Acetic: vinegar-like taste or smell from exposure to air. Vinegar is acetic acid.
Acidity: wines contain acids, which vary in concentration.
Appellation: French system regulating authenticity; applies to region where the grapes were grown.
Astringent: high tannin content produces dry, puckering effect.
Balance: relative degree of fruity quality, acidity, tannins, alcohol and other characteristics.
Bouquet: complex of aromas, usually from aging.
Cooked: prunish flavor, usually from excessive heat.
Cooper: a maker of casks or barrels.
Corked: a kind of spoilage, smelling of cork, usually from cracked or seeping cork allowing introduction of air or fungi.
Dry: opposite of sweet.
Fruity: aroma or flavor of apples, grapes, currants, pears, etc.
Green: wine made from unripe grapes, producing tart flavor.
Honeyed: smell or taste reminiscent of honey, characteristic of wines affected by ‘noble rot’ (Botrytis cinerea).
Length: a lingering aftertaste.
Madeirized: oxidized with a brownish color and stale odor. After the island of Madeira where wine is intentionally produced in open air vats.
Noble: a classification of grapes that produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Riesling
Nose: aroma. ‘Off-nose’ refers to odors indicating defect.
Nutty: nutlike aroma, such as found in sherry or aged whites.
Oakey: aroma from aging in oaken casks.
Oxidized: spoiled from over-exposure to air.
Sommelier: a specialist in selecting and serving wine.
Sparkling: wine containing carbonation, such as champagne.
Sulphur: an anti-oxidant introduced in some wines in small amounts. Fermentation creates minute amounts naturally.
Sweet: having residual sugar from fermentation, from grape sugar incompletely converted to alcohol.
Vintner: a winemaker.
Viticulture: the art and science of growing wine grapes.
Vitis vinifera: plant species encompassing most traditional European wine grapes.
Woody: having the aroma or taste of aging barrels.
Yeasty: smelling similar to bread. Yeasts are introduced to carry out fermentation and can be incompletely removed.
Ten Major Grape Varieties —
(1) Cabernet Sauvignon: grows in a variety of climates, but most closely associated with Bordeaux, France. Produces wines usually high in tannin.
(2) Chardonnay: from Burgundy, France. Classic and popular.
(3) Chenin Blanc: from France’s Loire valley. A white grape, grow in climates too warm for many vinifera types.
(4) Grenache: Spanish grape with raspberry-like flavor and fruity aroma.
(5) Merlot: produces deep colored, high alcohol wines with low tannin. Sometimes chocolaty.
(6) Nebbiolo: from Piedmont, Italy in the northwest, produces Barbaresco and Barolo. High in acidity and tannins.
(7) Pinot Noir: difficult to grow, low in tannin, prone to rot.
(8) Riesling: a traditional German grape from the Mosel region.
(9) Sangiovese: produces herby, spicy Italian wine from Tuscany, Italy.
(10) Syrah/Shiraz: from France’s Rhone valley, but more recently Australia and New Zealand. Spicy, sometimes reminiscent of black pepper. Not to be confused with Petit Sirah, a California grape.