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Wine Glossary

See also the grape notes.


AC - refer to Appellation Controlée.

Acetic acid is one of the volatile acids in wine which when found in relatively high levels and exposed to air may react with bacteria causing “off” odours before converting the wine to vinegar.

Acetobacter is a bacteria that causes the conversion of wine to vinegar.

Acidification is the addition of acid to grape must or wine where a wine has naturally low acidity and where the local regulations permit. Tartaric acid is most commonly used.

Acidity in wine provides freshness. The three main acids are tartaric, malic and lactic. The first two are naturally present, the third created through the malolactic fermentation.

Aldehyde is an organic compound formed in wine by the oxidation of alcohol.

Ampelography is the science of identifying grape varieties. It is traditionally done by observing grape leaves and clusters, now much aided by DNA fingerprinting.

Anthocyanins are polyphenols found in and just under grape skins that give red grapes and then wines their colour.

AOC - refer to Appellation Controlée.

Appellation Controlée or Appellation d’Origine Controlée is the top quality category for French wine. There are specific rules and regulations relating to origin, permitted grape varieties, viticulture and wine characteristics.

Aspect is the topography of a vineyard or one or more of its plots. This includes its altitude as well as its direction and angle of slope.

Assemblage is the blend of a wine just prior to bottling. This may be from components of the same grape variety or from the assembled components of a number of varieties, if more than one grape is included. Wines can often be vinified by variety, vineyard site or plot and then the components cellared in different ageing vessels. All may play a part in the blend of the final wine.

Autolysis is the process in sparkling winemaking where dead yeast cells or lees add increased flavour and texture to wine aged in bottle, usually under a crown cap. The longer the wine is in contact with the yeast deposit the more striking and complex its character becomes. In general wines spending less than 18 months on yeast will have minimal or no autolytic character, the wines will be more marked by varietal and fruit flavours. Many top sparkling wines in Champagne and elsewhere may spend many years on their yeast deposit, for example Bollinger RD.


Barrique is a universally popular and widely used oak barrel typically of 225 litre capacity. This size is widely used in Bordeaux and now elsewhere. A very slightly larger 228 litre size is often encountered in Burgundy, although 225 litres is very much the norm. A range of other smaller barrel sizes are now used by winemakers. In general the larger the vessel used, the less oak influence is desired in the wine.

Bâtonnage is the stirring of a wine’s fine lees after primary fermentation which results in greater flavour and a richer texture. This is now a popular process with top quality, barrel fermented, white wines. As well as the addition of flavour the process guards against reduced hydrogen sulphide aromas which can be difficult to remove. The limited and controlled oxidation the wine receives achieves this.

Bentonite - refer to Fining.

Biodynamic is a specific method of organic farming. Proponents believe that the holistic relationship between soils, plants and animals provides a self-sustaining system that promotes sustainable viticulture, improving the quality and resulting flavour of the wines produced. Like other forms of organic farming natural treatments are prepared for use in the vineyard. This was a fairly controversial science until quite recently with many sceptics but the quality of wines being produced, along these lines across the globe, suggests biodynamic farming has much going for it. Refer also to Organic.

Blanc de Blancs is generally a sparkling wine made solely from white grape varieties.

Blanc de Noirs is a sparkling wine made solely from red grapes.

Botrytis or to use its full name, Botrytis Cinerea, is a fungus based malady of the vine. In specific circumstances it can have very beneficial results on the quality of certain sweet white wines, notably Sauternes, the wines of the Mosel Valley in Germany and the Loire Valley whites from the Coteaux du Layon; as well as Vouvray and Montlouis. Late in the harvest humid mornings give way to sunny days resulting in the grapes dehydrating without splitting and concentrating the sugar and flavours of the grape. The intense tangy, peachy notes are quite unique to these “Noble Rot” affected wines. For red varieties the results of Botrytis infection are almost always negative.

Botrytised refers to wine made from grapes affected by “Noble Rot”.

Botti - refer to Foudre.

Bottle shock refers not to the recent Hollywood wine movie but to the temporarily muted state a wine goes into shortly after it is bottled.

Brettanomyces is a yeast, which is considered a potential spoilage example in wines because it can react and cause “off” odours, smelling somewhat farmyard like. It is often just referred to as Brett.


Canopy refers to the vine canopy which is made up during the growing cycle of the plants shoots and leaves.

Canopy management refers to a series of techniques for managing the vineyard, improving quality and sometimes yield as well as protecting against disease. This is achieved by controlling the canopies growth and ensuring a good flow of light and air to reach the grape bunches. A number of trellising systems have been developed over the past two decades which aid fruit ripening. Refer also to Vine Training.

Carbonic maceration is a winemaking process where whole grapes in bunches are fermented within the grape skins themselves under anaerobic conditions in an environment rich in carbon dioxide. Generally carried out in fairly small containers, bunches at the bottom will split and ferment conventionally. There are variations on the process where wines can either be fermented entirely or partly by this process. Red wines vinified with whole bunches will often produce a partial effect of carbonic maceration. Wine produced by carbonic maceration will have lower levels of tannin and be more obviously fruity. A bubble gum type of aroma tends to indicate carbonic maceration. A downside can also be slightly green aromas from the presence of the stalks. The process is most famously used in Beaujolais.

Cépage is a term in French for a grape variety.

Cépage ameliorateurs is a French term, referring to grape varieties that add to a blend, particularly its quality. They are of particular significance historically in the Languedoc, although less so now, because these varieties have now long been a part of local viticulture there. It is a reference of declining importance.

Champagne method is the process used to make sparkling wines in Champagne. A secondary fermentation takes place in bottle with the wine left on its yeast lees. Virtually all the world’s finest sparkling wine comes from this method and elsewhere is referred to as Traditional method.

Chaptalization is a winemaking process whereby sugar can be added to grape must or fruit after fermentation has commenced. While the basic objective is to raise the resulting wines alcoholic strength, many winemakers believe, if added later in fermentation, it will extend it and add further complexity.

Clarification refers to the cellar processes used to remove suspended solids and prevent cloudiness; both fining and filtration may be used to create stable wines.

Clonal selection - refer to Clones.

Clones are reproduced from the cuttings of original vines. The result tends to produce consistency of yield and flavour characteristics, often in different terroirs. Counter arguments suggest lower flavour complexity is achieved this way with wines having less of a sense of “place”. Other vine growers prefer to plant new vineyards with a range of original cuttings. Refer also to Mass Selection.

Cold maceration before fermentation crushed red grapes can be kept with the grape juice or must at cool temperatures. This extracts both primary, fruit derived flavours and colour enabling the resulting wine to have softer tannins.

Cold soaking another more throwaway slang term for Cold maceration.

Cold stabilization is not strictly a stabilization process. It is undertaken with white wines in particular to precipitate out tartaric acid that may form harmless crystals resembling glass shards if stored in very cold conditions. The wine temperature is reduced below freezing and the tartrates precipitate out.

Cork taint is a wine spoilage problem where chlorine reacts with cork causing aromas and bitter flavours that ruin wine. Although cork taint remains a problem, with alternative closures increasingly used, quality control appears to be much improved. Refer also to TCA.

Coulure is a viticultural hazard that occurs after flowering where the grapes fail to develop fully, caused by cold and often wet weather. One of the benefits can be a reduction in yield and intensity of flavour in the harvested grapes.

Crossing is a cross breeding of two grape varieties, in the vast majority of instances of the vitis vinifera species (Refer also to Vinifera). In general cross bred varieties are more commonly found in cooler climates where there is a need to achieve ripening with less heat and sunlight. They rarely achieve the quality of best single varieties. Refer also to Hybrids.

Cru Classé is the classification of Bordeaux wines. Best known are the 1st to 5th growths of the Médoc., the classification being established in 1855. Barsac and Sauternes are also covered by a classification of the same year. Much more recent are classifications in Graves and St Emilion. Particularly at the lower classified levels wine quality can often have little in common with supposed status.

Crush after harvest the grapes are generally crushed and possibly de-stemmed as well, enabling the pulp to macerate with the juice. Some whites are immediately pressed and some red grapes destined for red wines commence fermentation in whole bunches and may be trodden by foot. Crush also refers to the grape harvest.

Cryo-Extraction is a process where must is frozen to concentrate the harvested grape juice. It is sometimes used in Bordeaux in the production of sweet wines. However, if winemakers are presented with poor vintage conditions the results are unlikely to be spectacular, particularly if there aren’t significant levels of botrytis. Refer also to Botrytis.

Cuvaison is a French term referring to the period that the solids, mainly grape skins, are kept mixed in solution with the grape juice. This can include a period of pre fermentation maceration, sometimes referred to as a cold soak, or cold maceration, the primary fermentation and any further period of post fermentation maceration. The latter is increasingly popular with winemakers in achieving suppler tannins, a finer structure and balance in the resulting wines. Refer also to Maceration.

Cuve is a French term referring to either a large vat or tank used for either primary fermentation or ageing. It does not refer to specific types of vessels. A cuve can be wood, stainless steel or concrete.


Débourbage is a French term referring to the period where solid matter from crushed or pressed grape bunches is left to settle. With richer barrel fermented whites, particularly Chardonnay, a certain level of retained solid matter may be desirable to provide a richer texture in the resulting wine. For more aromatic varieties, Riesling for example, it is best for the juice to be fully settled.

Dégorgement or disgorging, is the removal of a wine from its yeast sediment in bottle after its secondary fermentation.

Délestage is a French term for racking. Refer also to Racking.

Demi-muid is a French term referring to an oak barrel of 600 litres. The term is also used to refer to barrel sizes larger than the 225 litre barrique. Refer also to Barrique.

Demi-sec is a term for moderate to medium sweet wine.

Destemmed refers to the process whereby the majority of red and white wines are made from fruit that is crushed and destemmed prior to vinification. The occasional white will also be whole bunch pressed prior to fermentation, while whole bunch fermentations are often seen in red winemaking, particularly with Pinot Noir. Wines made by carbonic maceration are also vinified with whole bunches. The key to reds made without destemming is that the stems as well as the grapes themselves should be fully physiologically ripe, avoiding potential green flavours in the wine.

DO is an abbreviation for Denominación de Origen, Spain’s main classification for quality wine produced in a specific region or appellation. Two regions, Rioja and Priorat are afforded a higher classification, DOCa (Denominación de Origen Calificada) or DOQ in Catalan. Spain is also unusual in possessing a number of single estate DOs (Vinos de Pago), perhaps the most famous being the Marques de Griñons Pagos de Familia wines, produced under the Dominio de Valdepusa DO.

DOC is an abbreviation for the Italian Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which is the top quality classification for wines produced in a specific region. In a similar manner to Spain there is also a higher classification, DOCG which is afforded to a small number of appellations.

Dosage refers to the process during the making of Traditional method sparkling wines. After the lees from the second fermentation have been disgorged a bottle will be topped up with liqueur d'expédition. This is generally a blend of base wine, sometimes a touch of cognac and sucrose which will determine the style of the wine and the level of residual sugar after final bottling.

Doux is a French term for a sweet wine.

Élévage is a French term which refers to all the wine handling and cellar processes from fermentation to bottling.


En Primeur is a term for wine pre-sold while still in barrel. A marketing approach widely adopted in Bordeaux.

Enologist is the American English spelling of oenologist.

Enology is the American English spelling of oenology.

Esters are compounds formed during fermentation and then ageing which add to aroma.

Estufagem is a Portuguese term referring to the process in Madeira where wine is heated in ovens (estufas) producing unique flavour characteristics.

Ethanol refers to ethyl alcohol, the primary alcohol in wine.

Extract refers to all the compounds in wine such as tannins. It does not include water, sugar, alcohol, or acids. Prolonging the contact with the skins during cuvaison will increase the level of extract.

Extraction refers to the process of extracting solid matter during the time grape must and then wine is left macerating on its skins during red wine making. This does not include water, sugar, alcohol or acids. Refer also to Cuvaison.


Fermentation is the conversion with yeast of the sugar in grape juice to roughly equal proportions of alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Field blend refers to wine produced from a mix of different varieties inter-planted in a vineyard. Field blends generally come from very old vineyards.

Filtration is the filtering of grape juice, or wine, to remove solid matter. Many fine wines are now bottled unfiltered with solid matter left to settle naturally.

Fining is the clarification process of removing the smallest soluble particles in grape juice or wine. Fining agents such as bentonite and egg whites are added to remove the particles. Excessive use, particularly with grape juice will be detrimental to flavour.

Flor refers to the film forming yeast produced during the making of Fino and Manzanilla styles of sherry in Jerez. Not all wines will sustain the yeast film and it is susceptible to high alcohol. It produces a unique salty, citrus quality in the wines flavour.

Fortification is the process of adding grape spirit to wine either during or after fermentation resulting in higher alcohol and if added during fermentation, higher residual sugar because the fermentation is arrested. Fortified wines include Port, Sherry and the French Vin Doux Naturels.

Foudre is a large wooden vessel from 20 to 120 hectolitres used to store and age wine. The Italian Botti is similar.

Fût is a French term for an oak cask. “Elevé en fûts de chêne” is a term often found on labels of French wine aged in barrel.


Gelatin or Gelatine is a fining agent used particularly in the removal of excessive tannins. Refer also to fining.

Gobelet is a very ancient vine training system which has been used since the Romans cultivated the vine. The plants are free standing and there are short arms which provide the spurs for annual growth. The system works best where there is minimal vigour, the canopy does not grow too quickly and plantation density is low. Such vines are widely referred to now as Bush Vines and are increasingly prized for their age and the intense flavour and quality of fruit they can produce with controlled yields. Refer also to Vine training.

Grafting is the process where a grape vine is attached by grafting to a rootstock to guard against phylloxera. Refer also to rootstock.

Grand Cru is a French wine classification that refers in Alsace and Burgundy to specific vineyards and in Champagne to villages with better sited vineyards. In Bordeaux there is a Grand Cru classification in St Emilion and other classifications across the region. Refer also to Cru Classé.

Grand Vin is a French term describing a wine producer’s best wine.

Green harvesting is a process in which the greener less mature grape bunches will be removed in a vineyard in order to aid ripening and improve concentration and flavour with a reduction in yield. The process should be carried out before veraison. May be used in areas which achieve naturally high yields and in regions where maximum yields are set down in regulations. Some arguments suggest that a proper winter pruning and balanced vineyard will reduce the need for a green harvest.

Guyot is a French vine training system developed in the second half of the 19th century. Cane pruning is employed with either one or two replacement canes trained along wires and the shoots vertically positioned above on a second wire. The system works well with naturally low yielding sites. Refer also to Vine training.

Gyropalette refer to Riddling.


Hybrid refers to a grape variety created from two different species of vines. Hybrids have proved to be popular in particularly cool growing areas like England. Refer also to Crossing and Vinifera.

Hydrogen sulphide is produced when hydrogen combines with sulphur dioxide creating “off” flavours that smell of rotten eggs. It is produced when the wine is in a reduced state.


IGP is an abbreviation for both the new French and Spanish country wine classifications. Indication Géographique Protégée (formerly Vin de Pays) in France and Indicación Geográfica Protegida (which was Vino de la Tierra in Spain until 2009). At present many wines are on the market with the old classifications on their labels. In Spain country wines are referred to as of IGP origin Vino de la Tierra. This may soon change.

IGT is an abbreviation for Indicazione Geografica Tipica, an Italian classification, similar to the French and Spanish IGP classifications for country wines. Many of Italy’s best wines are released as IGT.

Inox is a French term to describe stainless steel tanks. Winemakers refer to vinifying and ageing in inox.

Irrigation is widely practiced in areas of the new world during the vine growth cycle where there is often insufficient water available to sustain the vine in good health. It is also permitted in a select number of regions in southern Europe. Spanish quality wine has certainly benefitted from this in the warmer, more arid areas. Drip irrigation is generally considered the best system with a controlled deficit supply of just sufficient water to sustain vine growth and minimise stress. Some vine stress particularly in the ripening process is beneficial and will increase flavour intensity in grapes. Two more primitive systems are flood irrigation and the use of sprinklers.


Lactic acid is created from malic acid during the malolactic fermentation.

Late disgorged refers to sparkling wine that has spent an extended period on its yeast lees after the secondary fermentation. Bollinger RD is a classic brand.

Lees are the dead yeast cells that are left after a wine has completed fermentation. In general red wines vinified in vats and tanks will be racked off the lees and then racked one or more times for clarity. A number of reds though will be aged on their lees and a technique, micro-oxygenation, minimises the need for racking and protects the wine from reduced aromas which the lees naturally produce. Good quality white wines will generally spend a period of time on the fine lees, a finer sediment left after racking, even those aged for just a short period in tank. This increases flavour intensity and enriches the wines texture. Barrel fermented whites will not only remain on their fine lees in cask these will also be stirred. Refer also to Bâtonnage.

Lieu-dit refers to the name of a specific vineyard. In France such sites have no official classified recognition but may nevertheless provide excellent wines. Many single vineyard wines from other European regions and the New World are in effect doing the same thing.

Liqueur d'expedition refer to Dosage.

Liqueur de tirage is a French term describing the mixture of sugar and yeast that is used to instigate the secondary bottle fermentation in Traditional method sparkling wines.


Maceration refers to the period where crushed grape must as well as pressed whole bunches remain in solution with the solid matter from the grapes. The maceration process extracts colour, tannin and flavour as well as an array of other compounds in tiny amounts. The approach to macerating the wine determines its character and style. There may be a period of cold maceration which will extract colour and more primary, fruity flavours. The fermentation on the wine skins will provide additional flavour, colour and tannin. In general, the cooler the fermentation, the softer and more approachable is the wine. Warmer ferments are likely to provide wines with a firmer structure and more tannin. The process of continuing to keep the new wine for a short period on its solids helps round the tannins and achieves better balance. A number of approaches are used to aid extraction by submersing the cap of grape skins produced during fermentation. These include hand plunging (pigeage) and pumping the fermenting must over the cap (remontage). Keeping the cap submerged also minimises oxidation. Refer also to Cuvaison.

Macération carbonique refer to Carbonic maceration.

Macération pelliculaire is a French term referring to grape skin contact and in particular the short period of time white grape must spends with the skins and solids in solution emphasising the wines fruit character. This should be for no more than a few hours to avoid leeching any bitter flavours from the skins.

Malic acid is one of the three main acids in wine, with a strong taste reminiscent of green apple. The wine can be softened by converting the malic acid or a part of it through a malolactic fermentation.

Malolactic fermentation or MLF is a chemical process that occurs after the primary fermentation has been completed where the relatively harsh malic acid, naturally present in the wine, is converted to softer, lactic acid. While all reds are put through MLF, during the ageing process, sometimes in larger tanks or vats and increasingly in new wood, which provides a softer, rounder texture. This approach to the MLF has had proponents and critics over recent years. More aromatic whites will have the process blocked. This avoids the more creamy flavour and richer texture that results yet retains acidity and emphasises varietal fruit character. Top whites, particularly Chardonnay, grown in cooler areas with marked acidity, benefit from the process with greater weight and depth as well as providing a creamier texture.

Mass selection is the propagation of new plants from existing vines selected for their quality and performance, particularly in a specific vineyard. Proponents argue this is better than resorting to clones. It is easier to use effectively in older vineyards, although labour intensive. The English term for the practice is mass selection. Refer also to Sélection massale.

Mercaptans result from the reaction of alcohol and hydrogen sulphide producing faulty wines smelling of onions, burnt rubber and garlic.

Mesoclimate refers to the very local climate of a small area, often just a single vineyard and contributes to the character of wines produced. Many observers also refer to the term microclimate when characterising those same areas and wines. Some viticulturalists have maintained that this is incorrect and that microclimate refers more specifically to the environment around the vine canopy. However, readers will find wide reference to microclimate elsewhere which will inevitably be concerning vineyards and sites.

Méthode traditionelle refer to Traditional method.

Micro-oxygenation is a process whereby small amounts of oxygen are pumped into wine ageing in barrel or vat. It was developed in Madiran, with the objective of rounding the often substantial tannins found in this region’s wines. In addition the process also reduces the need for wine handling, particularly racking, in the first year of ageing. Reds may also be left on their lees because the risk of reduction is countered.

Millerandage is a vine condition that produces irregular sized berries within grape bunches after flowering. It is caused by cold weather.

Moelleux is a French term referring to medium-sweet wines.

Must is the juice from crushed and/or pressed grapes prior to fermentation. As well as juice, must contains all the skins, pulp and solid matter.

Must-concentration is the process of removing water from grape juice with the objective of increasing the concentration of the other components. A number of techniques are used including freeze concentration. To some degree this is reproducing natural conditions found in Icewines (Eisweins in Germany), where the fruit is naturally frozen in the vineyard. Refer also to Cryo-Extraction.


Négociant is a French term for a wine merchant/trader.

Noble Rot refer to Botrytis.


Oenologist is a winemaker.

Oenologue is a French term for an oenologist.

Oenology is the study of wine.

Organic refers to vineyards grown and farmed without systemic chemical treatments and wines produced from them. Very selective additions are permitted in both the vineyard and during vinification and ageing. Refer also to Biodynamic.

Oxidation is the exposure of must or wine to air. In general oxidation should be avoided however; a limited amount of controlled oxidation during the ageing of wine prior to bottling can be beneficial. It is likely to add further complexity in particular in fortified wines. Oxidation of grape juice can also add complexity in some barrel fermented white wines. Refer to Reduction.


Passerillage refers to late-harvested, dried and partially raisined grapes with concentrated sugar. Grape bunches are commonly left out to dry. Straw wines (in France Vin de Paille) are wines made in this way, as are Italian passito styles.

Passito refer to Passerillage.

Phenolic compounds are naturally present in grapes; in the skin, stem and pips. Tannin, flavour and anthocyans, which produce colour, are all extracted during vinification through both maceration and the temperature of fermentation. Refer also to Cuvaison.

Photosynthesis process where sunlight is harnessed by chlorophyll in the vine leaves to then convert into sucrose.

Phylloxera is the most significant pest for grapevines, a sap sucking aphid. Native to North America many of the world’s vineyards became infested and consequently destroyed in the 19th century. Certain soils such as sand are resistant to the aphid. However, in the vast majority of instances the only protection is to graft the vinifera vine onto an American vine rootstock which has good resistance. Refer also to Grafting.

Physiological ripeness refers to the period where a grape is at its optimum condition before harvesting. This may be quite different to its accumulation of sugar and refers more to the ripeness of the grapes various polyphenols, including flavour and tannins in red grapes.

Pigeage a cap of grape skins and pulp is formed during fermentation. Pigeage is the punching down of the cap to submerge the pulp. It can be done by hand, by special machines or even by foot. This helps extraction and guards against oxidation. Refer also to Roto-fermenter.

Polyphenols refers to a range of compounds naturally found in grapes and then further extracted during the fermentation of wines that provide flavour, colour and tannins. Many other compounds are also present in small traces.

Propagation is the process of creating new plants. In viticulture new plants are generally created from the cuttings of other vines.

Pruning is the process where the bulk of the previous season’s shoots are removed to produce balanced growth in the next year’s vine growth cycle and determine the number of fruiting buds that will produce the annual crop. Two types of pruning are used. Spur pruning involves retaining a number of spurs along or from permanently trained vine wood. Cane pruning involves retaining one or more fruiting canes from the previous growing season. Almost all vine training systems use one or other method. Refer also to Vine training.

Pumping over refer to Remontage.

Punching down refer to Pigeage.

Pyrazines refers to a group of aromatic compounds found in varying degrees in grapes. These include green bell pepper aromas in Cabernet Sauvignon and the grassy tones often found in Sauvignon Blanc. An excess of green aromas in wine can indicate an excessively vigorous vine canopy that has impeded full grape ripening.


Racking is the process where wine is transferred from one barrel or vat to another. The benefits are twofold; wine is removed from precipitated solids and is also gently aerated. Traditionally pumps were used but increasingly winery operations are carried out by gravity.

Rancio is a term that refers to the character, particularly of French and Spanish wines, which have been maderized through storage in oak barrels and sometimes other vessels. The wines are often exposed to direct sunlight as well.

Récemment dégorgé French term meaning recently disgorged. Refers to the time of disgorging of a Traditional method sparkling wine, (including Champagne), from its yeast sediment. Refer also to Disgorging.

Reduction wines that are heavily reduced can develop “off” aromas.  During the time wine is being aged a balanced cellar regime with sufficient aeration of the wine and lees, if the wine is being aged this way, should prevent this. In chemical terms if something is being oxidised it is not being reduced; and vice-versa. Refer also to Hydrogen sulphide, Lees and Oxidation.

Reductive refers to wines that are in a reduced state.

Remontage is a French term for the extraction process, during maceration, of pumping the juice over the cap of grape skins. It is generally considered a less gentle method than punching down.

Residual sugar refers to the level of sugar in a wine after it is bottled. Fruit driven styles may often be vinified and bottled retaining a little sweetness. Other more serious wines may not be demi-sec or off dry but may have quite noticeable residual sugar because they have been vinified naturally with wild yeasts and the fermentation has finished this way. Late harvested wines including those affected by noble rot have considerable levels of residual sugar. Refer also to Botrytis.

Riddling is the process where the yeast deposit, after the second fermentation, is moved to the neck of the bottle by twisting and tilting. Can be done by hand or automated with gyropalettes which is popular with larger producers.

Rootstock is the rooting part of a grape vine coming from an American vine species or hybrid that provides the necessary protection against phylloxera when a vitis vinifera vine is grafted onto it. As well as guarding against phylloxera, a rootstock can benefit growth being adaptable to certain soils and being resistant to other vine maladies.

Roto-fermenter is a piece of winemaking equipment that automatically macerates the grape skins and pulp during fermentation and maceration. It is a horizontal spinning tank.


Saignée is a pre-fermentation procedure where free run juice is run off the crushed grape skins and pulp increasing the juice to solids ratio. This is intended to aid extraction and is regularly used when vinifying Pinot Noir.

Screw cap is an alternative closure to a cork that neutralises the risk of cork taint. Refer also to Stelvin cap.

Sec is a French term for a dry wine.

Sélection massale is the French term for Mass selection.

Solera is a system for ageing wines in a cellar by what is referred to as fractional blending. Younger wine is used to replenish wines from older vintages. Some soleras may be of a considerable average age. It has long been established in Jerez in the ageing of Sherry. It is also practiced in Madeira and in the production of fortified wines in southern France and in Australia.

Stabilization refers to a range of wine making processes that remove particles which may undergo further chemical reactions in bottle. These include fining, filtration and the addition of sulphur dioxide. Refer also to Cold Stabilization.

Stelvin cap is a screw cap closure that also has a plastic neutral liner inside the cap. Refer also to Screw cap.

Sulphur dioxide is the all purpose wine anti septic. Sulphur dioxide, SO2, is added to wine to prevent oxidation and prevent the development of bacteria.


TCA is a chemical compound responsible for cork related “off flavours”. This is caused by chlorine reacting with the cork thereby creating the compound.

Teinturier is a red fleshed grape variety.

Terroir is a concept used by French winegrowers and referred to by others around the globe. It considers all the natural and environmental characteristics that may influence a vine growing site, such as soil, aspect, climate and so on.

Traditional method is a term now used for the production of sparkling wines made by the “Champagne method”, creating fizz via a secondary fermentation in bottle. In France also referred to as Méthode traditionelle or Méthode classique.

Triage is a French term referring to the sorting and selection of grapes prior to fermentation. Top quality wines will be subjected to a very rigorous triage.

Tris refers to the number of passes through a vineyard to selectively pick late harvested or botrytis affected grapes. Many passes may be needed to produce the finest wines. In Bordeaux, Tri also refers to the triage or sorting of grapes after harvest.


Unfiltered refer to filtration.

Unirrigated refer to Irrigation.


Varietal is a wine made from one grape variety.

Vatting refers to the time that grape must, then wine spends in contact with the skins during fermentation and maceration. Refer also to Cuvaison.

Vendange vert refer to Green Harvesting.

Veraison is the point in the vines growth cycle where the grapes change colour, the sugar flux to the grape bunches takes place and the fruit ripens.

Vignoble is a French term referring to a specific vineyard site or very localised vine growing area.

Vin de Paille French term meaning ‘Straw Wine’ which comes from dried grapes. Wines are made with varying levels of residual sugar. Traditionally the fruit was laid out on straw mats although grapes are now generally hung and then dried. The wines are a feature in the Jura and the odd example can be found in the northern Rhône and South Africa.

Vin de Pays is a former classification for regional French wines which has been superseded by IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée). Refer also to IGP.

Vin doux naturels are French fortified sweet wines. Grape spirit is added to arrest the fermentation leaving a level of residual sugar. The addition of the spirit also determines the alcohol of the wine and to some degree its style. The same process is carried out in the production of Port wine.

Vin Jaune is a rare white wine from the Jura in France in which wine is aged in cask under a flor type yeast (voile), similar to that found in Jerez. This is a form of controlled oxidation giving the wines a characteristic nutty, tangy character. The wine is made from the Savagnin grape and they are extraordinarily age worthy. Many other white Jura wines are made in an oxidative style and will give you an indication of the flavours of Vin Jaune, without digging quite as hard in your pocket.

Vine training is the means by which the vines shoot growth is managed and grown after the vine has been annually pruned in the winter. The main objective is to optimise photosynthesis in the plant. A wide range of both traditional and more recent methods are used which are far too numerous to summarise here. They do have a number of objectives which range from ease of mechanisation, optimising both fruit ripening and yield to producing grapes with maximum flavour intensity.

Vinegar is a very sour tasting liquid with high, concentrated acid levels created from wine and other alcoholic liquids where the ethanol has oxidised.

Vinifera this is the vine species, Vitis Vinifera, which accounts for the vast majority of wine producing grape varieties.

Vino de la Tierra a classification for regional Spanish wines which has been partly superseded by new regulation. Refer also to IGP.

Vino de Pago is a classification for a single estate appellation in Spain. Refer also to DO.

Voile is the film forming yeast created on Vin Jaune white wines in the Jura.

Volatile acidity refers to the acids in wine, which are unstable and can evaporate at low temperature, includes acetic and carbonic acids. Refer also to Acetic acid.


Yield is the measurement of the crop from a vineyard or specified plot of vines. Traditionally this is measured in hectolitres produced per hectare. In simple terms the lower the yield the higher the quality of the wine made. The vine should not overproduce because it will be difficult to achieve physiological ripeness in the fruit. A number of additional factors should also be considered. A vine needs to be balanced to provide optimum quality grapes with intense flavour. If the yield is reduced too far quality will suffer. Old vines are naturally less productive but they produce intense flavour in the grapes. Many quality conscious vine growers now measure yield per vine as a better judge of potential quality rather than per hectare.

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