Your Less Than Obvious Wine Terminology

We heard it through the grapevine: you want to sound like a wine connoisseur. Since St. Helena offers no shortage of tasting opportunities, we’ve compiled a list of the most important and less than obvious wine terminology. You know, so you don’t make any pour choices.

Astringent: Simply put, it’s that puckering sensation. Officially? The harsh, bitter, and drying sensations caused by high levels of tannin.

Bordeaux: The illustrious port city in Southwestern France that’s considered among the greatest wine-producing areas in the world. And don’t you forget it!

Botrytis: Do you like dessert? Well, this mold – yep, you heard correctly – is vital in creating some of the world’s finest dessert wines! In piercing the skin of the grapes, it causes dehydration that effectively results in natural grape juice that is exceptionally high in sugar. Commonly referred to as “noble rot.”

Claret: British term denoting red wines of Bordeaux.

Cork Taint: Wine that exhibits undesirable aromas and flavors, namely wet cardboard or moldy basements. Word of advice: if you hear someone describe a wine as “corked,” steer clear!

Cru Classé: On the other hand, if you hear this term, get in line! It’s used to signify a top-ranking vineyard in the Bordeaux Classification of 1855.

Cuvée: A blended batch of wine in Champagne.

Demi-sec: Meaning “half-dry” when describing sparkling wine.

Enology: Aren’t we all enologists around here? It’s the study of wines!

Fining: When egg whites or gelatin is added in order to rid wine of unwanted particles.

Foxy: Isn’t all wine good looking? In this context, Foxy describes a musty odor or flavor.

Open: A wine that is ready to drink!

Sommelier: A certified wine professional.

Tannins: Grape skins’ natural compounds that contribute to a bitter or dry sensation in the mouth.

Terroir: Geographical characteristics unique to each individual vineyard.

Vinification: The process of wine-making.

Vitis Vinifera: Wine species that encompasses over 99% of the world’s wine.


Did you learn something from our wine terminology?

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