Frequently Used Wine Terms


Term used in Austria, signifying wines of high quality, made from grapes that are both overripe and specially selected in picking.

Blush wines

Term very recently introduced from the U.S., signifying pale pink.


Region in Anjou, in the Loire in France, where the local red wines have long been appreciated and were awarded the official designation of ‘Anjou Gamay’ and ‘Anjou Cabernet’ in 1980.


System of expressing alcoholic strength. 1° Brix equals 1° alcohol; 1.8 Brix equals 1° Baume.


Grape sometimes used in the Yonne region of France, also called the Romain and sometimes used together with the Pinot Noir for Irancy.


Term used when wine is either not considered by the grower to be suitable to bear the name of a renowned estate and commune or else because it cannot comply with the regulations governing the particular A.O.C. And must therefore be declassified to an A.O.C. That is less demanding. It can be necessary when, for example, for perfectly natural reasons, the amount of wine made is in excess of the specifications of the rendement or quantity permitted for the particular A.O.C. It sometimes also occurs when young vines are used. Declassified wines, if they come from a reputable establishment, can be bargains in price and extremely enjoyable. It should not be confused with classification, with which it has nothing to do.

Dry Creek

Vineyard and winery in the Dry Creek Valley, California, making wines of fine quality.


Very important estate in Santa Barbara, California, directed by a member of the tyre concern. The wines attain high quality.


Region at the Cape, South Africa which got its name because it was first settled by French emigres. Many excellent wines are now produced there and a special ‘Wine route’ was recently opened.

Fume blanc

This term, which is of no significance at all in French, is one sometimes seen on the labels of U.S. White wines and even some from the southern hemisphere. This may lead the public to assume that the wine comes from the Sauvignon grape, which is nicknamed ‘Blanc Fume’ in the Upper Loire. However, I know of no legislation guaranteeing that this is the case, although the makers may have tried to produce a wine with some resemblance to the wines of that locality. There are comic things done in the name of ‘marketing’ but this has always seemed to me as absurd as the wide use of the term ‘blanc de blanc’ (sic). Mondavi’s Fume Blanc is one of the better-known wines with this name.

Hamilton Russell

Tim Hamilton Russell recently established a vineyard and winery in the Hemel-en Arda Valley near Hermanus, which is thought to be the most southerly in South Africa. It is outside the usual official areas and as yet the wines are youthful, but the coolness of the region and the impeccable production makes the future prospects bright. The Grand Vin Noir is available in the U.K.

Hautes Cotes de Beaune

To attempt to meet some of the huge demand for good – and affordable – Burgundy, extensions have been made to the vineyard, up onto the higher slopes above Beaune. Thanks to modern technology, the wines can be good and typical of the region.


Canadian winery where, thanks to the devoted care and perseverance of Don Ziraldo and his winemaker, acceptable and improving wines of various types are now being produced. Very much a name to watch. Sometimes the wines are available in the U.K.

Iron Horse

Vineyard in Sonoma, California making wines of considerable quality. The name comes from the miniature railway on the property.


Judging wine is now not only a skilled task but, in many New World countries, the results of wines judged and awarded prizes make front page news, win trophies and attract much attention. A high level of experience and some qualifications are usually required for anyone judging wine, and the task is arduous.


Recently introduced category of German wines, of ordinary quality.


The word signifies ‘brand’ and a ‘vin de marque’ is a branded wine.

Menetou Salon

Vineyard region in the upper Loire, in France, making white and some red wines that have recently begun to be known on export lists.


Vine disease, that makes certain of the grapes in a bunch refuse to ripen and, eventually, have to be discarded at picking time.


This region in Languedoc, in the south of France, had made wine for centuries, but, even today, they do not seem to make more than adequately enjoyable beverages, although tourists may find exceptions to this.


Wines offered for sale ‘En primeu’ may usually be assumed to be those that are made specifically to be drunk while very young. The vogue for such wines has increased enormously in recent times, curiously taking the drinker back to the former days, when the first ‘new’ wines were eagerly sought, as more enjoyable than those that – before the days of maturation in bottle – might have deteriorated while remaining for a year in wood.

The term is rather loosely used throughout the world and should not be confused with that of ‘Premier’ in any way – the ‘Premier tranche’ of a red Bordeaux, for example, is the first ‘slice’ (tranche) of the wine to be put on the market by the owner. Nor should it be confused with the buying ‘enprimeur’ that can take place when a wine merchant has received either supplies of wine not previously able to be offered for sale or, as with certain fine wines, the allocation of supplies that, in due course, will be shipped and delivered to him, so that he can offer his customers such wines at opening prices – ie. cheaper than they are likely to be later on.

This is particularly relevant as regards Bordeaux and Burgundy, but can happen with other fine wines, offered ‘En primeur’ French law, however, decrees that the following wines, which bear their own A.O.C.s, may be offered as ‘Primeurs’ Red wines: Beaujolais, Beaujolais Superieur, ‘Beaujolais’ followed by the name of the place of origin, Beaujolais Villages, Cotes du Rhone, Coteaux du Tricastin, Cotes du Ventoux, Coteaux du Languedoc, Touraine (wines from the single grape variety Gamay N(oir)) Anjou (wines from the single grape variety Gamay N), Gaillac (wines from the single grape variety Gamay N), Coteaux du Lyonnais, Cotes du Roussillon. Rose wines: Beaujolais, Beaujolais Superieur, ‘Beaujolais’, followed by the name of the place of origin, Beaujolais Villages, Macon, Cotes du Rhone, Tavel, Coteaux du Tricastin, Cotes du Ventoux, Coteaux du Lan-guedoc, Touraine, Coteaux du Lyonnais, Cotes du Roussilon, Cabernet d’Anjou, Cabernet de Saumur, Rose d’Anjou. White wines: Bourgogne, Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire, Bourgogne Aligote, Macon, Macon Superieur, ‘Macon’ followed by the name of the place of origin, Macon Villages, Coteaux du Tricastin, Cotes du Ventoux, Muscadet, Gaillac, Coteaux du Lyonnais, Cotes du Roussillon.


The term means ‘yield’ – ie. amount of the crop. The amount of hectolitres per hectare that may be made is laid down by the A.O.C. Of the specific region. As this is determined in advance of the vintage, it may occur that more wine is made than, strictly, is permitted; it also sometimes occurs that a vineyard has been, legally, extended, replanted or, for various reasons, is able to make more wine than the A.O.C. Stipulates. When this happens, the wine is sometimes declassified to another A.O.C. Or it may be sold off for blending or go into the grower’s other wines that bear a lesser A.O.C. Or for which they have a sous marque. Wines made in excess of the permitted rendement can be great bargains – particularly when they are the declassified versions of what might cost the buyer far more money, although they are essentially the same! The subject is, as may be appreciated, both complicated and subject to heartfelt comments by growers in regions where the A.O.C. And similar controls are rigidly enforced.


Specially shaped bottle, which, since 1979, has been used for Cotes du Rhone wines. It has a long neck, a sloping shoulder that finishes in an angle from which the sides go straight to the base. Magnums are also made.


Grand cru of Vosne Romanee in the Cote de Nuits, in Burgundy, making world-famous fine red wine.

Romanee Conti

Vineyard site in the Cote de Nuits in Burgundy very famous for its red wines. All are bottled at the domaine and the vines were not grafted onto phylloxera-resistant rootstocks until after World War II. Very fine – and very, very expensive.


This is an increasingly well-known Australian wine name. Originally established in the Upper Hunter River, in Australia, it is now also an owner in Coonawarra. The wines win awards almost wherever they are shown and although the range they produce is wide, their ‘Show Chardonnay’ has won particular acclaim.

Saint Pourcain

White wine from the Allier region of France, beginning to feature on export lists as dry and crisp. It must be admitted that I have not yet had an example that has been more than passably drinkable, but there may be some.


Wine from Tuscany in Italy, which has achieved enormous renown in recent years, which is made entirely from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. It is an imposing wine, produced by several proprietors, notably Antinori.

Selection de grains nobles Category of Alsace wines, strictly controlled, which may only be made from the Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Tokay d’Alsace grapes, attaining certain degrees of Oechsle, Brix and alcoholic strength. They are only made in years that are specially favourable.

Sous marque

Term often rather loosely employed relating to French wines, which may be declassified to a brand name or other name belonging to the estate, if for any reason the wine is not sold off elsewhere.


Tuscan red wine, which, according to the authority Nicolas Belfrage, N.W., ‘could not only defy the DOC constraints, but also rise right out of the low price bracket imposed upon Chianti from the bottom’. Antinori, who produce it, use ‘small wood’ – ie. casks. The wine is deservedly popular.


Napa Valley property in California, bought in 1968 by the family to whom it now belongs, and for whom it is named. The Trefethens make fine wine, notably whites – in my admittedly limited experience, some of the few U.S. Chardonnays that bear any resemblance to what this classic grape does anywhere else in the world.

Ungrafted vines

It may surprise many to know that there are a number of regions throughout the world where, as the phylloxera has never attacked the native vinestocks, grafting has not been necessary. These include several areas in Australia, such as the Hunter River Valley, Clare-Watervale and much of the southern vineyards of Western Australia; also parts of New Zealand, the whole of Chile, Argentina and, even, the Colares vineyards in Portugal. Even in parts of the Douro, plantations of ungrafted vines are in existence, as such vines endow port with a special character. It is difficult to be definite, but ungrafted vinestocks not only yield adequate fruit at a young age, but the wine that is made from such grapes, notably for red wines, seems to possess a depth, softness yet power and potential longevity that is peculiar. Even the cheap wines from such vineyards display at least some of the sort of style that was responsible for the enthusiasm with which writers of a century or more ago wrote about the red wines. It is also possible, these days, for a vineyard to be planted with ungrafted stock even if the phylloxera exists as a threat in the region because, as a vineyard that is largely handled by machines will not need to survive for as long as in former times and can be pulled up and replanted (after a rest) after comparatively few years, it is possible for the vines to survive for a certain period even when the aphis begins to attack them.

Vendange tardive

Category of wine in Alsace, that has been late picked. The term is subject to strict controls and it is important to bear in mind that, although the late picking may result in the maker producing a wine that is sweet, it may not- some late pickings are concentrated, but still dry. It depends entirely on the individual establishment Vendange tardive wines must only be made from Riesling, Gewurtztraminer and Tokay a Alsace grapes, attaining certain laid down degrees of Oechsle, Brix and alcoholic strength. They are made only in specially suitable years.

Vin de faille

This term is used in relation to Champagne. The vin de cuvee is the wine made from the free-run juice that comes from the first one or two pressings in the maie or special type of press. After this, the remaining fruit and debris is subjected to harder squeezing, from which comes the tin de laille. This can make a perfectly acceptable wine but it will not have the finesse and delicate quality of the juice of the vin de cuvee and the difference is specified when co-ops or makers concentrating on B.O.B. Wines are buying in from producers.

16. December 2011 by admin
Categories: Spirits, Uncategorized, Wine, Wine Dictionary | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Frequently Used Wine Terms


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