A brief primer on some of the terms often used when discussing wines.

  • aeration: letting a bottle of wine “breathe” before consuming it
  • aging: all wine is allowed to grow older before it can be consumed, for periods ranging from months to years
  • appellation: the name of the place where the grapes used to make the wine were grown
  • bouquet: the aroma of the wine
  • brix: term of measurement used to define the sugar content of grapes
  • capsule: the protective covering over the cork and neck of a wine bottle
  • corked or “corky”: refers to a musty, mildew-like smell, resulting from a bacteria that can grow in cork. It is almost impossible to detect until after the wine has been in contact with the cork. It is often described as a “wet newspaper” or mildewed basement smell. While it is harmless to drink this wine, the off odor make the entire experience less enjoyable, to say the least.
  • dry: used to describe wines with no perceptible sugar content
  • decant: to pour wine out of its bottle and into a larger container, leaving behind any sediment
  • fermentation: the process by which grape sugar turns into alcohol and carbon dioxide
  • finish: the aftertaste that remains when the wine has been swallowed
  • fortified wine: a wine with brandy or other spirits added, such as port or sherry
  • fruity: used to describe wines with a high sugar content, or a wine with forward fruit flavors and characteristics.
  • green: used to describe a wine made from unripe grapes
  • legs: wine drops that form and slowly slide down the inside side of a glass when wine is swirled
  • must: juice of crushed grapes and grape solids
  • nose: a wine’s smell, including all components
  • split: a six-ounce bottle. (1/4 size bottle)
  • table wine: a wine intended to accompany a meal, usually containing less than 16% alcohol
  • tannin: an organic compound found in grape skins that makes wine taste astringent
  • terrior: refers to the quality of place a wine or agricultural product has, depending on soil conditions and micro-climate.
  • varietal: wine named for its main grape
  • vinification: wine making
  • vintage: the year a wine was made. more specifically, the year the grapes grew. (exception: Wines from the Southern hemisphere begin to grow in one year and are harvested the next, since their seasons are opposite of ours in the Northern hemisphere)