The A to Z of all things Wine
Acid / Acidity that tart tangy, somewhat sour quality of the wine that is pivotal to the wine being balanced.
Ageing another way to say élevage. Also refers to the act of popping your new bottle of wine on the rack of your subterraneum cellar to rest until it is ready to drink. If for any reason you don’t have a subterranean cellar, a cool dark cupboard will also do the trick.
Amphora a large clay vessel that is used to ferment and age wine within. Often seen in depictions of Greek and Roman feasts. Making a serious comeback!
Balanced what we want and need all of our wines to be; the perfect balance between their integral elements of alcohol, acidity, tannin, sugar and intensity.
Biodynamic another form of farming that is a touch misunderstood. Founded by the Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner. Whilst it incorporates organic principles, it takes a more holistic and spiritual approach to the farm that is guided by the lunar cycle. The certification for this is the dashing orange ‘Demeter’ sign.
Body simply put, this is the richness and weight of the wine in your mouth.
Brut literally the French word for dry. Promises to give you a beautifully dry glass of bubbles!
Carbonic maceration a couple of words that are pretty much synonymous with the region of Beaujolais. This is a winemaking process that allows a mini fermentation to happen within each grape (instead of crushing the grapes and having the juice ferment) and helps to give the resulting wine a fresh, fruity style with low tannins.
Closed / Muted sometimes your wine isn’t quite the fragrant show stopper that you had hoped. The bouquet isn’t as expressive as it should be. Your wine just needs a touch of air (through decantation) to unclose those beautiful notes.
Clos a vineyard that has been walled off, which is believed to have created a special mesoclimate. May have also just been to discourage grape theft.
Corked a common wine fault that can be caused by many things of which one is the cork that the wine has been sealed with. However, most important is to know how to spot a corked wine; smells or tastes that resemble mouldy newspaper, wet dog or a damp basement. Delicious!
Crémant as Champagne can only come from Champagne, crémant is a great word to say that a wine has been made with the Champagne Method, but from another region of France, such as the Loire or the Jura.
Decant the art of gradually pouring your wine from the bottle into another vessel to either remove any sediment or to give the wine a whack of oxygen (see closed/muted).
Disgorging the rather volatile and messy action of removing the sediment from your bottle of sparkling wine.
Élevage in the world of wine, it is very common to simply chuck in a french word in place of your normal language. In this case, we are talking about the raising or ageing of wine, whether that be in barrel, steel tank, cement etc.
En primeur a term that was almost exclusively used in relation to Bordeaux, but has since spread. This refers to wine that can be purchased before it is ready to be sold or consumed and therefore can get it at a better price.
Extra Brut like fizz extra dry and zingy? Then this is the one for you.
Fining often going hand-in-hand with filtering, this sees the winemaker using clarifying agents to help the wine garner that ultra clear and polished look. Also a key moment when a wine may go from being vegan to not vegan, as the winemaker may use egg white, gelatin or isinglass.
Filtering the process of removing any leftover sediment from your wine.
Foot crushing the traditional way of crushing grapes with your tootsies. A gentle way to kick start your fermentation and very helpful if you don’t have any machines on hand to help you out!
Glouglou the colloquial term for an easy going, smashable vino.
Hand harvested the traditional and artisan way of getting the grapes off of the vine during harvest - by hand! However, modern mass production has seen the introduction of huge machines that go through the vineyards and remove the grapes (and much else).
Hands off approach another low intervention favourite; the idea of allowing your wine to take the course that nature intended without overly interfering like a helicopter mum.
Harvest the pivotal moment of the year when you pick the grapes. You may also hear the French iteration of vendange.
Mechanical harvesting see above.
Mousey a very unfortunate fault that can occur with natural wines that have not had any sulphur added. Not everyone can detect it, but those unfortunate enough to do so will find their mouth filled with a savoury mouse-cagey quality a few moments after swallowing their wine.
Natty a must-know term around the wine bars of East London. Colloquial way of saying natural wine.
Natural wine whilst there is no legal definition just yet (and the natural wine cohort love to debate in endlessly), it is a wine that has had nothing added - think chemicals in the vineyard, or an extra dollop of acid in the cellar - and nothing taken away, such as being fined or filtered before bottling. The idea is to produce a wine that remains as intact as possible. Also, see natty.
Non Vintage / NV a term most commonly used in Champagne and other sparkling wines. It is the blending of vintages to give you a consistent house style.
Organic a term that is often confused and somewhat misused. The word refers to your farming practises and is classified as farming without the use of any synthetic chemicals.
Pét Nat the far easier way to say Pétillant Naturel. In short, it is a naturally sparkling wine that comes about from bottling a wine before it has finished fermentation so as to trap the final bits of CO2 in the bottle and as such, turn your still wine into a moreish bubbly wine. Can also be called the Ancestral Method/ Methode Ancestrale.
Salinity the hot word of the moment that refers to the moreish, salty quality of a wine.
Sediment the totally normal leftovers from the winemaking process that includes dead yeast and grape pulp. Some winemakers will filter their wines, whilst others leave it in for complexity and protection. If you find any sediment in your bottle, feel free to give it a cheeky decant to remove!
Skin Contact not the sexy thing you may be thinking. This is the process of making white wine like a red wine, in that you include the skins in the fermentation (instead of removing them, as is done with white wine) and thus gives your wine a beautiful deep yellow, copper or even pinky hue. May also be called orange or amber wine.
ExplainTerroir another elegant little French word that denotes the entire environment in which a vine is grown. Think the sun, wind, soil, climate, slope and surrounding nature.a set of product features, add illustrations, infographics, logo lists, or link to pages.
Vieilles vignes a French way of saying old vines. It is an indicator that the vines will be producing less grapes than in their youth and therefore, the remaining grapes will be more concentrated and intense.
Vintage instead of simply saying year, we like to say vintage. Really shows you’re a pro. The vintage shown on the bottle is the year that the grapes were picked (see harvest).
Wild fermentation the process of grapes fermenting with the natural yeasts that are found on the grapes and in the vineyard. It is considered a pillar of natural winemaking.