Wine generally has high acidity, which ensures that it feels fresh despite its alcohol content. Acidity also carries fruit flavors and helps the wine to keep well, but it must be balanced by other flavors. It is mainly experienced on the sides on the tongue. If the wine lacks acidity, it feels flabby. If the acidity is too strong, the wine will appear overly sharp and aggressive.
A wine that is too acidic or astringent.
A wine with no flaws.
The chemical reaction that transforms grape juice into wine through the interaction of yeasts with grape sugar, which produces alcohol.
The science of describing and identifying grapevine species.
Part of a group of natural chemical compounds called phenols, these are what give grapes their purple or red color.
Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée. A system created by French legislation that uses the geographical source of production of foodstuffs, including wine, to identify and qualify them. Associated with production constraints that vary according to the area. Implemented in other major European countries (DOC in Italy, DO in Spain, etc.).
The smells of a wine. Recognizing them can help to identify a wine and its age.
The "drying" and slightly "coarse" effect produced by tannins inside the mouth. Sometimes associated with bitterness.
Characteristic usually caused by tannins in young red wines which can produce a rough and drying sensation in the mouth.
The first impression on the palate. If it is pleasant and quite intense, it can be described as "clear-cut".
Term used to describe the relative values of the main flavor elements in a wine: acidity, fruitiness, tannins, sweetness, etc. When these relative values are satisfactory, the wine can be said to be balanced or "harmonious". If the wine is almost entirely dominated by a single flavor element and the relative values are not satisfactory, that wine may be called "unbalanced".
A taste experienced on the back of the tongue. All wines contain some bitterness, which becomes unpleasant if excessive.
A technique used to produce some rosé wines. It consists of withdrawing the juice from the skin/juice mixture in a tank after a few hours of maceration and prior to completion of fermentation. Thus the color from red grapes will be much lighter (pink or rosé) than for red wines.
A mix of wines of the same quality, either made from the same grape variety or different varieties, but belonging to the same appellation.
A fungus that attacks grape skins. It is an enemy if it strikes during the ripening phase. But for certain sweet wines, it can produce highly beneficial results when it affects very ripe grapes because it further concentrates the sugars. It is known as "noble rot" and produces some of the greatest sweet wines.
Name given to the sum of smells generated by a mature wine.
Describes wine whose colour is orange-brown.
The legal (in some areas) and controlled process of slightly increasing the alcohol level in wines by adding sugar to the must before fermentation.
Refers to the color of the wine.
Describes a wine that has multiple aroma types. A "complex" nose on a wine is usually a sign of quality.
Used to describe a wine with good acidity.
Breaking open grapes to release some of the juice they contain. This process enables contact between the skins and juice. It is different from "pressing", which means squeezing out all the juice before discarding the skins.
Removal of stems and grape seeds before vinification.
A wine-making process that pulls color, tannins and other substances from the solid parts of the grapes (essentially the skins).
Can be said of a wine that has a thick consistency, sometimes due to a relatively high level of alcohol and/or some sweetness and/or high "dry" extract.
Refers to the last impression the wine leaves in the mouth.
A wine that seems very agreeable to the nose, but falls short of the mark in the mouth.
Fortifying a wine consists of adding spirits (from grapes or another distilled spirit) to fermenting grape must. This causes a sudden increase in the alcoholic percentage of the liquid and thus kills the yeast population, ending the fermentation process. Any sugar not yet converted into alcohol will remain in the wine as residual sugar.
Usually means that the grapes were picked before achieving optimal ripeness.
A wine that is "long" in the mouth is a wine whose flavors persist for a long time on the palate after it has been swallowed (or spat out).
A wine whose acidity gives the wine a refreshing aspect.
A chemical reaction that reduces the effective levels of acidity in wine by transforming malic acid into lactic acid. This is desirable for some wines, but not for others.
The stages that wine goes through between the end of fermentation and shipment to markets.
Caused by a fungus (botrytis cinerea), this is an important factor in the sugar and acid concentration that forms in some sweet wines produced from late harvests. It only occurs in certain areas and under specific weather conditions.
A wine on the decline.
The effect of oxygen on wine. All wines undergo gradual oxidation over time. This becomes a defect only if there is too much oxygen and it causes the oxidative aromas to dominate the others.
Age at which a wine is deemed to be at its best. This varies widely depending on the type of wine and its storage conditions.
Aromas derived directly from the grapes. Each grape variety tends to have its own range of aromas.
Period during which the grape reaches its optimum quality and is ready for harvest.
Said of a wine which appears supple, perhaps sweet or meaty, but which does not have overly pronounced acidity or tannins.
Aromas derived from the wine-making process and especially from fermentation.
Describes a wine whose acidity is very noticeable, even aggressive.
Branch on a new vine.
Sometimes said of a wine that leaves a very smooth impression on the palate.
Marking of corks and barrels with an iron brand.
Tannins are substances in the phenol family that are found in a number of fruits and vegetables, some types of wood and in the skin and stems of grapes. "Tannic" is the word used to describe the effect of this substance when tasted. It tends to dry out the mouth and may also seem coarse.
Aromas derived from the wine maturing and ageing process.
The feel of a wine on the palate, experienced as touch. It can be more or less smooth or fluid.
A powerful and earthy aroma that can be found in certain wines (both red and white).
Phase in red wine production during which the skin and seeds are left in contact with the juice in the tank. The length of this phase determines the wine's colour and tannic profile.
Describes a wine with pronounced greenish aromas (grass, hay, green leaves).
The vine varieties that make up a vineyard.
Base of the grape vine.
Type of vine stock, vine and grape.
The year of an event, in this case a harvest.
Wine made with grapes harvested in a single year.
Said of a wine that produces a feeling of heat or burning on the palate.
An above-ground building where wine reserves are held in regions where cellars are not dug.