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Winemaking Terms and Their Meaning

glass of red wine

The Language of Wine

The wine industry is a fascinating world with a rich vocabulary. From grape varieties to winemaking techniques, there are many words and terms to learn. Below is a list of some of the must-know wine words in the industry.

  1. Wine Grape Varieties

Grapes are the starting point for all wines, and there are thousands of different grape varieties throughout the world. Here are some of the most common grape varieties:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: A red grape variety used to make full-bodied, tannic wines.
  • Chardonnay: A white grape variety that is often used to make rich, buttery wines.
  • Merlot: A red grape variety that is often used to make softer, fruitier wines.
  • Pinot Noir: A red grape variety that is often used to make elegant, complex wines.
  • Sauvignon Blanc: A white grape variety that is often used to make crisp, refreshing wines.
Winemaker's Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc
Zesty, Refreshing, Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc.
  1. Winemaking Techniques

There are tons of different winemaking techniques used to accomplish many different purposes in the wine world. Here are some of the most common:

  • Aging: The process of storing wine in barrels or bottles to allow it to develop more complex flavors and aromas over time.
  • Fermentation: The process of converting grape juice into wine through the action of yeast.
  • Malolactic Fermentation: A secondary fermentation that can occur in some wines, which converts tart malic acid into softer lactic acid, resulting in a creamier mouthfeel.
  • Oak Aging: The process of aging wine in oak barrels, which can impart flavors of vanilla, spice, and toast.
  • Pressing: The process of separating the grape juice or wine from the solids (skins, seeds, etc.).
Wine Oak barrels used in winemaking
Savoring the Art of Time: Wine Oak Aging Unlocks Nature’s Richness
  1. Wine Tasting Terms

In wine tasting there are many different terms used to describe the flavor, aroma, and texture of the wine. Here are the most commonly used: 

  • Acidity: The tartness or sourness of the wine.
  • Body: The weight or fullness of the wine in the mouth.
  • Finish: The lingering aftertaste of the wine.
  • Nose: The aroma or bouquet of the wine.
  • Tannin: The bitter, astringent sensation in the mouth that comes from the skins, seeds, and stems of the grape.
  1. Winemaking & Wine Industry Terms

Finally, there are many different terms used in the wine industry to describe various aspects of the business. Some of the most common winemaking and wine industry terms include:

  • Appellation: A specific geographic area where grapes are grown and wine is produced.
  • Enology: The study of wine and winemaking.
  • Sommelier: A wine expert who is trained to pair wines with food and assist in the selection of wines for restaurants and other establishments.
  • Terroir: The unique combination of soil, climate, and other environmental factors that give wine from a particular region its distinctive character.
  • Viticulture: The study of grape growing and cultivation.

Want to read more on winemaking? Try these books!

Wild Winemaking- Easy & Adventurous Recipes Going Beyond Grapes, Including Apple Champagne, Ginger–Green Tea Sake, Key Lime–Cayenne Wine, and 142 More The Homebuilt Winery- 43 Projects for Building and Using Winemaking Equipment

References:

April 28, McKenzie Hagan |, and 2020. n.d. “Wine Terms to Help You Sound like an Expert.” Usual. https://usualwines.com/blogs/knowledge-base/wine-terms.

“Wine Glossary.” n.d. Wine Folly. https://winefolly.com/wine-glossary/.

“Wine Terms- Wine 101 a Glossary of Wine Terminology & Wine Dictionary.” n.d. Wine Enthusiast. https://www.winemag.com/glossary/.

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