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Bunch of grapes

Ice wine: From the German eiswein, this is a wine made from frozen grapes; Germany, Austria and Canada are leading ice wine producers.

Imperial: Wine bottle with a 6-liter capacity.

Institut Nationale des Appellations d'Origine: The French governing body that created and manages the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system.

Intense: Wines that express themselves strongly. How strong is the aroma or flavor in relation to the total expression?

Jeroboam: Champagne bottle with a 3-liter capacity (equal to four standard 750ml bottles), or wine bottle with a 4.5-liter capacity (equal to six standard 750ml bottles). There are also some 5-liter Jeroboams.

"Wine is a part of society because it provides a basis not only for a morality but also for an environment; it is an ornament in the slightest ceremonials of French daily life, from the snack to the feast, from the conversation at the local café to the speech at a formal dinner."

Roland Barthes (1915-80),
French semiologist. Mythologies,
"Wine and Milk" (1957; tr. 1972).

"It is the hour to be drunken! To escape being the martyred slaves of time, be ceaselessly drunk. On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as you wish."

Charles Pierre Baudelaire (1821-1867),
French poet, critic and translator.

Kabinett: A German term for a wine of quality; usually the driest of Germany's best Rieslings.

Kosher wine: A wine made according to strict Jewish rules under rabbinical supervision.

Labrusca: Grape types native to North America such as Concord and Catawba.

Late harvest: A term used to describe dessert wines made from grapes left on the vines for an extra long period, often until botrytis has set in.

Leafy: Describes the a quality reminiscent of leaves. Can be a positive or a negative, depending on whether it adds to or detracts from a wine's flavor.

Lees: Heavy sediment (dregs) left in the barrel by fermenting wines; a combination of spent yeast cells and grape solids. (fr. lie) The expression, "boire le calice jusqu'à la lie" means to: (1.) drink to the bitter end; (2.) drink to the dregs.

Legs: A term used to describe how wine sticks to the inside of a wine glass after drinking or swirling. Also called tears.

Length: A characteristic of fine wines. The amount of time the sensations of taste and aroma persist after swallowing.

Lively: Describes wines that are crisp, fresh and fruity, bright and vital.

Loire: A river in central France as well as a wine region famous for Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc.

Luscious: Rich, opulent, and smooth; most often said of sweet wines but also intensely fruity ones.

Maceration: The process of allowing grape juice and skins to ferment together, thereby imparting color, tannins and aromas.


Madeira: A fortified wine that has been made on a Portuguese island off the coast of Morocco since the 15th century.

Maderized: Stemming from the word Madeira, this term means oxidization in a hot environment.

Magnum: Champagne or wine bottle with 1.5-liter capacity (equal to two standard 750ml bottles).

Malbec: A hearty red grape of French origin now exceedingly popular in Argentina.

Malolactic fermentation: A secondary fermentation, often occurring in barrels, whereby harsher malic acid is converted into creamier lactic acid.

Maturation: The aging period at the winery, where a wine evolves to a state of readiness for bottling.

Mature: A bottle of wine that is ready to drink.

Meaty: A wine with chewy, fleshy fruit; sturdy and firm in structure. It may even have the aroma of cooked meat.

Medium-dry: A term to indicate the perceived sweetness of wines that are slightly sweet.

Médoc: A section of Bordeaux on the west bank of the Gironde Estuary known for great red wines; Margaux, St.-Estèphe and Pauillac are three leading AOCs in the Médoc.

Mellow: Smooth and soft, with no harshness.

Merlot: A lauded red grape popular in Bordeaux and throughout the world; large amounts of Merlot exist in Italy, the United States, South America and elsewhere.

Méthode champenoise: The traditional method of making Champagne, whereby the carbonation occurs naturally during a second fermentation, rather than by injection of CO2.

Methuselah: Champagne bottle with a 6-liter capacity.

Millésime: French for vintage or year.

Mise en bouteille: Where a wine is bottled, generally indicated on the bottle's label. Examples: Mise en bouteille au Château or Mise en bouteille au Domaine.

Minerally: Having flavors or aromas suggestive of minerals. It may be described as chalk, iron, etc.

Moelleux: Sweet, mellow.

Moldy: Wines with the smell of mold or rot, usually from grapes affected by rot or from old moldy casks used for aging.

Mousse: The foam, or head, on the surface of a sparkling wine.

Mousseux, -euse: adj. Sparkling, bubbly; n.m. sparkling wine.

"Other countries drink to get drunk, and this is accepted by everyone; in France, drunkenness is a consequence, never an intention. A drink is felt as the spinning out of a pleasure, not as the necessary cause of an effect which is sought: wine is not only a philtre, it is also the leisurely act of drinking."

Roland Barthes (1915-80),
French semiologist.

"This wine is too good for toast-drinking, my dear. You don't want to mix emotions up with a wine like that. You lose the taste."

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961),
U.S. author. Count Mippipopolous, in
The Sun Also Rises, bk. 1, ch. 7 (1926).

Must: Crushed grapes about to go or going through fermentation. (fr. moût)

Musty: Stale, dusty or rank aromas. The result of a wine being made from moldy grapes, stored in improperly cleaned tanks and barrels, or contaminated by a poor cork.

Nebbiolo: A red grape popular in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy; the grape that yields both Barolo and Barbaresco.

Nebuchadnezzar: Champagne or wine bottle with a 15-liter capacity.

Négociant (or) négociant-éléveur: French term for a company or wine merchant who buys wines from others and then labels it under his or her own name; stems from the French word for "shipper."

New World: Collective term for those winemaking countries outside of Europe.

Noble: A great wine. A perfect balance and harmonious expression.

Noble rot: (see Pourriture noble)

Nose: Synonymous with bouquet; the sum of a wine's aromas.

Nutty: Aromas or flavors that suggest nuts. It can be a "good-nose" or an "off-nose."

NV (or) non-vintage: A wine that is made without a majority of grapes coming from a single year.

Oaky: A term used to describe woody aromas and flavors; butter, popcorn and toast notes are found in "oaky" wines.

Oeil de perdrix: French term meaning partridge eye, used to describe the color of a pale rosé wine.

Off dry: A general term used to describe wines that have a slight perception of sweetness.

Off: A wine that's not quite right, referring to either the aroma or flavors.

Old World: A collective term used for European winemaking countries.

"Think of the wonders uncorked by wine! It opens secrets, gives heart to our hopes, pushes the cowardly into battle, lifts the load from anxious minds, and evokes talents. Thanks to the bottle's prompting no one is lost for words, no one who's cramped by poverty fails to find release."

Quintus Horatius Flaccus
(65 B.C. - 8 B.C.),
known in the English world as Horace,
Latin lyric poet and philosopher.

"Love, with very young people, is a heartless business. We drink at that age from thirst, or to get drunk; it is only later in life that we occupy ourselves with the individuality of our wine."

Isak Dinesen (1885-1962),
pen name for the
Danish author Karen Blixen.

Recommended book:
An Encyclopedia of the Wines and Domaines of France
Hardcover: 608 pages
Publisher: Univ. of California Press (2001)
Language: English
Average Customer Review: 4 stars.

Open: A wine that reveals a full character.

Organic: Grapes grown without the aid of chemical-based fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.

Oxidized: A wine that is no longer fresh because it was exposed to too much air, turning it a brownish color.

Perlant: French term used to describe a wine containing a faint amount of gas.

Pétillant: Lightly sparkling, bubbly, carbonated, fizzy. Vin pétillant = sparkling wine.

pH: An indication of a wine's acidity expressed by how much hydrogen is in it.

Phenolic compounds: Tannins, pigments and flavanoids found primarily within grape skins, but also in grape seeds and barrel oak.

Phylloxera: A voracious, nearly microscopic vine louse that over time has destroyed vineyards in Europe and California.

Pièce: A Burgundian wine barrel with a capacity between 215 and 228 liters.

Piedmont: An area in northwest Italy known for Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, Dolcetto and Moscato.

Pigeage: Punching down the grape skins to drown aerobic bacteria and encourage cuvaison. (see also Cuvaison)

Pinot Blanc: A white grape popular in Alsace, Germany and elsewhere.

Pinot Gris: Also called Pinot Grigio, this is a grayish-purple grape that yields a white wine with a refreshing character.

Pinot Noir: The prime red grape of Burgundy, Champagne and Oregon.

Pinotage: A hybrid between Pinot Noir and Cinsault that's grown almost exclusively in South Africa.

Plonk: A derogatory name for cheap, poor-tasting wine.

Pomace: The mass of skins, pits, and stems left over after fermentation; used to make grappa in Italy and marc in France.

Port: A sweet, fortified wine made in the Douro Valley of Portugal and aged in the coastal town of Vila Nova de Gaia; variations include Vintage, Tawny, Late Bottled Vintage, Ruby, White and others.

Pourriture noble: French term meaning "noble rot"; called Edelfäule in Germany, muffa nobile in Italy. A fungus that attacks ripe grapes in certain areas, resulting in higher sugar content and finer sweet wines. (see Botrytis cinerea)

Premier cru: French for "first growth;" a high-quality vineyard but one not as good as grand cru.

Press: A machine that extracts juice from grapes (fr. fouloir, pressoir); the process by which grape juice is extracted prior to fermentation.

Primeur, en: A French term for wine sold while it is still in the barrels; known as "futures" in English-speaking countries.

Propriétaire-récoltant: Proprietor, owner, or manager overseeing the tending of a vineyard, grape harvest and winemaking.

Pruning: The annual vineyard chore of trimming back plants from the previous harvest.

Pulp: The soft, moist, juice-laden part of the grape.

Punt: Term used to refer to the dimple, or indentation, at the bottom of a wine bottle. Also known as a kick-up. There is some debate as to the history and purpose of the punt, or whether its depth is any indicator of a wine's comparative value.

NEXT PAGE » Wine Dictionary Q-Z


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