Terms and phrases often used by wine enthusiasts


Acidity: Adds a tart, crisp flavor to wine, and helps balance the sweet fruit notes with the bitter tannins.

Appellation : A term for how countries categorize their wines into specific grape-growing geographical regions.

AVA: Acronym for an American Viticultural Area, a grape-growing area whose geography influences a wine’s taste and quality.

Beaujolais: A red wine made from Gamay grapes.

Bordeaux: A wine-making region of France; also, a famous blend of red wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Burgundy: A wine-making region of France; also, a term to refer to a dry red wine made from Pinot Noir grapes or a white wine made from Chardonnay grapes.

Cabernet Sauvignon: A full-bodied red wine.

Cava: A sparkling wine made in Spain.

Champagne: A sparkling wine made only in the Champagne region of France.

Chardonnay: A creamy, full-bodied white wine.

Complex: A very good balance with distinctive layers of aromas and flavors.

Decanting: Pouring wine, usually red, into a separate vessel to allow for aeration.

Dry: The opposite of sweet, with less than 0.5 percent residual sugar.

Earthy: An aroma reminiscent of earth, such as mushrooms or wet leaves.

Finish: The length of time a wine's aftertaste lingers on the tongue.

Floral: The aroma of flowers, especially in a white wine.

Grassy: The aroma of grasses or herbs; also referred to as “green."

Grenache: A medium-bodied red wine, originating in Spain.

Jammy: As in jam or jelly, a rich, concentrated fruit flavor, especially in Zinfandels or Syrahs.

Maceration: The soaking of grapes with their juice to extract color and tannin from the skins, seeds and stems.

Merlot: A medium-bodied red wine.

Minerally: An aroma of chalk, minerals or even stones, usually referring to a white wine

Must: The freshly-crushed grape juice that also contains the skins, seeds, and stems of the grape.

Nebbiolo: A full-bodied red wine, originating in the Piedmont region of Italy.

Pinot Gris: A light-bodied white wine.

Pinot Noir: A light-bodied red wine.

Port: A full-bodied dessert wine, originating in Portugal.

Prosecco: A sparkling wine made in Italy.

Racking: Moving wine from one vessel to another. Racking filters wine by separating it from the lees (particles that settle after fermentation).

Reserve Wine: Wine of a higher quality than usual, or a wine that has been aged before being sold.

Riesling: A light-bodied white wine.

Rosé: A pink or blush-colored wine with some of the color from the grape skins, but not enough to qualify it as a red wine.

Sangiovese: A medium-bodied red wine, originating in the Tuscany region of Italy.

Sauvignon Blanc: A light-bodied white wine.

Sommelier: A wine steward and expert in a restaurant who can make recommendations on wine and food pairings.

Sparkling Wine: Wine fermented twice to naturally produce carbon dioxide so that it’s bubbly. The best-known is Champagne, which by law can only be made in the Champagne region of France.

Spicy: The aroma of a spice like pepper or cinnamon, perceived as an aromatic element.

Syrah: A full-bodied red wine.

Tannic: A wine high in tannins.

Tannins: Natural compounds found in grape skins, seeds and stems that give red wine its dry taste.

Terroir: The complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate.

Toasty: A toasted, nutty or smoky aroma which comes from aging in oak.

Trento: Sparkling wine made in northern Italy.

Varietal: Wine made exclusively from one type of grape.

Viognier: A full-bodied white wine originating in the Rhone region in France.

Wine Body: The feel, or weight, of a wine when drinking.

Yeasty: An aroma of bread of bread dough, often in sparkling wines and some white wines.

Zinfandel: A full-bodied red wine.