Wine Terminology You Need to Know Now

Sound Like You Know What You’re Talking About With These Wine Related Words

Picture it: You’re standing around at a dinner party with your boss and their uppity colleagues, when the conversation turns to the wine being served. Will you be able to hold your own, or will you slink back into a corner because you’re not familiar with the wine terminology they’re using?

Don’t let wine talk intimidate you! Familiarize yourself with a few of these words to grow your vocabulary of wine terminology!


  • ABV- Alcohol by volume
  • Acidity– Tartness or Sourness of the wine (higher acidity = more tart, lower acidity= flat)
  • Aerate- Expose wine to air to let aroma and flavor develop
  • Aged- Bottles of wine that have been cellared
  • Aroma- The smell of the wine in the glass (typically notes of fruit, spices, etc.)


  • Balance– How each component of wine works together (acidity, sweetness, tannins, alcohol content)
  • Barrel Fermented- Usually refers to wines that are fermented in small oak barrels
  • Barrique- Small oak barrel
  • Blanc de Blancs- Champagnes made only from Chardonnay grapes
  • Blanc de Noirs- White champagne made using black-skinned grapes
  • Blend- Used when referring to wines made from more than one type of grape
  • Blush- Light pink wine
  • Bodega- A storehouse for maturing wine
  • Body– The texture of the wine on your tongue (light, medium, full)
  • Bordeaux– Wine made from grapes grown in the Bordeaux region of France
  • Bouquet- Secondary aromas, Refers to the smells of wine when it has aged in the bottle
  • Breathe- Exposing wine to air to allow flavors and aromas to develop
  • Brilliant- Tasting note for sparkling clear wines
  • Brix- Sugar percentage in grapes (used to control alcohol content in winemaking process)
  • Brut- Dry, sparkling wine (champagne)
  • Burgundy- Wine made in the Burgundy region on France


  • Cabernet Sauvignon-A dry, red wine
  • Cava- Sparkling wine made in Spain
  • Chablis- A dry, white wine
  • Champagne- French sparkling wine
  • Chardonnay- Dry, white wine sometimes aged in oak barrels
  • Chianti- Red wine blend made in Tuscany, Italy
  • Clos- A French Vineyard
  • Closed- Underdeveloped or young wines
  • Color- The color of wine, one of the first steps in wine tasting is to observe its color
  • Complex- Exhibiting multiple aromas and flavors
  • Corked- Wine that is contaminated with cork taint. Will smell like musty cardboard.
  • Crianza– Wine that has spent a year in oak barrels
  • Cru- A vineyard or group of vineyards, one that meets specific qualifications


  • Decant- To gradually pour wine from one container to another
  • Dry- Wine that does not have a sweet taste
Dry Wine


  • Earthy- Used to describe the flavor or aroma of wine. Having characteristics of earth, soil, mushrooms, etc.
  • Enology- The study of wines and winemaking


  • Fermentation-Process that turns grapes into alcohol
  • Finish- The taste and texture that lingers in the mouth
  • Fortified Wine- Wine that has alcohol (usually Brandy) added to it


  • Green- A term used to describe wines made from under-ripe grapes


  • Herbaceous- Wines that have the taste and aroma of herbs
  • Hollow- Wine with not much flavor
  • Hybrid-Grapes that are bred from more than one grape variety


  • Ice Wine- Dessert wine made using grapes that were frozen while on the vine



  • Kosher- Wine that has been handled, produced, supervised from start to finish by Orthodox Sabbath Observant Jews and made with ONLY kosher ingredients.


  • Late Harvest- Wines made from grapes that have been left on the vines until autumn, usually producing a rich, sweet flavor
  • Legs-Drops of wine that run down the inside of the glass after swirling
  • Length- The amount of time flavor lingers in your mouth


  • Maceration- Leaving skins to soak in wine during the wine making process- to deepen red color
  • Mature- Ready to drink
  • Maderized- the caramelized, brown color of dessert wine
  • Merlot- One of the most popular red wine varietals


  • Nose- how the wine smells in the glass


  • Oaky- a term used to describe wines that have been aged in oak barrels (flavors and aromas associated with “Oaky” could be vanilla, smoke, peppery, toasty, etc.)
  • Open- Wine that is ready to drink (a term used in wine tasting)
  • Organic- Wines made from grapes grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides
  • Oxidized- Chemical change wine goes through when exposed to air


  • pH- Measurement of acidity in wine
  • Plonk- British and Australian word for inexpensive wine
  • Port- A type of fortified wine



  • Reserva- Spanish term for wine that has been in barrels and bottles for at least three years
  • Reserve- High-quality wine; wine that has been aged before being sold
  • Riesling- A sweet, fruity white wine
  • Rosé- Wine made using some of the color of grape skins, but not enough to make red wine


  • Silky- Smooth feel in your mouth
  • Sommelier-A certified wine professional
  • Spicy- A description word for wine with aroma and flavor of spices such as cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, pepper, etc.
  • Split- a single-serving bottle, usually about 6 oz.
  • Steely- Wine with a harsh taste due to higher acidity levels
  • Stemmy- Wine with a woody or “green” taste, usually due to grapes being fermented with the stems for too long
  • Supple- Smooth, soft taste


  • Table Wine- Wine served with a meal
  • Tannins- Compound in wine that determines the dryness or bitterness; higher tannins will make your mouth feel dry
Table Wine



  • Varietal- The type of grape used in winemaking
  • Vintage-Specific year a wine was bottled
  • Viniculture- The science of winemaking
  • Viticulture- Branch of science studying the growing of grapes




  • Yield- The amount of wine produced from a vineyard
  • Young- Typically a wine sold within a year of being bottled


Save this page so you can come back and brush up on your wine terminology and impress those fancy pants at your next dinner party or wine tasting!

If you can think of some words to add to this list, please, by all means, leave me a comment below and I will be happy for the addition!

If you know some folks that could use a boost to their wine terminology vocab, share this post and pass the knowledge on!

While you’re here, be sure to check out the rest of my blog! And if you’re in the market for some unique gift ideas, go to my shop to see all of the one-of-a-kind gifts I make using repurposed wine and beer bottles!


Related Reading: Are You Using The Wrong Wine Glass?

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