Wine Terms you need to know

If you enjoy an occasional glass of wine, there is no need to read the following terms. If you are like me and enjoy more than an occasional glass and are starting to take the whole thing more seriously, read the terms below concerning wine. They will definitely provide more insight for your next wine seminars or just make you look better at the next wine bar you visit. Grab a pen and take note!

wine pic

Appellation: Sometime abbreviated as AOC. It is the legally protected ‘place name’ for a wine region. Many wines from European countries, such as France or Italy are identified by their appellation versus the American way of naming the wine by the grape variety.


Aroma: This is a specific/distinct smell you find when you smell a wine that can often be familiar from a fruit or different spices.

Bouquet: A complex collective or composite of aromas in a wine.

Breathe: Leaving the wine open, in other words to have contact with air (decanters are often used for this purpose) which softens flavour of new and old wines alike.

Commercial wine: A mass-produced wine aimed for a wide market of consumers made according to a set formula, year after year. These wines tend to emphasis broad appeal and easy drink-ability rather than terroir or craftsmanship.


Cuvée: French term, meaning vat or tank. On wine labels it stands for specific blend or batch.

Decantation: The process of pouring wine from its bottle (normally into a decanter used to serve wine) in order to separate the sediment from the wine.

Dry: Refers to a wine that has no residual sugar and hence is not sweet.

Fermentation: The process that occurs in barrels and tanks after grapes have been pressed and the sugar in the grape juice is converted into alcohol. Hence what turns simple juice into wine!

Magnum: A bottle that holds 1.5 Litres of wine or double the normal amount.

wine sizes

Méthode Champenoise: The method first created by the grand dame of Veuve Clicquot herself of making sparkling wine (from the Champagne region)  by storing bottles face down or slightly tilted to prevent yeast from settling and hence creating bubbles.

Nose: The aroma or bouquet of a bottle of wine

Reserve: Term that indicates the bottle is of a higher quality than another similar wine, mainly due to the longer period of aging and higher alcohol content.

Sec: French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese terms for a dry wine.

Terroir: A French word describing the elements of geography, geology, climate and past genealogy that distinguish a wine.

Varietal: Different type of grape wine, eg- Sauvignon Blanc, Assyrtiko etc.

Vintage: The year grapes were picked or harvested


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