Wine Glossary

Wine A-Z

A

ABV

Alcohol By Volume – tells you how much alcohol there is in your wine.

Appellation

A specifically defined (and protected) wine region. Grapes come from a limited geographic area and must adhere to local rules and restrictions, aimed to ensure quality and consistency.

American Oak

When aged in oak barrels, wine can gain complex flavours – and barrels made from American oak trees tend to add intense bold notes of sweet spice and vanilla.

B

Biodynamic Wine

A wine made using biodynamic farming and winemaking techniques. Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner started the idea of biodynamic agriculture which is based around the lunar cycle in the early 1920s. He believed in living and farming ‘together with the earth’ and its movements.

C

Cuvée

In Champagne, Cuvée means first juice from the press that has only been very gently pressed and is considered to be the best quality. Outside of Champagne, it is an unregulated word that (confusingly) can be used for several purposes but usually refers to a particular blend of wine.

D

E

F

Fortified Wine

Fortified wine is a wine that has had spirit-strength alcohol (usually grape brandy) added to it before, during or after the fermentation process. e.g. Port.

French Oak

When aged in oak barrels, wine can gain complex flavours – and barrels made from French oak trees which are denser than their American equivalent tend to much subtler cedar and savoury flavours.

G

Grand Cru

Grand Cru is a term used in Burgundy (and some other wine regions) to reference a superior vineyard or plot of land. Grand Cru is (supposedly) the best of the best.

H

Hand-Harvested

Hand-picking grapes rather than machine harvesting is a popular choice for vineyards making high-quality wine as it means gentler handling of the grapes and being able to select only the best healthy bunches.

I

J

K

L

Lees

Lees are yeast particles leftover from the fermentation process. Some winemakers choose to leave to the wine ‘On its Lees’ (Sur Lie) for a period of time before filtering the wine for bottling. Lees are thought to add a rich texture and complex flavours of toast, brioche or cheese to whites and sparkling wines.

M

Malolactic Fermentation

Malolactic conversion is a process where (tart) malic acid is turned into (creamy) lactic acid. Some but not all wines undergo ‘Malo’ – the winemaker is unlikely to use the process when making a fresh crisp fruity white wine, but very likely if you are drinking red wine or rich ‘buttery’ style of white wine.

Minerality

Refers to subtle, often complex flavours found in wine that comes from vines grown on specific soils – experts often talk about flavours of slate, chalk and even ‘wet stones’.

Mouthfeel

Mouthfeel simply describes the sensation of wine in the mouth. For example having a creamy, silky mouthfeel.

N

Natural Wine

A loose (relatively unregulated) term that refers to wines made with minimal intervention in either the vineyard or cellar.

Noble Rot

Given the right conditions, the fungus Botrytis Cinerea or ‘noble rot’ can cause grapes to shrivel, losing water content. These ultra-ripe, almost raisin-like grapes are used to make incredibly sweet and intense dessert wines.

O

P

Q

R

Residual Sugar

During fermentation, the sugars contained in grape juice are converted into alcohol. If the fermentation is stopped before all sugars are converted (or more sugar is added) then the wine will taste sweet. Residual sugar is the amount of sugar left in the finished wine.

S

Sediment

Lumps/grains/crystals of natural sediment are often found harmlessly resting in the bottom of cans or bottles of wine. Our wines are not filtered and fined to within an inch of their lives like some more commercial products and may throw sediment from time to time. Please don’t fear the sediment!

Skin Contact

When making red wine, grapes are crushed and their juice is left for a period of time together with the skin and pips before being separated. During this ‘skin contact,’ process colour pigments and tannins from the skins are infused into the juice eventually giving the finished wine its red colour.

Occasionally (but not normally) a small amount of skin contact can be used in white winemaking. Orange wines are often made from white wines that have been left on their skins for a prolonged period.

South-facing Slopes

Northern hemisphere vineyards with slopes facing to the south receive more heat and sunlight and are capable of producing riper grapes.

In the southern hemisphere, the opposite is true, with north-facing vineyards seeing more sun.

T

Tartrate Crystals

AKA ‘Wine Diamonds’ – small crystal-like sediment occasionally found in your bottle or can. These are formed from tartaric acid (naturally found in wine) and often appear when the wine is chilled to low temperatures. They are completely harmless and will not affect the flavour of your wine.

Terroir

Terroir refers to the unique set of conditions belonging to a specific vineyard/region e.g. climate, soil, topography, farming practices etc.

These factors supposedly give wines an individual character or ‘sense of place’.

Tannins

Tannins are compounds found within (almost only) red wine. They come from the grape skins and add bitter astringent flavours. A drying sensation on your gums indicates a wine with high levels of tannin. Harsh tannins may be unpleasant in young wines, but they can smooth/mellow out as time passes and are an important component in the best and most complex aged wines.

U

V

Viticulture

Viticulture is another word for grape farming. Everything that happens in the vineyard itself; growing, nurturing and harvesting grapes ready to produce wine.

Vinification

Vinification means winemaking. Healthy grapes are fermented into wine.

W

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