all the wine has been racked.

Grapes: each grape has two grapes and, together with the skins, they are a vital source of tannin for red wines.  Grapes are rarely used to grow new vines (grafting is used today), although this system has been used for about 10,000 years.

Aromatised wines: special wines produced from a neutral base white wine to which ethyl alcohol or brandy, sugar, herbal extracts or infusions are added.

Barricated wine: wine that has been aged in an oak barrique after having undergone the fermentation process. Often the term "matured in barrique" appears on the back label of quality wines and probably indicates that the wine has taken on some characteristic aromas of barrique such as vanilla, butter and so on. Aging in barriques also gives the wine a more intense colour and softens its tannins while oxygen slowly penetrates through the pores of the wood.

Dessert Wine: a wide category of wine usually sweet. Port, Sherry, Sauternes and Madeira are all considered dessert wines. In fact, the term is quite misleading, because not all dessert wines have a sweet flavour or intend to follow their main course (for example, just think of the sublime combination of foie gras, an appetizer, with Sauternes, traditionally considered a dessert wine).

Table wine: wine which does not have the right to any designation. In the countries of the European Union, any wine produced in the countries of which it is composed without adhering to the rules of official designations of origin, is considered table wine. Great wines (such as Supertuscan) can be found in this category together with simple carafe wines. The same is true in the United States where many high quality wines are considered table wines. In the States if a non-sparkling wine has an alcohol content that does not exceed 14% it is a table wine. Any wine with an alcohol content of more than 14% (usually due to the addition of alcohol during or after fermentation) must by law be labelled as a dessert wine.

Fortified wine: addition of alcohol. A non-fortified wine has about 11% to 14% alcohol and the addition of brandy or natural alcohol raises the level from 15% to 21%. Alcohol is added for many reasons: to stop the fermentation process, then increasing the sugar content; to stabilise the wine, making it much less exposed to the risk of deterioration, even if it remains uncorked; to give it a bit of vigour. The most popular fortified wines (also known as dessert wines or liqueur wines and are Port, Madeira and Sherry.

Liqueur wines: basic wines with added mistelle, ethyl alcohol, spirits or concentrated must.

Organic wine: fermented from grapes grown without the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides. Like all wines, organic wines still contain sulphites, since a small amount of them is naturally produced during the fermentation process.

Dried wines: made from naturally or artificially dried grapes.

Special wines: a combination of aromatised wines, liqueur wines and sparkling wines.

Vinous: characteristic scent of very young red wine, rich in scents reminiscent of vinification and in particular the solid parts of the must, i.e. the skins and the grapes.

Viticulture: method and process of cultivation of grapes and care of vineyards.

Classical grape varieties: the term includes 9 varieties considered classical for their high quality and for their ability to be cultivated in the most varied geographical and climatic conditions, maintaining their always identifiable varietal character and a significant quality. The classic whites are Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, while the reds are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Pinot Noir.

Grape variety: particular variety of vines, generally used for wine production.

Vitis vinifera: European vine species from which almost all wines are made.

Sugarisation: used mainly in relation to the production processes of sparkling wine using the Classico method.

Bite: slightly sweet wine.

Abbonimento: process of cleaning barrels to make them suitable for holding wine.

Acerob: wine in need of aging, still dominated by acidity which gives an unpleasant feeling of bitter fruit.

Acescence: a phenomenon generated by acetic bacteria responsible for the transformation of ethyl alcohol into acetic acid.

Acidification: process of adding tartaric acid to musts and wines.

Acidimeter: instrument for measuring volatile acidity in wines.

Acidity: a component that substantially influences the flavour of a wine. The optimal level of acidity is decisive in the construction of a wine because if too acid the wine is too sour and pungent; too little and becomes weak and flat.


Fixed acidity: consisting mainly of citric, tartaric and malic acids which come partly from grapes. These acids can influence the preservation potential of wine.

Volatile acidity: a term used to classify chemicals, in particular acetic acid, by winemakers.

Acetic acid: a substance found in small amounts in most wines; also called volatile acidity. The excessive presence of this substance in wine is a defect because it gives the wine an acetic flavour.

Lactic acid: obtained from malic acid during malolactic fermentation.

Malic Acid: together with tartaric acid, it is one of the main acids in grapes. Malic acid is responsible for the strong, sour green apple flavour in unripe grapes.


Tartaric Acid: the two main and most important acids in a wine are malic acid and tartaric acid and both are naturally present in grapes. It makes the greatest contribution to the acidity of the wine, particularly for its aging potential, its balance.


Acre: very acid or very tannic but not balanced, therefore not very pleasant.

Aging:  period of aging of wine, usually in bottle, which allows the attainment of certain qualitative and distinctive characteristics.

Aggravated: the wine is well balanced and refined. A more commonly used synonym is "elegant".

Aggressive: used in tasting to describe the effects on taste of excessive tannin or acidity in wine.


Albeisa: bottle shape initially conceived for Barolo and Barbaresco, lately also used for other noble wines of the same area.

Alcohol: the natural by-product of fermentation. It is created when the natural yeasts of the grape attack the sugars; in the end, carbon dioxide and ethanol remain in equal parts.

Amabile: sweeter and fuller wine than the bite.

Ampelography: derived from the Greek words "ampelos" (vine) and "grapho" (description). Material that studies the vine, identifies and classifies vines based on the different characteristics of the plants and the morphology of the leaves and fruits.

Bitter: The main cause of a bitter wine is the excess of tannin, caused by the skins of berries, grapes and stalks. Bitter must never be dominated in flavour and aftertaste. The taste buds that perceive bitter are located on the back of the tongue.

Angular: wine with high levels of acidity and tannins, a condition which usually weakens with ageing but which creates unpleasant sensations and acidity.

Carbon dioxide: odourless, colourless and non-combustible gas. It is formed during fermentation, when the sugar in the grapes is transformed into alcohol.

Sulphur dioxide: used to kill harmful yeasts in grape skins before fermentation takes place, to sterilise barrels and bottles, to eliminate bacterial infections and to prevent the oxidation of fermented wines.

Vintage - Vintage: synonym for "harvest of the year", i.e. the year in which the grapes were harvested and transformed into wine.

Arches: small streams that descend into a glass after the wine has been turned or drunk.

Harmonious: synonymous with "well balanced", a wine is harmonious if all its elements (tannins, acids, alcohol, fruit) are perfectly mixed and no element prevails over the others.

Aroma: term that describes the whole range of aromas of a wine, while bouquet has become more or less a synonym for aroma.

Aromatic: used to describe a fragrant wine, e.g. Gewürztraminer.

Aspro: Used in tasting for a wine that has a penetrating and pungent flavour; harshness caused by a high level of acidity.


Astringent: a wine with a dry flavour, alappant due to excess tannin or acidity.

Austere: used during tasting to indicate a strong, severe or reserved flavour.

Balthazar: 12 litre bottle of Champagne, equivalent to 16 bottles of 75 cl.

Ballon: large belly glass with short stem.

Barbatella: cutting of the vine already rooted and ready to be planted.

Barbera: grape variety with medium-sized grapes of an intense black-bluish colour, from which the Piedmontese wine of the same name is obtained, with an intense red colour. Produced in Asti, Monferrato and Oltrepò Pavese: b. d'Alba (doc), b. d'Asti (doc), b. del Monferrato (doc).

Barbera Superiore: minimum alcoholic content of 12.5%.

Barrique: 225 litre barrel made from French or American white oak. It is used to age the wine.

Barriccato: the aroma and flavour of oak. The newer the oak, the stronger the flavour. Among the oak essences commonly transmitted are vanilla, smoked and toasted.

Potassium bitartrate: salt of tartaric acid, deposited as crystalline sediment on the bottom or walls of bottles, vats, tanks, barrels.

Blanc de blancs: white wine made entirely with white grapes.

Blanc de noir: white wine made entirely with red grapes.

Bordolese: bottle shape characterised by accentuated shoulders, short neck and cylindrical body.

Burgundy: bottle shape characterised by slender shoulders, long neck and more belly shape.

Botrytis cinerea: fungus also known as noble mould; it attacks the skin of berries causing water to evaporate and increasing sugars and flavours disproportionately (essentially turning the grape into a large dried grape). When weather conditions are favourable, the effects of Botrytis cinerea on white grapes create an incredible concentrate, and the sweet must turns into the finest dessert wines in the world. French Sauternes and German Trockenbeerenauslese wines are the largest and most classic examples.

Casks: round wooden container used to store, age, give flavour and sometimes ferment excellent table wines. Size, age, type of wood, level of roasting, durability and maturation are all factors that can influence the impact of casks on the style of wine. Although other woods may be fashionable in the manufacture of wine barrels, oak is almost exclusively used for complex flavours and aromas (oak, butter, vanilla, dill, toasted, etc.) which communicates to a wine, especially in newer barrels.

Bouquet: complex of aromatic sensations, aroma and perfume acquired by wine after a period of aging.

Bright: completely clear, clean and shiny, with no particles visible.

Brut: French word meaning "pure" and is used to define a sparkling wine or a Champagne with a dry flavour (within 15 gr./sugar).

Buttery: The wine has the taste or aroma of melted butter. Term used to describe the smell and taste of butter present in some white wines aged in oak barrels.

Warm: attribute used in the presence of a strong pseudo-caloric sensation. It is usually structured wines with a good alcohol content.

Shirt: a more or less thin layer on the wall or bottom of the bottle containing wine, caused by the deposit of substances present in the wine itself.

Cap: term used in red wine making. The cap is the layer of skins, pulp, grapes and other solid bodies which rise naturally on the surface of the vessel where the fermentation takes place.

Capsule: covers the end of the bottle above the cap, preventing the cap from drying out and air from entering the bottle.

Capture: sugar added to the must before fermentation to increase the final alcohol content.

Carafe: container used to decant wine; the best type has a wide base, a medium neck and a flared mouth designed to pour the wine gently.

Caramelate: wine with a distinct aroma of caramel, soft candy and/or burnt sugar. The term is normally applied to white wines.

Character: combination of qualities or characteristics which distinguish it from other wines.

Caratello: small oak cask with a capacity of between 25 and 100 litres, used mainly in Tuscany for the production of Vin Santo.

Varietal character: refers to the taste, aroma, structure and above all the character of a wine made with a particular grape variety. A wine made with Merlot grapes, for example, will typically be of medium body, with a medium alcohol level, moderate acidity and softer tannins than a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Fleshy: concentrated fruity flavours. Rich, super mature, large, harmonious, smooth and full-bodied.

Caudalia: unit of gustatory measurement of a wine, corresponds to one second and defines the aromatic persistence after swallowing.

Cava: Catalan word meaning "cellar", is the official name of the sparkling wine produced in northern Spain and made with the traditional Champenois method.

Cave: French word meaning "cellar".

Cedary: a "cedary" wine is one whose aromas and flavours remind you of the (characteristic and aromatic) scent of the cedar tree, like the one you can smell when smelling a new cigar box or a cedar wooden case.

Centrifugation: technique for separating coarse suspended particles from wine.

Cépage: French word meaning "vine".

Stump: part of the vine plant coming out of the earth.

Cercine: the enlarged end of the pedicel on which the berry is inserted.

Chambrer: a process used for aged red wines of particular quality. It consists of transporting the wine from the cellar to the room where it will be consumed so that it reaches the same temperature as the room.

Champagne: 150km north-east of Paris is the region of France where the most famous and desired sparkling wines are produced. Technically, the term "Champagne" can only be used for sparkling wines produced in the geographical area of Champagne. Although the majority of Champagne is white, many of the grapes used (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier) are actually red and have been mixed with Chardonnay in a "cuvée" of 40 or more different base wines which are finally transformed into a wine impregnated with carbon dioxide.

Charmat: method of refermentation in a closed vase (autoclave) perfected by E. Charmat at the end of the 1800s for the production of sparkling wines. It can be differentiated into "short" and "long", where the musts remain in contact with the yeasts for up to 6 months.

Château: French word meaning "castle" or "palace" in the Bordeaux region it is used to indicate a winery.

Chiaretto: rose wine, famous that of Valtenesi and Bardolino on Lake Garda.

Clarification: used to remove sediments (grape pulp, dirt, dead yeast cells, etc.). It is done with different methods (filtering, centrifugation, cold stabilisation, etc.) and at different stages of the winemaking process, right up to the moment of bottling.

Closed: wine that fails to express its potential, perhaps because it is too young and not yet developed.

Classic: a term that is sometimes combined with the names of DOC and DOCG wines to indicate a specific area within a DOC.

Clos: French word for "vineyard surrounded by walls".

Complex: term used in tasting to indicate a wine with many layers of aroma and flavour.

Phenolic compounds: present in grape skins and pomace, have two positive effects on wine. Together with tannins, they contribute to the development of wine's characteristics by adding flavour, colour, aroma and structure.

Concentrate: positive oenological term, synonymous with "dense", for wines which have concentrated aromas and flavours, unlike others which have softened or diluted them.

Spurred cord: short pruning form of vine breeding, suitable for vines which bear fruit on buds placed at the base of the shoots.


Body: The body of a wine is determined by its alcohol, glycerin and sugar content. A wine can be "light in body", "medium-bodied" or "full-bodied".

Crémant: Champagne is not the only region of France where sparkling wine is produced. To avoid confusion, many other French sparkling wine producers, who also use the traditional Champenois method, label their sparkling wine as Crémant, which literally means "creamy wine".

Cru: French term meaning "production" or "vineyard" and is used as a means of classification of the finest French wines and wine producers.

Cuvée: French word meaning a particular combination or blend of wine.


Decantation: transfer of a wine from the bottle to a glass jug. The purpose of this operation is to separate the wine from its sediment, for young wines the purpose is to aerate them.

Decanter: crystal container into which to decant and then pour wine from. A decanter is large enough to hold a standard bottle of wine.

Dégorgement: removal of sediment formed during the second fermentation in the bottle. In the champenois method, it is done by temporarily freezing the neck of the bottle.

Horizontal and vertical tasting: the wines to be judged can be ordered in two ways: horizontally or vertically. A horizontal tasting presents the same vintage (e.g. a series of Brunello di Montalcino 1990) vinified by different producers. A vertical tasting is the opposite: several vintages of the same wine such as four vintages of Sassicaia chosen between 1988 and 1995.

Demi-sec: means "moderately sweet" or "mediumly sweet." It's one of six terms used to indicate the sweetness of a Champagne. In ascending order: extra brut (totally dry), brut, extra dry, sec, demi-sec and doux (sweet).

Designation: the area or region where the grapes of a particular wine are grown.

Storage: all substances (salt of tartaric acid, polyphenols, proteins) on the bottom or on the walls of the container containing the wine.

Destemming: elimination of the stalks before or after pressing the grapes, depending on the machinery used.

Deacidification: a natural or artificial process aimed at reducing the level of acidity of wine.

Specification: set of rules specifying the characteristics of each designation.

Disharmonic: one or more components are present in excess or too deficient, resulting in a loss of harmony.

DOC: Denomination of controlled origin, is produced in compliance with the Specification.

DOCG: Controlled and Guaranteed Denomination of Origin. DOC Certification for at least 5 years to be DOCG. The award criteria for DOCG are stricter and more rigid.

Domaine: French word meaning "estate", it is mainly used to give a distinctive note to the name of a winery (such as Domaine Chandon, Domaine Carneros or Domaine de Chavalier).

Dormancy: a physiological state in which a bud does not develop into a bud.

Dosé: French word meaning "dosed". It refers to Champagne and sparkling wines to which the liqueur d'expédition has been added.

Dry: English term meaning "dry", used to indicate sparkling wines in which the sugar residue is not perceptible to the taste (below 0.4 g/l).


Ebulliometer: instrument used to measure the alcohol content of wines by comparing the boiling level with that of distilled water.

Sweetener: a sweetener used to give a sweet flavour to dry wine.

Eiswein: quality wine produced in Germany and Austria: its Italian counterpart is Vino del Giaccio. The grapes are harvested under ice (at -7°C) to obtain the highest concentration of acidity and softness.

Balanced: wine in which the various constituent elements are present in the right proportions.

En primeur: French term for the sale of wine in the form of "futures" contracts, before it is bottled. The "en primeur" market is not limited to Bordeaux wines, but certainly in that region it had its origins and its most significant impact.

Herbaceous: typical aroma of some white wines, given by terpenes.

Exposure: direction in which the vineyards are sloping towards the cardinal points and the pedoclimatic context.

Extract: soluble solids in wine that contribute to the creation of the body and structure of the wine itself.

Dry extract: solid part, i.e. all the substances that remain in the wine after evaporating water, alcohol and acetic acid, i.e. all volatile compounds.

Ethereal: characteristic alcoholic and pungent aroma of aged wines, due to the presence of ethers, esters and acetals.

Evanescent: sparkling wine whose perlage is characterised by low persistence.

Lee: the sediment which is attracted to the bottom of a fermentation tank after the wine has fermented, or in the case of sparkling wine, the sediment which remains in the bottle after the second fermentation until it is dislodged. Wines that remain on the lees for a longer period of time (a method called "sur lie") tend to develop a richer structure and a more complex character.

Fermentation: a completely natural process in which yeasts (mono-cellular organisms that are naturally present on the skins of grapes) convert grape sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The process can take anywhere from a few days to several months, the time during which carbon dioxide and heat are released as by-products.

Alcoholic fermentation: transformation of sugars into ethyl alcohol, carbon dioxide and energy (heat).

Malolactic fermentation (FML): the second fermentation that can follow the wine, where malic acid is transformed into lactic acid much smoother and softer.

Phylloxera: insect native to the United States that damages the leaves and roots of the vine. It was inadvertently transported to Europe around 1870. The result was a mass destruction. The cure consists of grafting the European Vitis vinifera with the American rootstock, which is resistant to phylloxera.

Filtering: one of the methods of clarifying wine. It is passed through paper or a synthetic filter, which removes unwanted sediment.

Finish: is the taste and impression that persists in your mouth after you have swallowed the wine. As a general rule, the better the wine, the longer and more pleasant the finish will be.

Flocculation: the physical process which determines the agglomeration of colloids present in wine: the dispersed particles aggregate to form larger and larger masses which precipitate in the form of flakes.

Floral: the fragrance of flowers is called floral or "flowered bouquet". This aroma is normally found in wines.

Flute: French term for a glass with a thin stem and an elongated shape, typically used for sparkling wines.

Fragrant: a wine with a grassy, aromatic scent. This scent may depend on the vine or the ageing in oak barrels.

Fresh vivid: a term generally used for dry, light-bodied white wines that are pleasantly acidic or lively. Drinking a fresh vivid wine gives a feeling similar to biting a fresh green apple.

Sparkling: sparkling wine but not so much to be labelled as sparkling wine, the main difference is the overpressure, between 1 and 2.5 bar.

Fruity: raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, gooseberry, blackcurrant, blueberry, prune, pear, peach, pineapple, apple, apricot, black currant, fig, cherry, plum are among the many fruity aromas typically found in wines.

Smoky: used to indicate wines which have a smoky flavour and flavour (tobacco, smoked bacon or the kind which releases a fire in the open air).

Cage: small metal cage that wraps the cap and the capsule of a sparkling wine.

Generoso: a wine characterised by a high alcohol content and full flavour.

Young: wine which has not yet fully developed its organoleptic characteristics.

Government alla "Toscana": type of refermentation (Chianti area) consisting in placing 10% of the grapes to wither separately (Sangiovese, Canaiolo and sometimes Trebbiano and Malvasia) and then, after appropriate pressing, added to the new wine by the month of December.

Government alla "Veronese": refermentation process used for the production of sparkling wines in Veronese. The refermentation takes place, unlike the government in Tuscany, just before being released for consumption with shavings already colonised by yeasts. Silent or sweet filtered must is added to the wine, previously placed in barrels filled with beech or poplar shavings which are kept raised thanks to the use of false bottoms, and allowed to ferment until it reaches the desired level of sparkling.

Sugar content: level of sugar concentration in wine.

Grand Cru: the highest possible classification for a vineyard or village in certain wine-growing regions of France, particularly Burgundy and Alsace.

Fat: A fatty wine is full-bodied, rich, high in fruitiness and glycerin (a complex alcohol that gives viscosity to the wine).

Yeast flavour: a wine that has the aroma or taste of yeast (similar to the smell of fresh bread). It is a expected and desirable characteristic in Champagne, which has spent three years or more on lees, allowing the development of a characteristic yeast aroma.

Cork taste: a dry, mouldy, nasty smell and taste. About 3 out of 100 bottles taste cork. The fault is trichloroanisole, a mould caused by a misuse of chlorine in the cork. The lifespan of a healthy cork is about 20 years, after which the bottle must be capped again.

Guyot: system of cultivation of the vine without permanent cord, with obligatory mixed pruning and fruit branch in a horizontal position.


Gyropallette: mechanical means used in the production of sparkling wines made with the champenois  method to reproduce the remuage operation (rotating the bottles on the desks).

Habillage: labelling, concludes the process of sparkling wine (Champenois) in which the capsule is placed over the metal cage that still has the cap on the bottle, the label and the counter label.

Halbtrocken: the equivalent of demi-sec in German, referring to sparkling wines. In still wines, it refers to those with a sugar content of less than 15 g/l.

IGT: Indication Geografica Tipica certifies that the wine comes from grapes of a certain region or geographical area.

Bottled at origin: a term that appears on the front label of many wines, indicating that the winery is responsible both for the cultivation of the grapes and for the vinification and bottling of the product.

Immature: wine too young to be appreciated, in need of further maturation to reach optimal conditions.

Imperial: the largest of the wine bottles, an Imperial contains 6 litres of wine, the equivalent of 8 regular bottles. It is generally shaped like a Bordeaux classic.

Grafting: is represented by the union between the graft and the rootstock. The graft will develop the aerial part of the plant, while the rootstock will develop the root part.

Intense: describes the intensity of colour, aroma and flavour of a wine.

Cloudiness: alteration of the clarity of wine due to the formation of substances.

Varnishing: the moment during the cultivation cycle of red grapes when the green berries turn red and it is also the moment when some wine producers remove green grapes that have not turned red.

Aging: The period of time between the time the wine is made and the time it is served. Most wines are aged in barrels, vats, stainless steel vats or bottles; preferably in cool, dark and moderately humid environments. The purpose of aging is to allow the wine to develop additional flavours (e.g. transmitted from oak barrels), to soften the tannins and to harmonise its structure.

Bottle-aged: the wine has been aged in the bottle to allow it to mature and develop. Many wineries age their wine in the bottle from a few weeks to many years.


Jerez: Liqueur wine produced near Cádiz, Spain. It uses the same ageing method as Marsala (Soleras). The main grape variety is Pedro Ximenez.

Jeroboam: very large bottle containing 4.5 litres or 6 regular bottles, a Jeroboam of Champagne (also known as double magnum) contains 3 litres or 4 regular bottles.

Light: refers to the structure, weight, colour and/or percentage of alcohol of a wine (any wine under 12% alcohol is considered light).

Woody: If a red wine is left to ferment or macerate too long with the stalks, it can acquire a rather unpleasant flavour and aroma. A wine can also have aromas and flavours reminiscent of wood.

Yeast: what turns must into wine. Single-celled microorganisms that are naturally present on the skin of berries convert the sugar of grapes into alcohol in a process called fermentation.

Clarity: "level of cleanliness" of a wine. In the bottle or glass, the wine must always be clean and free of sediment.

Liqueur d'expedition: a mixture of wine and in most cases also of sugar; it is used to fill bottles of Champagne and other wines made with the Champenois method to the brim.

Liqueur de tirage: mixture of wine, sugar and yeast added to bottles of Champagne and other wines made with the Champenois method; induces the second fermentation.

Liqueurose: wine of high strength to which alcohol has been added.

Maceration: the process during which red wines acquire colour, tannin content and part of the flavour through the contact of the fermenting must with the grape skins.

Carbonic maceration: whole grape fermentation process in which the whole bunches of unpressed red grapes are packed into containers and filled with carbon dioxide (to exclude the unwanted oxygen). The containers are then sealed and the grapes are left to ferment on their own in their skins. The typical result is a wine of bright colour, simple, fruity, little tannic; it should be drunk young and not kept too long like Beaujolais or Novello.

Maderised: the term used in tasting for wines that have deteriorated due to oxidation, overheating and/or excessive aging.Maderised wines tend to be amber in colour and have a sweet flavour similar to fortified wines from Madeira.

Magnum: It contains twice as much wine as a regular bottle: 1.5 liters. It is really preferable to use to age high quality wines because a larger bottle of wine makes the wine age more slowly.

Lean: wine with high acidity, little fruity and limited body.

Mature: a wine that is fully developed and ready to be uncorked. A wine reaches maturity when its various elements have reached equilibrium through appropriate aging, its tannins are softened, its acidity is softened and its structure is ideal.

Mathusalem: Large size Champagne bottle containing the equivalent of 8 bottles. It is the same size as an Imperial but is normally used for still wines. Mathusalem takes its name from the biblical patriarch who is said to have lived for 969 years.

Champagne method: traditional method of making Champagne since the seventeenth century by refermentation in bottles. Italy can no longer use this term since 1994, due to Community wishes. The term can only be used for Champagne.

Charmat method: it differs from the Classico method mainly in the speed of the production process, the use of an autoclave for the foam and the fact that all the phases following refermentation take place under isobaric conditions.

Method Classico: term devised in Italy to define sparkling wines with refermentation in bottle (champenois).

Solera method: wine-making technique of Spanish origin which consists of several partial racking in barrels placed scally, containing wines of different vintages, in order to obtain mixtures extremely rich in aromas and precious aromas.

Half Bottle: half of a standard 750ml bottle. Contains 375ml (3/8 of a litre). Many dessert wines come in half bottles as they tend to be consumed in small quantities.

Microclimate: a small area of land within a wine-growing region which, due to its unique location, boasts a climate very suitable for the cultivation of certain vineyards.

Millesime: French term for harvest.

Mineral: Wine that has taken the flavour or aroma of minerals from the soil of the vineyard is called "mineral".

Moelleux: French term meaning velvety or soft, refers to a wine with an average level of sugar residue.

Smooth: generally positive attribute for aged red wines which have blunted the angularity of the acids and the bitterness of the tannins, making them very smooth and pleasing in the mouth.

Must: unfermented grape juice together with skins, berries and pulp.

Flower must: juice squeezed from the pressed grapes, before the skin and pulp undergo further pressure to squeeze the remaining juice.

Noble mould: see Botrytis cinerea.

Muscat: wine with a dusty and aromatic aroma.

Nebuchadnezzar: contains the equivalent of 20 standard bottles, as many as 15 litres of bubbles. Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon.

Nebbiolo: A precious vine with early budding and late ripening, cultivated in the Langhe, Vercellese and Valtellina. Small, round and grey-blue berries from which are produced Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara, Lessona, Sassella, Grumello.

Nice: DOCG red wine produced in 18 municipalities in the province of Asti. This designation originated from the detachment of the sub-zone Barbera d'Asti Superior Nice from the DOCG Barbera d'Asti.

Unbalanced: wine in which there is an excess or deficiency of one or more elements.

Novello: a young, fruity, light, full-bodied wine made with carbonic maceration following the example of Beaujolais Nouveau. Wines to be drunk within one year of production.

Powdery mildew: a fungal disease imported to Europe probably from North America. Around 1850, powdery mildew destroyed countless vineyards in Italy and France before it was discovered that a mixture of sulphur, lime and water could stop its spread.

Organic: wines produced without the use of herbicides, chemical fertilisers or other additives.

Oxidation: a set of chemical reactions that can occur when wine is exposed to an oxidizing agent, usually air. This can be more or less rapid, for example in a full barrel it is slow, in an open bottle exposed to air it is fast.

Oxygenation: a process that allows wine to "breathe", exposing it to air. As a general rule, only high quality red and white wines improve with oxygenation. Since older wines (20 years and older) have now softened their tannins through aging in the bottle, they normally require  a very small amount of oxygenation. Uncorking and leaving the bottle open does not serve the purpose, the wine does not receive enough air to breathe fully, pour the wine into a decanter.

Passito: wine whose grapes are left to wither in the sun on racks (such as Malvasia or Zibibbo) or on looms in particular fruit trees that are usually in the looms (Amarone and Sforzato della Valtellina).

Pasteurisation: The process by which a liquid (beer, milk, wine) is heated until microorganisms that can cause disease or unwanted fermentation are killed.

Pasty: a positive term that refers to a wine that is unusually thick, rich and full-bodied, because of its high alcohol content and tannin content.

Pedoclimate: the physical conditions of the soil which depend mainly on temperature and humidity.

Pepato: wine with flavour and aroma of ground black pepper grains. Red wines such as Syrah and certain Californian Zinfaldels often have "pepper" characteristics.

Perlage: visual evaluation of bubbles caused by the presence of carbon dioxide in sparkling wines.


Persistent: A persistent wine has the ability to stimulate your taste buds even after it has been swallowed.

Intense aromatic persistence: flavour that remains in the mouth after a sip of wine has been ingested. Usually the better the wine, the longer and more enjoyable the intense aromatic persistence.

Petillant: used to describe a semi-sparkling wine. In tasting it is used to describe a wine without the slightest presence of bubbles.

Dish: negative term, for a wine that lacks all kinds of things including vivacity, depth, taste and body.

Full: balanced, full-bodied wine.

Flintstone: an acrid aroma found in dry white wines, made with grapes grown in cold regions with a soil rich in limestone. Wines that smell of flintstone often also have a mineral flavour.

Port or Port: Terms used to indicate fortified wine coming from Oporto in Portugal. Only fortified wines from Oporto can officially use these names. Port is made by stopping the fermentation of wine (made with up to 80 different varieties) when there is still a high level of sugar residue, adding neutral wine brandy (fortification) which raises the alcohol level above 18% and then kills the yeasts needed for fermentation. The resulting Port is then aged for up to two years before being bottled, where it can continue to age for decades. There are seven main types of Port: ruby, tawny, vintage, colheita, crusted, late-bottled vintage and white.

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