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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.
Deep or Depth: Describing wines with layers of taste. Often refers to a more mature wine.
Dégustation: French term for any kind of tasting cheese, wine, etc.
Demi-sec: Although the literal translation is "medium-dry", a sparkling wine with this description is actually fairly sweet, with 33 to 50 grams of sugar content per liter. Demi-sec wines were particularly popular during the 18th century.
Denominación de Origen: Spanish for "appellation of origin"; like the French AOC or Italian DOC.
Denominazione di Origine Controllata: Italian for a controlled wine region; similar to the French AOC or Spanish DO.
Destemming: The process of removing grape stems prior to fermentation, to avoid adding tannins from the stems to the wine. (fr. égrappage)
Dilute: A description of a wine whose aromas and flavors are thin and watery.
Disgorge: The process by which final sediments are removed from traditionally made sparkling wines prior to the adding of the dosage. There are two methods of disgorging: the traditional way à la volée, and the modern way à la glace. (see Disgorging Champagne and an explanation in French)
Domaine: A French term for a wine estate.
Dosage: A sweetened spirit added at the very end to Champagne and other traditionally made sparkling wines. It determines whether a wine is brut, extra dry, dry or semisweet. (fr. liqueur de tirage)
Double Magnum: Wine bottle with 3-liter capacity.
Douro: A river in Portugal as well as the wine region famous for producing Port wines.
Dry: A wine containing no more than 0.2 percent unfermented sugar. Also a subjective term. Opposite of sweet. It can describe wines with a rough feel on the tongue.
Dull: Lacking liveliness and proper acidity; uninteresting. It may be applied to appearance, taste, or aromas.
Earthy: A term used to describe aromas and flavors that have a certain soil-like quality. A bit of earthiness can be appealing; too much makes the wine coarse.
Elegance: Characteristic of wines that express themselves in a fine or delicate manner, not intense.
Enology or œnology: The science of wine production; an enologist (œnologist) is a professional winemaker; an enophile (œnophile) is someone who enjoys wine.
Extra Brut: The very driest sparkling wine, with sugar content of 0-6 grams per liter.
Feuillette: A great barrel (grand tonneau). In wine making, a half-sized cask with capacity ranging from 114 liters in Côte d'Or and Saône-et-Loire, to 132-136 liters in Yonne.
Fermentation: The process by which sugar is transformed into alcohol; how grape juice interacts with yeast to become wine.
Fillette: Charming name used in the Val-de-Loire and Paris, describing a bottle with a 35-centiliter capacity.
Filtration: The process by which wine is clarified before bottling.
Fining: Part of the clarification process whereby elements are added to the wine, i.e. egg whites, in order to capture solids prior to filtration.
Finish: The total impression of a wine after you have swallowed it. A long finish is preferred.
Fleshy: Fatness of fruit; big, ripe.
Flinty: Dry, mineral character that comes from certain soils, mostly limestone, in which the grapes were grown; typical of French Chablis and Loire Valley Sauvignon Blancs (Sancerre).
Flute: A narrow Champagne glass; also a narrow bottle used for Alsace wine (fr. flûte).
Fortified Wine: A wine in which brandy is introduced during fermentation; sugars and sweetness are high due to the suspended fermentation.
Foudre: A large oak or chestnut cask used for aging wine (mostly in Provence and Alsace), with a capacity between 150 and 350 hectoliters (3,960 to 9,240 gallons).
Frais, fraîche: Fresh, cool, chilly.
Frappé: Iced, chilled. (see Frais, fraîche)
French oak: Oak wood from the forests of France, considered the preferred type of oak for aging most white wines.
Fruity: Aroma and/or flavor of grapes; most common to young, light wines but refers also to such fruit flavors in wine as apple, black currant, cherry, citrus, pear, peach, raspberry, or strawberry; descriptive of wines in which the fruit is dominant.
Full: A description of wines that give the impression of being large or heavy in your mouth.
Fumé Blanc: A name created by Robert Mondavi to describe dry Sauvignon Blanc.
Fût: An oak cask or barrel. (see Barrique)
Gamay: A red grape exceedingly popular in the Beaujolais region of France.
Generous: A wine whose characteristics are expressive and easy to perceive.
Gewürztraminer: A sweet and spicy white grape popular in eastern France, Germany, Austria, northern Italy and California.
Graceful: Describes a wine that is harmonious and pleasing in a subtle way.
Graft: A vineyard technique in which the bud-producing part of a grapevine is attached to an existing root.
Gran Reserva: A Spanish term used for wines that are aged in wood and bottles for at least five years prior to release.
Grand Cru: French for "great growth", denotes the very best vineyards.
Grapy: Characterized by simple flavors and aromas associated with fresh table grapes; distinct from the more complex fruit flavors (currant, black cherry, fig or apricot) found in fine wines.
Green: A term used to describe underripe, vegetal flavors in a wine.
Grenache: A hearty, productive red grape popular in southern France as well as in Spain, where it is called Garnacha.
Gris: A very pale rosé color.
Grüner Veltliner: A white grape popular in Austria that makes lean, fruity, racy wines.
Half-bottle (demiboite): Champagne or wine bottle with 0.375-liter capacity.
Hard: Firm; a quality that usually results from high acidity or tannins. Often a descriptor for young red wines.
Harmonious: Well balanced, with no component obtrusive or lacking.
Harsh: Used to describe astringent wines that are tannic or high in alcohol.
Haut: A French word meaning "high." It applies to quality as well as altitude.
Hectare: A metric measure of area equal to 10,000 square meters or 2.47 acres.
Hectoliter: A metric measure equal to 100 liters or 26.4 gallons.
Herbaceous: An aroma or flavor similar to green; often an indication of underripe grapes or fruit grown in a cool climate.
Herbal: Having aromas and flavors that suggest herbs.
Hollow: A term used to describe a wine that doesn't have depth or body.
Hybrid: The genetic crossing of two or more grape types; common hybrids include Müller-Thurgau and Bacchus.
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