The Definitions found on this page may not fit precisely into a definition of wine terms, but they make sense to me or rather they help me make sense of the wines I like, don’t like or just try. I hope you will use them to help you build your own lexicon of terms so your wine tastes make sense to you. I am not going to enter them in any particular order, but eventually they will wind up in alphabetical order.
Acidity — Part of the character of a wine naturally occuring because of the levels of tartaric and malic acids in grapes that impact a wine’s taste and smell as it ages.
AOC — The acronym or abbreviation for “Appellation d’Origine Controlee” refers to specific French Laws relative to food and wine under the jurisdiction of the INOC (Institute National des Appellations d’Origine) the controlling organization that specifies and limits the area of France where a particular Varietal must originate.
Aperitif — Refers to a wine consumed before a meal in with the intention of stimulating a the appetite.
Appellation — An appellation is a legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown; other types of food often have appellations as well. Restrictions other than geographical boundaries, such as what grapes may be grown, maximum grape yields, alcohol level, and other quality factors, may also apply before an appellation name may legally appear on a wine bottle label. The rules that govern appellations are dependent on the country in which the wine was produced.
Auslese — is a German language wine term for a late harvest wine and is a riper category than Spätlese in the Prädikatswein category of the Austrian and German wine classification.
Brix — is the sugar content of an aqueous solution. One degree Brix is 1 gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution and represents the strength of the solution as percentage by mass. If the solution contains dissolved solids other than pure sucrose, then the °Bx only approximates the dissolved solid content. The °Bx is traditionally used in the wine, sugar, carbonated beverage, fruit juice, and honey industries.
INOC — The abbreviation or acronym for the “Institute National des Appellations d’Origine” the governing organization that controls where specific wines can be produced in Franc.
Rehoboam —A large bottle holding 4.5 litres, the equivalent of six regular wine bottles.
Reserva –Spanish aging designation. For red wines this means that a wine has been aged for at least 3 years following harvest with at least 12 months in oak. For Spanish white wines, the designation means that the wine has been aged for at least 18 months with at least 6 of those months in oak.
Sangria — is a typical beverage from Spain and Portugal. It normally consists of wine, chopped fruit, a sweetener, and a small amount of added brandy. Chopped fruit can include orange, lemon, lime, apple, peach, melon, berries, pineapple, grape, kiwifruit and mango. A sweetener such as honey, sugar, syrup, or orange juice is added
Spätlese is a German wine term for a wine from fully ripe grapes, the lightest of the late harvest wines. Spätlese is a riper category than Kabinett in the Prädikatswein category of the German wine classification.
Sec/Secco/Seco –French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese terms for a dry wine. In Champagne production, “Sec” wines are actually medium-dry being sweeter than Brut and Extra Dry with 12-17 grams/liter of sugar added in the dosage.
Secondary aromas –The aromas in wine that are derived from the winemaking process which includes fermentation as well as potentially malolactic fermentation and oak aging. This is in contrast to the primary aromas which come from the grape variety itself and the tertiary aromas which come from aging process in the bottle.
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.
Tannin — A tannin (also known as vegetable tannin, natural organic tannins, or sometimes tannoid, i.e. a type of biomolecule, as opposed to modern synthetic tannin) is an astringent, bitter plant polyphenolic compound that binds to and precipitates proteins and various other organic compounds including amino acids and alkaloids. (excerpted from Wikipedia)
Terroir — A French word describing the distinctive growing conditions of a particular wine growing space. It usually includes descriptions of a vineyard’s location, slope, prevailing weather conditions, soil makeup, etc. It is sometimes also referred to as a vineyard’s growing environment.
Varietal — A term used to describe a wine or group a wine made from only a singe type of grape.
Vin de garde — A wine that will improve greatly with age, even a significant number of years.