Wine Defined from A-Z

Woman drinking wine

Drinking wine is soothing and relaxing. Listening to wine experts talk about wine can be stressful and headache-inducing. Have you always wondered what they're talking about, but never had the courage to ask? Here are some easy wine definitions to make you sound like the experts even though you're not.


Aroma The smell of a wine. The term is generally applied to younger wines, while the term Bouquet is reserved for more aged wines.

Body How thin or thick wine feels in your mouth. “Light body” connotes a thin feeling in your mouth. “Medium body” means that a wine is full-flavored, without being too heavy. “Heavy body” means the wine has a robust, round, and very rich feel.

Corked A tasting term for a wine that has cork taint.

Decant The process of transferring wine from a bottle to another holding vessel. The purpose is generally to aerate a young wine or to separate an older wine from any sediment.

Earthy Describes wines with aromas or flavors of soil or earth. In small amounts the aromas or flavors can add complexity and be positive characteristics, but become negative as the intensity increases.

Fermenation The process by which yeast converts sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide; turns grape juice into wine.

Grip Indicates a firm flavor, structure, and texture, and is generally used to refer to tannic red wines.


Heady A term used to describe a full-bodied wine with a high level of alcohol.

Intricate Tasting description of wine in which complex flavors and aromas are subtly interwoven

Jug wine American term for inexpensive table wine

Kosher wine Wine that is produced under the supervision of a rabbi so as to be ritually pure or clean.

Legs The drops of wine that creep down the side of the wine glass. A higher alcohol content means thinner legs flow back into the wine after you swirl the glass.

Mature Wine parlance for wine that is properly aged, developed fully, and prime for drinking.

Nutty A tasting term usually used to describe a wine like Port or Sherry that has nut-like flavors - especially of walnuts or hazelnuts.

Oaky Tasting term describing the flavor and aroma of oak imparted from aging the wine in containers made of that wood. 


Phylloxera A microscopic louse that eats Vitis vinifera roots and kills vines.

Quinta Portuguese term for Estate.

Reserve An unregulated term on U.S. wine labels; sometimes indicates the best wine of the lot, sometimes over-zealous marketing.

Smoky Usually the result of fermenting or aging in oak barrel, a smoky quality can add flavor and aromatic complexity to a wine.

Tannins are an important component of a wine's structure and texture, and act as a natural preservative that help wine age and develop.

Unoaked Also known as unwooded, refers to wines that have been matured without contact with wood/oak such as in aging barrels.

Barrels of Wine

Vintage is the process of picking grapes and creating the finished product. A vintage wine is one made from grapes that were all, or primarily, grown and harvested in a single specified year.

Wine-press A device, comprising two vats or receptacles, one for treading and bruising grapes, and the other for collecting the juice.

Xylem The woody tissue of a vine.


Yield A measure of the amount of grapes or wine produced per unit surface of vineyard.

Zymology The science of fermentation in wine.

Now that you know the basics you can amaze all your friends with your wine knowledge at your next get together.

Party with wine



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