Ice wine: From the German eiswein, this is a wine made from frozen grapes; Germany, Austria and Canada are leading ice wine producers.
Imperial: Wine bottle with a 6-liter capacity.
Institut Nationale des Appellations d'Origine: The French governing body that created and manages the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system.
Intense: Wines that express themselves strongly. How strong is the aroma or flavor in relation to the total expression?
Jeroboam: Champagne bottle with a 3-liter capacity (equal to four standard 750ml bottles), or wine bottle with a 4.5-liter capacity (equal to six standard 750ml bottles). There are also some 5-liter Jeroboams.
Kabinett: A German term for a wine of quality; usually the driest of Germany's best Rieslings.
Kosher wine: A wine made according to strict Jewish rules under rabbinical supervision.
Labrusca: Grape types native to North America such as Concord and Catawba.
Late harvest: A term used to describe dessert wines made from grapes left on the vines for an extra long period, often until botrytis has set in.
Leafy: Describes the a quality reminiscent of leaves. Can be a positive or a negative, depending on whether it adds to or detracts from a wine's flavor.
Lees: Heavy sediment (dregs) left in the barrel by fermenting wines; a combination of spent yeast cells and grape solids. (fr. lie) The expression, "boire le calice jusqu'à la lie" means to: (1.) drink to the bitter end; (2.) drink to the dregs.
Legs: A term used to describe how wine sticks to the inside of a wine glass after drinking or swirling. Also called tears.
Length: A characteristic of fine wines. The amount of time the sensations of taste and aroma persist after swallowing.
Lively: Describes wines that are crisp, fresh and fruity, bright and vital.
Loire: A river in central France as well as a wine region famous for Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc.
Luscious: Rich, opulent, and smooth; most often said of sweet wines but also intensely fruity ones.
Maceration: The process of allowing grape juice and skins to ferment together, thereby imparting color, tannins and aromas.
Madeira: A fortified wine that has been made on a Portuguese island off the coast of Morocco since the 15th century.
Maderized: Stemming from the word Madeira, this term means oxidization in a hot environment.
Magnum: Champagne or wine bottle with 1.5-liter capacity (equal to two standard 750ml bottles).
Malbec: A hearty red grape of French origin now exceedingly popular in Argentina.
Malolactic fermentation: A secondary fermentation, often occurring in barrels, whereby harsher malic acid is converted into creamier lactic acid.
Maturation: The aging period at the winery, where a wine evolves to a state of readiness for bottling.
Mature: A bottle of wine that is ready to drink.
Meaty: A wine with chewy, fleshy fruit; sturdy and firm in structure. It may even have the aroma of cooked meat.
Medium-dry: A term to indicate the perceived sweetness of wines that are slightly sweet.
Médoc: A section of Bordeaux on the west bank of the Gironde Estuary known for great red wines; Margaux, St.-Estèphe and Pauillac are three leading AOCs in the Médoc.
Mellow: Smooth and soft, with no harshness.
Merlot: A lauded red grape popular in Bordeaux and throughout the world; large amounts of Merlot exist in Italy, the United States, South America and elsewhere.
Méthode champenoise: The traditional method of making Champagne, whereby the carbonation occurs naturally during a second fermentation, rather than by injection of CO2.
Methuselah: Champagne bottle with a 6-liter capacity.
Millésime: French for vintage or year.
Mise en bouteille: Where a wine is bottled, generally indicated on the bottle's label. Examples: Mise en bouteille au Château or Mise en bouteille au Domaine.
Minerally: Having flavors or aromas suggestive of minerals. It may be described as chalk, iron, etc.
Moelleux: Sweet, mellow.
Moldy: Wines with the smell of mold or rot, usually from grapes affected by rot or from old moldy casks used for aging.
Mousse: The foam, or head, on the surface of a sparkling wine.
Mousseux, -euse: adj. Sparkling, bubbly; n.m. sparkling wine.
Must: Crushed grapes about to go or going through fermentation. (fr. moût)
Musty: Stale, dusty or rank aromas. The result of a wine being made from moldy grapes, stored in improperly cleaned tanks and barrels, or contaminated by a poor cork.
Nebbiolo: A red grape popular in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy; the grape that yields both Barolo and Barbaresco.
Nebuchadnezzar: Champagne or wine bottle with a 15-liter capacity.
Négociant (or) négociant-éléveur: French term for a company or wine merchant who buys wines from others and then labels it under his or her own name; stems from the French word for "shipper."
New World: Collective term for those winemaking countries outside of Europe.
Noble: A great wine. A perfect balance and harmonious expression.
Noble rot: (see Pourriture noble)
Nose: Synonymous with bouquet; the sum of a wine's aromas.
Nutty: Aromas or flavors that suggest nuts. It can be a "good-nose" or an "off-nose."
NV (or) non-vintage: A wine that is made without a majority of grapes coming from a single year.
Oaky: A term used to describe woody aromas and flavors; butter, popcorn and toast notes are found in "oaky" wines.
Oeil de perdrix: French term meaning partridge eye, used to describe the color of a pale rosé wine.
Off dry: A general term used to describe wines that have a slight perception of sweetness.
Off: A wine that's not quite right, referring to either the aroma or flavors.
Old World: A collective term used for European winemaking countries.
Open: A wine that reveals a full character.
Organic: Grapes grown without the aid of chemical-based fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.
Oxidized: A wine that is no longer fresh because it was exposed to too much air, turning it a brownish color.
Perlant: French term used to describe a wine containing a faint amount of gas.
Pétillant: Lightly sparkling, bubbly, carbonated, fizzy. Vin pétillant = sparkling wine.
pH: An indication of a wine's acidity expressed by how much hydrogen is in it.
Phenolic compounds: Tannins, pigments and flavanoids found primarily within grape skins, but also in grape seeds and barrel oak.
Phylloxera: A voracious, nearly microscopic vine louse that over time has destroyed vineyards in Europe and California.
Pièce: A Burgundian wine barrel with a capacity between 215 and 228 liters.
Piedmont: An area in northwest Italy known for Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, Dolcetto and Moscato.
Pigeage: Punching down the grape skins to drown aerobic bacteria and encourage cuvaison. (see also Cuvaison)
Pinot Blanc: A white grape popular in Alsace, Germany and elsewhere.
Pinot Gris: Also called Pinot Grigio, this is a grayish-purple grape that yields a white wine with a refreshing character.
Pinot Noir: The prime red grape of Burgundy, Champagne and Oregon.
Pinotage: A hybrid between Pinot Noir and Cinsault that's grown almost exclusively in South Africa.
Plonk: A derogatory name for cheap, poor-tasting wine.
Pomace: The mass of skins, pits, and stems left over after fermentation; used to make grappa in Italy and marc in France.
Port: A sweet, fortified wine made in the Douro Valley of Portugal and aged in the coastal town of Vila Nova de Gaia; variations include Vintage, Tawny, Late Bottled Vintage, Ruby, White and others.
Pourriture noble: French term meaning "noble rot"; called Edelfäule in Germany, muffa nobile in Italy. A fungus that attacks ripe grapes in certain areas, resulting in higher sugar content and finer sweet wines. (see Botrytis cinerea)
Premier cru: French for "first growth;" a high-quality vineyard but one not as good as grand cru.
Press: A machine that extracts juice from grapes (fr. fouloir, pressoir); the process by which grape juice is extracted prior to fermentation.
Primeur, en: A French term for wine sold while it is still in the barrels; known as "futures" in English-speaking countries.
Propriétaire-récoltant: Proprietor, owner, or manager overseeing the tending of a vineyard, grape harvest and winemaking.
Pruning: The annual vineyard chore of trimming back plants from the previous harvest.
Pulp: The soft, moist, juice-laden part of the grape.
Punt: Term used to refer to the dimple, or indentation, at the bottom of a wine bottle. Also known as a kick-up. There is some debate as to the history and purpose of the punt, or whether its depth is any indicator of a wine's comparative value.
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