The GrapeVine

Located Behind The Keg at 2142 West Railway Street, Abbotsford, BC

Glossary Of Wine Terms Like Us On Facebook

A B C D E F G H I L M N O P R S T V W Y

A
ACIDITY
Perceived in the taste of the wine as a level of tartness, acidity is a naturally component consisting of mainly tartaric acid, at about 0.5 to 0.7 percent of the wine by volume.
ACTHOCYANS
Natural organic chemical compounds responsible for the red, blue and purple colours of grapes and wine. Include anthocyanins, anthocyanidins and pro-anthocyanidins.
AERATE
Exposing the wine to oxygen either through decanting or allowing the wine to "breathe" in an opened bottle or glass. Thought to allow off-odours to dissipate in older wines, and to soften aromas in younger ones.
ALCOHOL
The sugar in wine grapes is fermented through the winemaking process into alcohol, and is measured as a percentage of volume. In white wines, this ranges between 9 and 14 percent; in red wines between 11 and 14 percent.
AMERICAN OAK
Oak wood for wine barrels sourced in American forests. Favoured by many winemakers, particularly those in Australia and Spain.
AOC
Short for Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (sometimes Appellation Contrôlée abbreviated as AC). Translates literally to protected place name, and is the official French category for higher-ranking wines. AOC wines are categorised according to name, origin, grape varieties and other legal definitions.
APPELLATION
Official name referring to a wine's geographic region of origin.
AROMATIC
Used to refer to a wine, particularly white wines, with intensely floral or fruity aromas, such as Muscat or Viognier.
AROMA
The smell of a wine. Some people use the term aroma for younger wines; bouquet for those that have been aged.
ASTRINGENT
Caused by tannin, refers to the mouth-puckering character of some wines.
ATTACK
In wine tasting, the first impression of a wine on the mouth. Usually perceived as a first "hit" on the tip of the tongue and at the front of mouth.
AVA
Acronym for American Viticultural Area, indicating wine-growing regions as defined through geographic and climatic boundaries by the Federal Government. Theoretically, the American version of the French AOC system.
Back to top

B
BALANCE
The relationship of the components of the wine including alcohol, residual sugar, acid and tannin. When no one component stands out against the rest, the wine is said to be well balanced, an indication of quality.
BARREL-AGED
Refers to wines that are fermented in containers such as stainless steel, then placed in oak barrels to mature. Also refers to wines that are fermented in the barrel.
BARREL-FERMENTED
Some white wines, notably Chardonnay, may be fermented in barrels rather than in stainless steel to impart a subtle oak character.
BARREL
A small wooden barrel used for ageing red wine, and fermenting some styles of white wine. Most barrels are about 227 litres (50 gallons) in size, and are made of oak, primarily from French and American forests.
BARRIQUE
Small French oak barrel.
BIG
Used to describe wines that are very full and intense; considered the opposite of elegant.
BLACK FRUITS
Aromas and flavours found typically in red wines including those of blackberries, black currants, blueberries and black cherries.
BLACK GRAPES
Grapes with reddish or blue pigment in their skins used to make red wine.
BLEND
To assemble individual lots of wine together to make one wine. Can apply to different grape varieties, or grapes of the same type from different vineyards, regions and vintages.
BODY
The tactile impression of wine in your mouth. Think in terms of light, medium and full--or skim milk, whole milk and cream!
BORDEAUX BLEND
A style of wine assembled from the classic red grapes of Bordeaux including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
BOTTLE-AGEING
The winemaker decides how long a wine will age in the bottle before it is released for sale. Many wines are made to be consumed upon release; finer wines, particularly reds, may require additional bottle ageing by the consumer. In the case of Champagne and sparkling wine, bottle ageing allows the wine to acquire, complexity, depth and fine texture; it is also known as ageing "on the yeast" or "en tirage".
BOUQUET
The more developed and complex aromas said to be evident in older and mature wines.
BRIGHT
A wine descriptor referring the character of the wine, including its appearance in the glass, to be fresh and exciting, and refracting light.
BRIX
Scale of measurement of total dissolved compounds in grape juice and approximate concentration of sugars used in the United States as one gauge of ripeness at harvest. One degree Brix is approximately 12-g/l sugar.
BRUT
Champagne style that is very dry, meaning little or no residual sugar.
BUNG
Barrel stopper made of glass, plastic, rubber, silicone or other material which seals the bung-hole in the barrel like a cork. Can be removed to permit topping up or racking. The position of the bunghole can be changed to maximise or reduce aeration.
BUTTERY
Descriptor often applicable to Chardonnay that has undergone malolactic fermentation; describes both texture and flavour attributes.
Back to top

C
CASTELLO
The Italian word for castle; refers to a wine estate, such as Castello d'Albola.
CEDARY
A woody aroma that characterises certain red varietals.
CHAMPAGNE
Refers to sparkling wines made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France and vinified using the Méthode Champenoise winemaking process. Term is sometimes used to refer to sparkling wines from different regions, but correctly, only sparkling wine from Champagne may be called Champagne.
CHARRY
Aromas and flavours of a toasty nature created by the application of oak barrel ageing to the wine.
CHÂTEAU
A French winery estate, typically found in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley, the architecture of châteaux can range from grand to mundane.
CLASSICO
Italian term indicating that wine comes from the heart of a specific region. While Chianti Classico is a demarcated DOCG district, the Classico for Verdicchio, for example, refers to the central part of the appellation.
CLONE
A selection within a grape variety, which exhibits certain characteristics distinct from others in the group. Viticulturists and winemakers experiment with different clones of the same variety to optimise their plantings and provide specific flavour and tactile characteristics.
COLHEITA
Term used in Port winemaking referring to vintage.
COMMUNE
Typically refers to a wine-growing village in the Burgundy region of France.
COMPACT
Wine described as intense but not full.
COMPLEX
Opposite of simple. A wine that has a lot going on.
CONCENTRATED
Dense aromas and flavours.
CONCENTRATION
What wines with dense aromas and flavours evidence (as opposed to weak and watery).
COOPERAGE
Collective term for wooden containers; also used to refer to the activities and workplace of coopers, who make and repair small barrels and large wooden vats.
CREAMY
Wines, particularly barrel-fermented Chardonnay that has undergone a secondary, malolactic fermentation, that have a rich, smooth mouth-feel and are fuller in body are often characterised as creamy.
CRISP
Describes wines that are clean, and possibly a bit on the tart side. Opposite of soft. Wines that are crisp are typically higher in acid, and go well with food.
CUVÉE
A blend of many lots of still wines, particularly Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, designed to become a well-balanced Champagne or sparkling wine.
Back to top

D
DECANT
To transfer wine from the bottle into another container, to aerate or to separate a red wine from its sediment
DEMI-SEC
A Champagne style that is semi-dry, but sweeter than sec.
DEPTH
The impression of many layers of complexity in a fine wine.
DISGORGING
The process by which the sediment collected in the neck of the Champagne bottle during the riddling process is frozen and expelled prior to the final corking.
DISTRICT
Refers to a geographic area more specific than region, but less specific than commune.
DOCG
Abbreviation for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita , meaning controlled and guaranteed place. Italy's official category for its highest ranking wines.
DOC
Abbreviation for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which means controlled place name. Italy's official category for wines whose name, region of origin, variety and other defining factors are regulated by law. In Portugal, DOC is also an abbreviation for the highest official wine category, Denominacao de Origem Controlada.
DOMAINE
French term for wine estate, commonly used in Burgundy.
DOSAGE
The liqueur, or sugar dissolved in reserve wine, added to the Champagne just before final corking. The dosage finishes the Champagnes and determines its level of sweetness.
DOUX
A Champagne style that is sweet.
DO
Abbreviation for Denominacion de Origen, which means place name and refers to Spain's official category for wines whose name, region of origin, variety and other defining factors are regulated by law.
DRY
Refers to a wine that is not sweet. Can also mean a wine that feels rough or dry in the mouth.
DULL
Opposite of bright and clean; can refer to a wine's appearance, aromas and flavours or overall style.
Back to top

E
EARTHY
Refers to aromas and flavours that suggest wet or dry earth or minerals.
ELEGANCE
Suggests a wine of a certain delicacy and grace as opposed to power and intensity.
ESTATE
A property that grows grapes and makes wine from its own vineyards.
EXTRA-SEC
A Champagne style that is extra dry, but sweeter than Brut.
Back to top

F
FERMENTATION
A naturally occurring process by which the action of yeast converts sugar in grape juice into alcohol, and the juice becomes wine.
FINISH
The final impression of the wine in the mouth after swallowing, particularly in terms of length and persistence of flavour.
FIRM
Describes a wine neither soft nor harsh in reference to tannins in a red wine and acidity in a white.
FLABBY
Describes wines that are too soft.
FLAVOUR COMPOUNDS
Organic compounds in grapes responsible for many of the aromas and flavours in wine.
FLAVOUR INTENSITY
How strongly wine flavours are perceived.
FLAVOURS
The aromatic components of wine that define its varietal characteristics as noted in the mouth.
FLESHY
Wines so described have a rich texture and mouth-feel.
FORTIFIED WINE
Wines such as Port to which alcohol has been added.
FRENCH OAK
Considered by many to be the finest oak for the ageing of white wines; also used for reds.
FRUIT CHARACTER
The characteristics of the wine has derived from the fruit, including aromas, flavours, tannins, acidity and extract.
FRUITY
The fruit aromas and flavours evident in wine. Can be fresh, dried, cooked; examples include fresh apples, dried figs, and strawberry jam.
Back to top

G
GRAPE TANNIN
Tannins in a red wine attributed to the grapes as opposed to winemaking methods.
GRAPE VARIETY
Type of grape, such as Chardonnay or Merlot.
Back to top

H
HARMONIOUS
Referring to a pleasant and graceful balance of components in a wine.
Back to top

I
IGT
Indicazione Geografica Tipica. A category of wines created in Italy by Wine Law 164 in 1992 to approximate the French Vin de Pays and German Landwein.
INTENSE
Used to describe wines that express their character powerfully.
Back to top

L
LEES
The grape solids and spent yeast cells that fall to the bottom of a white wine after fermentation.
LENGTH
The sustained impression of a wine across the tongue.
Back to top

M
MACERATION
The process of soaking the skins of red grapes in their juice to extract colour, tannins and other substances into the wine; can occur pre or post fermentation.
MALOLACTIC FERMENTATION
A natural, secondary fermentation, optional in the winemaking process, which softens the total acidity of the wine through the conversion of malic into lactic acid.
MATURATION
The process by which a wine reaches a point of readiness for bottling; can continue in the bottle.
MINERALLY
Used to describe flavours and aromas that suggest minerals, such as flint, steel, chalk etc.
MOUSSE
The ring of light foam at the top of a glass of sparkling wine.
MÉTHODE CHAMPENOISE
The traditional French Champagne winemaking method used for producing sparkling wine.
MÉTHODE TRADITIONELLE
The equivalent of the traditional French Champagne process know as Méthode Champenoise, but applied to the making of sparkling wines outside the Champagne region.
Back to top

N
NEW OAK
Can refer to brand new barrels, or barrels that have been used from one to four years previously.
NEW WORLD
Winemaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand, USA, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Canada etc. outside of Western Europe.
NON-VINTAGE
Refers to those Champagnes whose Cuvée contains wine from a previous vintage.
NUTTY
Broad descriptor to describe aromas and flavours of nuts in a wine; more specifically hazelnut, almonds, roasted nuts etc.
Back to top

O
OAKY
The aroma and flavour characteristics imparted to a wine through the use of oak barrel fermentation and/or ageing. These may be characterised as vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, toast, smoke or char. Sometimes associated with imparting a higher tanning level than the wine might ordinarily have.
OFF-DRY
Term for wines that are neither fully sweet not dry.
OLD OAK
Barrels old enough to have lost much of its woody character. Generally five year or older.
OLD VINES
Term referring to vines that are generally 40 years or older. Presumed to deliver small yields, but good quality.
OLD WORLD
Refers to the winemaking countries of Western Europe including France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Germany.
Back to top

P
PALATE
Referring to the mouth, or how a wine's characteristics manifest themselves in the mouth.
PETROL
Aromas or flavours reminiscent of gasoline, classic in European versions of Gewürztraminer and Riesling.
PHYLLOXERA
A parasite that feeds on the roots of vitis vinifera grapes, resulting in decline and premature death.
PLUMMY
Aromas and flavours that suggest ripe plums.
PLUSH
Describes a wine that feels luxurious in the mouth.
POWERFUL
Describes a wine of intensity and strength.
PRETTY
Describes a wine of delicacy and finesse.
PRIMARY AROMAS
Fresh fruit aromas suggestive of the wine varietal.
PUNT
The dome-shaped indentation in the bottom of a wine bottle.
Back to top

R
RACKING
The process by which clear wine is removed from the settled sediment or lees in the bottom of a container.
RED GRAPES
Also called black grapes, with skins that have reddish or blue pigment in their skins.
REGION
Geographical area for wine growing less specific than a district; more specific than a state or country.
RESERVE
Loose designation for presumably higher quality than "standard" version of the wine. In the case of Champagne, reserve wine refers to wine from previous vintages added to the cuvée for consistent quality and style.
RESIDUAL SUGAR
Remaining sugar in wine after fermentation.
RIDDLING
The art of turning and tilting bottles of sparkling wine in order to ease the sediment into the neck of the bottle. Often performed mechanically in modern facilities.
RISERVA / RESERVA
Italian/Spanish term for "reserve" indicating longer ageing before release and suggesting higher quality. Regulations determine how long this is for individual wines.
ROSÉ
In still wine or Champagne, a slightly pink tint comes from contact with the grape skins or the addition of a small portion of red wine to the cuvée.
ROUND
As opposed to flat or angular, refers to a wine's structure, particularly acid, tannin, sweetness and alcohol.
Back to top

S
SECOND-LABEL WINE
A less expensive or second brand made from grapes or wine a level down from primary label
SEC
A Champagne style that is dry, but sweeter than extra-sec.
SEDIMENT
Residue in the bottom of a bottle of red wine that forms as the wine ages.
SERIOUS
Describes a high-quality wine.
SILKY
Refers to a smooth, supple texture.
SINGLE-VINEYARD WINE
Wine made from the (presumably) good grapes of a single plot of land and not blended with any other grapes.
SKIN CONTACT
The pre-fermentation period in which the grape juice rests in contact with the skins of the grapes. Used in red winemaking to enhance colours and texture; may be used briefly in white winemaking to enhance aromas.
SMOKY
Aromas and flavours suggesting smoke or smoked wood imparted by oak barrel fermentation or ageing.
SMOOTH
Describes a wine that is not rough or harsh.
SOFT
Wine lacking in hardness or roughness, and present when alcohol and sugar dominate acidity and tannin.
SPARKLING WINES
Refers to all effervescent wines outside those from the Champagne region of France, vinified the Méthode Champenoise (correctly known elsewhere are Méthode Traditionelle).
STEMMY
Red wines with green or stalky tannins.
STEMS
Woody part of the grape bunch that is high in tannin. Usually removed and discarded before fermentation.
STONY
Aromas or flavours that suggest the mineral quality of stones.
STRUCTURAL COMPONENTS
A wine's alcohol, tannin, acid and sugar (if any).
STRUCTURE
How a wine's structural components are perceived. Ideally structure should be well-balanced, without any one component dominant.
STYLE
Characteristics that form the personality of the wine.
SUPPLE
Describes a wine that is fluid in texture in the mouth, without roughness or harshness.
SWEETNESS
The impression of a sugary taste in a wine. Can be due to the presence of residual sugar or other sweet-tasting substances such as alcohol.
Back to top

T
TANNIC
Describes wines too high in tannin.
TANNIN
A substance found in the skins, stems and seeds of grapes (grape tannins) and imparted by oak barrels (wood tannins), that, in balance, can lend structure, texture and ageability to red wines.
TARRY
Aromas and flavours that suggest fresh tar.
TART
A term that can be applied to wines that are too high in acid, or made from under-ripe grapes.
TASTE
The impressions formed by wine in the mouth, perceived as bitter, sweet and sour.
TERROIR
French term referring to the growing conditions in the vineyard, including climate, soil, elevation, slope, drainage, topography etc.
TEXTURE
How a wine feels in the mouth.
TIGHT
Can refer to a certain lean or underdeveloped quality of the wine in its aromas, flavour or structure.
TIRAGE
The process of bottling a cuvée with the addition of active yeast and sugar in order to induce a second fermentation. The carbonation produced by this second fermentation is trapped in the bottle, producing the effervescence of Champagnes and sparkling wines.
TOPPING UP
The process by which evaporated wine is replaced in the barrel.
Back to top

V
VARIETAL CHARACTER
The unmistakable set of sensory characteristics attributable to a grape variety.
VARIETAL
Term for grape variety.
VEGETAL
Aromas or flavours that suggest vegetables.
VIN DE PAYS
French phrase for country wine. Lower status than AOC.
VINIFICATION
The activity of making grape juice into wine.
VINTAGE
The year in which a wine's grapes were harvested; sometimes referring to the grape harvest itself. Vintage designations are only given to Champagnes whose cuvées contain wines made from a single year's harvest. As with Port, a Champagne vintage is only declared in a year of exceptional quality.
VITICULTURE
The activity of growing grapes.
VITIS VINIFERA
Species to which most of the worlds wine grapes belong.
Back to top

W
WEIGHT
Impression of heft and volume of the wine in the mouth.
WELL-BALANCED
Used to describe wines in which all component--alcohol, acid, tannin (if any) and sugar (if any)--relate to each other in such a way that none seems dominant.
WOOD TANNIN
Describes tannins attributable to barrel ageing, rather than the grapes.
Back to top

Y
YEAST
One-celled organisms responsible for turning grape juice into wine.
Back to top





Store Hours:
Tuesday to Friday 10-6
Saturday 10-5

Always Plenty of Free Parking
The Grapevine is conveniently located at
2142 Railway Street, Abbotsford, just behind
The Keg, a few blocks from Sumas Way exit, off Highway #1. Serving Hope, Harrison, Agassiz, Chilliwack, Rosedale, Sumas Prairie, Abbotsford, Aldergrove, Langley and Mission, BC