Wine glossary: our quick dictionary of essential words for every wine lover

by Aug 3, 2020News0 comments


Dear reader, wine lover and fine wine investor,

How good it is to hear from our subscribers that the recent tips we have been giving on wine investment, tasting and pairings were helpful.

From the best serving choices to what to know to invest in fine and rare wines, our articles spread throughout this text will help you too!

Wine is a fantastic world to explore, but many times we stumble upon terms we don’t exactly know. So that’s why, after some quick but heavy studying, I decided to give you this glossary of essential wine terms.

Think of it as a cheat sheet or dictionary for tasting notes, curiosities and regional traits – and maybe more you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask.

Without further ado, enjoy this ABC of wine.

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Wine names and concepts you need to know


The natural liveliness / crispness that activates salivary glands, and a leading determinant of balance of a wine.


The deliberate addition of oxygen to soften a wine, help its aromas become more noticeable. More on aeration on our recent article.


Basically the same as length, finish or end note. The duration and tasting of a wine spent in your mouth once you’ve finished tasting it.


A wine of great quality that is proven to withstand in quality as time goes by or only becomes better and more complete in terms of flavors, aromas and texture as you cellar it. This is the kind of wine we offer for investors at Alti Wine Exchange.


Holding wine in barrels, tanks or bottles to advance them to a more mature and desirable state.


The product of fermentation of sugars by yeast, that varies in concentration with different wines.

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A French expression for a geographical location used to legally identify where (and how) grapes are grown and made into wine. More on our Bordeaux and Burgundy series by Julien Miquel.


The smell (or smells) of wine (see “bouquet” for more).


A tasting term noting the bitter and mouth-drying sensations caused by high levels of tannin that numb salivary proteins. Found in some stronger, full-bodied wines such as syrah or cabernet sauvignon.


A definition for when the elements of wine – acids, sugars, tannins, and alcohol – come together in a harmonious way.


The oak container used for fermenting and aging wine. Its classic aging process, rather than in stainless steel tanks, provides richer, oakier styles of wine.


Another term for grape used in tasting notes.


A farming method that uses natural composts and work for harvesting and winemaking, with for example homeopathic techniques and celestial cycles.


The taste sensed on the back of the tongue and caused by tannins, especially in bolder red wines.


When more than one grape variety is used to produce a wine.

Blind tasting

The key tasting for an unbiased review of a wine, in which its identity is hidden from the taster. In theory, this allows for an unbiased evaluation of the wine. Single blind: type of wine is known to the taster, but not the specific wine. Double blind: taster has no information on the wine beforehand.


A tactile description for the weight and feel of a wine. Wines can be light, medium or full-bodied. The more body they have, the more alcoholic and strong in flavors they tend to be.


A description of a red wine with dark color and high alcohol, concentration and intensity, leaning to full body.


The myriad of complex aromas in aged, more mature wines, that carry more secondary characteristics, other than primary fruit scents.


An informal term for exposing wine to oxygen to improve its aromas and flavors, as “aeration”.


French term used to describe the driest Champagnes and sparklings in general.


Storing under cellar conditions to ensure the maximum aging qualities of a wine. See more on our recent article.


French word for castle, often used with the name of an estate winery.


A description for underdeveloped and young wines whose flavors are not exhibiting well at their tasting.


A wine that exhibits multiple odors, nuances, and flavors.



When a bottle of wine has been exposed to excessive heat, provoking unwanted changes to the palate and the loss of fresher flavors.


A wine flawed by inappropriate conditions of its cork.


A definition for bright wine or flavors, with personality and usually high in acidity.


“Growth”, in French. A vineyard or group of vineyards recognized for great terroir and quality, usually determined by appellation rules such as premier cru or grand cru in France.


A definition, in Champagne, for a blended batch of wine.


Pouring wine from a bottle into a larger container for removing sediment from older wines or to aerate a younger wine and let in grow by breathing. More here.

Dessert wine

Wines high in alcohol ranging from 14% to 24% ABV. Even though the term is commonly associated with sweeter, fortified wines, even riper and bolder reds can be treated as such.


A taste sensation often attributed to tannins that causes puckering sensations in the mouth-feel; opposite of sweet.


Aromas or flavors reminiscent of damp soil, smelling of mushrooms, forest floor or truffles. Older Bordeaux are frequently described as such.

En primeur

Method of purchasing wines when they are still in the barrel, usually considerably cheaper than at their upcoming launch.


The process of conversion of grape sugars to alcohol by yeast.

Fine wine

Exceptional wines that are classified on the basis of age and terroir, rarity, proven quality and high aging potential. The exclusive kind of wine we offer at our exchange. Here’s all you need to know.


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The impression of textures and flavors that linger in the mouth after swallowing wine. Aftertaste. 


The odors perceived in the mouth.


A wine that’s stabilized by the addition of spirits during winemaking – usually neutral, clear grape brandy. Port, sherry, madeira, moscatel, marsala and others are considered fortified.


Tasting term for wines with strong aromas and flavors of fresh fruit.


Wine that is high in alcohol.


The perception of time that flavors persist in the mouth after swallowing wine, lingering.


The process when grapes, seeds, skins, pulp and stems have their materials extracted, adding color, flavor, tannins and raw material to the wine.

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A 1.5 L wine bottle, equivalent to 2 standard bottles.


Wine that has aged to the point that all its elements come together, with the most balanced possible terms of aromas and flavors that include tannins, fruit and acidity.


Climate conditions in small, localized areas, as a single vineyard within a larger region or appellation.


Flavors that resemble rocks or organic matter in the taste, actually referring to sulfur compounds derived from fermentation.


Textural sensation of how a wine feels on the palate. Smooth, rough, velvety, or furry


The unfermented freshly pressed grape juice including seeds, skins and eventually stems.

New world

Wines made outside of Europe and the Mediterranean basin (which in turn are known as Old World) and that tend to be more grape and technique-oriented. More here.

Noble rot

A wine world term for botrytis, a beneficial fungus that attacks the skin of grapes and causes dehydration, resulting in natural grape juice exceptionally high in sugar. Some of the world’s finest sweet and dessert wines are affected by this mold, such as this highly appreciated Sauternes-Barsac by Château Coutet and this Beerenauslese Riesling.


Tasting term that describes the aromas and bouquets of a wine.

(More wine tasting articles)


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